Choosing the best WordPress hosting service for your site isn’t always as easy as it should be – and if you’re not sure where to start it can seem a pretty daunting task. It doesn’t have to be. In this short guide, we’ll detail the four main types of hosting available, recommend a few of the best WordPress hosting providers in the industry and finish up by putting you on the path to learning the ins-and-outs of using WordPress!
Answer: The domain name is basically just a web address that can be easily directed to any web hosting service. When you buy a domain name, it’s by default almost always directed to point to hosting services offered by the company that sold it to you. However, redirecting it to another company’s hosting services is both common practice and something that’s relatively straightforward to do. Since each company does things a little differently, ask the company that sold you the domain for specific instructions.
For newcomers, part of the problem with finding great WordPress hosting is knowing who to trust. There are so many companies out there trying to make a quick buck from would-be WordPress users who can’t yet tell an honest, reliable web-hosting provider from a cowboy hosting company. Luckily, we know from personal experience – backed up by the general WordPress community consensus – exactly which web hosts to trust. Every one of the web hosts mentioned in this guide operates exactly the way any good web host should: with the utmost integrity and your best interests at heart!
If you’re looking for the best WordPress web hosting provider for your WordPress-driven enterprise, choosing one of the providers listed in this guide will both set you off on the right foot and give you the freedom to customize your services at a later date (for example, upgrading servers specs etc as your business grows/expands) with relative ease. We’re not at all keen on web hosting companies that try to lock you into particular services with technical tricks! It will also connect you with the services of some of the very best, most-trustworthy WordPress-web-hosting hands in the industry.
Answer: Web hosting costs vary dramatically – from as little as just a few dollars a month (some web hosts will even offer you free hosting – usually under the proviso that they can display various different adverts on your website) to literally thousands of dollars a month (think websites with millions of visitors a day)! However, most privately-owned websites will usually be able to get by with a web hosting package costing somewhere in the region of about $5-10 a month – although, generally speaking, with web hosting you tend to get what you pay for. Depending on the importance of your website to the day-to-day running of your online business, it may well prove shrewd to pay a little more than the bare minimum and choose a web hosting company that cares about the reliability and performance of your website as much as you do!
Managed WordPress hosting is a relatively new concept, largely popularized by the current leaders in the managed WordPress-hosting field: WPEngine. It’s aimed at taking the hassle out of managing the technical details of your own WordPress installation (features like automatic backups, enhanced security, automatic updates, daily monitoring and free restoration should you ever be hacked) and providing highly-optimized server configurations (with features like built-in caching and the promise of infinite scalability at an added cost). Typical examples of the types of websites using managed hosting include a huge range of enterprises – from small, low-traffic blogs to large-scale online magazines with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month.
Shared hosting is by far the cheapest and most popular option – and is generally a great place to start. With shared hosting, you’ll be sharing the resources of the server – the memory, computational power, etc – between you and the other customers using that same server. The advantage of this kind of setup is that it keeps costs low for both you and for the hosting provider. The main disadvantage is that you’ll be getting a relatively unrefined space, usually on a generic-type server with limited resources over which you’ll have very little control. This means that shared space on a server can and will only take your site so far; as your site grows and becomes more popular, it may start to require more resources than your shared-hosting setup can provide. Typical examples of sites making the most of low-cost shared-hosting services include relatively low traffic blogs, design agencies, small e-commerce sites, individual freelancers and small businesses.
With VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting, you’ll be allocated your own partition on a server with a protected and reserved amount of memory and computational power. Unlike shared hosting, there isn’t the potential for the performance of your website or data to be affected by any sudden demands placed on the server from other users. You’ll also usually be given full root access to the server should you ever need it and a lot more freedom to change certain performance-related aspects – like memory usage and power (at an additional cost) – as your business/website grows. This makes VPS hosting perfect for websites that grow relatively quickly. Typical examples of sites best suited to VPS hosting include those that expect to experience rapid growth, medium-sized businesses, and/or websites running relatively complex web applications.
With dedicated hosting you’ll be assigned a physical server that’s solely dedicated to running your software/website – the full extent of the server’s memory and computational power will be at your disposal, ensuring consistently high performance. While that might seem great at first, dedicated servers usually cost hundreds – sometimes thousands – of dollars a month to operate, usually require relatively extensive knowledge to set up and can often be troublesome to scale since they usually operate with a predefined amount of physical memory and computational power. With that in mind, dedicated hosting is usually used by only already established large businesses and advanced users who run high traffic websites, CPU-intensive web applications or complex databases.
Answer: Cloud hosting uses servers that are basically decentralized virtual private servers (VPS) that can be dynamically changed on the fly in terms of memory and computational power. In essence, cloud hosting is a variation on VPS hosting that gives providers a greater degree of flexibility when allocating resources to each user on the system.
Our winning recommendations for each type of WordPress hosting – based on both our personal experience and the general consensus of the WordPress community – with a brief summary of what makes each company special:
… Hassle-free, fully-managed premium WordPress hosting!
WPEngine pride themselves on providing super-fast servers (not only making users happier but also improving your site’s SEO), excellent up-time and outstanding customer support. On top of which, they also offer a 60-day money back guarantee and claim to be the most secure WordPress hosting service available – with free automatic daily backups and malware scanning. In short, WPEngine is currently about the best in the WordPress-hosting business. The only downside to all this awesomeness? Prices start from $29 a month for a single WordPress site, which, if you’re just starting out, may seem a little expensive compared to regular-old shared hosting. Nevertheless, if you’re serious about finding the very best managed WordPress hosting for your enterprise (which will presumably cover the costs of hosting many times over) and are willing to pay a premium to get it, hosting your website with WPEngine will almost certainly set you off to a flying start!
- Managed WordPress hosting from $29/month.Choose WPEngine(see deals)
… Because, honestly, we don’t think that a beginner’s guide is a good place to go diving into the depths necessary to properly recommend specific dedicated hosting providers. Furthermore, when you're just starting out, your website isn’t really all that likely to warrant the considerable effort and expense (usually hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars per month) of a dedicated server. Add to that the fact that dedicated hosting can often be hard to scale since you’ve usually got a predefined, possibly very large amount of physical memory and computing power built into the server/s, which usually take quite a bit of specialist knowledge to set up and optimize. There are, of course, plenty of people and companies out there with websites that really are big enough (usually with hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of unique visitors a month) to require the effort and expense of opting for dedicated hosting. If you’re reading this guide, you probably don’t fall into this category – at least not yet! To find out more about dedicated hosting, check out this helpful Wikipedia article and/or contact a hosting company that really knows their stuff on the subject, such as Media Temple (also mentioned below).
- Dedicated WordPress hosting can be seriously pricey – $$$!
… Powering designers and developers since 1998.
Media Temple focuses on providing web hosting for web designers and developers, digital entrepreneurs and innovators, providing well over a hundred thousand users with reliable, high-performance, scalable servers at a competitive price, including exemplary 24/7 customer support. With 200 dedicated U.S.-based employees, Media Temple not only offers VPS hosting second to none, but they’ve also been repeatedly recognized as one of the fastest growing companies in North America, powering some extremely well-known brands including Starbucks, Adidas, Samsung and Toyota.
- VPS WordPress hosting from $30/month.
… Great value-for-money WordPress hosting laden with extras!
SiteGround pride themselves on being at the forefront of technology. An officially WordPress-approved web hosting company, they constantly update their servers and software to the latest models/versions for added reliability, speed, and security – plus they also offer free daily backups, free setup and site transfer, a free domain name, one-click installs, a 30-day money back guarantee and some of the most easily accessible technical support in the industry including 24/7 help via both telephone and instant-chat services. If you’re looking for shared hosting packed with extras, SiteGround may well have the offering you’re after!
- Shared WordPress hosting from $9.95/month.
...Happily hosting all kinds of sites since 1997!
DreamHost is an extremely well-known, WordPress-approved hosting provider that’s been around for quite a while now – since 1997 to be exact. They specialize in shared hosting, VPS hosting, dedicated hosting, cloud storage and cloud computing – and are, of course, experts in all-things WordPress-hosting related. They have an especially useful custom-built control panel that consistently receives rave reviews, an extremely helpful wiki, an entertaining monthly newsletter and a friendly, highly-knowledgeable customer support team. Additionally, they also offer a free domain name, one-click installs and a 97-day money-back guarantee.
- Shared WordPress hosting from $8.95/month.
… Affordable, reliable, professional web hosting solutions.
Founded in 1996, Bluehost is one of the largest and most-popular hosting companies specializing in professional-yet-affordable shared hosting. They offer one-click installs, a free domain name, automated backups, 24/7 support and a 30-day money back guarantee. Similar to both SiteGround and DreamHost (above), Bluehost is another officially WordPress-approved hosting provider. If you’re looking for professional, dependable, affordable, straight-up middle-of-the-road WordPress hosting, then Bluehost is another pretty solid bet.
- Shared WordPress hosting from $4.95/month.
Note: other hosting companies we've heard good things about (but haven't yet used personally) include Pagely (aimed at folk looking for an extremely-scalable, fully-managed, enterprise-level service for big-business websites) and Digital Ocean (great for savvy web developers able to navigate and install their own server software).
Assuming you’re super-confident in your idea and feel ready to start putting your plans into action, then seriously – what are you waiting for?! Get hosted, get up and running and move on to learning the ins and outs of using WordPress!
Most hosting companies offer either a free trial period or a money back guarantee (usually valid for a certain number of days) – effectively enabling (sometimes even encouraging) you to take their hosting services for a free no-strings-attached spin. In the case that you're looking to move a pre-existing website from one host to another for example, you could set up a brand new WordPress site on a trial account with each of the hosting providers you're considering to test the usability, reliability and performance of each one before going through the hassle of actually transferring all your files across and committing to any one particular company.
When you’re first starting out, choosing the best WordPress web hosting service/provider for a new website can admittedly be a bit confusing, with so many options available – especially if some of the terminology involved is new to you (see the shared, VPS, dedicated and managed hosting section above). That said, one of the things you should be absolutely certain of when choosing a web host is that you’ll get excellent support. If you’re finding things tricky, or you’re simply still not sure where to start, choose one or two web hosts from the above list that seem like a good fit and put their support teams to the test. Ask them all the questions you have and see what you think of their replies and service – thereby killing a handful of birds with just one stone, if you will. We doubt you'll be disappointed.
***Last updated 1st January 2017***