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What to Look for in a WordPress Web Host (YouTube Video)

If you’re running a business or a profitable website, choosing the right a web host for WordPress can be critical to success. Poor site speed, reliability and/or — above all else — security can ruin a business: either bit by bit or all in one horrible mess. For some site owners, cost is critical (some non-business website owners can literally only afford to spend a few dollars a month on hosting), but for any serious online business, paying for quality hosting really is a no-brainer! Apart from cost however, what else should you look out for when choosing a web host? Let’s take a look…

Here are a few things you’ll definitely want to keep in mind:

What to Look for in a WordPress Web Host

– (note: video credits to Topher DeRosia – creator of HeroPress)

Video Transcript:

Hi, this is Topher with WinningWP. In this video, we’re gonna take a look at what to look for in a WordPress web host. Of course every one of them will tell you that they’re the best. How do you know which one is the right one for you? I can’t tell you which one is right for you, but I can give you some pretty good clues. Let’s take a look. First, we’re going to talk about security and I want to begin by introducing you to some acronyms. The first of which is FTP, which stands for File Transfer Protocol, and FTP has been the standard way of moving files around on the Internet for over years. For a very long time, it was the normal way to upload your website with File Transfer Protocol. However, FTP by itself is not encrypted. It’s not secure. It sends your password over the Internet in the clear and in these days of Wi-Fi It’s very easy to just grab that password. So now we have something called SFTP, which stands for Secure File Transfer Protocol, and the only difference is that it’s encrypted. There’s another protocol called SSH, which stands for Secure Shell. SFTP and SSH are used almost exactly the same way. They’re encrypted ways to upload your website. If your host offers only FTP, then you probably don’t want to use them because security is not a big concern for them. The next acronym I’m going to introduce you to is SSL, which for Secure Sockets Layer, and this is the part that encrypts information between your web browser and the server. This is what makes it safe to shop online and it has the same theory as SFTP. It just encrypts the normal traffic and I’m going to talk about SSL some more in just a minute. But in addition to offering you SSL, you also want your host to be running SSL on their admin panel so that when you log in to maintain your website, it’s also encrypted. We’re here at SiteGround’s WordPress hosting page. If you come down here and hover over WordPress features, you’ll see there on the right side of that panel free SSLs and HTTP. Now for a very long time SSL cost anywhere from $ to $ dollars a year, but recently a wonderful organization called Let’s Encrypt started offering SSL certificates for free. The downer is they have to be reissued quarterly (so four times a year), and that’s a pain. However a good host, like SiteGround, will take care of that for you and you don’t have to think about it so you get the advantage of the free SSL without the disadvantage of having to update it quarterly. So, a quick review of the security panel. FTP is File Transfer Protocol and you don’t want it. What you do want is SFTP or SSH and it’s Secure File Transfer Protocol. You also want free SSL, which is Secure Sockets Layer, and it makes it safe and secure for browsers to visit your website even if you’re not selling anything. Keeping the traffic encrypted keeps everybody a little bit more safe. And you want your hosts to be running SSL themselves on their own admin panel. Speed. Everybody wants a fast website, right? Well, here are three things that are guaranteed to make your website much faster. PHP version . It’s been out for more than a year now, but still many hosts run PHP . PHP is dramatically faster so I highly recommend you use it. Then, there’s HTTP . You know the HTTP at the beginning of your web address? That’s the same Hypertext Transfer Protocol and this is version and it’s really fast. And then, built-in caching with a bonus of additional support for caching plugins. So let’s see what it looks like to find these on a host. We’re still here at SiteGround and it says, “HTTP ” right there, but it doesn’t say, “PHP “. Let’s click Plan Details and on this page, if we search for “PHP”, you’ll note right here it says, “Multiple PHP Versions (., ., ., and and more)”. So while they do have . available, is there for you, and I highly recommend you use it. So we know that they have HTTP and PHP , let’s see what they have for caching. They have built-in WordPress Special Cache for their two higher plans. Now that doesn’t prevent you from using a regular caching plugin if you’re on the lower plan, but they have built-in caching which is guaranteed to be more efficient. So, right off the bat here we have a host with all three of them. Now, not all hosts are as clear about some of these things. For example, here’s Flywheel. Flywheel is a really excellent host, but if you go through their feature list it doesn’t say things like PHP and HTTP . It just says, “blazing fast speeds”. Now, you can click there and it talks about some of the things that make their sites faster — for example, built-in caching — , but nowhere on this page does it say “PHP ” or “HTTP “. So now I want to show you how to find out if a host has them so that if you like everything else about them, you can dig around and perhaps find out if they have it. I’m going to search for “flywheel PHP ” and right at the top is one of their frequently asked questions files and it says, “Does flywheel offer PHP ? Yes…” So now let’s do the same for HTTP and right at the top is their frequently asked question file and, yes, they offer it. So don’t disregard a host simply because they don’t advertise right up front a particular buzz word. Flywheel markets to people who don’t necessarily care about the buzz words, they just want fast. But you can use Google to find out if, in fact, they do use a particular technology like PHP or HTTP . Our next section is safety and the first two things are tightly tied together. Automated backups. You want to have automated backups. You don’t want to have to think about it. You want it to happen every night and, then, just as important is easy restore from backup. I know of a host that does a great job with automated backups, but when you need to restore they simply give you a zip file and you have to download it, unpack it, find the things you need, and re-upload them. What you really want is a one-click restore. “I need to go back to yesterday because something broke today.” And the next is daily malware scans. Your host should be looking through your site every day looking for malware. And, lastly, let’s talk about support. Support is very, very important. You may not use it very often, but when you do use it. You’ll be really glad it’s there. The three most common types of support are phone, live chat, and email tickets. Email tickets are when you just send them an email and say, “Hey, it’s broken.” and they write back and say, “Thank you for submitting a ticket. We will get back to you within hours.” or whatever. Live chat is exactly what it sounds like. A little window pops up and you start typing with somebody. And then, of course, there’s the classic phone support. One last thing I’d like to point out before we finish this one is that there is no perfect host. It’s extremely unlikely that you’re going to find any host that offers every single one of these items. They’re simply tips to look for. For example, free SSL. If a site offers everything else, but wants you to pay for SSL. That’s fine. Paid SSL works great. It’s just fine. It’s not that expensive. If they only offer SFTP instead of SSH, that’s fine. It’s secure. It works. If you like everything else about the host, go for it. Before I let you go, I want to give you a quick tour of some hosts that I like, that I would recommend. SiteGround is one; we’ve already looked at that in this video. They have great intro prices to get your feet wet and find out what you like in web hosting. Then there’s Flywheel. We looked at them a little bit. Flywheels main selling point is making it as easy as possible to get your website up. Then there’s WP Engine. WP Engine costs a little bit more, but you get a lot more stuff. More space, more traffic, and a little bit faster. If you’re looking for something a little beefier, I recommend WP Engine. DreamHost is also excellent. I’ve personally hosted with them for many years. They’re similar to SiteGround in what they offer. A Hosting is really great. Their emphasis is speed. Their servers are very, very fast so, if speed is what’s important to you, you may want to look here. And, lastly, there’s GoDaddy. A large advantage of GoDaddy is a wide variety of offerings: everywhere from super low budget to very large hosting plans. So if you want something that’ll grow with you, that may be a good place to start. Whatever you choose. I hope it works well for you. If you’d like to learn more about WordPress, check out WinningWP.com.

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By WinningWP Editorial

Run by Brin Wilson, WinningWP is an award-winning resource for people who use – you guessed it – WordPress. Follow along on Twitter and/or Facebook.
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