Where’s the best place to put your WordPress website?
It’s often best to shop around for your hosting, but there are so many different options (with differing prices) and it can be very confusing……like car-insurance, we should all check for the best deal every year but it’s such a faff, right?
So, we thought we’d give you a bit of a guide on the different options for 2019/2020; we’ve listed some of our favourites below.
We’ve secured affiliate links for these (but we’ve only recommended places we’ve previously used) so if you want to thank us for the advice, please click the links below and we get a little bit back.
Understanding what hosting you need
Most WordPress websites are on Linux hosting, not on Windows hosting, and use MySQL databases to store the information. For your normal small brochure website, minimal space is needed so the lowest package will often work for most people.
In general, for a business website 3 things are needed; a domain, a hosting server and an email server.
Some providers like you to buy all 3 as one package, and that can be very convenient. But, it’s not completely necessary.
Often, domains can be found cheaper elsewhere and can be ‘pointed’ towards your hosting server using DNS or Nameservers.
Changing your emails when you change your hosting is often a bit tedious, so some people prefer to buy their email provision separately through services like G-Suite (Google), Microsoft Office Online, Rackspace or Zoho mail. It means that this part doesn’t change and you can move your website as much as you want, getting the best deals.
WordPress Hosting Options
1. Free WordPress hosting
Ok, so it’s not totally free if you need some of the more advance features, but there are free packages for your WordPress website on WordPress.com and you won’t need to worry about servers, speed or security as this is all done for you.
But, their free package is quite limiting so you’ll end up upgrading to one of the premium packages which will suit some small business perfectly, but not everyone, and can get quite costly if you need their top package.
However, this type of hosting is great for bloggers and/or very simple brochure websites.
2. Managed WordPress hosting
This type of hosting means that everything relating to the hosting/server and installation of your website from security, monitoring, backups and updates, is done for you (like WordPress.com but often less limiting in terms of development). Managed WordPress hosting gives the business owner great peace of mind as they only need to think about what content they want on the website.
It can be slightly more expensive than standard hosting but if it saves the business owner time and stress, it’s worth paying the extra.
We’ve had clients on both of the below and none had reported any issues whilst using their services.
3. Shared Hosting
This is the type of hosting that the majority of business owners are familiar with. It’s not too expensive, provides an adequate service and a reasonable level of support. Most provide free backups (and restores) and some even provide free SSLs (not all however, so it’s worth checking before you buy!).
The reason it’s cheaper is that they give you an allocated space (the size dependant on the package bought) on a server where other people have their website – not that you’d notice, access is restricted to your slice of the pie. It’s not always the fastest solution for a website (especially larger websites) and some are worse than others in this respect.
We use a number of different providers, both our own accounts and our clients’ accounts and we have found these ones are the easiest to use and provide the best service.
Siteground has been around since 2004 and has been increasing in popularity. It’s super fast, reliable and provides a lot for your money (including free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates) but can be expensive on renewal so we advise buy as many years as you can if they have offers on.
Heart Internet has been going since 2011 and is reportedly the 2nd largest web-host in the UK. Their shared hosting isn’t the fast around and they don’t offer free SSL certificates but it’s reasonably priced and normally reliable.
4. Cloud hosting
Cloud hosting is a little bit different; instead of your whole website being in one place, on one server, it’s spread over a few different locations and servers; resources being tapped into as and when they’re needed, which is great for scalability and often, performance demands.
This way of hosting means it’s more flexible on pricing…only paying for the resources you use and it will handle sudden surges in traffic with ease.
It’s also great for redundancy. Unlike standard servers, if one of the network cloud servers go down, a backup server will kick in to deliver that part of the website. Meaning it has higher uptime rates than more traditional hosting – especially the lower budget options.
Defined as a ‘managed hosting platform that facilitates choice, simplicity and performance’, Cloudways was founded in 2011. It has a huge knowledge base and once you get the hang of it is relatively easy to use. It is very flexible and has a range of products to suit a variety of budgets.
Siteground, founded in 2011, provides auto-scalable cloud hosting which is fully managed so if your website needs more resources, they’ll be auto-allocated – inline with your business growth.
5. Dedicated hosting
Dedicated hosting is having a whole server, and dedicated resources, all to yourself. This obviously can be very expensive. Plus, sometimes you have to look after it yourself as well so that means updating it etc., although dedicated managed hosting is available at a cost. Unless you have your own IT department or you’re tech-savvy (when it comes to servers) then I wouldn’t choose the unmanaged option.
But if your website is huge, and you have high performance demands then dedicated hosting might be the best option for you.
A similar but slightly cheaper version is Virtual Private Servers (VPS); you don’t get the whole server which is shared with other people, but you do get your own resources.
Heart Internet offers managed VPS, standard VPS and dedicated servers so you’re bound to find the package that suits you. They’ve been around for years and they’re one of the largest providers.
UKFAST are one of the fastest growing providers and they’re a local company, based here in Manchester. We’re a UKFAST Partner and we can put you in touch with the right people to help you discover what system will suit your needs best. Get in touch using the form below for more information.
How to choose the best hosting option for your business
So with so many different options, how do you choose which option is best for your small business website?
1. Your monthly hosting budget
The first thing to think about is your budget. We all want a super speedy website, but not all of us can afford £50 upwards a month for hosting. So think about what you can afford long term and get the best package for your budget, comparing all the numbers.
As mentioned before, you may be able to save money if you split out the domain, email and hosting to different providers – keep this in mind as an option when comparing pricing.
2. The daily traffic flow to your website
The next thing to consider is how much traffic you get or are expecting to get (for example following a marketing campaign) on a day to day basis. This information can be gained from Google Analytics if you have that set up. If you don’t have Google Analytics, set it up and check back after a period of time so you can average out the results.
If your business has seasonal spikes, do take those into consideration – if they’re noticeable/extreme spikes, and dips, then Cloud Hosting might be a better option as it’s well equipped to handle this.
3. Required technical support
If you’re not very technical, or have little free time then managed hosting might be the better option for you.
But if you prefer one of the other options, check out what type of support is available to you – do you need to call a foreign call center for help or is there a live chat facility? Is there a knowledge base or video tutorials or do you simply raise a ticket?
If you’re expecting prompt replies and little downtime, ask what type of Service Level Agreement they offer. Often the more you pay for hosting options, the quicker they ‘promise’ to get your website back up and running if there is an option. Consider this if limiting downtime is a priority for you.
4. Are there security options
Some hosting provide virus scanning and hack protection. Whilst there are plugins that will do this for you on WordPress, having someone else tell you if there is a problem is often better. Sometimes they will even clean it up for you, but more than likely they will just tell you to do it yourself, sometimes shutting the site down until you tell them it’s clean again.
Most larger companies will ensure their server software is up to date with the latest versions (for example not running old or insecure versions of PHP) but some of the smaller companies don’t upgrade as frequently.
5. Performance and speed
Speed is a big thing lately and the issue is often not the website itself but the hosting provider. The cheaper end of the market will not be super-speedy unless you have a very basic, small website. Although there are some providers that are faster than others.
Unfortunately, it won’t become obvious until you’re all up and running.
So as a rule of thumb if your site is large, is fancy with lots of whizzy parts, or is an e-commerce website, expect to pay upwards of £15 per month for hosting IF you want it to perform well (if you’re savvy, deals are sometimes available for this level of package at a much lower price …. grab it whilst you can!).