With each new web design client I am asked the same question – what WordPress hosting provider should I use for my new website? As with most things in life, I have pretty strong opinions on this subject. Contrary to what many people may believe, WordPress hosting providers are not all the same. There are hidden gems waiting for discovery and hidden nightmares that should be avoided at all costs.
Cheap Hosting Companies Deliver Cheap Performance
When I founded the company years ago, I assumed GoDaddy was an adequate hosting solution. At the time there were not a ton of options for WordPress hosting, so GoDaddy it was. I quickly learned that GoDaddy performance and their support of WordPress websites was less than adequate and well, the technical side of support was virtually nonexistent. Backend performance was poor, the websites were slow for visitors, and the support staff was always quick to blame WordPress on anything that could and did go wrong. GoDaddy, along with Network Solutions, 1and1.com, Omnis, and a few other providers have fallen onto my list of hosting companies to avoid. I will quickly tell clients and even prospects of the dangers of using such entry-level hosting options. Cheap doesn’t mean they can effectively support the combination of MySQL, PHP, and CSS.
After leaving GoDaddy I moved to Bluehost. Bluehost was (and is) a solid WordPress solution for entry-level websites. I feel HostGator is another fine shared hosting provider. Both offer solid performance and fairly decent support for smaller WordPress websites. With low monthly fees and one click install options, they provide a great entry point for companies and users launching their first website.
Moving Past Shared Hosting
The shared hosting environments will be stretched as traffic grows and data transfer increases. At some point, performance starts to suffer on both the backend WordPress panel and the frontend user experience see degrades in performance. I typically see this when a WordPress website reaches about 400 visitors per day. It becomes more apparent at say 700 visitors per day and critical at about 900 visitors. At that point it is time to move up the hosting food chain and pay for a managed hosting company.
|WordPress Hosting Company||Area of Focus||Entry Price||Migration Option|
|Bluehost||Entry Level Website Hosting||$4.95/Month||No|
|FireHost||Security and Compliance||$200/Month||No|
|GoDaddy||Managed WordPress Hosting||$14.99/Month||No|
|HostGator||Entry Level Website Hosting||$3.96/Month||Yes|
|Pagely||Managed WordPress Hosting||$24/Month||No|
|Rackspace||Scalable Cloud Hosting||$150/Month||No|
|SiteGround||Entry Level Website||$3.95/Month||Yes|
|Synthesis||WordPress Specific Hosting||$27/Month||Yes|
|WiredTree||Mid-Level WordPress Hosting||$44/Month||No|
|WP Engine||Managed WordPress Hosting||$29/Month||Yes|
Thankfully, time has past, WordPress usage has grown, and the internet has spawned a variety of strong hosting providers that not only support WordPress, they specialize in it. From WP Engine and Synthesis to Page.ly and FireHost, hosting companies are realizing WordPress is a moneymaker. With WordPress usage at almost 20% of websites worldwide, WordPress hosting has jumped into a new level of availability.
WordPress Hosting is Now Like the 31 Flavors of Baskin-Robbins
Choosing the right company depends on a variety of considerations and there is no one answer that will serve all users.
- Firehost, for example, specializes in compliance and security. If you want a managed cloud solution, but require special attention due to PCI 2.0 ir HIPPA compliance, Firehost is an excellent option.
- If compliance is not your issue, but scalability is, Rackspace is great hosting company. Their price point is higher than most, but their support is superb.
- If you want complete hands off hosting management, companies like WP Engine and Page.ly are great for not only managing your hosting, but also for taking care of your WordPress core and plugin updates. I, myself, am not a fan of my hosting company automatically updating my core and plugins, because I like to double check the website after each plugin update. However, for novice users, this is a huge selling feature.
- Then we flip to other ends of the spectrum and niche industry hosting. There are small players like EmmanuelPress, that focus on small niche markets like church website hosting. If you’re in a really niche industry and you want someone who is completely focused on you and your sector, then niche hosting is a good path.
- If you’re a Genesis child theme user, Synthesis is a great option because it is ran by the folks who created the Genesis Framework. They support other WordPress frameworks and themes as well, although this fit might not seem nearly as rock solid as for an existing or soon to be Genesis users.
Education Yourself and Do Research Before You Buy
My recommendation for any website hosting decision is to not Google “cheap website hosting” and pick the first company you see. You’ll having nothing but performance issues and uphappy website visitors.
Go with a company that fits your requirements, your traffic volumes, and your required level of technical support. Ask for recommendations and listen to those of us that loudly warn you against specific hosts. If we’re adamant about one of the companies, there is a reason. It means we’ve walked down that path and there is a better road to migration, hosting, and happy website visitors.
Author’s Update on April 29, 2013: Last week we moved a client from Rackspace’s cloud hosting (due to inconsistent performance) over to Synthesis. The process was smooth, easy, and the performance at Synthesis was great. It was our first experience with this provider, but a good one.
Author’s Update on July 23, 2013: Today we moved another client to Synthesis and convinced another new client to sign up. Why? Because we’ve had great success since our first move in April. Multiple websites have gone live on their WordPress hosting and clients see immediate speed improvements. To us that is priceless.
Author’s Update on June 17, 2014: Today I added SiteGround to our list. After receiving a slew of positive feedback on them from trusted WordPress friends, I had to stop and talk to them at WordCamp Chicago last weekend. They were just as good as everyone had promised. If you are seeking intro level hosting, I’d highly recommend you give SiteGround at try.
Author Update on May 12, 2015: This month we began migrating our dedicated servers and websites over to WP Engine. I have to say the support has been phenomenal. I am extremely happy with the move and our dedicated server at WP Engine.