WordPress Web Hosting Tips and Advice.
When it comes to choosing a Web Hosting Service for your online business, there are so many choices, it can quickly become confusing and intimidating. Almost every single Web Hosting Company is now offering ‘WordPress Web Hosting‘, but there are a few things you should know before you pull out your credit card and sign up for a Web Hosting Plan.
I’m not here to scare you into spending a fortune on Web Hosting you cannot afford. On the contrary, I will hopefully save you money and ensure that you are getting web hosting that will work for your new business website or blog.
Think about how much effort and research you put in when buying your first new car. Think about the fact that even though you did your homework at the time, circumstances change and you’ll probably need a bigger, fancier car later on. As far as I’m concerned this is how you should approach choosing a Web Hosting Plan for your WordPress Website or Blog.
Shared Web Hosting Plans
A lot of Internet Marketers will disagree with me here, but as far as I’m concerned a ‘Shared Web Hosting Plan‘ will work for anyone starting a new Online Business. It’s like buying your first car! Yes; you may have wanted a Mustang or a Ferrari, but the fact remains you could only afford a compact or small sedan. You buy what you consider to be a good, reliable vehicle that you can afford to run. As your life improves and you start earning more money, you can upgrade to that fancier, faster and more appropriate vehicle. Shared Web Hosting is that small/compact sedan – It’s not ideal, but it’s reliable, affordable and comes in varies shapes and sizes.
When buying that first car, I can only assume you didn’t simply go out and spend what little money you had on just any small car from any backyard dealer. You did some research and compared a few cars and prices and bought according to an educated decision. Same applies with choosing your WordPress Web Hosting. Go out and compare features, compare pricing and compare service history or the reputation of the companies you intend doing business with…
While doing your research, you are going to come across BAD reviews for some otherwise very reputable Web Hosting Companies. The bigger the Web Hosting Company, the more customers they’ll have and the more BAD reviews you will find. Generally, you should be in good hands if you go with the larger, better known companies (I’ll list a few below).
What your Web Host should provide
WordPress Support: First and foremost, since you will be using WordPress for your website/blog, you need to ensure that your Web Host Supports WordPress. Some will offer quick install scripts for WordPress too, but if they don’t mention WordPress Support off the bat, you must make sure it is fully supported.
PHP & MySql: These are the core components required for WordPress. PHP is the programming language used and MySQL is the Database Technology WordPress uses to store and manage data. If your host supports WordPress, they will support both PHP and MySql too.
cPanel Control Panel: cPanel is the industry standard control panel and most web hosting companies provide this. Some, however, use other control panels (eg. Plesk or their own custom control panel) and while there is nothing wrong with that, you will find it more difficult to get 3rd party support if things go wrong. Since cPanel is so widely used, there are tutorials and courses all over the internet if you need additional help.
Linux Servers: PHP & MySql work best on Linux Servers. There are probably other platforms out there that support PHP & MySql, but Linux is again the preferred choice. Linux hosting is possibly the cheapest option too due to the fact that LINUX is OpenSource Software.
Hosting Plan Features: Compare the features offered by the various Web Hosting Companies. Most will offer variants of the same thing. The most basic of things you should be comparing are:
- Amount of Disk-Space offered
- How much Bandwidth is provided
- How many domains are permitted
- Backup & Restore Features
- Uptime Guarantees
- Technical Support
Disk Space & Bandwidth
Other than price, Disk Space and Bandwidth are probably the two biggest considerations. As mentioned before, WordPress doesn’t need a whole lot of space and even if you have a relatively large site in mind, there are ways to get around limited space (using 3rd party tools, which I won’t mention here). Bandwidth on the other hand, is ‘mission critical’. You don’t need a massive amount of bandwidth to begin with, but you need to ensure that it is scalable or that you can easily upgrade your hosting account, if you need more bandwidth. Make sure you check out the Web Hosting companies policy about over utilising bandwidth. Some companies provide warnings and some level of acceptance if you go over your bandwidth limit. Other’s will simply shut down your site, or charge you massive out-of-bundle rates.
Note: Be careful of the term ‘unlimited’. If a Web Host is offering unlimited ‘anything’, make sure you read their ‘Terms of Service’ to really understand what they are offering. They may offer unlimited diskspace, but then in the T&C’s state that you cannot use this space for certain file types (eg. Videos).
Backups and Restores
Backups are offered as standard by most Web Hosting companies, however, this doesn’t mean that you will be protected if something goes wrong with your site. The standard backups provided are usually run once a week (sometimes daily), but as the scheduled time comes, each new backup overwrites the last. So, lets say your Web Host runs a backup on Monday’s and your site ‘breaks’ on Saturday. If the company can find your backup among all the other domains, they ‘may’ be able to do a restore, but you would have lost a Weeks worth of content (if you update your site regularly). Here’s another situation… The Web Host offers FREE daily backups, but when you ask for a restore, they want to bill you for additional support at an hourly rate. Basically, unless you get fully-managed web hosting, you must have your own back-up and restore procedure in place (this can be done using various plugins to automate the process – just be aware that you need to plan for this too)
Technical Support and the time in which it takes to get support can be the deciding factor above anything else. Personally, from experience, I’d pay a little more to get faster support, but then I also host client sites on my Reseller Account. Web Hosting companies offer various different ways for customers to get support. Some offer 24/7 services and others may only offer business hours support. Some respond to tickets very quickly and others are slow to respond. Some companies will help you with any problem that arises and others will simply refer you to online tutorials if your issues isn’t specifically to do with the hosting plan itself. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to rate support services, but make sure the company you go with offers various methods of support and are available during periods you may need them.
eg. If you run a eCommerce store, 24/7 support is essential as the site is hopefully making money 24/7. Downtime is lost revenue and should be dealt with immediately. If your site is a local business site and it goes down at midnight (in your area), chances are you only need to get it running first thing in the morning, so make sure your web host has support during your business hours in your time zone.
Most companies, these days, offer 24/7 support via a Helpdesk Ticket Submission System. This is great, but make sure the Helpdesk is manned during periods you may need support. An automated reply to a ticket doesn’t count as support unless someone is available to attend to that ticket.
Up-time Guarantees, Price and Domains
I’ve combined these topics as they are features I don’t think will affect your decision making all that much. ‘Alarm Bells’ aren’t necessary, so relax… The first thing one checks when buying any product is price. When comparing price, make sure you are comparing ‘apples with apples’ and know what you are getting for the price. As for the up-time guarantee, most web-hosting companies will offer 99%+ uptime. Unless you make use of a Service to track this, you will most likely not even be aware of any downtime. Lastly, you may want to look at how many additional domains you can add to your web hosting plan. While I don’t recommend you start more that one website/blog in the beginning, you will eventually need others (for numerous reasons). A decent Shared Web Hosting Plan will allow you to add more than one domain and also allow you to park domains for later use (or for traffic redirection).
Where to get started
First things first; before I list some Web Hosting Companies for you to checkout I must make it clear that this Blog is currently hosted on a HostGator Reseller Account. Needless to say I’ve got personal experience with HostGator and while I do recommend them, they aren’t necessarily the best option. Web Hosting Companies I would consider include:
- HostGator (USA & India)
- InMotion Hosting (USA)
- NameCheap (USA & UK)
- D9Hosting (UK)
- Domains.co.za (RSA)
* HostGator & NameCheap Links are Affiliate links
I’ve use services from both companies!
Conclusion: I’ll quickly jump back to the car similarity to finalise this post. I’ve been there and jumped in with both feet buying a car I thought I could afford all too soon. In the end I couldn’t keep up with the payments when business took a small nose-dive and I ended up loosing that fancy car. Don’t go out and spend too much money on web-hosting right now. Get a decent Shared Web Hosting Plan which should cost anything from $3.95 – $10 per month maximum. When you are earning more from your site, then go ahead and upgrade. It has taken me from the 2009 to get to a point where I need to consider upgrading my Reseller Plan for something better. Fact is my sites are all running fine, but I now have clients that are expecting more and so I’ll be migrating to a system that offers WordPress Management Features and Amazon S3 Cloud Servers for Hosting (more on that coming soon)…
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As usual, please leave comments below as I love the feedback.