Picking a hosting service is one of the most important parts of creating your website. It’s the backbone of your entire online presence, so it’s critical that you put some thought into your hosting provider. Not all hosting is created equal, and the guide below will hopefully help demystify the process of choosing WordPress hosting.

Why You Should Care About Hosting

A lot of companies offer dirt cheap plans, some as low as a couple dollars a month. While that is often appealing to small companies and startups with little to no working capital, do you really want to trust your business to cut rate hosting? Your website is simply too important to use poor hosting. You have to think of your website and hosting as an investment, or more accurately, simply the cost of doing business. Don’t skimp on hosting, especially WordPress hosting, because your business depends on it.

You want your customers to have a smooth online experience. If you have a brick and mortar store or office, you spend time making sure it looks nice, it’s clean and functional, and that it’s something you’re proud to show off. Your website should be no different, especially if it’s the only presence you have. If you visited a website and it took 10 seconds to load or have you lots of errors and didn’t look right, there’s a very good chance you won’t hang around long enough to use it. This same mentality applies to your own site. The user experience is king, and it all starts with performance hosting.

In addition to keeping users happy, a performant site will keep Google happy. There’s loads of evidence that site speed is a ranking signal, with faster sites gettting boosts over their slower counterparts. Keeping Google happy should be your second priority behind keeping your human visitors happy.

Different Types of WordPress Hosting

Web hosting in general comes in many different varieties, and it can be hard to choose the right one. Below is a list of the most common types of hosting you will encounter.

  • Shared Hosting: by far the cheapest, in this setup you share a physical server with other users (i.e. other websites). While most hosting companies do their best to segregate each site, at the end of the day you still share physical components. It’s possible one site could hog bandwidth, CPU, or memory, leaving your site struggling to serve your customers through no fault of its own. Or if one site on the server gets compromised by a virus or other attack, your site could be vulnerable as well. And shared hosting is notoriously bad for email delivery. Because it’s so cheap, it’s a frequent target of spammers who abuse outbound email. This can cause mail servers to blacklist the entire server, which means legitimate emails from your site can get caught in email purgatory and never get delivered.
  • VPS: Virtual Private Servers are a step above shared hosting. In this setup you still share physical components with other sites, but you’ll have higher levels of segregation from them. It usually includes your own IP address and server name, which helps with the email black listing mentioned earlier.
  • Dedicated Server: As the name suggests, this is the big daddy of hosting. Your own CPU(s), memory, and hard drive. This is typically the most expensive, but a must have for major businesses and enterprises.
  • Cloud: This is a relatively new style of hosting in which your server is a virtual machine. It provides a nice alternative to dedicated and VPS setups because it’s typically cheaper while still providing the same benefits. As with most virtual machines you still share physical hardware with others, but the degree of separation is still very high. Cloud servers can also scale much better then dedicated or VPS solutions, and also offer much better migration plans in the even of hardware failures.

Managed WordPress Hosting

This is a fairly new form of hosting that has emerged in recent years and it focuses exclusively on WordPress. Unlike traditional hosting where you have a blank server that’s you install anything, Managed WordPress hosting only serves WordPress sites. The companies that offer these plans have optimized their servers and configuration specifically for WordPress. Whether it’s the Apache or Nginx setup, or using a more performant database, every aspect of WordPress hosting is finely tuned.

Keep in mind managed WordPress hosting can fall into the categories above. You can have shared, VPS, dedicated, or even cloud hosting. The same benefits laid out above still apply for managed WordPress solutions. That is, you’ll always be better off on your own bare metal dedicated host, but VPS and Cloud solutions are often a nice compromise for those that cannot afford the expense.

While many companies offer managed WordPress hosting, there are two we work with a lot and recommend: Pressable and WPengine. You can read our head to head comparison here.