You’ve decided on your niche, you’ve bought a keyword rich domain name, you’ve picked out a gorgeous WordPress theme and you’re raring to get that website live.
Only one thing left to decide, who are you going to host with, who will be your service provider?
Of all the things you have to do in order to get a website live on the internet, choosing a host seems like the easiest, but believe me…. it’s not.
Don’t worry, I’ve been there and done it so let’s see if I can simplify things and offer a little advice.
cPanel MySQL databases and installing WordPress
You can find the official guide on installing WordPress over on WordPress.org. You may find it a tad intimidating, so this is the non-techies version:
Your WordPress website consists of WordPress site files and a MySQL database all sitting on your host’s server.
There are four ways you can get your site up and running and the method you choose depends on how happy you are to do the install yourself and which host you go with.
#1 – Have your service provider set up your WordPress install.
If you’re new to WordPress and all this talk of databases is a mystery to you then you need a host who will do the install for you. Not all hosts provide this service so you need to find a host who does.
Make sure that you find out if the install is part of the hosting package or if there will be an additional fee.
#2 – Use a one-click install script such as Fantastico or Softaculous via cPanel.
The one-click install is the way that I set up my first WordPress website and it’s pretty easy to do. You need to check that your potential host has cPanel and is prepared to help if you have any problems.
Lots of hosts use cPanel these days so you should have plenty to choose from.
#3 – Do the full shooting match yourself – database, site files and all.
The full process is:
- Create your database using the database wizard via cPanel
- Upload your site files using FTP
- Connect to the database by editing your wp-config.php file
- Run the WordPress install script
If you’re happy to do all that you don’t need much help from your host so you just need to find one who has cPanel, is within your price range and has a good reputation in the WordPress community.
#4 – Create your install at the same time as you sign up.
When you sign up for a personal account with WP Engine, you are given a fresh and fully functional installation of WordPress, primed and optimized to be lightning fast.
The database is created and configured, as well as your wp-config.php and .htaccess file.
Login and SFTP credentials are then emailed to you.
How cool is that!
Make sure you ask plenty of questions before you sign up.
Asking questions is a great way to get an indication of response time and how helpful your host is likely to be in the future.
Just make sure you ask your questions… before you sign-up.
Shared or managed WordPress hosting…
Running a WordPress website is not all about uploading themes and writing content, there’s a lot of basic housekeeping that has to be done.
You have to manage site performance, security, backups and updates.
With budget shared hosting this will be your responsibility so you have to:
- Manage the site yourself – if you have the time and skills.
- Hire someone to manage the site for you – which may be expensive.
Another solution is to use managed hosting.
With managed hosting your host will carry out most of the management tasks for you.
They specialise in WordPress and their servers will be tuned to WordPress resulting in super fast load times.
They also implement their own advanced security measures and update your WordPress install for you.
You can see now why it’s called managed hosting.
With managed WordPress hosting, you get the hassle-free experience, so you can focus on running your business and doing what you are good at. If you are a small business or a high traffic website, then it is the best solution for you.
Syed Balkhi – WPBeginner
That’s the difference between shared (non managed) and managed hosting.
With shared hosting the management of your site is your responsibility.
With managed hosting your host takes care of all those technical and time consuming jobs.
Let’s take a look at a stand-out example of each type of hosting.
Shared WordPress hosting with 5quidhost
I’ve been using 5quidhost since I first started working with WordPress and in those early days I couldn’t have managed without them.
They’ve been in business since 2004 so longevity is not a problem.
They have full cPanel access, which allows you to use the one-click install or create your own database using the database wizard. 5quidhost will also set up WordPress for you and… they even have a free hosting plan!
For a more detailed overview of 5quidhost, check out my post WordPress hosting and support by 5quidhost
5quidhost are pure and simple general hosting providers. They provide shared hosting plus great support and advice at a budget price, but they are not dedicated WordPress hosts and there are still some things you have to do yourself:
- Caching – you can’t expect lightning fast load times on a shared server at a budget price so if you want to speed up your site you will have to add and configure a caching plugin.
- Security – any additional security measures that you want to add to your site via plugins and or your .htaccess file you will have to do yourself.
- Backups – although 5quidhost take backups for their own purposes, backups are not part of their hosting service so you will have to make backups of your database and site files yourself.
- Upgrades – upgrades to WordPress is not part of the service so you will have to carry out all upgrades yourself.
- Fixing hacked site – heaven forbid, but if your site ever gets hacked you will have to sort it out yourself.
With a budget hosting plan you can’t just set up a WordPress site and forget about it. Your hosting provider provides the server space, but you have to carry out the fine tuning and the regular updates and maintenance and sort out any problems.
You are definitely the best host I have ever used, and I have tried a few. My support emails are responded to and resolved in the same time it takes for most companies to send an autoreply message.
Managed WordPress hosting with WP Engine
WP Engine are dedicated WordPress hosts, they don’t host anything but WordPress.
That means that their hosting architecture is hand-tuned to WordPress, which means super fast response times without you having to install a caching plugin.
WP Engine also create your WordPress install at the same time as you sign up.
This is premium hosting at its best and these are some of the services that are included in their hosting package:
- Choice of server location – choose the server location that will work best for you: Newark in the US, London in Europe or Tokyo in Asia.
- Staging area – make changes to your site in a “staging area”, which is not live, and only make changes to your live site when you are happy. No more broken sites.
- One-click backup and restore – WP Engine provides simple one-click backup and restore options, no more messing about with backup plugins.
- Managed Upgrades – WP Engine automatically install WordPress security and maintenance upgrades, so you don’t have to worry about keeping your site up to date.
- Security monitoring – WP Engine employ a number of security measures to ensure that your site doesn’t get hacked in the first place and then they continually monitor your site.
- Hacks fixed for free – should your site ever get hacked, WP Engine will fix it for free.
As you can see, managed hosting with WP Engine takes care of all those important but time consuming elements involved in running a website.
That leaves you free to concentrate on the bits you do best… adding content and running your business.
My site loads ridiculously fast, my page views are up, and my business
is seeing the results. I rest easy at night with the level of support.
My only regret: that I didn’t move to WP Engine sooner.
Phil Simon – Author of “The Age of the Platform”
WordPress hosting – no one-size-fits-all solution
If you want to get fit you can join a gym, pay a monthly fee and work out five times a week.
Or, if you can’t afford the fees, you can buy some equipment and work out five times a week… in your spare bedroom.
The point I’m making is that just like keeping fit, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to choosing a web host. You have to tailor your host to your technical ability, the services you think are important and what you can afford.
Premium solution – if you’re looking for a lightning fast site complete with security, daily backups, a staging area and WordPress upgrades and you can afford it, then managed hosting with WP Engine is the way to go.
Budget solution – if your budget is limited and you’re prepared to look after your own caching, security, backups and WordPress upgrades then 5quidhost or an equivalent shared hosting provider would be a sensible choice.
Whatever you decide, managed hosting or shared hosting, I hope you find a host who is prompt, helpful and a wizard with WordPress.
Oh, nearly forgot: I wish you every success… with that new WordPress website.