Hosting: How to pick a WordPress Host

Sunday, June 6th, 2010 | Business | by

WordPress is a popular CMS platform (and has evolved from a purely blogging platform).  If you have virtually no technical knowledge at all, start off very basic with a WordPress.com account.  There are a number of things to consider.

This article will cover:

  • What you need for WordPress hosting?
  • What will WordPress hosting cost?
  • What else is important for WordPress?
  • What hosts are any good?
  • What about Email hosting?

If you have decided you want more flexibility, or have outgrown your current WordPress.com account, read on.

What you need for WordPress hosting?

For WordPress hosting you don’t need much, but not just any host will do.


The following are required for a WordPress web host:

  • PHP (version 4.3 or greater) — Virtually all web hosts that offer PHP nowadays, offer newer than 4.3, most offer PHP 5 (which works).  PHP 5.2, or newer, is recommended
  • MySQL (version 5.0 or greater) — This is another no brainer.  If your host supports MySQL hosting (make sure you understand the fee structure, some hosts charge more for MySQL databases, usage fees may also apply).

For PHP hosting, if your host is any type of decent host, PHP will be automatically enabled.  This shouldn’t be a stumbling block.  If it is — switch hosts now!

MySQL hosting is a bit more complex.  Most web hosts consider MySQL hosting an integral part of any web hosting environment.  The problem is some don’t, and others charge extra for it.  MySQL can run a WordPress installation with very few resources (most of the databases I install never go beyond 5 or 10 MB).  Make sure you keep track of your MySQL database size, as usage fees can go high quick.  If you don’t keep your site up to date with patches / updates, someone could hack your site and blow your MySQL database WAY beyond your usage agreements incurring additional fees.

What will WordPress hosting cost?

You should expect to pay anywhere from $5-20 / month for basic WordPress hosting.  I know there are many hosts out there that charge $5 per year, and others that charge $50-100/month.  Remember, you get what you pay for (usually).

If you are just launching a small site, expecting relatively low traffic (<500 visitors per day), you should be fine with any plan $20 a month or less.  If you are going to go beyond that, then you may want to consider some of the details of your plan.

If you intend on having any sizable audience, be sure to identify the contractual terms to:

  • Inbound/Outbound Bandwidth
  • Bandwidth Guarantees
  • Uptime Guarantees
  • MySQL database maximum size
  • Disk space
  • Maintenance Notification
  • Fees if you go beyond any capacity
  • How traffic spikes (reddit, digg, slashdot, etc.) can be handled, and at what cost

For a standard site, you shouldn’t really worry about any of this.  Just make sure to check your invoices every month/quarter and make sure you are happy with your service.

What else is important for WordPress?

Some other “bonuses” for WordPress hosting, which may be requirements if you are planning certain types of deployments are:

  • GZipped compression – this can make a huge difference in download speed of your website, sometimes cutting up to 80% off the size of transferred files.
  • Permissions compatible with WordPress – Some hosts are super secure, and require you to type username / passwords every time you want to upload a file or update a plugin, others will let WordPress manage this without the need for usernames/passwords.  I find this most important when setting up a client with limited technical knowledge.
  • Flexible “PHP.ini” controls – If you can change / recompile your PHP, you will have ultimate flexibility in implementing some of the more advanced plugins (that may require GD lib or other packages that may not be installed by default)

So, what hosts are any good?

That’s hard to say.  There are really so many of them out there.  If you really want help picking a host, feel free to contact me.  Otherwise here are some suggested hosts to check out (I have no affiliation with any, and if you have had a good/bad experience please post here):

Personally I have only had direct experience with Media Temple and am very happy with them so far.

You will most likely only need the most basic web hosting package (and don’t forget to say “no” to those extra bells and whistles).

What about Email hosting?

If you are willing to try to set it up, Google Apps provides the BEST email hosting (among other offerings) out there. You are using all the power of Google for your own means.  They have great tutorials on setting it up, and provide constantly updating functionality.

In addition to Email hosting, Google Apps also provides document hosting, chat functionality, intranet/micro site hosting, calendar hosting, etc.  Very useful and works with most platforms out there (iPhone, Blackberry, etc).

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3 Comments to Hosting: How to pick a WordPress Host

[…] on various hosting platforms, Media Temple won.  You can see a list of other web hosts on my How to pick a web host […]

Mike
June 22, 2010

Maybe you also need to add that WordPress.com also supports VIP hosting. This hosting is dedicated for clients with massive traffic (e.g.: techcrunch moved their hosting from mediatemple to wp vip).

Anyway, this post is informative.

seangw
June 22, 2010

Ya know, TechCrunch also experienced a bunch of outages with WordPress VIP — http://techcrunch.com/2010/02/18/wordpress-com-outage-techcrunch/

Not sure I’d switch over, but they probably know how to configure a WP host.

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