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Host Busters: How to Avoid Being Haunted by Bad WordPress Hosting Decisions

Unfortunately, we can’t save ourselves from bad Wordpress hosts with unlicensed nuclear accelerators. But, we can take the proactive approach and educate ourselves on how to make the best WordPress hosting decision. Here are the pros and cons of 5 types of WordPress hosting along with what to consider when making your final decision.

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Host Busters: How to Avoid Being Haunted by Bad WordPress Hosting Decisions

  1. 1. WordPress is the web’s most popular content management system. It’s easy to launch for first-timers, but customizable enough for power users. But WordPress is only as good as the architecture it runs on. An optimized WordPress setup will run even better on a great hosting platform. On the other hand, no plugin can make up for low-end specs, a suboptimal stack, or shoddy security. This guide is designed to help you choose the right WordPress host. Read on to learn what factors separate a host with the most from a host that’s a bust.
  2. 2. 1. Shared hosting Your site is on a server with hundreds of other sites. Pro: Low cost. Con: Security issues, performance problems. 2. Virtual Private Server Like shared hosting, but your site runs on a virtual server you must maintain. Pro: Better performance than shared. Con: Higher cost, requires some tech knowledge and management. 3. Dedicated Hosting Your site is hosted on its own server or cluster of servers. Pro: Highest level of control. Con: Most expensive, requires substantial tech knowledge and constant management. "Elastic, WordPress-specific hosts provide amazing infrastructure because they're built to do one thing really well—WordPress. So I know that their ability to scale is spot-on. Performance and security are top priorities for my clients, so I appreciate well documented information on how both are achieved. Additionally, a website management platform should be opinionated on development best practices and tools used to build and run sites. --Mason James, Founder & CEO, WP Valet
  3. 3. 4. Managed Hosting A host runs the site infrastructure on your behalf, taking on security and performance. Pro: Doesn’t require tech expertise or management on your part. Con: Pricey, limits control—host can disallow plugins or even dictate your site’s code. 5. Elastic Hosting Your site is hosted in a “container” on a distributed platform, so performance isn’t dependent on pre-configured physical or virtual servers. Pros: Scaling without migrations or downtime Responsive performance More reliable Allows for future growth Reasonable costs, with savings on IT management & monitoring Con: Less control over the minutiae of configuration
  4. 4. Page Load Speed: How fast a page loads can determine search engine ranking. Faster response times can decrease bounce rates and increase engagement. Uptime: Every minute your site is down costs potential customers, leads, and awareness. Caching: The right caching technology can dramatically improve your site’s performance. WordPress Optimization: Your solution should be designed from the ground up to optimize WordPress performance. Scaling: Most hosts claim to be scalable, but many require migration to new server architecture to scale. Look for a host that offers real-time scaling to handle both steady growth and one-off traffic spikes.
  5. 5. SSL: It’s the standard security technology for websites. Google factors whether your site has SSL into its search algorithm. It’s a must-have. WordPress Core & Plugin Updates: Keeping WordPress up-to-date is crucial for security. Make sure you know how easy it is to apply updates and patches. Network Intrusion & DOS Protection: The average network sees thousands of attempted breaches a day. Good DOS and network intrusion protection are your first line of defense. “It is important that a host allow (or better enforce) that version control be the mechanism for deploying changes. Allowing unversioned files to be deployed to production is an enabler for cowboy coding. If a security breach does happen, it is critical that the production code be re-deployable to a clean environment. In the same way, it is important that the filesystem in production not be writable (aside from restricted uploaded files) so that a vulnerability doesn't allow an attacker to write malicious code into application files.” —Weston Ruter, CTO, XWP
  6. 6. User Management: Your WordPress host should allow you to easily control user permissions and access. You should be able to see who has access, at what level, and add or revoke permission easily. Single Sign-On & Two-Factor Authentication: Both of these technologies are crucial for your site, definite must- haves, but many WordPress hosts don’t support them. Make sure yours does. Backups: Backups can be manual or automated, and stored different lengths of time. They may be stored in the same datacenter as your site or a different one. Make sure to evaluate whether your host’s backup plan meets your needs.
  7. 7. Who provides the support: Ideally, WordPress and website performance experts. What they support: Are they only there when something goes wrong, or can they advise on optimization? When are they available? Preferably, 24/7. How do you initiate support? Are they proactively monitoring? Or do you have to open a ticket when you discover something has gone wrong? “For me, customer service is king. The quality of customer service varies widely by host, so I find it helpful during the “shopping” period to contact support and see how they respond. Are they quick? Are they courteous? Are they truly helpful? Quality of service does not always correlate to price. I’ve had excellent customer service from a bulk/shared host and downright rude service from an expensive one. Great customer service isn’t just one testimonial on a website -- it’s baked into a company’s culture and, with a little looking, you can usually get a feel before you ever sign the dotted line.” --Carrie Dils, WordPress Consultant, Carrie Dils Consulting
  8. 8. Some WordPress hosts provide a variety of tools to help with site development and maintenance. Good tools can increase your efficiency and reduce your IT burden. Top-quality hosts have a safe development environment where your team can innovate, and stakeholders can preview changes without threatening the live site. Ideally, this environment should run on the same architecture as the live site, to avoid surprises on rollout. “We've found “one click staging” sites to be woefully inadequate. Frequently the sites have no backup solution (yikes) and being limited to one staging site means all software updates and custom code fixes must be applied to the same install. We've found that a single environment for staging provides a false sense of security around the activities of development. We follow a modified Git flow for branching all of our development, software updates, and can do so with multiple dev teams involved by leveraging Pantheon's Multidev. It's a core part of the infrastructure we provide to our clients.” Mason James, Founder & CEO, WP Valet
  9. 9. There is a dizzying array of hosting options out there, from a single shared server to flexible container-based platforms. Your choice can make a huge difference in performance, stability, and future-proofing. Some web hosting platforms do more than provide hardware for your site to run on. A website management platform goes beyond simple hosting to provide an all-inclusive development and optimization solution. Read our eBook, WordPress Hosting Is Dead, to find out why the best host is not a host at all.
  10. 10. Could your site use a scalable, flexible, secure web platform designed with WordPress best practices in mind? Create a free account today and explore the possibilities.
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Unfortunately, we can’t save ourselves from bad Wordpress hosts with unlicensed nuclear accelerators. But, we can take the proactive approach and educate ourselves on how to make the best WordPress hosting decision. Here are the pros and cons of 5 types of WordPress hosting along with what to consider when making your final decision.

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