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.
Host Busters: How to Avoid Being Haunted by Bad WordPress Hosting Decisions
WordPress is the web’s most popular content management system. It’s
easy to launch for first-timers, but customizable enough for power
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.
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
4. Managed Hosting
A host runs the site infrastructure on your behalf, taking on security and
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
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.
Scaling without migrations or downtime
Allows for future growth
Reasonable costs, with savings on IT management & monitoring
Con: Less control over the minutiae of configuration
Page Load Speed: How fast a page loads can determine search engine
ranking. Faster response times can decrease bounce rates and increase
Uptime: Every minute your site is down costs potential customers, leads,
Caching: The right caching technology can dramatically improve your site’s
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.
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
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
—Weston Ruter, CTO, XWP
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
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
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
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
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.