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WordPress Hosting Basics


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These slides are from a talk given at the Melbourne WordPress Meetup in November 2018. The topic was WordPress Hosting Basics, although not all of the content is WordPress specific, covering general topics such as DNS, security and performance.

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WordPress Hosting Basics

  1. 1. WordPress Hosting Basics @chrisburgess
  2. 2. About Me • Chris Burgess • Worked in IT with a passion for web technologies for 20+ years • Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at digital agency Clickify • Run a few personal websites • Regular part of the furniture at Meetups and co-manage the WordPress and SEO Meetups in Melbourne.
  3. 3. Disclaimer • There are plenty of good hosting providers and plenty of bad ones. • I’m not going to tell you who’s the best hosting provider, it is subjective and comes down to your budget and needs. • The purpose of my presentation today is to help you understand more about the basics of WordPress hosting, give you some handy tips and help you to choose the right option for your needs. • In the interest of full disclosure, I do run a digital agency and one of our services is hosting and maintenance, but I’m happy to give you my unbiased opinion on other providers if you have questions, just grab me after the presentation or email me!
  4. 4. What We’ll Cover • What Exactly Is Hosting? • Types Of Hosting • WordPress Hosting Basics • Supporting Services • How To Choose A Hosting Provider • Reselling Hosting • Where To Go For Help
  5. 5. What Exactly Is Hosting?
  6. 6. “A web hosting service is a type of Internet hosting service that allows individuals and organizations to make their website accessible via the World Wide Web. Web hosts are companies that provide space on a server owned or leased for use by clients, as well as providing Internet connectivity, typically in a data center.”
  10. 10. Why is my site so slow?
  11. 11. Site Speed • Is becoming more and more important • Affects user experience (UX) and conversions/leads/sales • Impacts on SEO performance • It is affected by a combination of elements: WEBSITE HOSTING SITE BUILD (INCLUDING THEMES PLUGINS) = SITE SPEED ONSITE OPTIMISATION ++
  12. 12. Page Speed • One of the common reasons why people move hosts is because they find it too slow. • There are online tools to help measure the speed of your site if you are not sure such as: • •
  13. 13. Types of Hosting
  15. 15. Choose based on your needs and budget
  16. 16. SHARED HOSTING (cPanel and Plesk) • Share resources with other websites • Most common hosting platform
  17. 17. VIRTUAL PRIVATE SERVER (VPS) • Cloud based (I’ll talk more about this later) • Typically not shared and you have all the resources just for your website • Typically faster
  18. 18. DEDICATED SERVER • Physical server • Typically not shared and you have all the resources just for your website • Typically faster
  19. 19. MANAGED OR HOSTED SERVICE • The hosting provider manages the hosting for you. • The word “managed” is used quite freely, in particular when it comes to WordPress hosting. • A host may or may not assist with management of your website. This can include WordPress core, theme and plugins.
  20. 20. Standard Hosting Resources • Memory • CPU • Disk Space • Network Bandwidth • Number of sites (and databases, email addresses etc.)
  21. 21. What Is DNS?
  22. 22. DNS PROVIDER • Domain Name Servers (DNS) • Often referred to as the phonebook of the Internet • Computers need IP addresses, but domain names are easy for humans to remember and use • Can be hosting companies, cloud provider or dedicated services like Cloudflare, DNS Made Easy, ClouDNS etc. • Points your domain’s hostnames to your hosts web server, email server etc. • Also very important for things like verifying domain ownership and anti- spam records
  23. 23.
  24. 24. What Is A Domain Registrar?
  25. 25. • Where you can register a domain • You point your domain to a DNS provider, could be your hosting company since most of the offer DNS servers. • Most large hosting companies will sell domains, host DNS and hosting all in the one place. • It’s important to know that you don’t need to have these all at the one company. • Example – Register your domain at GoDaddy, point to Cloudflare for your DNS, and host your website at WP Engine or Conetix. Domain Registrar
  26. 26. WordPress Hosting Basics
  27. 27.
  28. 28. Free hosted version WordPress with some limitations. • Commercial enterprise owned and run Automattic • Shared hosting platform using • Great for people new to websites • Easy to setup • Backups and maintenance looked after • Paid account upgrades • Can migrate to self hosted site at any Free version of WordPress to download with no limits • You need a domain name and hosting • You can use free and paid plugins and themes • You can get help on support forums and the WordPress Codex • More flexibility • You may need some technical knowledge or help to be able to setup and run the website • You are responsible for backups, updates and security of your site (most hosts can help with this)
  29. 29. Hosting Your Own Copy Of WordPress (
  30. 30. Getting Started • Have you got a domain name? • Have you pointed the domain to your DNS Provider and created the appropriate entries? • Have you used a one-click install or downloaded from to manually install?
  31. 31. Recommended Requirements • PHP version 7.2 or greater. • MySQL version 5.6 or greater OR MariaDB version 10.0 or greater. • HTTPS support • Although runs on much less… SOURCE:
  32. 32. How Do You Check This? Here’s a letter you can send to your host; copy and paste: I’m interested in running the open-source WordPress <> web software and I was wondering if my account supported the following: • PHP 7.2 or greater • MySQL 5.6 or greater OR MariaDB 10.0 or greater • Nginx or Apache with mod_rewrite module • HTTPS support SOURCE:
  33. 33. Supporting Services
  34. 34. SSL Certificates • SSL encrypts traffic between your browser and the web server, it’s what gives a site the padlock in the address bar. • There are a few different types of SSL certificates: Let’s Encrypt, Standard Certificates, Wildcard Certificates, EV Certificates • With the popularity of Let’s Encrypt, SSL is now included for free with many hosting packages. • Personally I recommend most sites use SSL, however keep in mind that you still need to secure your site.
  35. 35. Email • Email doesn’t need to be connected to your website hosting • There are advantages to using an email platform like G Suite or Office 365 • Email is often included in standard hosting packages • Email is often not included in managed WordPress or specialised (high availability) hosting
  36. 36. Shared Hosting Email vs Email Platform • Mail platforms such as G Suite and Office 365 give you features like Single Sign On, 2 Factor Authentication and archiving and retention policies. • It is an extra cost, but you get more “business-ready” features.
  37. 37. Sending Email from Your Site • Things like notifications etc. failing is a common issue • Set up SPF DNS records • Use an email gateway such as Sendgrid, Mandrill • Tools like MX Toolbox can help you troubleshoot email issues
  38. 38. Backups • Whatever you do, put backups at the top of your list • When something happens, you’ll thank yourself • Allow for multiple offsite backups • Test your backups • Don’t rely on your host for backups
  39. 39. Management • General site management could include: • Monitoring resources usage, response times and uptime • Applying Updates to WordPress, theme and plugins. As well as any other software running on your web server • Testing to make sure it functions correctly (e.g forms, purchases)
  40. 40. Security • Stay in the loop • Keep things updated • Use quality components • Practice good general security
  41. 41. Password Management • LastPass, Dashlane, Roboform, 1Password • Create a secure note with your hosting URLs, usernames and passwords for reference • Always be practically paranoid
  42. 42. Logging • Treat your logs as valuable, the store a wealth of information • Security isn’t absolute, there’s an old saying “if you can’t prevent, you must detect” • Consider centralised logging, it’s easy to configure • You can also use specialised logging tools/platforms such as Splunk, Loggly, Papertrail and Logstash (ELK Stack)
  43. 43. Local Hosting • Your can turn your computer into a web server, this is very useful for building sites, testing and experimenting • MAMP/XAMPP, DesktopServer, Local by Flywheel, • The software your local computer runs is different to what runs on a web host, but you can transfer files (sites) in between the 2 without any problem, at times with minimal effort
  44. 44. How To Choose A Hosting Provider
  45. 45. As The Saying Goes. You Get What You Pay For.
  46. 46. Things To Consider • Features: Storage, Bandwidth, Email, cPanel/Plesk etc. • Price: Compare prices based on features and services offered • Support: What do they provide and how? • Feedback: Do your research and talk to people at meetup • Platform: Recommend Linux/Unix platform
  47. 47. A General Note On ‘Cloud’ Providers • Many cloud providers offer ”components” that be can be used as building blocks for simple and complex systems • They can be elastic, so you only pay what you use (can be a double edged sword, be very careful of automated billing) • Can be managed programmatically
  48. 48. How to create Auto-Scaling, High Availability WordPress sites on AWS Rick (Pearson) and Greg (Campbell) Slides:
  49. 49. A Note on Root Access • In Unix/Linux “root” access is the administrator account • You typically won’t get root access when you’re using a reseller or shared hosting account. • When you’re hosting things yourself, you will get a root account. This allows you to modify system files. • With great power comes great responsibility.
  50. 50. Other Features • Shell access (ssh) • git • wp-cli • Dev/Staging/Production Environments • Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  51. 51. Reselling Hosting
  53. 53. Where To Go For Help
  54. 54. Homework • Set up a test WordPress site • Experiment with logs, debugging and diagnostics • Become comfortable manually moving WordPress from one host to another • Things will start to fall into place when you’re actually doing it • Ask for help if you need it, there are plenty of experienced people happy to help those who are learning
  55. 55. Going Further • We’ve only just scratched the surface… • System Reliability Engineering is a term you’ll hear often when researching these topics • Look into the world DevOps, there’s an incredibly active community in Melbourne with events on all the time
  56. 56. Reading
  57. 57. Thanks!  @chrisburgess