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WordPress hosting & Management: An overview

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Miramedia run a WordPress meetup on the first Thursday of each month at the creative co-working space, The House TW.

In this talk, technology Consultant Mike Houghton discusses and compares the various hosting options for your WordPress site.

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WordPress hosting & Management: An overview

  1. 1. WordPress hosting and management Michael Houghton Depth of Focus Limited
  2. 2. “Where can I host my WordPress site?”
  3. 3. Almost anywhere. • WP is so popular that it heavily influences available hosting choices • Huge variety of hosting and support options • General PHP/MySQL or specialist WP hosting • Managed or unmanaged • WordPress can also operate in a multisite mode, hosting thousands of blogs
  4. 4. “Should I run WP on my own hosting… or just use it?”
  5. 5. wordpress.com • “Multisite” WP as a service, runs 50% of the world’s WordPress sites • Small set of general themes, and you can’t install your own plugins • You only need to maintain the content • Provides functionality and services you can use with the Jetpack plugin on “self-hosted” blogs
  6. 6. multisite as a service • Off-the-shelf WordPress providers targeting specific niche markets • Themes and functionality curated for that niche • Market-focussed support • None of the hassle of running your own server • Less scope to step outside the box
  7. 7. • Visual Society 
 https://visualsociety.com/ • Conference Websites 
 http://conference-websites.co.uk/ • Restaurant Engine
 https://restaurantengine.com/ • PressBooks
 https://pressbooks.com/ multisite as a service
  8. 8. “What kinds of hosting are out there?”
  9. 9. Early web hosting • Dedicated hosting: a server to yourself that you can configure as you require • Like leasing an entire building • Shared hosting: multiple websites on one web server • A bit like renting a desk in an office!
  10. 10. Dedicated servers • “bare metal”: a server or network to yourself • Perhaps even your own hardware through colocation • Full root (administrator) access; total freedom but also total responsibility • Sometimes offered with control panel software installed to ease configuration • Most ISPs offer fully managed service offerings
  11. 11. Shared hosting • Multiple sites all sharing the same resources • Simple disk and database quotas, files uploaded by FTP • Limited protection from unruly neighbours! • Getting an SSL certificate can be complicated • Options for configuring servers are limited
  12. 12. Virtual private servers • Servers divided into virtual machines • Each VM has all of the potential of a dedicated box • Adds hardware independence, easier upgrades, and security between customers • Also snapshot backups, rollbacks and cloning • But some offerings are oversold / poorly performing • Birthed cloud services like Amazon EC2
  13. 13. Containers • Evolution of virtualisation and the cloud; blurs the boundaries of hosting architecture • A container is a tiny slice of a machine, with just the resources needed for a single logical function • e.g. DB, webserver, memory cache, load balancer, front end cache • Docker containers can be “wired” to each other, reconfigured, scaled, moved transparently
  14. 14. “What about WordPress in the cloud?”
  15. 15. Cloud managed VPS • Server setup and configuration managed by ISP; your own server but safely and easily • Web control panel access to start and stop services, configure SSL • Often one-click installers for web apps or WP • API access for creating and configuring servers • Providers include Gandi and Cloudways
  16. 16. Cloud services and APIs • The cloud is internet-based storage and compute services under API control • APIs are remote web-based interfaces for code • Programmatically manage servers, storage or WP itself • Connect to external service providers, 
 e.g. payments/invoicing, email providers • Build automations with Zapier, Microsoft Flow
  17. 17. WP is perfect for the cloud! • WordPress itself has common requirements: PHP and MySQL • Plugins add functionality to WordPress • To integrate a cloud service you might add a container or sign up for a third-party service • Install the matching plugin and connect it to your new service
  18. 18. Advanced Cloud VPS Write code that calls APIs to build infrastructure • create, boot, shut down VPS instances on demand • take and restore whole-box snapshot backups • write your own server installation scripts • update DNS, configure load balancers and firewalls • Providers include Google, Amazon, Digital Ocean, Bytemark
  19. 19. “And managed WP hosting?”
  20. 20. WP hosting as a service • Cloud hosting with WordPress-specific services from WP Engine, Kinsta, Pagely • Database backups, migrations, staging servers with publication tools • WP security: brute force login protection, API protection, vulnerability scanning • WP-aware caching and load-balancing • The hosting implementation is hidden from you
  21. 21. “So how do we decide what kind of hosting we really need?”
  22. 22. Scale • A site with many active users or high traffic may suit cloud hosting • Horizontal scaling: adding servers on demand • Load balancers • Dedicated database instances • Front end caching
  23. 23. Backups and source control • Backup services can be implemented as plugins • But bespoke or high-availability sites may need different backup strategies • Cloning a VPS makes it easier to develop and test new functionality • Managed WP hosting may interfere with source control software
  24. 24. Security Shared or managed WP hosting may be wrong for: • Directly handling credit cards (PCI DSS) • Access to secure databases • Large amounts of customer-identifying data • Choosing a legal jurisdiction for a server
  25. 25. SSL certificates You should use SSL, but it can complicate hosting significantly • Shared hosting often makes it difficult or expensive • Can you use your own SSL certificate bought elsewhere? • Managed hosting services often provide simple access to Let’s Encrypt free basic certificates!
  26. 26. Email • Many shared hosting and managed VPS providers limit access to SMTP (external mail) because of problems with spamming customers • You may need to use a transactional mail service, e.g. SendGrid, SendInBlue, MailJet or MailGun • Connect to it via SMTP or an API • Just install the matching plugin and configure it!
  27. 27. Bespoke functionality • Managed WP hosting may block non-WordPress software like DB management panels • They may also block your bespoke PHP scripts • You may want a specific service, e.g. a memory cache or key store like Redis • Some configuration tweaking will need an unmanaged VPS or dedicated hosting • You might run on an Windows VPS to use .NET
  28. 28. The command line You might want Secure Shell (SSH) access to the command line to run: • bespoke backup scripts • log file processors, configuration tools • WP-CLI Shared or managed WordPress hosting may not offer SSH access
  29. 29. “How can we easily manage lots of sites?”
  30. 30. Stay on the rails! If you build your sites the most “WordPress way” possible, you have more hosting choices • Avoid non-WordPress scripts, and keep plugin and theme functionality separate • Choose WP-based caching schemes • Choose plugins and themes that don’t subvert WP standards • Do scheduled maintenance with WP-Cron
  31. 31. Tips for multiple sites • Try to use a standard set of plugins • Don’t go overboard: choose plugins carefully • Make use of child themes support • Make good use of scheduled maintenance tasks • Try to avoid copy-paste-change solutions • Use source control such as Git for bespoke code
  32. 32. Remote management • Tools are available to remotely upgrade WP/ plugins/themes across dozens of sites at once • Some are hosted services (e.g. ManageWP) • Some (e.g. InfiniteWP, MainWP) are control panels you host yourself • Install a plugin on each site, add the site to the manager control panel
  33. 33. Jetpack • Integrate your own site with services provided by wordpress.com • Offers a remote management tool for sites on your own hosting • Offers traffic and stats tools, backups, security tools • Comment management across multiple sites
  34. 34. WP-CLI • An official command-line interface for WordPress • Integrates with WP and many plugins • Write commands and scripts to install and manage WP: wp core download wp plugin update --all wp plugin install wordpress-seo • Add to existing provisioning/configuration management

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