In this lunchtime #WPQuickies, I’ll take a quick look at selecting the best web hosting plan for you and your website.
In this webinar I cover the following topics.
What Does “Best” Mean?
The word “Best” is relative – it’s relative to you and to your website needs.
So what does best mean for your web hosting requirements? Cost? Speed? Support? Uptime? Security? Let’s have a look at some of these things in this WPQuickie.
The Different Types Of Web Hosting
There are generally three types of web hosting: Shared, Dedicated and Cloud
And I want you to bear in mind the Good, Fast, Cheap triangle because it does apply here.
Shared hosting is everything from your ultra cheap $3.50 a month to expensive VPS machines with multi-CPUs and oodles of RAM at $1000’s per month.
All shared hosting are virtual boxes/segments that sit on top of the physical server machines.
At the cheap end or shared hosting you get a virtual space with limits imposed on it such as bandwidth and number of visitors per month and there can be hundreds of shared accounts per one physical server. These types of accounts are typically cheap but slow and unreliable. You get what you pay for.
At the more expensive end of shared hosting, VPS, it’s still ultimately a virtual space you get but you pay to give that space extra resources such as RAM and CPU. VPS hosting is generally fast and reliable but it can be expensive in terms of you having to manage a server on top of your website. You can get the hosting company to manage your VPS server but that comes at additional cost.
Dedicated hosting is where you buy access to a physical rack mounted server in a data centre. You get 100% of the machine resources so it is super fast and generally reliable, however, it’s bloody expensive to run and to upgrade and if it does go down it’s a catastrophe in terms of time and money.
Cloud hosting again is a type of virtual space. Rather than your website being hosting on a server, it is run as an “app” in the “cloud” which is a virtual machine/network made up of thousands of physical resources all brought together as a type of super computer network run over the internet. Theoretically your website will never go down and can expand and scale back to meet any bandwidth demand, so for example going from a regular couple of thousand hits per day to several million if your site goes viral or gets picked up in the mainstream media. Cloud hosting is generally super reliable and super fast but it’s going to get expensive, quickly, the more resources it has to use.
WordPress Managed Hosting
Across all three of these general types of hosting is WordPress Managed Hosting options.
These hosting packages are offered by companies who provide a WordPress tailored hosting solution – that means their hardware and setup has been put together to optimise WordPress at every level, according to them!
Ideally these types of solutions will make your WordPress website faster, more secure and will give you better support – within the context of the type of hosting you go for.
So, don’t expect a WordPress Managed option from a cheap shared hosting account to match up to a dedicated WordPress Managed Hosting company who only works with WordPress sites.
Key Features Of Web Hosting To Research
When looking for your ideal hosting solution, you need to research the following features.
Uptime is the amount of time your website is up and available for Joe Public to access.
You need to monitor the uptime of your own website because the hosting companies sure aren’t going to tell you how long your site went down for. Two good uptime monitoring services are StatusCake and Uptime Robot.
Look for the uptime guarantee % in the web hosting company’s SLA – service level agreement.
This is the contractual time they are they will strive to keep your website accessible over a year. It’s not a guarantee that the website will never go down, it’s a compensation scheme which means if your site is down longer than the uptime % in their SLA, they will compensate you on the amount of money you pay to host your site – not on the amount of money you lost while it was down.
You should look for at least 99.9% uptime, anything less is pants.
99.9% allows your site to be down for 8 hours over the billing year – so it could all happen at once or spread out over the year.
99.99% allows your site to be down for 52 mins over the billing year – so that extra 0.09% gives you a lot of extra contractual uptime.
It is super-important to at least find out the uptime % a web host is guaranteeing.
You need to decide what losing your site for 8 hours vs 52 mins means for your business. You may not be bothered if you just have a blog site or you could stand to lose thousands if you have an ecommerce business.
If you had asked my 5 years ago if you should have an SSL certificate on your website I would have said “Sure if you are running an ecommerce website otherwise don’t bother.”
Now is different. Having your entire site secure with HTTPS is now the new normal. It is a major factor in the Google ranking algorithm. You should also never pay for an SSL certificate because of a company called Let’s Encrypt which gives you one for free. If your potential web host is asking you to pay for an SSL certificate – go elsewhere!
Don’t rely on a web host to take a backup snapshot of your site. They probably do but it will likely cost you to restore it and it could be weekly or monthly depending on their SLA.
Use your own backup solution – I have a backup plugin article on my Zero Point Development website.
Backups will be dependant on your type of site and how often you update your content. For blog sites, maybe a daily or weekly backup will be enough for you.
For busy ecommerce sites, I would recommend a daily backup as a minimum. Realtime if you can afford it.
What support do you need for your website? Are you technical and can fix WP plugin and coding problems fast or are you a non-techie who needs to pick up a phone and talk to a real person at the other end?
Hosting accounts in Australia are very expensive compared to those in other countries even after taking exchange rates into consideration.
If you need support during your business hours, make sure that the web hosting company can provide that for you during those critical hours.
Also check what type of support they offer. I’ve seen some web hosts only offer a chatbot or Facebook messenger support – appalling I know but there you go.
Being able to talk directly to a techie is always the best type of support IMHO. Talking to a WP techie is even better.
Geolocation or Where Your Web Server Resides
The interwebs keeps getting faster and faster so latency – the time it takes for data to get from a web server to a client browser – is decreasing all the time.
Throw into that mix CDN’s – Content Delivery Networks – like Cloudfare, which keep a cache of your website’s popular pages in local country servers for a faster response.
Having your website hosted on the other side of the planet isn’t too much of an issue – it’s more dependant on the infrastructure that the hosting company uses.
You should totally ask them how their servers and network are set up. Are they white-labelling or reselling their services from another company? A RED FLAG there!!
Are they using Amazon, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud? Or do they have their own data centres? Tick Tick Yes!
Ask them about latency times from their county to yours.
Staging & Cloning
I just had to get a picture of the Lego Star Wars Storm Troopers into the presentation.
WordPress today can be a complex beast with huge themes, multiple plugins and different PHP versions creating a melting pot for things to go wrong.
That’s why testing updates and new features is critical.
If you have an ecommerce or a complex site, being able to clone your site to another testing/staging server is very advantageous.
You can update and test out new plugins and features to that site and iron out any issues that may occur before you touch your live production website, reducing the amount of downtime.
Even better if your web host provides a cloning to staging and then back to production.
That may not work for some busy sites but being able to test and set an upgrade path will help keep your website up and running longer.
Some Commonly Used Web Hosting Providers
Here are some commonly used web providers with my opinion of where they sit in the hosting landscape so that you can evaluate them according to your own needs.
- Crazy Domains – shared, low cost, Australia
- GoDaddy – shared, low cost, USA
- Siteground – shared+WPmgd+cloud, mixed cost, USA
- VentraIP – shared, low cost, Australia
- Zuver (Ventra IP) – WPmgd, low cost, Australia
- Crucial – shared+WPmgd+VPS, mixed cost, Australia
- WPHosting – WPmgd+VPS, mixed cost, Australia
- Digital Ocean – VPS+cloud, mixed cost, USA, developers/techies
- Conetix– VPS+cloud+WPmgd, mid-high cost, USA (Aussie data centre)
- WP Engine – WPmgd, mid-high cost, USA (Aussie data centre)
- Flywheel – WPmgd, mid-high cost, USA (Aussie data centre)
- Page.ly – WPmgd, very high cost (enterprise), USA (Google Cloud)
- Kinsta – WPmgd, mid-high cost, USA (Google Cloud)
- Amazon Lightsail – cloud, resource-based cost, USA, techies
- Google Cloud – cloud, resource-based cost, USA, techies
Watch More #WPQuickies
You can watch more #WPQuickies from the playlist on our WordPress Sydney YouTube channel.
The playlist is also embedded below, click the hamburger menu in the top right of the video to see the others in the series.
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