How To Choose The Best Host For Your WooCommerce Shop

Just skimming through all the various WooCommerce related Facebook groups, you will quickly come across a post asking which is the best WooCommerce hosting company.

I understand it can be quite a gruelling task choosing a “good” hosting company for your WooCommerce store.

Of course, everyone has an opinion on specific hosts, usually sharing negative issues they have come across.

I like to think of web hosting like a pizza shop.

They all offer a range of pizzas with different toppings which some people prefer more than others – like pineapple (only joking 😒).

Rather than getting intertwined with the pros and cons of named web hosting companies, I suggest you make a list of important things.

Consider the following topics to help you choose the best WooCommerce host for your online shop.

Technical Support

Running a WooCommerce store on top of WordPress, alongside a theme and multiple plugins, is not easy, especially for a new store owner.

When (not if) something goes wrong, you need to ask yourself who will fix the issue?

Who has the technical know-how to get your store back up and running quickly?

Who can apply patches and upgrades consistently to keep your shop online so you can concentrate on servicing customers and running your business?

Many first-time WooCommerce shop owners don’t consider this until something hits the fan and they find themselves unable to call tech support because it’s closed for the night (different time zone).

Or worse, you have to engage with a chat-bot which constantly asks you if your latest refresh of the browser tab fixed the problem! 🤖

When considering a web host, have a look at what support they offer.

Are they available 24/7, can they be reached by phone in your time zone, can you speak to a real person, do they employ an email-only ticketing system, do they have an online-chat system?

Have a look to see if they have a blog or a knowledge base of tips and tricks that you can refer to.

Support is an uber critical part of choosing a great web host for any WordPress website.

Type Of Hosting

There are many different types of hosting that you can choose from, and each comes with a different price-tag.

Shared Hosting

This is the lowest level type of hosting and for most new website owners, their first experience of a web hosting company.

Traditionally shared hosting is the cheapest of the hosting packages available with prices as low as $0.99c per month.

In general with hosting, you get what you pay for.

You can think of shared hosting like an overcrowded, busting-at-the-seams hostel.

Everyone has a tiny 10×4 room in the overall hostel building, sharing the limited resources such as the same front door, kitchen, showers and bathrooms.

There are also rules – you can’t bring in guests without paying more, and if you get too noisy, you get kicked out for several hours until you calm back down.

And yes, if that hostel gets raided by the police or finds itself having a bad reputation, your address will send warning bells ringing at job interviews and professional clubs.

Trying to get a hold of the hostel owner?

Good luck on that!

Yuck.

Unless you are scratching underneath the fridge for lost coins, avoid shared hosting for your WooCommerce store.

VPS

Virtual Private Servers (VPS’) can be the right choice for your WooCommerce shop.

But you kind of need to know what resources you need to add for your store to run properly and handle all the traffic.

When you choose a VPS package, you will be asked how many CPU’s, how much RAM and how much disk space you need.

It can be a bit scary if you haven’t done that before.

Some people go over the top and end up choosing more resources than the server needs – paying too much per month.

While others, try to cost save and choose the bare minimum resources that the poor server struggles to even run the operating system on, never mind WordPress and an e-commerce store!

Costs are based on the resources you choose, so if you add another CPU, it costs $X extra per month.

Same with RAM, disk-space and every other type of server resource.

A VPS plan can give your WooCommerce store the oomph it needs, at an affordable price, but you have to get the resources correct for your website and factor in the time it will take you to manage and maintain it.

The cheapest VPS plans are unmanaged, which means that you are on your own to keep everything secure and updated – that also includes the server!!!

Thankfully, most hosting companies will also offer a managed VPS service.

This service costs a bit more every month, but the hosting company looks after the machine for you.

Well worth the price if you’re not a server tech-head!

Managed WordPress

Several big companies offer WordPress managed hosting.

Their systems are tailored to make WordPress perform fast and should know the WordPress ecosystem inside and out.

Yes, the prices are usually higher than a plain VPS package and maybe a bit higher than a managed VPS plan but you are getting into the realms of superior hosting for your WordPress and WooCommerce website.

These managed WordPress hosting companies have built their systems on a super-fast infrastructure (think Google Cloud Platform or Amazon AWS), and their support should be first-class and prompt.

This is, of course, a premium service and you pay accordingly.

Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting is probably overkilling for your very first WooCommerce store unless you are planning to have thousands of customers hit the shop when you launch.

If you are looking for scalability – the ability to adapt to large volumes of traffic seasonally or during big marketing campaigns, cloud hosting is probably what you are looking for.

You generally pay for resources such as CPU and RAM per hour.

The more your website needs to scale, the more resources are spun up, and the more it costs until it can be rewound down again.

SLA Uptime

I see a lot of people skip over uptime availability offered by hosting companies.

You can usually find this in their Service Level Agreements (SLA’s).

Some will offer 99.9% uptime.

Sounds great yeah?

Actually, this is really bad.

At 99.9% guaranteed uptime, under a hosts SLA, they can allow for your website to be down for about 10 minutes every week which equates to about 9 hours over the year.

Usually, downtime is for a few minutes while the tech guys try to resolve the issue but, according to their SLA your site could be down for a full 9 hours and legally you have no recourse.

Your web host should offer 99.99 or 99.995 uptime to minimize your shop’s downtime.

Security

Your host should offer you a free SSL certificate for your website.

Since the rise of Let’s Encrypt, nobody should ever need to pay for an SSL certificate every again.

To be clear, there is no difference between an SSL certificate generated by Let’s Encrypt and a paid one costing hundreds of dollars.

They do the same thing, encrypting the data sent between the client browser and the webserver.

You absolutely need an SSL certificate if you are running a WooCommcerce store, not only for processing payments, but also to ensure you keep customer data private.

Google has admitted that SSL is a significant ranking factor in its search results algorithm, so you need to have your entire site secure.

Backups

Unfortunately, things will go wrong, that’s just life, so you need backups to be in place.

Make sure your host offers an automated backup system – hourly if possible, real-time if your site store is uber busy.

Make sure that it’s easy for you to restore the website from backups, either yourself or quickly from tech support without additional costs.

Scalability

I mentioned cloud hosting above in the different types of hosting you could choose.

Let’s talk a little bit more about scalability now.

Gave scalability a thought when deciding which host your WooCommerce store needs.

Having high traffic to your shop is, of course, a good thing, but can your WordPress and WooCommerce systems handle all those payment processing, checkouts, account registrations etc.?

New customer registrations, checkouts and payments are resource-intensive tasks on their own right, then add to that all the plugins you have around your shop such as integration with a CRM, or pushing data out to Zapier, reporting, printing package slips, calculating shipping pricing etc.

If your purchases are seasonal, you will have to prepare your system to respond to a higher traffic volume for those seasonal traffic spikes.

If any of this is making sense, then you probably want to investigate cloud hosting.

Not every hosting company has experience delivering and maintaining high-performance and high-scalability website plans.

To put it in basic terms, Cloud hosting allows your webserver to expand to use more resources to meet demand.

That may involve spinning up more web servers with load balancing to send customers to your site’s most available instance and adding more CPU and RAM dynamically as the servers need.

Cloud hosting is complex, and it’s a pay-as-you-need billing system, so don’t enter into it unless you have done your proper research!

Cost and Value

When it comes down to the bottom line, you need to decide how much you are willing to pay for your WooCommerce shop hosting per year versus the value you get back.

The value is of course partly the money you make from your store, but also the time you can spend improving and building upon your business (making money), as opposed to updating, maintaining and sorting out tech issues (wasting time and money).

Keep In Touch

Wil

Wil is a dad, consultant, developer, conference organiser, speaker and business mentor. He co-organizes the WordPress Sydney meetup group and has been on the organising committee for WordCamp Sydney since 2014. He speaks at many special events and contributes to the WordPress open source project. His likes are chillies, craft beer and electrogravitics.

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