WordPress Web Hosting Recommendations

I get asked a LOT about web hosting so I finally put together a FAQ.

1. What hosting do you recommend for my WordPress site?

My first choice in WordPress hosting is WP Engine.  WP Engine is a finely tuned Managed WordPress Hosting platform specifically tailored for WordPress with plans starting at $35/m.  The starter plan includes automated backups, updates & responsive WordPress literate support.  They’re why I don’t offer to manage sites on low end hosting for a monthly fee anymore.  It doesn’t make sense for most clients, as you don’t need me backing up, updating and managing your site if you’re on WPE.  They won’t do development for you, you’ll still need someone like me for that, but they do most of what I did for $50/m as part of their base package as $35/m.

2. WP Engine seems expensive, why not SiteGround, GoDaddy, BlueHost or DreamHost?

I used to recommend these as budget options, but honestly, I don’t have time for the performance problems they all come with.  If you have a hobby site and really want budget hosting, Site Ground and GoDaddy are the ones to go with.  Bluehost and Dreamhost still have their fans as well for hobby sites but expect more issues and poorer performance.

3. What else should I know about WP Engine?

WP Engine has some gotchas to look out for.

a) WP Engine doesn’t provide email on your domain, nor do they provide domain registration.  Honestly, you don’t really WANT these things running on your web server and all the managed WordPress like Pantheon, Pagely, and Flywheel do the same.

Unless you a have a very low traffic site with just one email address I generally recommend against running email on your web server.  This used to be an easier argument to make when Google Apps had a free option, but now Google Apps is paid only offering making it a harder choice to make.  As an alternative some name registrars provide email forwarding that might work for you, and many other hosting companies provide dedicated email hosting.

b) WP Engine’s server configuration isn’t compatible with the use of PHP’s $_SESSION variable. While this is fairly rare it can be a problem for a few plugins and it’s burned me a few times, but you can read more about it here

c) WP Engine requires you turn ON random sorting if you need it, it’s just a check box to turn on but it’s good to know.

4. Are there other hosts you recommend?  What about other managed WordPress hosts? 

Not that I’d actively recommend.  I’ve used and managed sites on a lot of hosts and I wouldn’t caution against using: Host Gator, InMotion, VPS.net, RackSpace, MediaTemple, Linode or Amazon Web Services.  They’re all OK in my book, just WP Engine, BlueHost and DreamHost are better options in nearly every case for many reasons from performance, to downtime, to support and being easy of management.  As for other managed WordPress hosts like Synthesis, Page.ly, and Pressable, they too are all OK in my book but each has a thing about them that makes me prefer WP Engine.  Perhaps I’ll detail some of those difference in a post in the future.

5. Are there other hosts you would actively recommend against?

Yes.  I’ve had far too many problems with 1&1 and Network Solutions and wouldn’t touch either of them. I also tend to avoid the small hosts selling shared hosting.  Some small hosts are ok for high end hosting, but for cheap shared hosting you’re generally better off with GoDaddy or Site Ground.

6. What other recommendations do you make?

Yes, see my recommendations on:

Cleaning up a hacked site here

Performance enhancers for shared hosting

Software and development tools (coming soon)

 

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