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 finally tuned managed wordpress hosting platform specifically tailored for WordPress with plans starting at $29/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 few anymore.  It doesn’t make sense for most clients, as you don’t need me backing up, updating and managing your site if your on WPE.  They won’t do development for you, you’ll still need someone like me f or that, but they do most of what I did for $50/m as part of their base package as $29/m.

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

Actually my second choice in WordPress hosting is BlueHost.  BlueHost is the best super cheap web hosting out there.  It’s no where near as fast or reliable as WP Engine, but it’s $7/m (sometimes as low as $5/m if you click that link while they’re running a promo).

DreamHost is great too especially if your looking at getting into VPS.  Again, usually if you’re looking at a VPS for your WordPress site you probably ought to go to WP Engine because your administration costs will be much lower.

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 on your web host.  If you do, BlueHost integrates everything nicely into cPanel so it’s a nice one stop shop, but you don’t want to be clogging up your web server by making it work as a email server.  

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 great deal 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 ever case for many reasons from performance, to down time, to support to easy of management.  As for other managed WordPress hosts like Synthesis, Page.ly and ZippyKid, they too are all OK in my book but each has thing that make 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 GoDaddy, 1&1 and Network Solutions and wouldn’t touch any of them.

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)