WordPress is, hands down, the most popular Content Management System (CMS) on the internet today.
Nearly 30% of all websites, from simple blogs to complicated e-commerce stores, use this framework to make their mark online.
As you might guess, WordPress didn’t come to dominate the internet by accident. This is a case of the cream rising to the top and staying there. A combination of a user-friendly interface, the ability to accomplish almost any additional function through third-party plugins, and a thriving user community make it a no-brainer.
When it comes to making your website, our recommended platform continues to be WordPress and WordPress alone. No other option comes close.
But before you go out and build that snazzy new blog, you need a hosting plan or nobody’s going to see it but the squirrels looking over your shoulder. Luckily, we’ve gone out and tested all the best WordPress hosts hands on for months, and we’ve gathered a ton of data on which one performs best.
We’ve organized our findings right here including the features you’ll want for your WordPress website, so let’s get into it.
Get Only What You Need – Scale Up Later
One of the first things you’ll notice about different web hosting companies is that prices range from less than a dollar a month for deep-discount shared hosting all the way up to $100 or more for a dedicated package.
It would be smart to have a sense in advance of how much you’ll need in the way of hosting space and processing speed before deciding on a package. There’s a big difference between what you need for a personal blog or small business website, and those of a full-blown e-commerce store or streaming media intensive website. High traffic sites are going to need more resources than others.
The good news is you can start small with a cheaper plan and scale up into a more robust one as your needs increase. Unless you plan to have 6,000 or more monthly web visits from the start, there’s no need to start out with either a VPS or dedicated hosting plan.
Entry-level web hosting plans are typically of the shared variety, which means that the server’s resources are shared among many clients through the use of a single IP address.
There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with this idea. It’s meant for low-resource need websites and allows the host to charge less per month because it’s more of a communal resource.
What WordPress Hosting Features Do You Need?
But before you sign up with the dead dog lowest monthly web hosting you can find, you should realize that there are certain features that make some hosts better than others when it comes to a WordPress website.
Here are the most important things to consider when choosing a WordPress host:
- You need SSL included in order to take payments
- Can you migrate a website to or from the host?
- Are free backups included?
- High uptime guarantee – should be over 99%
- Where are the datacenters located?
- 24/7 customer service and technical support
- Easy WordPress installation
- Enhanced security
The web host companies we recommend to use with a WordPress site cover most of these elements and throw in a few more for kicks.
Let’s dig in for a moment and make sure you understand what each of these features mean before we go on.
(Don’t worry. It’ll be painless and some day you’ll be glad you took the time. 🙂
Secure Socket Layers (SSL) Protection
While no credible web host would deny the need to have SSL installed along with your website, the deep discounters (less than a buck a month), tend to want to charge you $60 to $80 a year for the protection.
You should always choose a host who offers it for free. Don’t worry. They’re out there.
The reality is that SSL is now considered a standard level of security for all websites. Anyone who tries to tell you it’s a snazzy new upgrade is full of baloney. In the early days of the internet, it was created to increase security for online payments.
You’ve probably seen the green lock symbol at the top of a web page or the word “secure” in front of the URL. That’s SSL technology in action. It creates a sort of tunnel between the person making a payment and the credit or debit card processor and protects all the information that passes between them, which is a good thing.
The idea of SSL has become so ubiquitous these days that Google will rank your site more highly in the search results if you use SSL. That in itself should be enough to convince you how critical it is.
Like we said, though, there’s no need to pay for this when so many web hosts give them to you for free. Seriously. Don’t even think of going without SSL but don’t waste your money paying for it.
You’ll Probably Need to Migrate Eventually
No, this doesn’t mean you’ll have to pull up roots and move yourself to a different country for the sake of your website…
You’re fine where you are but sometimes there arises a need to relocate your website from one host to another or to even on the same host but mapped to a different domain.
It’s not an especially onerous task but can be annoying and somewhat formidable if you’ve never done it before. Basically, it’s just a matter of compressing all your files/media/plugins/settings and transferring them by FTP to the new location.
When it comes time to migrate a website, you’ll want to be able to do it at no additional charge plus be able to ask for and receive technical help if you run into problems. Some hosts are glad to help with the process; others are inclined to charge extra for the service. Obviously, we think the former is better.
In the digital world, backing up your website should be as second nature as putting on your clothes in the morning – you are doing that still, aren’t you?
The bottom line is that you should never, ever trust the internet not to reach out and capriciously blast your website into cyber oblivion never to be heard from again. You need a regular backup program, and it should be free.
There are plenty of WordPress plugins that can do this automatically behind the scenes with no further action from you than to set it up in the first place.
A good web host will offer free backups and all of top recommended hosts do.
A not-so-good one will use it as an upsell to your hosting plan. Generally, upsells are annoying and an obvious money grab. We don’t like them. :(:(
Uptime Vs. Downtime
Uptime refers to those times when your website is online and accessible to anyone. Downtime means it’s unavailable due to an error or malfunction on the part of the people running the server – namely, your web host.
If you have 100% uptime, it means your website never goes down.
That would be nice but probably isn’t realistic. In the world of actual server performance, due to system redundancies and quality control, a decent web host should be able to achieve 99% uptime at the least.
The closer they can get to 99.9% the better.
Where in the World is Your Datacenter?
The datacenter associated with your hosting package is where the physical server sits. Since all your web files are located on the server, it should make sense that you should choose one closest to you.
The speed, reliability, and uptime of your website will thank you later.
While it might seem that physical distance shouldn’t make a difference on the internet, the reality is that it does. When data has to flow back and forth from a server halfway around the world, there will be a small but noticeable lag in accessing your website.
While this might not be a make-or-break issue, a web host with data centers in diverse locations would be a point in their favor.
There are ways a good web host can help keep your website secure from hackers and other ne’er do-wells. First, they should require that you always use a complex password.
If you’re still going with some variation of “password1234,” let us be the first to tell you that you’re going to get hacked and probably sooner rather than later.
There are programs that sit out there and try to get into your website through brute force, generating millions of possible password combinations until it eventually hits the right one.
A high-quality web host monitors all client websites for hacking attempts and will notify you in the event that happens. This attention to extra security becomes even more critical if you take payments for digital or physical goods or services.
You don’t want to be the next vendor who allows criminals to access a customer’s private information.
Excellent Multi-Channel Support
A list of questions and answers parked on an FAQ page somewhere doesn’t count as customer support. Accurate, timely customer service and technical support is a big deal to us when it comes to choosing a web host and it should be to you as well.
A real support staff consists of employees who know the systems and can resolve problems via phone, e-mail, or chat.
These days, too many companies still outsource this critical feature to call centers in India or the Philippines.
We’ve got nothing against that fine country but have a big problem with outsourcing this task. You should be able to pick up the phone and talk to a live company employee within a reasonable period of time. End of story.
Most credible hosts have simplified the process of installing WordPress to the point that literally anyone with an IQ above that of a tomato should be able to accomplish this.
No offense to any tomatoes reading this.
Look for an app in your hosting plan dashboard called Softalicious. One – or a few – clicks and you’re done. And in the event you are a tomato head and need help, the support staff should be happy to complete the installation without poking fun at you.
The bottom line is that putting a WordPress installation on your domain should be easy as pie.
1. SiteGround – The Best Overall Choice with High Marks in Pricing, Speed, Support and Uptime
Starting at $3.95 per month
Average uptime of 99.95%
Average load time of 475ms
Drum roll, please. It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. Without further ado we’re going to suggest that you consider Siteground as your WordPress web host. We’ve used this service for years with our own clients and continue to do so. Why? Because the price is right and we like them. We like them a lot.
At $3.95 per month, the it’ll cost you about a dollar more than the deep discounters who will give you a bare bones plan and then kill you slowly with upgrade charges. Siteground offers a ruggedly reliable 99.5% uptime, 24/7 technical support and handholding, free SSL, one-click installs, and – for our money – is the best choice for newbies, thanks to a dead-simple dashboard layout.
2. A2 Hosting – High Speed and Low Load Times
Starting at $3.92 per month
Average uptime of 99.5 %
Average load time of 601ms
A2 Hosting is our second choice but not by much. Pound for pound, it’s a formidable adversary for Siteground, and actually comes it with a monthly price of $3.92, which is a few cents less than our first recommendation.
Like Siteground, A2 Hosting offers great support and only slighter lower uptime number at 99.1%. Whether you’re in Australia or Canada, you’ll be pleased with this company’s robust performance.
Best WordPress Hosting? Let’s Recap
In the final analysis, you can’t go wrong with either of these options. If you absolutely can’t make a choice, flip a coin, you indecisive little weenie. There’s no wrong answer here. For more info check out our guide to the best web hosting.