At the most basic level WordPress requires a host with PHP 4.3+ and MySQL 4.12+. Beyond that there are numerous other things you should take into account before choosing a host for your WordPress website. Traffic volume, speed, security and ease of can all vary greatly depending on the host you choose.
I’ve worked with more WordPress sites than I can count, and will be sharing my opinion on hosts that I truly recommend from experience for your next project. Please let me know your experiences with hosting WordPress, or any other suggested companies!
I currently host kevinleary.net on a customized MediaTemple DV (dedicated VPS) account. I’ve been very happy with the service and (especially) support. MediaTemple is one of the few hosts I’ve found that I can actually call for help anytime it’s needed, 24/7/365. For my needs it is perfect, but for the average WordPress installation it may require extra steps to setup so some may view it as frustrating to get started with. The GS service may be easier to get started with, but it’s not a VPS so I would only recommend it for lower traffic websites.
Like MediaTemple, VPS.net provides virtual private servers that are on the more expensive side, but support the demanding hosting needs of WordPress very well.
The main benefit is the managed services package, where a team of server techs will run command line installs for you. I would suggest going with their managed services package to get started if it’s in your budget. One downside is that the pricing setup isn’t so straight forward, and the setup is complex.
VPS.net is one of the few hosts I’ve found that will support and manage a Lightspeed apache replacement for you, which dramatically increases the performance of WordPress. The service can be bundled with a CDN (Content Delivery Network) option which does wonders for WordPress load times as well. Hosting can easily range from $150 upward per month.
Although it’s on the pricier side, Firehost provides high-end, high volume hosting for serious WordPress installs. Like VPS.net, Firehost will install and manage a Lightspeed apache replacement for you.
Hosting can run upwards of $300/month, but is unmatched for sites that can hit 1 million unique hits per month. They have great support, and will help with building a custom dedicated setup to support your specific traffic needs. With clients like ABC, Sotheby’s, Duke University and more Firehost is a solid option for those looking for top of the line WordPress hosting.
It’s a new breed of web hosting specifically tuned to handled the needs of WordPress. It’s easy to setup and provides a fully managed, simple experience that can get you started in minutes. If you don’t have an IT staff on hand to manage a host or you don’t want to bother with the intricacies of maintenance I highly recommend going with a specialized WordPress host like Page.ly.
Run by WordPress advocate Aaron Brazell, WPEngine handles the server optimizations and security for you. I recently grilled Jason, a support tech, with some questions about the optimizations they have made, and to say the least I was very impressed:
Are you running apache or have you used something faster like Lightspeed or NGINX?
We use a variety of techniques and server technology for speed and scalability. We use Varnish in front of nginx in front of Apache. Sounds complex, but Varnish acts as a cache and stampede-protector, nginx does processing (i.e. gzip) and can serve static files directly, and finally Apache is used for dynamic content.
But on top of that we use memcached combined with W3TC (we configure this for you) for database query caches, we cache file content on disk, and finally we use *really* expensive, good hardware for high I/O rates (i.e. SCSI RAID 10) and processing rates.
Is there any estimate for the number of unique hits per month that you believe the setup can handle?
We have individual customers with 20 million pageviews/month and 40 terabytes of bandwidth per month.
Are there any guarantees you provide for security?
Security is never a guarantee, but we certainly go out of our way to do it. We have hardware in front of the servers for things like packet-scanning for known exploits and DoS-attack prevention (2million packets/second), then of course on-disk measures on the servers themselves.
WPEngine currently hosts Cogenra.com, and the service and performance has been great.
Dreamhost is about $9 per month, and provides reliable hosting for small sized websites with less than 10,000 unique visitors per month. Their one-click installation makes it simple for anyone to install WordPress regardless of technical skill-level.
Adding and hosting domains is a breeze, and they even handled the setup of Google Apps for your domains as well. I recommend Dreamhost for any small business owner looking to host their own WordPress website. I’ve used Dreamhost for over 5 years to host side projects and small client websites such as SimilarSounds.com, Carolpleary.com and Adamfarouk.com.
What do you suggest?
These web hosting reviews reflect my personal opinions only, please let me know your opinions and hosts have you used in the comments below!
About the Author
Kevin Leary is a web developer in Boston, MA specializing in enterprise website design and development, online marketing, and conversion optimization.