We all know how awesome WordPress is as content management platform. You install it, purchase or download a theme for free, pack it up with plugins, and you’re good to go. Or not?
Wait a minute. You can’t build a house if you haven’t got a piece of land for it. Similarly, your website can’t just float in the air. All those bits and bytes of data need to be stored somewhere on a server. That’s why a hosting provider is another necessary mediator between you and your work.
These WordPress hosting providers don’t just store all the data that your website contains. They also do their best (or not) to make it safe. Servers are, in effect, giant remote computers in data centers. When we talk safety, we don’t just refer to various thieves and villains roaming the internet and trying to steal your data. It’s also about physical safety, stable bandwidth, and powerful backup systems that can hop in if anything crashes or goes wrong. Naturally, everyone wants their website to operate fast and smoothly, without interruptions.
What to Look for When Choosing a Hosting Provider?
Well, I hate to repeat this time and again, but the world is full of rogue players. And the WordPress hosting area is no different. Take a look at a few most important considerations you should keep in mind to avoid problems down the line.
- Speed is crucial. Actually, it’s one of the most important things that Google takes into account when ranking your site. And even though your site might get sluggish due to a number of factors (such as theme), your host is the one that can make or break it. Sometimes, it’s up to the host itself. If they use powerful servers and hard drives, it should positively reflect on your site’s performance. However, it’s often up to you and the plan you choose. Choosing cheap shared WordPress hosting means you’ll have to share all the resources with many other sites. If you want to comfortably post multimedia without thinking about speed all the time, you should prepare more money for a dedicated server.
- Take words such as “perfect” or “unlimited” with a grain of salt. Is there an “unlimited” pie? Or an unlimited hard drive? Of course not. Everything in this world has a limit. Conversely, nothing in the world is perfect. When a WordPress hosting company claims that you will get unlimited websites, storage, or subdomains, don’t trust them. Even though many reputable hosts claim that for marketing purposes, it’s still absolutely unrealistic. Similarly, nobody can guarantee you 100% uptime. If there is such a thing, subscribe me right away!
- What value will you get for your money? Typically, the cheapest options offer a single website, email address, and very limited storage that most users will fill out very fast. I know that $1 per month sounds way easier on your wallet than $60 or $100. Heck, some hosts even have free plans! Of course, there has to be something in it for them. So, they tend to install various ads or even malware on your website and are definitely not trustworthy. So, to get more, you need to pay (more). Reputable hosts will include many nice perks in a package, such as website builders (comprehensive tools or premium plugins), free themes, free domain or SSL. Others will go so far as to limit the monthly number of users for your website.
- Online sellers need to focus on security. In this case, security means SSL, which is short for Secure Socket Layer. It’s a protocol that encrypts all communication between a user and your website. Which is of extreme importance when someone uses their credit card number during checkout. You know how your browser warns you that “connection is not secure” on certain websites? That’s because they lack SSL certificate. Therefore, anyone can intercept any sensitive data traveling between that website and its users. For an e-commerce website, that would be a disaster. Normally, you would have to spend money for this certificate. However, many hosts offer it for free with some or even all of their plans.
- Don’t commit for longer periods unless you are 100% sure. It’s most recommendable to go with a one-month test drive (if possible) to see what kind of service they provide. Then, if everything works well, you can get a long-term plan. But make sure to check their policy and terms of service ahead. Many hosts are known to increase the price for the same service once your first term is over. They reckon that you would rather pay more than go to all the trouble of changing host. And they are right in most cases! Therefore, it’s best to also check their refund policy ahead.
- Are they a genuine hosting provider or just a reseller? In our digital jungle, it’s far too easy to stumble upon a provider who doesn’t really provide anything. That’s why it’s very helpful to only look for hosts with a history and reputation that precedes them. Let me be perfectly clear on this: I don’t mind people who make their living by rebranding and reselling various products or services. But I do mind paying more for the same service.
7 Best WordPress Hosting Options – Reviews
Some of them are even officially recommended by WordPress, and give a discount to the users of WordPress hosting.
HostGator – Uptime Guarantee
Even with the basic, so-called Hatchling Plan, you will get unlimited storage, unmetered bandwidth and a free SSL certificate on HostGator. What I especially like is that they offer the so-called Uptime Guarantee. Should their uptime drop below the promised 99.9%, you are entitled to one month of credit. Of course, this doesn’t include maintenance downtime. And it would be nearly impossible to compensate for your business losses in the case of prolonged downtime. But it’s still nice that they treat the issue with responsibility. Another nice feature is that you will get 45 days money-back guarantee, as opposed to 30 days that is kind of standard in the industry. Their customer support is okay, and they even offer new customers free help when migrating their site.
However, note that they are notorious for raising the price as soon as your introductory term expires. Also, they don’t offer free domains. You can read a detailed Hostgator review here.
BlueHost – Powerful Yet Affordable WordPress Hosting
The reason why this host is in our top five is because you’re likely a WordPress user. And BlueHost offers some nice perks to you. Apart from the discount, you will also get free domain registration, SSL certificate, as well as automatic WordPress installs and non-stop support. The Basic plan is pretty limited, whereas Plus and Choice Plus plans offer “unlimited” (read: many) websites, unmetered storage, and automatic backup. Plus, all plans get a free website builder to make the process swifter.
If you’re wondering about the credibility part, it’s worth mentioning that this WordPress hosting is one of the oldest out there. It’s a subsidy of Endurance International, which is a true, global hosting behemoth. It means they definitely have a powerful system that you can rely on anytime, day and night. Did I mention that they are currently one of two cheapest options on this list?
Free SSL certificate, 24/7 support, daily automatic backups – and it’s just a beginning. Another host boasting official recommendation from WordPress, they offer whopping 97 days money-back guarantee to users who purchase shared hosting plan – even more than HostGator. Plus, they exclusively use SSD (solid-state drives) for storing your data. It translates to better performance and speed. Don’t trust the 100% uptime guarantee though – nobody can grant that. I’m not really sure about this level of confidence.
In their Terms of Service, you will see that you will get credit equal to one day of service for each hour of interruption. Their in-house website builder is Remixer, and it works by the extremely convenient click-to-edit method.
SiteGround – Good for Newbies & Pros
That’s the third option officially endorsed by WordPress, and for good reason. Migrating your site to this host is a matter of a single click with the SiteGround Migration Plugin. Thanks to this neat little tool, you probably won’t even need customer support. Which is, by the way, excellent. And you can do it for free on one website. They offer four basic tiers: web hosting, WordPress hosting (but also Joomla, Drupal, and Magento), WooCommerce hosting, and autoscalable cloud hosting if you want the best possible protection. When choosing a host, everyone should look for the minimum of 99.94% uptime, and these guys beat that with 99.99%. Also, all of their plans include free SSL certificate. Currently, they are hosting two million domains, which speaks volumes about their customers’ trust.
Beginners will have an easy time building their websites with free Weebly builder. But there’s much in store for developers too. Tools such as SSH, WP-CLI, SFTP, phpMyAdmin, Staging Tool, Git integration are there for you to play around with. The only con we could point to is that they don’t offer free domains.
No two hosts were made equal, and not one was made perfect. Just like any other option, InMotion also has its pros and cons, ups and downs. The “down” part doesn’t refer to downtime, thankfully. In this regard, they are one of the most reliable hosts you can find. However, they don’t offer unlimited SSD storage. Small bloggers and businesses can start with the entry plan that will only bring them 40GB SSD storage. And that’s really not much, especially if you will have lots of images and other multimedia. On the other hand, you will get free domain with any plan, as little as one website, unlimited email accounts, as well as BoldGrid website builder. Also, if this is your first site, a technical expert will preinstall your WordPress for free.
The list of advantages goes on: free SSL, US-based customer support. And you have 90 days to change your mind and get your money back. Now, make sure to note how many visitors per month your plan can safely accommodate. Whereas these numbers are not decisive, they might still make a difference.
A2 Hosting – ANY Time Money-Back
If you haven’t heard of these guys before, it’s no wonder. In comparison with their high-rank competitors, they are a relatively young company. Nevertheless, they have made their way to our list thanks to excellent site loading speed. Even if the “20 times faster than competitors” pitch might exaggerate a bit, under 400ms (according to various tests) is still hella fast. That’s thanks to the “turbo” servers. Of course, you can’t expect them to excel in everything. Their uptime is the greatest con. With 99.92% on average, it’s below the other hosts on our list.
Here’s what every user will get. Free SSL, free one site migration, support for WordPress hosting, Joomla, Drupal, and Magento, 24/7 support. Also, storage and bandwidth come without limitations. An amazing thing is that you’ll get any time money-back guarantee. That’s by far the most generous way of attracting new users. Not everything is refundable, though. For example, you won’t be able to get money back for your domain name.
Site5 – Built for Developers
This WordPress hosting is still under the radar, and I’ve read many mixed reviews. They primarily advertise as a host for designers and developers. All plans include unmetered bandwidth and storage space, free migrations, 24/7 support, and disaster recovery backups. The website is pretty simple, with prices starting at $6.95 per month. However, there is a catch here, and you need to read fine print to discover it. The starting $6.95 monthly rate is only there if you plan to pay biennially. If not, you need to pay $8.95 for the basic shared hosting plan. This sounds a little bit sneaky, but they are not the only host who does it. At least they won’t bump up the price after your initial period.
However, it still makes them the most expensive host on our list. If you don’t like the service, you can get your money back within your first 45 days. Also, they are very diligent when it comes to server backups. You can do it anytime you want, but they also automatically backup every server at night. So, if anything should happen, you can always restore your data.