For any business or website, choosing the right host is an important decision. However, when you’re using WordPress to power your website there are some additional decisions that need to be made, including whether managed WordPress hosting is the best option for you. In this article we’ll look at some of the things you need to consider when choosing a host for a WordPress-based site, as well as some basic categories of hosts.
Whenever you’re looking at different hosts and comparing various plans it’s important to remember that no hosting environment is perfect for every site. Different sites have different needs and budgets also vary. So keep in mind the specifics of your site in order to find the best WordPress hosting option for you.
What is Managed WordPress Hosting?
In recent years a number of new hosting companies have started specifically with the purpose of hosting WordPress-powered websites. Page.ly was the first one, and now WP Engine, Synthesis, Pressable, and Flywheel are also popular options. These companies focus only on hosting WordPress websites, so they offer several advantages over general web hosts.
Here is a look at some of the most significant benefits of managed WordPress hosting.
Most hosting companies have customers using a variety of different content management systems, shopping carts, and other scripts. The main problem with this is that it prevents the servers from being optimized for a particular CMS, which means less than optimal performance. Because companies like WP Engine only host sites built on WordPress they can optimize their servers specifically for WordPress. This results in pages that load faster, lower strain on the server, a better user experience, and better results for the site owner.
Most, but not all, WordPress hosts will include some sort of automatic caching without the need to use a plugin. While there are several popular caching plugins that can be used for free, many users experience issues with them or find them confusing and difficult to set up. If caching can be done without a plugin it just makes it that much easier for you. For example, WP Engine has their own EverCache technology to speed up page loads and improve performance
Support from WordPress Experts
Almost every major web host offers an easy way to install WordPress, and since WordPress is free this makes it quick and easy for most people to set up a site that is powered by WordPress. However, if you run in to a problem with your site that is related to WordPress you may or may not be able to get help from your host. Many hosts do not support third-party installations, which would include WordPress.
From my experience, if you have a WordPress related issue the customer support reps at most hosts will try to help you if they are able, but most of them are not WordPress experts. A major advantage of going with a company like WP Engine or Page.ly is their support reps are well-trained and very knowledgeable on WordPress, and they will be able to help you with these types of issues. This support in some situations can save you a lot of time and headaches, and may even prevent you from needing to hire a WordPress developer to identify and fix the issue.
Because WordPress is open source and extremely popular, it is targeted by many hackers. If you take the right precautions you don’t need to be worried about the security of your site, and most managed WordPress hosts will offer security that is superior to what you would get with another host. Hosts like WP Engine, Page.ly, Flywheel, and Synthesis provide pro-active monitoring and scanning to help keep your site safe. WP Engine even offers a guarantee that if your site is hacked they will fix it for you.
What About Pricing?
With benefits like better site performance, expert support, and enhanced security there is a lot to like about managed WordPress hosting. However, all of these things result in prices that are higher than the average low-cost shared hosting account. For example, you can get a shared hosting account with industry leaders like Bluehost and HostGator for under $15 per month. The pricing and details of plans from the leading WordPress hosts will differ.
Pricing is the main factor that prevents most people from going with managed WordPress hosting, but when you’re comparing prices to other hosts there are some other factors that you need to keep in mind. While most hosts will provide some sort of backup functionality in their hosting plans, you may get an upgrade with a managed WordPress host. For example, WP Engine includes a one-click backup and restore option on all plans. This may allow you to save some money by not needing a service like VaultPress or blogVault to backup WordPress.
Also, most managed WordPress hosts will provide automatic WordPress upgrades, which can save some of your time. Additionally, having access to expert WordPress support can save you time and money. If you save 1 hour per month because of the support you’ve probably more than made up for the price difference.
Things to Consider When Choosing a WordPress Host
When you’re trying to find the best host for your website, here are some things to keep in mind.
The Importance of Load Time and Reliability
The reliability and performance of any website will be extremely critical to its success. Obviously, if the site is down it is not doing anyone any good. And slow loading pages can cause visitors to leave and go to another site. Additionally, slow-loading pages can suffer in terms of SEO since Google uses load time as a factor in determining rankings. Because of all of these things, the load speed of your pages is a very important factor.
In general, shared hosting will not have the same level of performance and reliability as VPS, a dedicated server, or managed WordPress hosting. If your site is for your business or makes you money in some way, make sure that you don’t choose a host based on price alone or you will likely experience less than optimal performance.
We already looked at the benefit of getting support from WordPress experts, and that is something that you should consider. You may find this expert support to be especially important if you are not a WordPress expert and if you are not a developer.
There are other factors involved in support that you should consider. The most significant factors are the hours and availability, as well as the support options that are available. Regardless of what hosts you are considering, be sure that you know the details of their support before making a decision.
Number of Websites or Domains
Another important factor that you want to consider is how many websites or domains you will be hosting. With typical shared hosting you can get a plan for less than $10 that will allow you to host an unlimited number of websites. With most managed WordPress hosts you will be paying per website, or you will need a higher priced plan in order to host multiple sites. One notable exception is Pressable. The cheapest plan allows for 5 sites for $20 per month. Flywheel and WP Engine also offer plans for multiple websites, starting at $100 per month for up to 10 sites. If you’re hosting a large number of small, low-traffic websites you may need to go with a standard web host rather than a managed WordPress host just because of the price.
Another thing to mention about managed WordPress hosting is that many of them will have some limitations on themes and plugins that you can use. The reason for this is that certain themes and plugins may conflict with their servers or duplicate some functionality. For example, WP Engine does not allow caching plugins or backup plugins, but that is because these features are built in to their service. They also don’t allow some popular related post plugins, broken link checkers, and XML sitemap plugins because of performance issues. This is a minor issue for most users, but you’ll want to check before signing up to make sure that none of the banned plugins are critical to your site.
If you’re comparing a host like WP Engine or Page.ly to a more traditional web host to determine what is the best fit for you, there are probably some extras that you will want to consider. For example, WP Engine offers a staging area that can be used to test changes to your theme or site before impacting the live website.
Of course, price is a factor that you will need to consider. When you’re weighing different hosting options against each other there is a big variety in terms of prices. If your site or business is making money it is recommended that you choose a professional hosting solution that will give you more reliability and better performance than a cheap shared hosting account.
Leading WordPress Hosting Options
WP Engine is probably the most popular managed WordPress host, and with good reason. They may not be the cheapest option, but they offer a lot of awesome features that justify the price. Their buil-in EverCache technology, CDN, and top-shelf hardware keep sites loading quickly and performing well.
They provide daily backups and also offer one-click restore points. You can backup your entire site, database and files, at any time with one click, and then restore it with just a click.Their firewall and malware scanning will help to keep your site safe and secure. And their expert WordPress support can save you plenty of time and headaches.
Pricing starts at $29 per month for 1 site with up to 25,000 visits per month. The Professional plan priced at $99 per month allows up to 10 websites and 100,000 visits per month. It also gives you access to some other features like telephone support, a CDN, and SSL.
In 2006 Page.ly was the first host to focus exclusively on WordPress. They offer secure cloud hosting with redundant firewalls and DDoS protection. They can save you time with automatic WordPress updates, plugin updates, and backups.Page.ly also features caching that will be done automatically with no need to configure a plugin, so your pages will load quickly.
Pricing starts at $99 per month, which allows you to host 5 sites and unlimited visitors.
Synthesis is a managed WordPress hosting provider from Copyblogger Media, but there are some key differences between Synthesis and others like WP Engine. Their servers are optimized for WordPress and W3 Total Cache Pro is used on all sites on their servers. The most unique features are the marketing tools from Copyblogger Media that are included. You’ll get tools for influencer outreach, social media research, keyword research, on-page optimization, and site optimization. They also offer daily backups, malware scans, and server-side scanning from Sucuri. One key to point out is that Synthesis offers 24/7 support through their help desk.
Pricing starts at $47 per month, which allows for 1 WordPress install and approximately 10,000 daily visitors.
MediaTemple has been a leader in the hosting industry for years, and they recently started offering premium WordPress hosting. It features automatic WordPress core and security updates, a 1-click staging environment, servers optimized for WordPress, and an all-in-one control panel. Like all of the plans offered by MediaTemple, the premium WordPress hosting offers 24/7 support, but you’ll be working with certified WordPress experts. Another key difference is that MediaTemple includes email hosting.
Pricing starts at $20 per month, and that allows for 2 WordPress installs.
Bluehost is a leading provider or shared hosting, but they also offer VPS and dedicated servers. Bluehost is extremely popular because they are affordable, they are known to provide quality support, and their servers are very reliable considering the low price of the shared hosting. With shared hosting from Bluehost you won’t get some of the WordPress-specific features from the hosts mentioned above, but you will get the ability to 5 sites for as little as $12.49 per month. You’ll also get 24/7 support, email, and automated backups. If you decide not to go with a low-cost shared host instead of managed WordPress hosting, BlueHost is a good choice.
HostGator is in the same class as BlueHost, and actually both hosts are owned by the same parent company, Endurance International Group. HostGator offers low-cost shared hosting as well as VPS and dedicated servers. Like Bluehost, HostGator is known to be one of the most reliable of the low-cost shared hosting providers. You can host one site for as little as $5.95 per month. You’ll get 24/7 support, email, and plenty of other features.
WiredTree is also not a managed WordPress host, but they are a quality hosting provider. While Bluehost and HostGator are well-known for low-cost shared hosting, WiredTree specializes in VPS and dedicated servers. Their plans start at $55 per month. You can host multiple domains, and you’ll have a lot of options for configuring the server to meet your needs. If you don’t want to go with managed WordPress hosting but you need more than a cheap shared hosting account, WiredTree is a good option.
Ok, so now that we’ve looked at some of the leading options and factors that you should consider, you may be wondering what host is right for you. Well as I mentioned at the beginning of the article, the answer to that question depends on the specific details that are unique to your website. To offer a bit more clarity, here are some recommendations based on different scenarios.
For the Typical WordPress Blog or Website
By “typical” I;m referring to a site that gets anywhere from several hundred to a few thousand visitors per day, and a site that is making some money, either directly or indirectly. In this scenario WP Engine or MediaTemple would be excellent options. WP Engine has a lot to offer to WordPress users, but if the lack of 24/7 support is an issue for you, MediaTemple’s new premium WordPress hosting can offer the support that you’re after.
For a Lot of Low-Traffic Websites or Blogs
If you own a large number of sites and you want to host them together for cost savings, you’ll have a few options. In this scenario we’re assuming that these sites might bring in a little bit of money for you, but not enough to justify the highest-priced hosting options.
Consider Pressable, which offers up to 20 domains for $90 per month with their managed WordPress hosting. The other leading options would be Bluehost and HostGator for standard low-cost shared hosting.
For the Marketer
If you’re interested in getting some additional tools and features as a part of your hosting package, Synthesis has a lot to offer, including a variety of SEO and marketing tools. They also provide excellent quality hosting for WordPress and 24/7 support.