A good hosting company will help ensure your website is secure, loads quickly and remains online 24 hours a day, but which one should you choose?
The WordPress hosting market is highly competitive, with thousands of web hosting services fighting for your business. This has helped improve the overall quality of hosting available, though if you manage a WordPress-powered online shop, you need to pay closer attention to which hosting service you use since WordPress shops tend to use more resources than small blogs and business websites.
In this article, I would like to show you what to look for in a web hosting company and recommend some of the best services for hosting a WordPress-powered store.
What You Can Expect to Pay
The world of website hosting can be daunting. There are thousands of hosting companies online and each company offers many different packages at different price points. This makes it difficult to know which hosting setup is best for you, particularly if you have never hosted a website before.
Generally speaking, the more resources your website needs to function correctly, the more money you need to spend. So whilst a small online shop may only spend $10 per month on hosting, a large regional shop may spend thousands. You can get an idea of what you need to spend by reviewing popular managed WordPress hosting plans, though be prepared to scale your hosting requirements upwards as your traffic and customer base grows.
Which Type of WordPress Hosting Company is Best for You?
An important factor to consider is whether you require a company to manage your hosting environment for you and the level of support you need from them on a monthly basis.
In a managed hosting plan, the hosting company takes over most technical aspects of managing a server. This includes security, scaling, maintenance, updates and performance. Over the last few years, most WordPress hosting companies have taken this one step further to reduce the time you spend administrating your website, offering WordPress updates, website backups, security scans and more. They will also help you resolve any issues you have with your WordPress website.
The level of management varies greatly across the market. At one of the spectrum, you have managed WordPress hosting services that handle everything for you, offering a premium service that is normally associated with hosted website building platforms such as Squarespace.
At the other end of the market, hosting companies focus solely on managing the server, leaving you to manage all other aspects of website hosting yourself. These types of hosting services can be considered Semi-Managed.
Unmanaged Hosting (Self-Managed Hosting)
In an unmanaged hosting setup, it is your responsibility to manage your server and keep it secure. Additionally, no help is provided for any websites that you own.
As you can imagine, this involves spending much more time doing maintenance and other administrative tasks, though for many online shops, unmanaged hosting is a better fit. Self-managed hosting gives greater control and flexibility with how your shop is operated and, since you are handling things yourself, unmanaged hosting tends to be significantly cheaper too.
What to Look for in a WordPress Hosting Company?
There’s a number of features to look out for when selecting a host for your WordPress website. These features may complement, or even replace, other website services you use. For example, instead of relying on your web host, you may choose to monitor uptime using a third-party service such as UptimeRobot.
Be sure to review what features are on offer and evaluate their importance to you.
- Website Staging – Website staging lets you make a clone of your website so that you can test critical updates and changes before they go live. This can greatly reduce website downtime (which is incredibly costly to online shops).
- Backups – Backups can help get your store back online in the event of an attack or error. Be sure to supplement internal web hosting backups with a reliable third-party backup solution such as BlogVault or UpdraftPlus.
- Infrastructure – Pay attention to the architecture a hosting company uses and whether its platform is centralised or distributed across the globe. Some hosting companies also offer their own Content Delivery Network (CDN).
- Security – Security is not something to take for granted. Does the hosting company have a strong firewall and provide protection from DDoS attacks? What about uptime monitoring and support for SSL certificates?
- Website Migrations – Good hosting companies will help customers migrate their existing websites to their service.
- Ecommerce Features – A number of WordPress hosting companies offer tailored hosting plans specifically for store owners. These eCommerce plans have improved support and integration with eCommerce WordPress plugins such as WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads.
- Quality of Support – Support varies greatly across hosting companies so make sure you get the level of support you need, whether it be telephone, email, forum or chat support.
- Host Dashboard – Depending on your technical experience, you may prefer a simplified dashboard or something more complex that gives you access to advanced settings and features.
- WordPress Management – Many managed WordPress companies let you make bulk changes and updates to multiple WordPress websites directly from your main dashboard.
- Pricing – Make sure your hosting plan meets your requirements with some room for traffic spikes and unexpected CPU loads. You shouldn’t pay extra for features you don’t need, though selecting a cheaper hosting plan can prove costly in the long run if it causes downtime.
As you can see, there are many factors to consider when selecting a suitable hosting company for your online search. Should you be unsure about what a company offers, send them an email and ask them to clarify their features and services to you.
Recommended Hosting Companies
If you want your online store to be secure and remain online 24 hours a day, you need to select a professional website hosting service that has the architecture to host your shop reliably.
So let’s take a quick look at some of the best WordPress hosting companies on the market today.
Kinsta is a managed WordPress hosting company that uses the Google Cloud Platform. Plans start from only $30 per month and include website staging, backups, performance monitoring and use of the KeyCDN content delivery network.
We’re very familiar with Kinsta as it’s the hosting company that hosts WC Vendors. We’ve always been happy with uptime, performance and their quality of support.
Instead of targeting those who are new to WordPress, Pagely focus mainly on Enterprise customers. Their lowest plan starts at $199 per month. All plans include premium support, caching, CDN, website staging and automatic backups to Amazon S3.
WP Engine are a hugely popular managed WordPress solution that offers premium support, automated updates, website backups and website staging. Their dedicated eCommerce hosting plans start from only $30 per month and come packaged with store themes. The company also own the managed WordPress hosting company Flywheel.
Pressable are a managed WordPress hosting company which have plans starting from $17.50 per month. As they are owned by Automattic, you gain access to WordPress.com’s impressive global CDN and architecture. Each plan also comes packaged with Jetpack Security features such as malware scanning, threat monitoring and web application firewall.
Pantheon are a SaaS Platform that sells dedicated hosting plans to WordPress and WooCommerce users from $50 per month. They offer website monitoring, a global content delivery network, automated backups and security features.
Nexcess is a managed hosting company that is run by the same people that are behind Liquid Web and iThemes. Managed WooCommerce hosting plans are available from $19 per month. All plans include automatic updates, website backups, website staging and a host of performance features such as image optimisation.
Siteground has gained a large fan base by offering generous managed WordPress hosting packages at low prices. Their WooCommerce hosting plans start from only $4.99 per month. All customers get access to WordPress support, website backups, website staging, caching, automatic updates and more.
If you are looking for unmanaged hosting, the cloud hosting company Digital Ocean is a service you should consider. With servers across the world, you can create Droplets from only $5 per month and scale them easily using their simple user-interface.
Like Digital Ocean, Vultr are a popular cloud hosting service with data centres around the world. A simple SSD cloud instance starts from only $2.50 per month and can easily be scaled up
Cloudways are a managed cloud hosting solution that lets you deploy hosting environments using Google, Amazon, DigitalOcean, Linode and Vultr. For many shop owners, this will be a more practical solution than hosting with these services directly, since Cloudways provides support, backups, monitoring and more. Pricing starts from $10 per month.
To reduce administration time and make your life easier, you can also use a cloud server management service such as RunCloud to complement a deployment from Amazon S3, Google Cloud, Digital Ocean or Vultr. Their basic plan only costs $6.67 per month and includes website staging and other useful features. Check out Colin Newcomer’s experience of using RunCloud to manage his server to get a better understanding of how it all works.
I hope you now have a better understanding as to what to look for when choosing a web hosting company for your online shop.
Whether you are new to hosting or not, my advice is to reach out to several good hosting companies and speak to them directly about your shop, your traffic levels and your long-term goals. By doing so, you can evaluate what level of resources you need and open up a dialogue with the companies too.
This should help you make an informed decision as to who you should host with, though you should not be afraid to migrate to another hosting service if you aren’t happy.