Therefore, before you set about choosing a host, it’s important to know what you are looking for. Whether your top priority is performance, security, price, customer service or other factors specific to your business, take a moment to consider what you need.
To help you in your journey, we’ve listed our top five recommended providers for 2017. Our recommendations are based on our experiences, so needless to say anyone mentioned below has met our own thorough expectations.
1. WP Engine
WP Engine has always been a mainstay of our top five, and in 2017 they are still providing a high quality service that we continue to recommend. In 2016 they improved on their award-winning support service by adding 24/7 live chat with an average response time of 2 minutes.
We’ve found their agents to be immediate and very friendly, and have yet to see a feature like this – which they include with all packages – implemented by other hosting providers.
Other new features include the ‘Page Performance’ tool to help you improve your site speed through scheduled testing and reporting, free one click installs for SSL to ensure your site displays HTTPS in search engines, showing that it’s secure, and two factor authentication to protect your site against security breaches. Alongside these new features, WP Engine also provides old favourites like one click development sites and daily backups.
If you are looking for a trusted hosting provider offering a reliable service, we recommend WP Engine as our #1 hosting provider.
Another veteran of our annual recommendations, also continuing to offer an ever-improving service, is Flywheel. Like WP Engine, Flywheel is a WordPress only hosting provider that offers all of the must haves (one click staging sites, free one-click SSL, reliable uptime and daily backups) without clogging up the dashboard . They advertise as WordPress hosting ‘built for designers and agencies’ so if you fall into either camp, it’s definitely worth taking a look.
We love the Flywheel dashboard for making hosting accessible for all user levels. Essential processes like restoring from backups or adding users are simple, and site information is easy to monitor and read. You may just be looking for peace of mind, however it’s good to have the ability to peer in and take a look every and now and then to see that everything is working as you want it to.
Being based in the US means that support doesn’t fall in line with UK business hours, however emergency email support is available and this hasn’t been an issue in the past. Depending on your plan, staging sites are not available for multi-sites, which could be a potential drawback.
Nonetheless, we have faith that Flywheel will grow from strength to strength and commend them for approaching hosting with a much-needed freshness.
A new addition to the list, Cloudways are different to WP Engine and Flywheel in that they provide an easy way to manage cloud hosting services such as AWS, Digital Ocean and Google Cloud Platform. By using virtual servers, you can take advantage of a more environmentally friendly and cost efficient form of hosting that is more scalable than dedicated servers.
Those who choose to use Google Cloud Platform will be pleased to know that their data centres generally run on half the energy of a typical data centre. Furthermore, Google has promised to purchase 100% renewable energy to match their energy consumption for 2017. This makes Google Cloud Platform on Cloudways our top green hosting choice for 2017, combining eco-friendly performance with ease of use.
We have been using Cloudways for development servers because their platform makes it super easy to manage servers, applications and user access for the various team members within our agency. Additionally, being a ‘neutral’ server means that there are no default configuration files that could cause unexpected problems when you try and migrate your site.
Cloudways is managed and provides 24/7 live chat and ticketing. Our experiences with their chat have not been comparable to the other live service chats on this list, and it should be noted that they are not WordPress only and do not provide application level support.
Due to it’s ease of deployment and integrated features, Cloudways is a convenient option for those looking to set up a site quickly with all the benefits of both cloud and managed hosting.
Pressidium is another WordPress only managed host that looks to provide premium support at an affordable price. Created by a team of IT professionals, they offer robust systems using the latest technology. Consequently, they have a solid reputation for delivering on their uptime promises, and provide service level agreements if they don’t match 99.95% uptime.
Websites that receive regular traffic spikes can also take advantage of Pressidium’s elasticity, which allows you to easily scale your hosting needs with minimal disruption. In short, no matter how much the traffic to your site increases, it shouldn’t break or slow down.
Much like WP Engine, their plans are based on how many visits your website will receive and are scalable. Custom plans are also available. All plans offer a 24/7 ticketing system and a phone line during dedicated support hours.
Pressidium’s level of specialisation may not be necessary for all sites, but such high quality hosting at such a competitive price is definitely worth considering.
Siteground is one of the most widely used and fastest growing hosting providers, and for good reason. If you are looking for the reassurance of an established company providing a well-trusted and comprehensive service, we would recommend Siteground.
As expected, they provide a range of customer service options (24/7 support phone and live chat) as well as the integrated features and latest technology of a smaller, more specialised hosting provider.
Although there are a variety of pricing packages and hosting options (cloud, shared, dedicated) they do vary significantly in cost. Additionally, some of the cheaper packages do not provide as much disc storage as you would expect from other hosting providers, so it’s important you know what your site needs.
Pagely offers a high level of stability and customer service that would usually earn them a spot in our top five, however we’ve had to mark them down because of the usability of their admin panel. We believe an improvement is in the works and look forward to seeing what changes they roll out in the future.
If you know your site requires reverse proxy, then we would recommend Pagely as they are one of the few high quality providers that support this.
Still Searching for Greener Hosts
Since our last top five, we’ve noticed sincere efforts by several different providers to cut down on their carbon emissions, through initiatives like carbon offsetting, renewable energy usage, energy efficient electronics and by donating to not-for-profit environmental organisations, however we are still looking for the high end of the hosting provider world to follow suit. As such we look to members on, and away from, this list to set the example by showing that environmentally conscious hosting is not just a specialisation but an ethical standard that will attract positive attention for you and your clients.
Which hosts are in your Top 5? We’d love to know your thoughts on our list and if there are any you think we should look at for our next year, let us know in the comments!