If you’re a total beginner, then hosting is simply a special computer (server) that your website is installed on. This computer is connected to the Internet and so people can access your web pages 24/7. When you buy hosting you’ll be charged a monthly fee to have your website stored on one of these computers.
WordPress Hosting Requirements
So what hosting do you need for WordPress? Most good hosting companies should offer a hosting package that is capable of hosting your WordPress website, but to be sure that it can you need to ensure that it meets these minimum requirements:
- PHP version 5.2.4 or greater
- MySQL version 5.0 or greater
The basic requirements change from time to time as new version of WordPress are released, so always check the latest requirements at http://wordpress.org/about/requirements/ to be sure that your hosting is compatible.
In addition to these basic requirements, we also recommend the following:
- Linux hosting (not windows hosting)
- Apache or Nginx
- An easy to use control panel (cPanel is our favourite)
- 1 click WordPress installation (for example using Fantastico or Softaculous)
If you’re not sure whether a particular hosting company can host WordPress, you can email them with the info above and ask if they have a package that meets your needs.
Choosing a package
You may well be overwhelmed by the number of hosting packages available on the market. If they meet all of the requirements above, then the two main factors that you’ll want to look at are Storage Space and Bandwidth.
- Storage – this is the amount of disk space for storing your files (in GB)
- Bandwidth – this is the amount of files that can be delivered to your website visitors each month (in GB)
Some hosting companies will offer Unlimited Storage and Unlimited Bandwidth, which means that you don’t need to worry about it. However, in practice most websites do not need a huge amount and the basic package with most hosts will probably meet your needs if your website is new and does not have a huge amount of content or traffic. If in doubt, 1GB storage and 10GB bandwidth should be more than plenty.
How much should it cost?
The price of hosting varies widely, but like most things, you do to some extent get what you pay for. So if you find a company offering free wordpress hosting, then perhaps there is a catch. US hosting typically costs about $10-15/month for a basic package and UK hosting is normally around £6-12/month, but it does vary.
The key thing to remember is that if you are using WordPress to run a business website (as oppose to a hobby site), then your website is an extremely valuable marketing tool and scrimping on your hosting could cost you a fortune in lost business if you have problems with slow performance, downtime and security issues. Many businesses pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month to host WordPress sites on servers that they know are super fast, genuinely reliable and have industry leading security, so you need to make a judgement about how valuable your website really is.
Some hosting companies have minimum contracts of 12 or 24 months, or offer discounts for agreeing to longer contracts. In contrast, some companies don’t tie you in for more than a month at a time.
We are forever hearing clients tell us that they have hosting problems, but cant move their website until the hosting contract runs out. All that time they are losing business because their website doesn’t perform properly.
If you’re not 100% sure that you want to be with a hosting company long term, then don’t sign a long term contract. Choose a host with a rolling one month, 3 month or 6 month contract and that way if you’re not happy, you can move sooner rather than later. The advantage is that hosting companies with shorter contracts know that they have to work harder to earn your loyalty, so your likely to get good service this way too.
Where in the world should I host?
There are a lot of hosting companies around the world and in theory you can host with any of them. But you need to remember that if you customers are in the UK and you host your website in Australia, the the data has to travel across the world to your customers computers and this will inevitable make the website appear to run slower. So if you can find good hosting in your own country then go for it.
That said, the data connection between the UK and US is extremely good and many UK websites are hosted in the US without any noticeable delay. Similarly, data speeds within western Europe are very good so you shouldn’t have any trouble hosting a Dutch website i the UK, or vice versa.
One thing that you should be aware of is that some countries have regulations on the storage of customer information, so if you do store customers details n your website, you need to check that it is legal to host abroad. For EU countries it is OK to host anywhere inside the EU, but you should not export customer data outside of the EU unless you are sure that you have the right to do so.
Choosing a WordPress hosting company
Just because a hosting company says that they meet all of the above hosting requirements, it does not mean that they will necessarily run WordPress smoothly because some hosts have settings on their servers that prevent WordPress from performing its required functions, or at the very least makes it difficult for you to set it up.
Also, some hosts have very fast servers and fantastic uptime (reliability), while others have slow servers and lots of downtime (when your website will not load). Most hosts claim that they are super fast and have 99.99% uptime, but don’t take their word for it.
Just like when buying any other product, look for references such as testimonials, reviews and recommendations from people you know. If you know someone who has hosted WordPress with a particular hosting company and they had a great experience, then it is probably a good choice. Similarly, if someone tells you that they had a terrible experience, then listen carefully to what their problems were and make an informed decision about whether that is something you should be concerned about.
If you do your research and follow the advice in this article then you should be just fine. If you would like to recommend a WordPress host or tell us about a bad experience, please do leave a comment.