Trying to find the perfect WordPress host is not an easy task. There are a lot of options out there – which is actually really cool compared to where we were just a few years ago.

Personally, I’ve shopped around, I’ve tried a bunch of them, some I’ve loved, some I’ve liked, some I’ve never left.

I was literally just telling a friend I have a propensity to try new hosts when come to market and have been established for a little while even to my own detriment.

January

 

I try wait for others to test the waters, then I’ll jump in. You know, it’s the whole “Come on in, the water’s fine” sorta thing. Sometimes I do better than others.

Really, the only conclusion I’ve been able to draw from trying out all of the options available is there is no perfect WordPress host.

The Perfect WordPress Host

This might be me, this might be a thing with the technical-types, I don’t know, but whenever a new host comes to market and then offers all sorts of cool features specifically tailored for my needs – in this case, WordPress – then it automatically catches my attention.

And yeah, all kinds of things matter:

  • Price point
  • Ease-of-use or the user experience of their dashboard
  • Customer Support
  • WordPress-specific features
  • Caching
  • Staging environments
  • S/FTP, SSH, Email, SSL, etc
  • …and so on

By now, most hosts offer all of the above in some capacity. In the past few years – come on, I don’t go from host-to-host on a monthly or bi-monthly basis – I’ve tried out at least six hosts and all of them, though some significantly better than the other, have left something to be desired.

This is probably a personal problem.

The point of what I’m trying to say, though, is if you’re on the lookout for the absolutely best WordPress host possible, then you’re going to come up either empty handed or you’re going to come up disappointed because you’re looking for the holy grail (and no one’s yet to find it).

What Host Would Suit Me Best?

At this point, this is where I’m supposed to say “Given all the above, this is the hosting I recommend…” but that’s not this post.

Instead, I’m going to say this:

The best WordPress host available or you is the one matching most of your or your project’s requirements.

Maybe this is a disappointing statement. Here’s how I see it, though:

We go around to all of these hosts and we look at what they offer, the price points they have, and all of the other things they include in their service plan and then we pick the one that seems to fit us best (all the while letting the “cool”, “hip”, and “new” factor guide our some of our decision-making).

Save for the last part, that’s great – we definitely need to be aware of what’s out there in terms of what’s available. But if you’re trying to pick a host based on some type of requirements, I think that’s the wrong way to go about it.

Instead, here’s how I approach it:

  • List out everything you know you need from a host
  • Mark the must-haves, nice-to-haves, and doesn’t-matter in the list
  • Then go shopping

Basically, do the opposite of what we, as the tech-types, tend to do. Rather than trying out a host to see if it fits our needs, use our needs to find a host.

This doesn’t sound like advice. It sounds like common sense. But I know I, along with a number of my friends, have spent weekends doing site migrations thinking we’ve found the best place to host our site(s) only to find something missing or something we wish different a few days or weeks later.

Don’t shoehorn your project into something because you want to use it. The hosting needs to fit the requirements like a glove.

Ultimately, the perfect WordPress host is going to be the one offering the highest number of features aligning with your requirements.

Category:
Articles
Tags:

Join the conversation! 19 Comments

  1. Tom, thanks for writing this.

    Long before we started The WordPress Helpers, I realized what an (ultimately) masturbatory discussion “GREAT WORDPRESS HOSTING” is … or at least is generally presented as. My personal favorite is the idea that anyone is configuring a server “to optimize for WordPress”.

    Yes, that can actually mean something, as long as you understand that the general idea is “we run PHP and MySQL on an otherwise-as-stripped-down-as-possible Linux box”.

    Better still (probably) is when you’re running WordPress on two servers, one of which is the PHP machine and the other the database host … again, with those machines doing nothing ELSE.

    But none of that is WordPress magic at all; it’s just good server management. The real issue is that things “work” (duh), and in selecting a host the only meaningful questions are those that address this kind of thing.

    In other words, mixed-used servers are worse than single-use servers, and in a shared hosting environment that gets BY NATURE worse still. So if anything, the meaningful question (good luck getting an answer unless you spend real money on a dedicated server—and I mean DEDICATED, not virtual) is “are you telling me my sites are on servers doing all the same stuff I’m doing?”

    Simple, right? ;-)

    • My personal favorite is the idea that anyone is configuring a server “to optimize for WordPress”.

      Sure – assuming one has the ability and know how to do this. If not, then they should definitely look into having someone advise them on what’s best or have a host that most aligns with the goals and requirements of their project.

      Better still (probably) is when you’re running WordPress on two servers, one of which is the PHP machine and the other the database host … again, with those machines doing nothing ELSE.

      I’d say this is only useful whenever you have a site that has an extremely high-level of traffic.

      I used to work for a company that had three data centers across the country and had the application separated just like that. For them, it made sense. For some who are using WordPress, it makes sense.

      For others, I think that could be overkill. It all depends on how heavily the site is being hit.

      There’s a lot that can even happen in between introducing some basic caching and them having a cluster of servers to separate the application.

      • Tom, it’s TOTALLY overkill (for most). And truth be told, the entire conversation is overkill FOR MOST; shared hosting will work well enough 99% of the time for 99% of web sites.

        But in talking about what makes a good host, I think we’re on the right track; once you have anything mission critical happening on a web site you need “better”, and better really means “servers using good (enough?) policies”. And most so-called WP Hosts are really just marketing, not that.

        Let’s take it a step further, though: the other comments here seem mostly to say “host your own”, and with dedicated servers now available for under $100/month, it’s hard to argue. You’re running a serious website and a business and you need to save $30-$40 on the single most mission-critical aspect of your business? Then you aren’t running a business.

        Jeff Yablon PC-VIP Inc.

        jeff@answerguy.com (+1) 646-827-3800

        http://thewordpresshelpers.com http://answerguy.com http://pc-vip.com

        http://twitter.com/WPHelpers http://twitter.com/virtualvip

  2. I got my own dedicated server and never looked back.

    I can configure it specifically for me and WordPress.

    I can use all the best technologies for the job.

    I can set up an automated backup option that works for me (and at a server level – not a plugin).

    I can set up server level security specifically tailored to WordPress.

    Ant honestly, server management doesn’t suck up a lot of time or anything. Sure, if something goes wrong you need to spend time figuring it out, pulling hair, and fixing it, but if you’ve set up the server well then those instances will be very rare.

    I’m done with hosts and being piled onto a server with hundreds of other people. I like having complete control.

    • Yep – once you get to a certain point and permitting you’ve got the time and resources, it’s really a good way to go because you’re at the mercy of yourself and electricity :).

    • Hi Ashley… Question. When you say you have a dedicated server that you’re in charge of, do you mean you actually have a box at your house that is physically sitting in front of you? Or do you mean you rent a dedicated server with a monthly price from a company?

      Thanks!

  3. OK, I’m glad I’m not the only one struggling to find solid WordPress hosting. One thing for-sure though, there are lots of garbage hosters out there. However, all the ones floating to the top of my list have some serious flaw or another.

    Because I’m unable to find a hoster that can provide a good server environment and ALSO a fast & reliable network, I’ll be going Ashley’s way and doing my own WP hosting config on AWS where I already have all my other non-WP hosting already.

    • One thing for-sure though, there are lots of garbage hosters out there. However, all the ones floating to the top of my list have some serious flaw or another.

      Yeah – I mean, some of them are definitely garbage. There are also some great hosts that offer great things, but it really depends on the project and it depends on the amount of time you have to invest in your resources.

      That’s where I’ve been, at least, for the past few years – I’ve got through every type of hosting you can think of and even still it depends on the nature of the project I’m dealing with whenever the requirements come through.

  4. I agree with Ashley. The perfect WordPress host is your own server. You have no limits when you’re the server admin and no one is going to tell you that PHP can’t be upgraded or that some PHP setting can’t be changed, etc…

    • You have no limits when you’re the server admin and no one is going to tell you that PHP can’t be upgraded or that some PHP setting can’t be changed, etc…

      Ah, now for the nicer PHP features it’s almost worth it, isn’t it? :)

  5. Nice post! I actually get this question a lot when working on WordPress sites for clients. I usually point them to either GoDaddy or Bluehost since they don’t have too much incoming traffic — but I have been hearing great things about hosting with Amazon. Would be cool to get more insight on that. Thanks for sharing!

    • Tatiana — in recent year GoDaddy has recent really upped their game on WordPress hosting. My buddy Chris did a great post on this.

      I will caution you against BlueHost. I hate to speak ill of any service, so I won’t say any more other than that.

      In the meantime, if you’re dealing with much larger sites, Amazon is a neat solution but there are seriously some other contenders worth considering, too :).

      Thank you for the comment!

      • I will say more. On a recent job it took over 10 minutes to get get the first response from BlueHost tech chat help and over 25 minutes to get phone tech help. I have had many experiences contacting SiteGround tech chat and they were all significantly faster. (Under 1 minute? Its fast enough I do not notice how long it takes)

        SiteGround Cpanel seems more polished and intuitive That could just be my personal preference.

  6. I’m into WordPress services for 2 years now and looking for a good host was indeed a real challenge. Found one now, though! Did you check out Flywheel; getflywheel.com?

  7. Hi Tom,

    Whilst WP Engine isn’t perfect, it is really damned good. Sure there are some features I’d love but at a premium plan level it’s awesome.

    Here’s a recent piece I wrote on it: https://www.pragmatic-web.co.uk/wordpress-hosting-500-installs-with-wp-engine-our-experience/ – definitely intend this link as info rather than self-promotion or promoting WPE but feel free to remove if you prefer.

    Happy to answer any questions I can on the nuts n bolts.

    Cheers!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.