Once you’ve decided what Content Management System (CMS) your website will be built on, a crucial next step is determining which web host to use. We’ll be discussing how to choose a web host for WordPress websites.
WordPress itself has minimal hosting needs, however, the templates andplugins added to WordPress have their own requirements that need to be addressed individually and in relation to each other. For example, it’s possible that two plugins may have conflicting software requirements. Support and performance requirements for your website can make the decision a bit more complex. The recommended minimum system requirements for a WordPress site include:
- Linux operating system
- PHP 7.2 or greater
- MySQL 5.6 or greater
- HTTPS support
WordPress will run on a Windows operating system, but we’ve seen many issues related to permissions and performance, so we only recommend using the Linux operating system for WordPress websites. Although WordPress will run on older versions of PHP and MySQL, they have reached their official end of life and may expose your site to security vulnerabilities. Additionally, the latest versions of PHP and MySQL bring significant performance enhancements that will help your site load more quickly. Check out Why Website Speed Matters to learn more.
HTTPS (versus HTTP) support is not required, but you really should implement it to help protect your site visitors, especially if you sell products online. HTTPS provides an encrypted connection between your website and the visitor’s computer.
Your customers expect great service from your company and you should expect the same from your web host. Support from a web host should include quick response times to any issues you run into getting your site running and over the long haul. In the past we recommended GoDaddy for entry-level website hosting, but over the years we experienced a significant decline in the quality of GoDaddy’s customer service.
I’ve been in the IT industry for 30+ years and consider WP Engine’s support and service to be among the best I’ve experienced in any area of the computer industry. They usually notify me via email of a problem before I notice one and they typically already have a solution being implemented. Just this morning I received an email informing me that an update to the WordPress core had been released overnight and WP Engine’s system was already setup for me to install the update with a single mouse click. Choosing this option automatically makes a backup of the website and installs the update.
I’ve worked with their support team via live chat messaging and have had only one support request that needed to be escalated. Their level one support team is highly responsive and very well prepared to deal with most problems. Phone support is available, although I prefer chat because I can save the session for future reference, if needed.
Our Own Experience
Our website was previously hosted at GoDaddy.com and it served us well for quite a while. As mentioned earlier, over time we noticed a decrease in the quality of GoDaddy’s customer service, as well as gradual decreases in our website’s performance. The performance issue should not come as a surprise since GoDaddy’s hosting packages rely on having the most accounts on the least amount of shared resources to keep the prices low.
We switched to WP Engine as our web host after comparing their offerings against two other hosts. By switching to WP Engine, we immediately reduced the page load time by several seconds. After making a few minor adjustments, we were able to save another two seconds. Although WP Engine is also a shared hosting environment, they are committed to offering the highest level of performance, reliability and security possible for WordPress websites. Instead of trying to cram as many websites as possible on the least amount of hardware, WP Engine is continuously improving their infrastructure and support services. Over time you get more for the same price with this approach.
A Little Bit About WP Engine
WordPress recommends three web hosts and WP Engine beat out all three for WordPress hosting according to https://webhostingcat.com. Other hosts might cost a little less, but in terms of features, performance and support, WP Engine wins out in our book as well.
WP Engine was built from the ground up to be the fastest, most reliable and most secure WordPress platform. Most other web hosts offer WordPress hosting as an option, while WP Engine specializes in WordPress hosting. Like most things in life, if your attention is divided, neither area will achieve its full potential. When a doctor sends you to a specialist, it’s because he/she knows the specialist will do a better job than a generalist. The same applies to web hosting.
WP Engine recently crossed the $100 million annual recurring revenue mark with over 75,000 customers and also received a $250 million investment from Silver Lake. Read the details in their press release at “WP Engine Secures Strategic Growth Investment From Silver Lake And Surpasses $100M In Annual Recurring Revenue”.
Every website needs a hosting account, whether self-hosted, shared or dedicated, to operate. WordPress makes up approximately 25% of the world’s websites, which means there are many options. It’s fairly safe to say that you won’t make a terrible decision no matter which host you select on the short term. This is great if you’re a startup business, but if you are well established and have a large following, it become more important to choose carefully. Hopefully this article has helped you with that decision-making process.