If you don’t plan on digging too deep into server management and all you need to do is host a WordPress site, you can’t go wrong with either of these fine folks.
Starts at $29/month. WPEngine is a solid hosting solution that at least two of my clients have used in the past. They have an excellent reputation as being one of the fastest and most reliable WP dedicated hosts out there. And well worth the monthly fee for the peace of mind, expertise and speed that they deliver.
Starts at $15/month. Flywheel is speedy, has great up times and also offers peace of mind backups and security. All of it backed up with a friendly small team of professionals.
I know some clients have balked at the prices they see attached to these hosts compared to their features. After all, a standard shared host can offer them unlimited space, unlimited bandwidth, and all for $5 or less a month in many cases. Why on earth shell out $15 or more a month for hosting? Is WordPress hosting really that much different than a regular website? So let’s look at this from the start.
Is Hosting a WordPress Website Different Than a Regular Website?
In some ways, yes. WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS) built with PHP and using a MySQL Database. While most small websites do perfectly fine running WordPress on a shared host, many people interested in running WordPress rarely have a 5 page site to only use the backend to update text once in a while. Chances are pretty good that the reason most clients who went with WordPress do it for its blogging capabilities, social media extensions, eCommerce options, scheduling, database, and on and on. What I’m getting at is, the vast majority of people running WordPress websites aren’t content with five static pages.
If they’re updating a blog often, running an eCommerce store or really anything that sends data and retrieves data from the MySQL database on a regular basis, you are relying on the server to receive those messages and send back the necessary data. The more calls you make to the server, the slower your website is to load and perform functions because it has to send the message to the server and wait for the server to get back to it.
Now, we all know that the more people sitting on the same server, the slower the website tends to be. After all, those people are all running sites too. Some of them static HTML/CSS, but with more and more businesses running WordPress sites, server loads are going up as more websites send and receive data using server resources.
This is where a dedicated WordPress host such as Flywheel and WPEngine come into play. They’ve optimized for these types of scenarios, server messages get received faster and are sent back faster as a result. This means your site loads quickly, freakishly quick. The kind of quick massive companies spend tens of thousands a year to accomplish with much more expensive and expansive server architecture.
So bottom line, is hosting a WordPress site different from a regular site? Yes, especially if you’re using the Database a lot. How much faster is WPEngine or Flywheel than a regular host? Oliver Nielson from WebMatros.com did a comparison between the major WordPress Hosts versus a very well-respected general host–MediaTemple. And the results are pretty telling. Check them out.
Is WordPress Security Really That Much of a Problem?
No, but that’s if you know what you’re doing. Hire a developer who knows what they’re doing. And you consistently follow the developer’s recommendations and advice regarding security of your own site. That’s a lot of “ifs” and what I encounter is that clients often drop their website maintenance shortly after deployment. They can hardly be blamed, clients should be focusing on their business not worrying over their website. There are the basics of keeping a WordPress site safe:
1) Keep your WordPress Core up to date.
2) Keep your plugins up to date.
3) Don’t use a theme or plugin that you’re unsure of in terms of quality.
4) Uninstall and replace all outdated or unsupported plugins.
5) Keep strong passwords and,
6) Avoid being compromised at the local machine level.
It seems like a lot to think about, and I’m not even getting into the what-ifs of spammers or brute force attacks that hammer the login pages in an attempt to suss out your password–and that’s just the predictable stuff. This is really where a dedicated WordPress host comes in handy. They track the security issues for you, they do the backups, they monitor the server, and if something does happen the majority of them can mitigate the damage, stop it before it goes too far and restore your site back to the way it should be. If you’re running eCommerce, or doing anything that handles customer data, it’s worth it to shell out for the peace of mind, in my opinion.
What About Unlimited Space and Bandwidth?
I addressed the unlimited space and bandwidth myth in an earlier post: Choosing a Good Web Host. Chances are pretty good that shared hosts don’t actually mean unlimited space and bandwidth and they’re just using those features to draw in customers, betting that the vast majority of their customers won’t even come close to the limits they actually have in mind. What you get is an upper limit they won’t tell you about, and if you cross over that limit the host might throttle your usage, send you messages about your resource consumption or strongly insist that you upgrade your account.
I rest more easily going with hosts who are upfront about what you’ll get over the ones who either won’t tell you or offer you misleading features and then throttle you back when you actually take advantage of those features. So yes, the two dedicated WP hosts I listed above (and there are other great ones, these are just the two I have experience with) do have limits on what resources you can eat up, but they are disclosing it and not selling pie-in-the-sky unlimited space and bandwidth. You will get exactly what you pay for, you know what you’re paying for, and you know you are guaranteed to be allocated those resources.
Now the capacities are pretty low, and if you want more, you need to be prepared to pay more for it. If the capacity is going to be a problem, I generally bump up to recommending a managed VPS. Everything costs something, unfortunately.
Ultimately, what hosting you or your clients end up on is dependent upon the website, what’s being run on it, and how much the client will expect to pay for hosting. There’s definitely a lot of benefits to going with a dedicated, optimized WordPress server. Peace of mind, simplicity and security features are some of the most attractive reasons.