There is just such a large variance in the quality and pricing of webhosting. Unfortunately choosing a webhost for most people is a daunting task; IIS or Linux hosting?, cPanel or Plesk?, 5GB disk space or more? and the choices go on and on. I often get asked which webhost people should use for their WordPress websites and so I hope that the items below will help you make a good choice.
TLDR Summary: Choosing a Webhost
Here is the lowdown of the hosting you should choose for your WordPress website; Linux server running cPanel. Choose Site5 (Site5 allow for hosting in Australia if this is important to you) and use the free account from CloudFlare as a CDN. Just ask us if you need help choosing a webhost.
Why a good webhost matters
There are lots of reasons why it’s important to choose a reliable and high quality webhost. Here are a few core reasons:
- SEO: If your webhost is slow your search engine rankings will be negatively impacted.
- Security: Many webhosts are known to be weak on security. If your website is hacked it will cost you alot to restore your website and it may take months for Google and Bing to send traffic to your website again.
- Reliability: Some poor quality webhosts have a tendency to fail to deliver web content occasionally. This usually results in what is termed an HTTP 500 or 503 error. People will stop visiting your website if these errors are frequent.
- Standard hosting software: WordPress Plugins and Themes are generally tested on Linux webhosting using cPanel. If your webhost uses proprietary (or not so common) software on their webservers then there is a chance that your website will encounter errors. The same goes for Joomla, Drupal and many other CMS software that is built on the most common webserver setup configurations.
There are more reasons why it’s important to choose a good webhost but the above points should be reason enough to understand the implications of selecting a poor quality webhost for your website.
What to look for in a webhost
Should my webservers be based in Australia?
There is a common misconception that hosting in Australia is necessary for good SEO. The physical location of the webserver itself has no effect on SEO as it’s impossible to know where a server is located when technologies such as AnyCast are used. What is important is the load-speed of your website and this is where geography comes into play. The less distance from your webserver to the majority of your website visitors the better chance your website has of loading more quickly.
What webserver configuration must I choose?
Fortunately this is a very simple question to answer. Choose hosting on Linux servers with cPanel. This is the most common configuration for webhosting and really can’t be beaten for the vast majority of websites. Just to explain a bit more:
Linux: This is the Operating System that the webhost runs. Almost all webhosts use Windows Server or Linux. Linux comes in various ‘flavours’ (formally called Distros) such as Ubuntu, CentOS and Debian. The specific Distro doesn’t matter for our purposes.
HTTP/Webserver Server software: The most popular webserver software is the Apache HTTP Server. The next most popular is Microsoft IIS and then NginX. Because Apache HTTP Server is so widely used it’s the best choice for your WordPress website.
Hosting Control Panel: A hosting control panel makes it really easy to manage your webhosting account. Good control panel software comes with integrated MySQL databases, FTP and other necessary software to make your webhosting experience far simpler. cPanel is the most popular is is extremely widely supported and Parallels Plesk is also a fairly widely used Control Panel that is also good. I highly recommend choosing s host that uses cPanel but Plesk is a good second choice.
How much should I be paying for webhosting?
You should be paying as little as possible for the best hosting available. There are a number of hosts that are extremely good and that cost a fraction of what some of the worse hosts charge. I manage alot of Sites that run on Site5 and they are very good and are surprisingly inexpensive (Site5 also allow for choosing the location of your webserver; Australia, Singapore, England etc.). I’m also a fan of Hostgator.
Should I use a CDN?
As a very high speed and quality CDN such as CloudFlare has a free account, then you absolutely should be using a CDN. AWS (Amazon Web Services) CloudFront is very inexpensive and is also very good. There are more costly solutions such as MaxCDN however as CloudFlare and AWS CloudFront have servers located in Australia (i.e. your website content will be delivered to Australian visitors from Sydney no matter where your webserver is based) either of these should be used for the fastest load times for your webpages.
How much space do I need for my Website?
Many Australian webhosts place limits on the amount of storage space and monthly traffic a website may use. Some popular webhosts have space as low as 1GB and bandwidth as low as 5GB. There is no need to be constrained by these limits. Go for one of the recommended hosts above to get unlimited disk space and traffic.
Should I choose shared or dedicated webhosting?
If you are starting out then start with Shared Hosting. If your website is successful enough then you can always more to dedicated hosting (also called a Virtual Private Server / VPS). A VPS is alot more expensive than Shared Hosting and most websites don’t need a VPS. Your webhost will let you know if you need to move from Shared Hosting to a VPS and using a CDN will help your website use less server resources which means that you won’t need expensive VPS hosting unless you have alot going on with your website.
Should I use my webhost for email?
No. Most webhosts provide free email hosting with your webhosting account. If you’re serious about the security and reliability of your email then use a dedicated email hosting solution such as Google Apps or Microsoft Office 365 for Business. Webhosts are website hosting specialists and email isn’t their core business.
How simple is it to move to a new webhost?
Luckily there are a few very good webhosts that will migrate your website (and email if applicable) for no cost. A number of my clients have used the free migration by Site5 and have been impressed with the service.
I hope that the above has proven helpful and read the TLDR summary 🙂