WordPress hosting is a very important decision to make. Moving your blog to a new host is never fun, and you need the right combinations of features, speed and support to make the decision that’s right for you. I’ve been developing websites since 1998 and I’ve been working with WordPress since it was introduced in 2003. I’m going to give you reviews of my favorite 3 options as I’ve used all of them personally. I’ve actually used some others, but these are the 3 that I’ve come to trust and recommend to my friends. So which is right for you?
In this article, I’ll be reviewing 3 major hosting services. I currently pay for accounts on all of them and have for quite some time. I’m going to share my personal experiences with each of them so you can better decide which one is right for you.
We’ll be looking at:
WordPress Hosting – What To Look For
So what is important to look for in WordPress hosting? There are several factors. First of all – WordPress is a content management system built on PHP and MySQL. If you don’t know what that means, PHP is the coding language that makes it all work and MySQL is the type of database that stores things like posts and pages. The good news is that WordPress is wonderfully coded and its light weight. This means that the performance is really good from a coding perspective which makes it easy to host making WordPress hosting very simple. This is comforting if you’re not technically minded.
What you’re looking for is what’s called a “shared hosting” account. This simply means that the cost comes way down as the hosting company will host multiple sites on the same server. The downside is that some shared hosts pile thousands of sites on the same server and you’ll notice your performance is terrible as soon as a few of those start running custom scripts or even just start getting a lot of traffic. All 3 of the options I’m going to discuss below I’ve never had this problem with. In fact that’s the first factor that ruins a host for me so I’m not about to recommend a service that I’ve had problems with.
The other option is dedicated hosting. Dedicated means you have your own machine all to itself. Virtual Dedicated usually means that you’ve got a virtual machine – you might still be sharing, but you’ll have full resources allotted to your “virtual machine”. All of these hosts offer dedicated hosting plans, but they are considerably more expensive. However – if you’re blog gets big and successful which we all want, its nice to be able to stay with the same hosting service and just upgrade that way. Most hosts offer easy ways to migrate. So that’s something to just keep in mind. You will hopefully need it one day when you’re getting 100,000 views a day so its there. For now, you can get all the performance you need at a very low cost. This is smart business. But remember that WordPress hosting isn’t resource intensive – you’ll be surprised at the milage you get from any of the shared plans.
The last thing to look at is features. All of these hosting services offer “One Click Installs” which makes WordPress hosting a breeze to setup. Its literally one click. After you get your account you can hit a button and it will install WordPress for you automatically. This is a huge time saver. All three services have this. The feature where they all differ is the control panel that you will use to set up things like email accounts and do your billing. I don’t think any of these is better than the others, but I will tell you about them so you can find the one that’s right for you.
Full disclosure: I currently pay for hosting accounts with all 3 of these services. I’ve used each one for WordPress Hosting. I use them daily for various clients and personal projects that I work on. The links here are affiliate links. This simply means that if you click one of these links and sign up for the service, I do get a recommendation fee. This doesn’t cost you a dime and it helps offset the costs of keeping this blog. You can help me continue to offer free content and show you more awesome things about how to run a better blog. As I said – I pay for my own accounts on all three services for a variety of projects. I wouldn’t recommend a service that I wouldn’t actually use myself.
So lets look at my personal favorite 3 options:
WordPress Hosting – The Top Three Choices
MediaTemple was the second hosting company I ever signed up for. The first was so horrendous and I even found out that it was run out of some guys living room. Needless to say, MediaTemple was a godsend when I started using them. I’ve had 2 accounts with them for over 10 years now. I’ve got their Grid service account and I also have a DV server for some high traffic clients.
The service you want is likely the Grid service. I started on this in the early days and its come a long way. The Grid is a type of shared hosting that has a better distribution of resources for traffic. This means the performance is quite good and it is. With the service you get:
“One Click” WordPress Installs
100 GB premium storage (this is more than you’ll ever need)
1TB network transfer (again this is plenty)
Host up to 100 domains
1000 email accounts
Money Back Guarantee
The control panel and billing system is all built and maintained by MediaTemple. Its extremely simple and might be the best option for people who want to keep things simple. There’s fewer options than the others, so power users might not find this up to their liking, but the basics are more than covered. They have a ticket system for support and a toll free number. I’ve had some long hold times when I’ve needed things, but the staff are polite and helpful. Problems are always solved within the first call. Because the phone wait can be time consuming, I usually just use their ticket system which is still fast and simple. They also have a wonderful kept knowledge base. Lots of times I can fix problems myself by searching and reading the knowledge base first.
One day when your site becomes a big money maker with tons of traffic, you can easily upgrade to one of their virtual dedicated or dedicated servers very easily.
Bluehost is my current favorite. The customer service is outstanding and that’s main reason WHY they’re my current favorite. Last summer I got an account with them just to see if it was something I would support. The same day they called me and went over the billing (which was insanely cheap) just to make sure I was happy, set and didn’t buy options I didn’t need. We actually found one I included by accident and they gave me a refund on the spot. Very impressive. They are very personal, well staffed and obviously take customer service seriously. That’s the biggest plus for me. When there’s a problem, its nice to have people there to help.
With Bluehost you get:
“One Click” WordPress Installs
Unlimited Disk Space
Free Domain Name for 1 Year
Okay – lets talk about unlimited for a second. This is standard for hosts to offer – even MediaTemple who have defined limits. If your site starts rocking 100,000 visitors a day – they will probably ask you to move to a dedicated plan because you’ll be hogging resources. I’ve never hit this limit, if you are you’re making money on your site so this isn’t a problem. You also need to keep files related to the website to meet the “unlimited” umbrella. This means you can’t host a video podcast that gets popular or trade AC/DC MP3’s with your friends. This is all for files you use on your site and that fall in the realm of legal activity. Having said that – don’t worry – you won’t hit the limit anytime soon.
Bluehost uses CPanel for their backend. Not as elegant as MediaTemple, but its very powerful and gives you a TON of options for your server setup. They also offer 3 types of webmail clients if this is your thing.
I love Bluehost – they are great. If you would like to see a Bluehost setup in action, I created a video where I built an online photography portfolio in 5 minutes.
Dreamhost are one of the industry leaders as well. They know hosting and do it well. Set up is a breeze. I actually can’t tell you how their customer service is because I’ve never had to use it! I’ve had my Dreamhost account for the last 5 years. I recommend them all the time. The biggest difference with Dreamhost is they wrap all their billing and server options into CPanel. Its extremely powerful, but its not as intuitive as the elegant MediaTemple. BUT – the search is very good so I’ve never had too much of a problem. I’ve never used their customer support, but I’m sure its fine.
With Dreamhost you get:
Unlimited Everything – but within the limits I mentioned above ;-)
Free Domain Name
Okay – so my suggestions for hosting are as follows:
Bluehost offers the best support and best mix of options.
MediaTemple Grid Service is the easiest to use, customer service is good but you’ll wait in line a little
Dreamhost offers the most options for your account. I’ve never needed customer service – this says something.
So check out the pricing – all are competitive and wonderfully inexpensive and decide which one is the best for you.
Have you had any experience with the above hosts? Feel free to leave a comment below.
I’ve been working with WordPress since it came out back in 2003 on various design and photography sites that I’ve had over the years. Check out my Google+ Profile