Being a powerful, customisable, and popular blogging platform and content management system (CMS), many small to mid-sized businesses prefer WordPress for their business websites. This is especially true for startup entrepreneurial ventures. One of the many things to consider when going for WordPress, however, is WordPress web hosting. There are several facets of WordPress web hosting that can lead to the success or failure of an online venture.
We’ll outline some of the most pertinent factors here, and go through some of WordPress’ own recommended hosting providers. Just finding the right web host partner for you and your online business can be very challenging — hopefully, this primer will help:
Can’t I Just Host My Own Site?
Yes you can. But it won’t be pretty. Hosting a personal page with only a few static webpages and a blog can be a hassle — imagine hosting an entire e-commerce site. If you want to host your own website, you face two herculean obstacles:
- The hardware needs: a host needs to have the right hardware — from storage units to connection hardware to backup and security. And everything needs to be up and running practically all the time.
- The effort: the sheer manpower (effort and working hours) it takes to keep a healthy, functioning, and up-to-date physical host yourself will easily take you away from actually maintaining your website
What this means is yes, you can host your own website, but it won’t nearly be as reliable, secure, and cost-effective as relying on a professional host.
Reliability of WordPress web hosting ensures that the host and servers of your website are always up and running. If your host and / or servers go down, your website goes down too. This is why professional hosting providers have multiple fail safes and redundancies in place to keep their clients’ websites online all the time.
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It’s dubious if any host or server company can claim 100% zero downtime — but they can get pretty close. Read reviews — both professional and individual — about the downtime rates of professional hosting or server providers to check on the reliability of their services.
If you intend to put up a website that generates revenue and handles sensitive and personal customer information, you better make sure your host is secure. Network security and coding are essential for the protection of online business from intentional and unintentional hacking, illegal access, and of course the addition, modification, or deletion of existing data.
Check if a WordPress web hosting provider can offer standard encryption and security services — which should be part of their bundled packages. Consider hosting packages at higher price points (that offer better security) if your business handles sensitive information, especially data representing or property of your clients and customers.
Many beginning entrepreneurs erroneously consider backup and disaster recovery services as superfluous expenses. The truth of it is data disasters can easily close your entire operation down. 60% of startups do not recover from catastrophic data loss, with a majority of them closing down in the next two years after the disaster.
Data disasters are not limited to natural occurrences like storms or accidents like fires. The most common causes of data disasters are equipment failure and human error. If you think having a fire extinguisher in the office is best practice, and you’re not expecting any fires, why wouldn’t you avail of backup and disaster recovery services from your WordPress web hosting provider even if you’re not expecting a data disaster?
Considering the Cloud
Recent developments in the areas of business technology and IT have lent credence and prominence to what is now dubbed “cloud computing.” The “cloud” is a general term for a digital storage space that exists on the web, from which applications, software, and programs can then be accessed using remote terminals.
The core of cloud computing isn’t new. In fact, typical hosting is already cloud-based hosting at its most rudimentary, at least from your perspective — because you only have remote access to your host and server. But real cloud hosting is an entirely improved dimension of hosting services. For the most part, cloud-based hosting is said to be a vast progression of already commonplace practices, but as it is still in its infancy, and while the benefits would be greater for larger organizations, it would be up to you to decide whether your website is better off riding the cloud, so to speak. Otherwise, a remote physical host and server should work out just fine. Indeed, when cloud-based computing is the inevitable trend, your web hosting provider will reach out to you with options to upgrade your services in the most efficient manner.
As mentioned earlier, finding the best WordPress web host for your needs is a daunting task not only because of the multitude of providers out there, but also because of the difficulty in finding reviews for all of them. WordPress itself recommends three of the biggest hosting providers in the web today:
- Bluehost — A vast majority of WordPress CMS powered sites and personal blogs use Bluehost. They’ve been around for a while now and though they’ve had their share of controversy when they were still starting up, today Bluehost is arguably as large as WordPress itself — probably larger.
- Dreamhost — While we can’t guarantee this host will be the host provider of your dreams, Dreamhost does offer a 2-week free trial according to WordPress, which should help you try it out hassle-free and make a decision. Dreamhost, like Bluehost, is all over the Internet, though slightly smaller in scale most probably due to being relatively younger in development.
- Laughing Squid — Describing themselves as “open source geeks,” the independently owned San Francisco-based Laughing Squid hosting is the first to admit that they focus on small businesses or individuals. If you sound like their target market, then you might want to take WordPress’ recommendation and check them out for yourself.
There are tons of material on hosting and server topics and resources online, and among the most helpful would be reviews on your shortlisted providers. The three that WordPress recommends is a good starting point, but wherever you want to go for WordPress web hosting, remember that you need reliable, secure, and disaster-ready services.