If you are building a site with WordPress, you are inevitably going to have to address the question of finding a hosting provider. Instinct will tell you that finding one shouldn’t be too hard—a quick Google search ought to help you decide, right?
Not so fast. There are actually more WP hosts than you can count. A Google search for “WordPress hosting” will return over ninety-one million results. And if your next instinct is to go to WordPress themselves for a recommendation, you’re out of luck.
(WordPress Web Hosting)
The trouble doesn’t stop there—many of the comparison articles returned by Google are either outdated or an obvious ploy to generate traffic, rather than provide usable information.
In order to orient yourself, you ought to decide if you would like to rely on WordPress hosting or find yourself a third party host. The former has its limitations (some pretty big ones), while the latter can be both time-consuming, and frustrating.
To help you make that decision we’ve put together a brief guide to help get you hosted.
Solution 1: Hosting on WordPress.com
We’ll start with the obvious: let WordPress.com host your site for you. It’s really, really easy—anyone can do it, and it’s hard to break. It is, of course, severely limited, but more on that later.
It’s a simple process, really:
- Register on WordPress.com
- Decide on a name for your page / blog
- Choose from hundreds of themes
- Select the features and plugins that you want on your page
- Create content
- Don’t pay a penny (unless you hit a certain amount of traffic)
That’s it. WordPress takes care of backing up your data and keeping everything up-to-date.
There are, however, a lot of downsides to WordPress.com hosting:
- Your free site will contain ads, and you cannot control which ads are shown unless you receive at least 25,000 page views each month.
- No plugin support unless you upgrade to the VIP program, which is prohibitively expensive.
- Theme customization is not available.
- No third-party analytics software.
- IF YOU VIOLATE THE TERMS OF SERVICE IN ANY WAY YOUR PAGE WILL BE DELETED WITHOUT ANY WARNING
Solution 2: Third Party Hosting
Should you decide that WordPress.com is too limiting, you may choose to take your web presence elsewhere. Luckily for you there are thousands of hosting providers. So many, it’ll make your head spin.
If you’re new to this sort of thing, you may be thinking to yourself, I thought this was about WordPress, how can I take my web presence elsewhere?
We’re talking about WordPress.org, not WordPress.com—there’s a substantial difference between the two. WordPress.org provides you with software, not a website. The software that they provide you is also called “WordPress”, just to keep things interesting.
Once you’ve downloaded the WordPress software, you are essentially on your own—you’re responsible for finding a hosting provider, keeping WordPress up-to-date, styling and building your page, and everything else inbetween.
But don’t let that fool you: being on your own is not a bad thing, because you are never really alone with WordPress. What I mean is, there are plugins and one-click solutions for everything short of coding your actual site, including:
- Custom themes
- Custom analytics and tracking
- 1-click updates
- Backup plugins (like BackupBuddy)
- Spam-deleting plugins (like Akismet)
- And many more
If you like what you hear, you just need to pick out your hosting provider. Luckily for you, there are all kinds of hosting providers, ranging from as low as $3 / month, to many thousands a month—it all depends on what you need from your host.
Most hosting providers (except WP VIP, more on that later) fall in the lower end of the price range, and offer the same services, so picking between them shouldn’t be any more work than checking some reviews.
Solution 3: WordPress VIP Hosting
Now that we’ve addressed the differences between WordPress.com hosting and self-hosting with WordPress.org, let’s talk about WordPress.com VIP hosting—the king of all hosting platforms.
With VIP, you are essentially working with the definitive WordPress hosting experts. If you’re curious to see just how definitive they are, check out some WP ViP statistics.
With WordPress VIP hosting, you get features like:
- Site maintenance
- Unlimited traffic
- Extreme security and stability
- 24/7 IT support
- Multiple off-site backups
- DDoS protection
- In-built analytics
- User engagement statistical data
- A hefty price tag: $15,000 setup fee + $3,000 a month for hosting
This solution is not for everyone. If, however, your site requires the security and stability offered by WP VIP, don’t count the pennies—it’s well worth it.
Conclusion: It’s All About Your Needs
The three hosting options outlined here represent three types of users:
- The entry-level WordPress.com user, who needs a reliable platform that’s easy to use, but doesn’t offer anything out of this world.
- The DIY WordPress.org user / professional developers who require total customizability and power-user access to server files.
- The high-rollers, so-to-speak. The ones that see data security and huge traffic as potential problems, and aren’t afraid of spending some serious money on their web presence.
Think carefully about which user-type you belong to, and what your needs are as a website owner—one of the three is sure to be right for you.