Many people I know swear on their hosting. It were the best, the most reliable, the best value for money, the best service etc, they say. There are tons of hosting comparison web sites out there, many of which are pure affiliate sites that will showcase the hosting company that pays the highest commission as being the best. So how on earth can you find the best WordPress web host for your needs? The answer is that unfortunately it’s a really complex hunt and there is definitely not a one-size-fits-all solution. So please don’t expect to find a “winner” at the end of this page, we’ll leave that up to the affiliate marketers to display these on their sites.

Let’s talk about the right web host for you based on your own knowledge levels. One of the biggest frustrations for customers and web hosts alike is the incomprehension of the other’s situation: novices expect 24 hour support but only want to pay 2 USD per month, they ask strange questions as they don’t fully grasp technical context and are frustrated when they receive a “sorry, can’t help you” email from the web hosts.

It all boils down to the principle of “you get what you pay for” and webhosting is no difference. The market of hosting is highly competitive and while the cost of hardware resources has dropped over the last years, the requirements for good service definitely haven’t. While you would assume that beginners should pay less and pros should pay more, the opposite is often true: beginners need a lot more help at the beginning to get their site up and running, hence more and better support. I would recommend you a relatively small hosting provider, some company that you can call up during business hours at a reasonable fee and ask some questions. As a pro, you won’t need that and focus your research on the hard- and software specifications only.

Reasonable cost for WordPress hosting

So how much would be a reasonable cost for hosting a web site?

Well, if you are launching a new web site project, you can start off with a relatively cheap package, somewhere in the range of 5 to 10 USD per month is usually sufficient. You will want to make sure of a few things:

  • Dedicated IP address is a must if this will be an important project for you. For a small personal blog, this isn’t needed.
  • SSD storage is a must (even if they only give you 10-20 GB). The data transfer speeds are so much higher and it is truly a different experience.
  • You should at least have 256M of dedicated and guaranteed RAM as a minimum requirement.
  • If you can, check which server software is installed, as a minimum requirement, they should have Apache 2.4 with PHP 5.6 compiled as FPFM or fast-cgi, which will dramatically improve your site performance. Sever software is free, so there is no reason why they shouldn’t have their servers set up accordingly if they know what they are doing and care about their customers.

WordPress hosting and things to be on the lookout for

  • Has the company been in business for at least 5-10 years? Newer players are sometimes cheaper, however you want to make sure they are still around tomorrow.
  • Do you know where their servers are physically housed? If you are US-based and addressing a US-target, don’t get a server in Amsterdam or Tokyo. Vice versa, if you are a European citizen, try and get a server in Germany or the Netherlands (given the relatively central location within the continent).
  • Ensure there’s a phone number you can call up and use to talk to a human being. Actually, it’s the first thing I do when I try out a new host. The phone experience tells you a lot and it’s the aspect of the hosting company you may end up having to rely on most when the site is down.
  • Personally, I don’t like to pre-pay for 2 years in advance, 6 months is fine and even a year, but some providers want to lock you with special deals. While not generally a bad thing if you can get a good deal, don’t let that blind you: if you are unhappy after three months, there’s 21 to go given you prepaid!
  • Be on the lookout for hosting offers that allow you to upgrade and downgrade at any time and for free (except for the difference in hosting package cost of course). This is a nice way to scale your site as you go along.
  • Check out some review sites to see what people say and how many reviews there are. Note that review sites can also contain a lot of affiliate marketing material, and some companies actively “recruit” people to assess their hosting services. In general however, you can get a good feeling about some of the experiences. A selection of some hosting review sites are:
    • http://www.whoishostingthis.com/hosting-reviews/
    • http://web-hosting-review.toptenreviews.com/
    • http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2424725,00.asp
    • http://www.reviews.com/web-hosting/

Conclusion

As I said at the beginning of this article, I can’t give you the best WordPress hosting company out there as it just doesn’t exist. Based on how serious your project is, think about how much money you are willing to spend in the separate stages: the beginning (development phase), the early stages of monetization (a few paying customers), as well as an advanced stage that sets you up for growth and scalability. See your hosting company as a business partner, compliment them for good service and make them aware where they can improve. The best hosting company is often the one you have long-standing relationship with.