Whether one has made a good choice or not is unfortunately often only revealed after several months of hosting. In shared hosting environments, you are usually packed onto a new server, which then gets fuller and fuller over time. But your WordPress page should not only be fast at the beginning, but should also remain fast and stable in the long run. Therefore I decided to do test installations and make a direct PageSpeed comparison with my current hosting.
Basically, there are countless hosters who fulfill the minimum requirements of WordPress to a web space. These are:
- PHP version 7.3 or higher.
- MySQL version 5.6 or higher OR MariaDB version 10.1 or higher.
- HTTPS support
That’s really all there is to it.
The WordPress development team recommends either Apache or Nginx as web server to run WordPress, but any server with support for PHP and MySQL is basically sufficient. However, not every possible environment can be tested. If you are wondering about PHP version 7.3… WordPress still works with PHP 5.6.20+ and MySQL 5.0+, but these versions are no longer maintained and can be a potential security risk for your website!
From hosting packages for a few Euros per month to hundreds of Euros for large servers, the market is incredibly diverse and the choice is correspondingly difficult. My recommendations are therefore aimed at all those who do not consider themselves experts in hosting and do not want to go into detail about it, but simply want a well-functioning hosting for the WordPress website.
What makes good hosting?
A good hosting is virtually invisible, because it works inconspicuously and is good. I don’t have to deal with it while everything is running. When a hoster is conspicuous, it is usually rather negative. If something goes wrong, which of course can always happen, e.g. a hard disk breaks down or other problems of a technical nature occur, then a hoster can score points with good support and fast response times. If the loading times get bad, the server is not continuously available or breakdowns accumulate, a bad hoster can cost not only nerves but also good money. In addition, the topic of data security and data protection should not be neglected. The wrong hoster or unprofessional handling can quickly cause massive damage.
Hosting is a hygiene factor for me. If everything is good, you don’t notice anything, if not, you have a real problem
Also the topic of backups and security is extremely important and is unfortunately underestimated again and again! Unfortunately, this is usually only noticed when it is too late and a data loss or website failure has occurred.
A well-known German hoster, for example, had a massive breakdown in 2019, in which almost all customer websites were unavailable for several days and then it was discovered that the backups obviously did not work.
Tip: If you or your hoster makes daily or at least weekly backups, ALWAYS do a recovery/rollback test BEFORE! So check if you can really restore the website from the backup!
My recommendations regarding security are therefore:
No matter if managed servers or fully virtualized environments, servers must always be kept up-to-date. This means that the operating system, i.e. the Linux kernel and all software and modules used are updated quickly.
In any case, the hoster should enforce secure passwords, close unnecessary ports and regularly scan for malware, malicious software and viruses. If you are hosted on a shared server with several customers, access between the customer packages must be prevented at all costs.
In any case, a firewall should be used on the server and insecure modules such as mod_perl should be removed. It is also advisable to disable login methods that are not needed (e.g. SSH on shared hosting or unencrypted FTP access).
In WordPress itself, file permissions should be set restrictively and the CMS as well as plugins and themes should be updated automatically if possible. Secure passwords are hopefully self-evident. Multi-Factor-Authentication would be even better, of course.
In the data center, a WAF (web application firewall) can be used to block attacks before they even reach the server, and the hoster should have a facility for DDoS defense. This can of course also be done by using a CDN such as CloudFlare.
A good hoster must be prepared for this!
What may or must hosting cost?
In terms of budget, it depends extremely on whether I run a small blog or a private homepage or several projects, a high-traffic site with five, six or even seven-digit traffic figures or an online shop with hundreds of bookings per hour.
A decent hosting for a normal WordPress website is available from 9,95 EUR per month. On average, a WordPress instance should cost about 20 EUR, hosting for larger websites or online shops may or even must cost 100 EUR upwards!
For hightraffic websites a proper hosting can easily reach the middle three digit range, i.e. 300-800 EUR per month! But this should only be necessary if your website generates corresponding sales and these costs are a small part of your monthly expenses 😉
For a larger website, of course, improved connectivity is just as important as fast storage (on SSDs / NVMe), plenty of RAM (e.g. pay attention to the PHP memory limit) and sufficient CPU cores with decent clock rates for the execution of the PHP code. Since PHP code cannot be distributed over several cores, this is especially important for high traffic websites that cannot be cached. In this case, a CPU core with >3 GHz provides much higher performance than several cores with clock rates below 2 GHz! If your site has a shopping cart or other dynamic content, you will automatically need a more expensive hosting package, because the server can no longer hold all rendered pages in RAM (so-called Full Page Caching).
Also, for intensively used websites, where several editors work on the same page in parallel, backups should be done more often than for a mini-blog, which hardly gets any new content or changes.
Finally, the topic of security is extremely important, because WordPress is – due to its widespread use – a popular target for hackers and bots, who automatically exploit vulnerabilities and known security holes. How you can make your WordPress secure, fast and reliable, I will explain shortly also here on search-one.de.
There are many different approaches to hosting, but is the cheapest webhoster the right one for you? One thing is for sure: No hoster can do magic. They all just cook with water!
The costs for servers and data centres are more or less the same for everyone. Of course the big providers have certain economies of scale or synergies, but especially the small ones and the specialists can often score points with better support or tailor-made solutions.
More performance also costs more money. So does reliability, security and support.
Admittedly, it feels somewhat crass to spend 100 EUR upwards for hosting a single website. That is much more than you would be willing to pay for your DSL or mobile phone contract per month. But it’s also clear: If you need such an expensive package, you have a lot of traffic to handle with a real business behind it and therefore income, and you’re usually happy if everything runs stable and reliable and you don’t have to deal with hosting in your daily business.
It should also be said at this point that what makes hosting (besides the hardware) really expensive is the support! So if I as a hoster have lots of customers who know what they are doing and only need a little something from time to time, I can of course calculate completely different than with customers who are not so technically versed, who constantly have questions or need support and would perhaps be better off with an agency or a web developer. Well, and then there are those agencies and web developers who think they know their way around … and they often make the most support effort.
Large providers try to intercept many questions and problems via the website by means of FAQs, forums or chat bots or they run gigantic call centers with people who sometimes have less clue than you do.
But then you should rather go to a hoster where you are dealing directly with a capable sysadmin or maybe even the owner, and possibly spend an extra two euros a month – my opinion.
So you already notice: There is not THE ONE RIGHT HOSTER FOR EVERYONE!
That’s why I decided to present the providers and their rates and services as transparent as possible, with the respective advantages and disadvantages from my point of view and a recommendation by website size at the end of this article.
Thanks to Plesk’s WordPress Toolkit, many WordPress hosters now offer integrated central management without the need to use InfiniteWP or other services, and allow for staging and syncing between the live website and the development environment(s).