There are few things more important to a successful WordPress website than a dependable, consistent WordPress hosting plan. It’s one of the most important decisions you’ll face. One thing you certainly won’t be lacking for in your search for hosting though is choice. There are so many options that it can quickly become overwhelming: What hosting provider should I choose? What type of plan do I need? What’s the difference between the different plan types?
The latter question is what we’ll tackle today. Finding a great host is important, but before you go shopping for a service provider you really need to get straight what WordPress hosting plan you need in the first place. There are a number of options, the most common of which typically include: shared hosting, VPS hosting, dedicated hosting, and managed hosting. We’ll tackle this from a beginner’s point of view, but we’ll take a look at each. Let’s get started.
What is a WordPress Hosting Plan?
Before we dive into the different types of hosting, let’s focus briefly on the basic concept of hosting. If you’re brand new to running a website, it’s something that’s often assumed you know already as you’re shopping, which can be a bit irritating. If you’re already familiar with the basic concept of hosting, you can safely skip this bit and move on to the next section.
Your website has to have a physical place to live. If you install WordPress locally, that place is on your home computer. You want people around the world to be able to access your website though, and your home computer isn’t something you want to make available to anyone and everyone. Plus, it likely couldn’t handle the traffic anyway.
In order for your WordPress website to be accessed by people all around the world, you need a place for your website to live that’s safe for strangers to access and can handle the traffic from all of your visitors. That’s where a host comes in. Hosting companies have servers, computers specialized in making websites accessible to large numbers of people, that you can install your WordPress website on. They host your website on their server in exchange for payment. Now that we’re clear on that, let’s move on to looking at the plans that hosts will be offering you.
Shared hosting plans are the college dorms of hosting. The server your website is installed on is shared by many other websites. All server resources are shared by each website on the server. Maintenance is typically handled completely by your host. Let’s look at the pros and cons of this arrangement:
- Low cost; far and away the most economical option
- Low maintenance; most every shared host takes care of all your maintenance needs
- Limited resources; bandwidth, processing, memory, and storage are all shared with others. Website performance is dependant on how other websites sharing your server are consuming the shared resources.
- Limited control; configurability and customization is usually very limited on a shared plan. If you require custom software or solutions not offered by the shared plan, you’re out of luck.
All in all, shared hosting is economical, easy to get started with, and is a good fit for websites that don’t anticipate a lot of heavy or sustained traffic on a restrictive budget. A shared WordPress hosting plan is a great place to begin for your first website- whether business or pleasure- unless you’re anticipating an avalanche of traffic right away.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting
VPS hosting is the next step up from a fully shared server. It’s comparable from moving from dorm room living to a duplex. You have your own space that others can’t just walk into and start using your stuff, but you still share the property with others. You’re also responsible for your own general maintenance.
- Greater autonomy; a VPS mimics a dedicated server by partitioning server space that is available only to you. You can manage and maintain this space as you see fit, and typically have a level of control that shared hosting does not allow like root access and use of scripts.
- Resources and scalability; you are allocated resources for your exclusive use, and it is generally easy to upgrade into more as your business grows
- Shared space; despite having your own virtual space and resources, you are still sharing a single physical server with other websites. During peak times this can impact performance even with the best hosts out there.
- Cost; I hesitate to list price as a con. You get what you pay for! However, it’s a necessary consideration and can be prohibitive for fledgling websites. VPS hosting tends to be quite a bit costlier than shared.
VPS hosting is a nice bridge between fully shared and dedicated servers. You get many of the perks of your own server while mitigating cost for those not ready for a fully dedicated solution. Add in the scalability of VPS plans and they can be a great solution for a long time. This is an ideal WordPress hosting plan for established small businesses and sites that get a fair amount of traffic, or plan on being in that position very soon.VPS hosting is ideal for established small business and personal websites with significant traffic.Click To Tweet
Cloud, Dedicated, and Managed Hosting
Since this article is mostly aimed towards beginning and aspiring level webmasters, we’ll truncate this section a bit and just provide a more general overview. Due to a variety of factors such as cost and maintenance, these services are typically used by more established business teams and websites that generate large amounts of traffic.
Cloud and VPS hosting are similar and often confused. With a VPS your partitioned space exists on a single physical server. Cloud hosting is similar in that your website’s resources exist in a virtual partition, but the key difference is that the resources you use are distributed across multiple physical servers. The key advantages to this arrangement are reliability (if one physical server crashes your site doesn’t go down because there are multiple physical servers) and greater resource scalability.
If shared hosting is a dorm and VPS is a duplex, dedicated hosting is owning your own home. As the name implies, you have your own physical server dedicated exclusively to you. You have exponentially more resources and customization options as a result. You also have the responsibility of day to day management of hardware, WordPress core, plugins, security, and more which can be a full time job (or several of them) in and of itself. It’s also the priciest option so far.
Dedicated servers are something you typically grow into. If you need it, the cost is well worth it for the benefits it provides your business. If you’re just starting out, it’s probably much more resource, maintenance, and cost intensive than you need to worry about right now.
Managed hosting is a dedicated WordPress hosting plan and then some. It is essentially a dedicated service where all of the very considerable maintenance responsibilities are handled by your host rather than yourself. With a managed host, you can expect maintenance tasks like WordPress core updates, plugin updates, backups, speed optimization, and security to be handled by your host.
Now that you have an idea of what type WordPress hosting plan you’re looking for, it’s time to actually track down a service provider. We won’t tackle that here, but there are a good many fantastic hosting services that specialize in WordPress. Enough so that you really should be looking only at hosts that offer options specifically for WordPress. One-click installs that some of the better ones offer sure can save you time and the occasional headache. Good luck searching and happy blogging!