WordPress Hosting Recommendation

Escalera al cielo / Stairway to heavenThis article comes from my personal experience in working with half a dozen hosting companies, and that's too much, imagine changing a dentist half a dozen times.

Shared hosting

A beginner blogger will most likely face a decision what kind of hosting they want to start with. Most will choose shared hosting plan, which is the cheapest and therefore most attractive. A beginner blogger will rarely see any income before couple of months, so the price plays the major role in this decision.

And shared hosting is perfectly all right for small blogs. You will have enough storage and almost unlimited bandwidth, and you will enjoy your blog's beginning days.  But you may find out one day that all those fancy numbers about huge resources you have available - exist only in theory.

You will write a nice article on your blog and it will become noticed, for example by users of Stumble Upon. You will suddenly start getting thousands of visitors. This is the magical moment in every blogger's heart, the one you waited so long for. Alas, it will usually not last very long. It will get spoiled by your hosting company who will suspend your account for "excessive use of resources". And in the worst possible time, as this is your moment of glory!

Unfortunately, the way shared hosting works is that your site shares resources with other sites on the same server (some hosting companies will put up to 300-400 sites on one computer). Once your site starts eating up resources (caused by high traffic) you will get suspended.

The procedure for getting site back online is usually a very painful experience, even with biggest hosting companies. Reason for this is you are their smallest customer, and for $10 a month you are paying, you can't really expect too much support. Usual discussion goes like this:

You: Please enable my site again, it's very important to me as lots of visitors are coming and it's getting very popular and ...

Hosting: No problem, please fix the problem that is causing excessive usage of resources

You: But there is no problem with the site. I only have more visitors than usual and I can not affect that

Hosting: Errr... please fix the problem that is causing excessive load of resources, and we will re-enable your site.

You (without fixing anything): All right, I fixed the problem!

Site becomes active and within 30 minutes your account is suspended again. You again go through the whole story, only to get your account suspended with a notice that if this happens one more time, your account will be suspended permanently.

So you chill out, lose the site for the whole day and when the traffic has drained off to the point when there is no one visiting the site anymore, you enable the site and observe a black hole in your website analytics screen for that day.

As I said, this happened on 'best' shared hosting servers previously, even when the sites were properly optimized. In my experience one good 'stumble' can get your account suspended. If your blog is in the zone of 1,000 - 2,000 visitors daily, you are much likely to get a sudden spike in traffic, resulting in getting suspended. At that point you should start thinking about other hosting options.

Virtual Private Server

Your next bet is renting a VPS, or a virtual private server. VPS is something that behaves like a real server, has dedicated storage, RAM and CPU power, but still is not a real dedicated machine and therefore costs less.

Benefit of VPS is that you are the king of your resources, which are much more abundant to start with. Also your hosting support will be much more polite and helpful - you are now in their green zone spending between $50-$100 a month.

Now in good hands, your site will get more and more popular and you will start facing other problems, most likely RAM and bandwidth. When will this happen depends from your VPS hosting plan. 2,000 visitors per day will use up around 50GB of bandwidth monthly, as a rough guide.  I recommend getting at least 512MB RAM and 200GB bandwidth plan.

When this is still not enough you have one more option.

Dedicated server

Used for high traffic sites, these 'bad boys' will usually cost from $200/month to almost $1000/month for a 'pimped-up' server.  This may sound much, but if you need dedicated server you are usually earning multiples of that already so you don't mind the cost as long as the site stays up.

At this point you also probably have a dedicated webmaster (or even team of people) working for you and making sure your golden site is working 24/7.  This is the dream of every blogger.

Conclusion

You should start small but plan ahead. Never pay hosting more than your site can earn as this is a bad strategy in the long run (it's hard and against human nature to downgrade).

As your site grows and your business opportunities blossom, you will be able to follow-up with upgrades to your hosting.

If I missed anything you would like to know, feel free to ask.


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10 Comments

  1. Jan 21st, 2011 12:40 AM

    It's true about the planning ahead part- you kind of have to think big picture in ways of the internet. However, it's hard to find a good host that will allow you to switch from a small plan to a larger one like a dedicated server. Are there any tips or servers you would recommend that make such a transition a lot easier than others?

  2. Feb 16th, 2010 6:07 AM

    Great post Vladamir. I am new to the wordpress community... and will be checking in with you frequently.

  3. Nov 12th, 2009 4:38 AM

    What an excellent post.
    That describes what just happened to me today...
    thanks for all info,
    Greetings from Brazil

  4. kerre
    Sep 14th, 2009 5:23 PM

    Excellent post, I didn't know that. Thank you

  5. Apr 10th, 2009 11:40 PM

    Ottimo Post
    Molto utile!

  6. Nov 24th, 2008 10:28 AM

    Thanks guys!

  7. Nov 24th, 2008 6:27 AM

    Excellent post. For those using shared hosting, maximizing on plugins like WP Super Cache can help with those days with lots of traffic.

  8. Nov 24th, 2008 1:55 AM

    Great post Vladimir as usual, now i am checking out what my Hosting partners fine print is.

    Appreciate the insight.

    adacosta

  9. Nov 23rd, 2008 4:58 PM

    Thanks Kym. I've been busy a lot with WP lately.. Wish the day had 48 hours :)

  10. Nov 23rd, 2008 4:12 PM

    Great post Vlad. I'll have somewhere to point my clients now about what hosting is and what not. Usually I just can't be bothered so I host them on my server for free. They're all new anyway so it's no skin off my back. :)