Before design and development, the most important aspect of creating a website is planning the build. Part of this process involves selecting a host for the website’s server. Easier said than done, webmasters have hundreds and thousands of hosting companies to choose from, each offering a plethora of hosting package options.
The server and the website have an important relationship. As the foundation of your website, the difference between a good or bad server can seriously affect the experience of your web presence – both from the perspective of your site visitors as they experience the website as well as for you as the webmaster who has to manage its inner workings.
The following blog post will discuss the concept of web hosting to help you make the best selection for your WordPress website.
If you’re not fond of reading and would prefer to rather listen to a discussion on this topic, watch Episode 68 of the Divi Chat podcast where some of the best Divi minds come together to discuss hosting service providers and how to select the best option for your needs.
Understanding Web Hosting Options
Web hosts typically have three options, shared, VPS and dedicated hosting.
- Shared hosting: Shared hosting entails a shared environment where often hundreds of websites are all placed on the same server. All of the websites on the same server all share the same resources, which can become problematic, for example if another website on a shared server experiences a spike in traffic, other sites on the same server will experience a ricocheting effect.
- VPS: Standing for Virtual Private Machine, VPS hosting is a dedicated environment within a server that allocates specific resources to a single website. Even though the server space itself isn’t dedicated, the resources are, and as a result, each website opting for VPS hosting is more secure and stable.
- Dedicated: Dedicated hosting allocates an entire, dedicated server to the single website. While certainly the most stable, secure and often well-supported option, dedicated hosting is extremely expensive and certainly isn’t an across-the-board solution for all.
If you’re looking for more information, either read our blog post that explains the differences between the most common hosting options of shared, VPS and dedicated (+- 5 min read) or listen to Episode 171 of WP The Podcast (6 min audio).
While shared hosting is often the most sought out option, namely due to its low price, it can lead to a few problems. As well as experiencing issues relating to server resources and the allocations thereof, websites on shared servers are more vulnerable in terms security, as websites on shared servers will often share the same IP addresses.
Even with these potential vulnerabilities in mind, cost is still a huge factor for many website owners, and even in the tradeoff between spend and security, price will often be the deciding factor.
Without sounding too ominous, shared hosting is a great option for most, including bloggers, small businesses, hobbyist web creators and brands that are needing a display site for a web presence without too much functionality on the site, however, for other, more complicated websites, shared hosting will not be the best, both from a resource point of view as well as from the security aspect.
Beyond shared, VPS and dedicated hosting, another option available to webmasters is managed hosting.
What is Managed Hosting?
Managed hosting adds another deeper layer of service supply to a hosting package. Here, the hosting service provider will offer additional services to the client and will tend to the nitty-gritty and often intimidating aspects of server management.
With managed hosting, long-term maintenance, such as running automatic backups, implementing and managing security measures and so on, are all taken care of by hosting company itself. This relieves a huge amount of pressure from the webmaster or business owner, freeing up a considerable amount of time.
The webmaster will still need to take care of updating themes and plugins, but from a holistic maintenance perspective, the continued management of a website is considerably less time-consuming with managed hosting.
Specifically for WordPress, managed hosting services are of exceptional quality and offer flawless support, but for a high, high price.
Two of the leading managed hosting service providers are WP Engine and Flywheel. At the time of writing, our favorite hosting company, A2 Hosting, had recently released their own version of managed hosting packages.
As well as offering comparable managed hosting services such as backups, security measures etc., A2 Hosting goes a step further by differentiating and optimizing its managed services to cater to the needs of different WordPress users.
In recognizing that WordPress websites that use page builders will have a different needs requirements, A2 Hosting tailors their packages for this, for example, offering a managed WordPress service for Divi which includes an already-installed theme, increased memory and much more.
A2 Hosting is our recommended hosting provider of choice. We’ve been using their servers for a number of years and can’t recommend their packages enough.
Should You Use a CDN?
Traditionally, a server is located at one single destination. When a site viewer requests to view a page from a website, the web browser connects to the server and returns the resources it receives.
The physical distance between the server itself and the site viewer can have an effect on the speed of the website. As speed and performance are key to a successful site, it’s worth considering the geographic location of the hosting company’s servers in relating to the location of the website’s audience.
If the audience is globally dispersed, the webmaster may consider enlisting the service of a CDN.
A CDN or Content Delivery Network or Content Distribution Network is a number of servers spread across the world, wherein which, smaller cached versions of a website can be stored. Instead of having only one server location, using a CDN will essentially store multiple copies of the website in multiple locations.
How to Select the Best Hosting Company for your Website Needs
When selecting the correct hosting service provider for your websites needs, consider the following.
The website itself. If your website is a small site, display site, blog or simple business site, a shared server will be perfect for you. If your website is larger, includes intricate functionality, has high levels of customization, runs e-commerce, is currently or will grow in the future to have large scores of traffic, consider a more robust, resource-intensive server option such as a VPS.
Price. If financial constraints are something to keep in mind, then a shared server will be the most cost-effective option, however, as mentioned above, don’t skimp on service and trade security for savings if your business requires it.
Management. If price is not a deciding factor, a managed hosting solution is a great option, especially if you’re not all that technically inclined and/or you just don’t want the hassle of looking after your server. Managed hosting packages will generally take care of backups and security measures among other things, while A2 Hosting specifically offers managed hosting options optimized specifically for various WordPress builders including Divi.
Support. Open lines of communication are key when it comes to good relationships, and as a web developer, it’s important to be able to ask questions and pose concerns to your host when necessary. While researching hosting options, consider the level of support that you’d like to receive and take a few support related peer reviews into mind.
Data center location. As explained above, if your website’s viewers are widely dispersed and a CDN is a plausible addition to your website, consider finding a host that integrates seamlessly with a CDN for maximum convenience, such as A2 Hosting.
In Episode 68 of Divi Chat, the panel shared a few recommendations of hosting service providers. These included:
- A2 Hosting (our favorite)
- WPEngine (an incredible product with a price tag that may not suit everyone)
Selecting a good host is vital for a website. If a website is a house then the server is the foundation and no one would choose to build a home on shaky ground. Luckily, there are plenty of resources – such as this article and the Divi Chat podcast episode – to help you make your decision.
As mentioned countless times above, our go-to is A2 Hosting. With fast loading speeds, incredible support and plenty of additional features just scraping the surface of their service offering, we can’t recommend them enough.
We want to hear from you!
What has your experience with web hosting been like? Have you had a bad experience in the past, or were you satisfied from the get-go? If you have any questions or comments please feel free to share them below. We love receiving your feedback!
Thanks for reading!