The first step in running your own self hosted wordpress install is choosing where to host it. In the early days of wordpress, cheap shared hosting was usually enough. However, as it’s grown more powerful and complex into a fully fledged CMS, it’s getting harder and harder to keep a speedy site on cheap shared hosting.
The Wizard of WP has made a list of three solid hosting solution that you can build your business on.
At the top of the list, we have WP Engine. Probably the highest end of the WordPress powered hosting solutions,
WP Engine has some wonderfully wizardly features:
- 1 Click site staging for testing out changes or plugin updates WITHOUT impacting your live site. This is probably it’s greatest feature.
- Built in CDN asset caching and wordpress page caching for enhanced speed at the higher level plans
- Easy one click site backups
- Temporary URLs to build your site before having to switch the the actual domain.
However, that being said, it also has some big downsides:
- No integrated email solution or even forwarders. All your domain branded email will have to come from elsewhere (mailgun, dreamhost, google apps, etc)
- It’s expensive. The introductory tier of $30/month limits you to 25,000 page views a month and ONE wordpress install.
Overall, I’d say WP Engine is the best solution if you’re going to be running a fairly complex Ecommerce site, can afford the $30/month for a single site, and really need the amazing 1 click staging features that let you test out site upgrades and changes without impacting your live website. This is huge and not to be overlooked.
However, that price range is immediately a deal killer for many people, especially anyone accustomed to the common $10/month shared hosting plans or who needs to host multiple sites.
If you need up to 5 sites, and still want some pretty blazing speed, The Wizard recommends WPX Hosting. WPX Hosting is nearly as fast as WP Engine, doesn’t have page view restrictions, and is much cheaper in that you can host 5 sites at the entry tier, though it does make some trade-offs in terms of functionality.
First off, WPX PROS:
- Speed. While it doesn’t have built in CDN caching, it’s BLAZINGLY fast, especially when combined with Cloudflare.
- Automatic Daily Backups of your site
- Built in email functionality: imap or forwarders
- Very competitive pricing, $25/month for 5 wordpress installs
- FREE site migration if you’re coming from another host
In terms of trade-offs with WP Engine, however, you lose:
- 1 click site staging. You’ll need to manually setup a development site using one of your extra installs and hand migrate things each time need to do serious upgrade tests first
- No temporary URL when building the site. Not a deal breaker, but it means you need to setup some subdomains or host mapping.
- 50/gb a month bandwidth cap on the lowest pricing package. Depending on what you’re hosting this could be an issue, though when using cloudflare you’d really have to push it.
If $25/month is still too much, or you have a BUNCH of sites you need to host and maybe only a few are traffic heavy, The Wizard recommends Dreamhost VPS.
The Wizard has been hosting sites on Dreamhost since 2007, and they’re a great company. Service was a bit rocky for a few years, but now that they’ve upgraded their VPS servers to SSDs with ample RAM, their a great low cost solution for hosting one or multiple sites.
Dreamhost Pros include:
- No limits on pageviews or the number of sites you host on your VPS. If you have 20 sites all moderate bandwidth, dreamhost is a great cheap solution
- A VERY user friendly control panel that let’s you manage your domains and hosting.
- Great fast and responsive email support.
- Scaleable – if your sites explode in traffic, you can reprovision your VPS on the fly for a few extra $$$ a month to make your site fly again.
- Easy mirror/preview URLs for building your site before it’s live
- Not as fast as WP Engine or WPX Hosting for resource intensive sites.
- No 1 click staging
The Bottom Line
So which to choose? If you only need a single wordpress install, are still growing your site and can afford $30 a month, go with WP Engine. Of if you know you’re going to be running a complicated site that will often need live testing via the 1 click staging, WP Engine is for you.
If you need a few wordpress installs, want fast sites and don’t need 1 click staging, go with WPX Hosting.
If you’re on an extreme budget and can only do the $15/month or have many wordpress sites, choose Dreamhost VPS.
Whatever you choose, your site will load very fast and you’ll have the comfort of knowing backups are happening automatically.