What Makes a Decent Hosting Plan for a WordPress Site?

By  //  November 2, 2021

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Almost every other website uses WordPress as its content management system these days. Its user-friendliness and the vast selection of themes and plugins make WP the most preferred publishing platform, not just for blogs but for any and every kind of website.

While the WordPress system is free to use for personal and commercial purposes, a decent web hosting service for your WP site will cost you some money depending on its size and complexity, which determine the required server specifications and resources.

There are literally thousands of companies that sell web hosting services with varying features, level of service and price point. Some providers have hosting plans that are custom-built for WordPress and optimized for maximum processing and loading speed, while others offer general plans that can be used to host any content management system with no restrictions.

If you are on the lookout for a reliable hosting provider for a new or existing WordPress site, the following are some of the most important considerations and aspects to reckon with.

Servers & Resources 

A good host should use state-of-the-art, well-maintained and well-secured servers with fast SSD storage, uptime guarantee, and (preferably) some failover mechanism in place to minimize any potential downtime in case of a server failure.

Each plan should have enough resources at its disposal to ensure smooth and fasting loading of the website(s) using it. Many companies offer unlimited disk space and bandwidth with shared hosting, but that is more of a marketing trick that should not be taken literally.

You will be limited by other resources, such as CPU and RAM usage, as well as the maximum number of simultaneous database connections.

Scalability

If you have a fresh website that is still in early growth stages and doesn’t have that many pages or daily visitors, then it makes sense to start with an entry-level shared or VPS hosting plan. You may not want to invest in a high-grade VPS or a dedicated server right out of the gate unless your website’s software and/or estimated traffic demands it.

The good thing about most providers is that they allow their customers to easily upgrade or downgrade their plan anytime and as needed. This is often done automatically with no need to migrate your account and website to another server, especially if you are changing plans within the same tier of service (e.g. shared or VPS).

Hosting services that are built on cloud technology are more readily scalable and offer unbounded room for growth. If you expect your website to grow on a gradual basis, then hosting it on a cloud VPS account would be the smartest and least wasteful option since it will enable you to add more server resources only when needed and pay as you go. 

Control Panel 

The control panel is the interface that allows you to manage your web hosting account and all of the associated services. It’s where you can access and modify your files, databases, emails and various settings of your account and server.

The most commonly used control panel is cPanel. It has many useful features and tools with a simple, user-friendly interface. Most shared plans come with cPanel at no extra cost, while VPS and dedicated servers usually require you to purchase a license depending on the number of accounts you intend to create. 

Some companies have their own custom control panel, and these vary in their functionalities and ease of use from one provider to another. If you choose a fully managed WordPress hosting service, it is likely that you will be using a custom control panel that is specifically designed for the WordPress content management system. Ask the host if they have a live demo or a walk-through video/article of their control panel, so you get a better idea of what you will be working with.

Automatic Updates 

One of the most essential things you can do to keep your WordPress site secure is to immediately install new updates for the core system as well as any and all themes and plugins you have. Applying new updates can either be done manually or automatically.

Normally, it only takes a few clicks and a few minutes to manually install new updates, but this requires you to keep constantly checking for updates, which may not be very practical if you own multiple websites with different themes and plugins. Plans that include automatic WordPress updates can save you time and hassle by ensuring that newly released updates are installed without delay.

Staging Site

A staging site is basically a clone of your site that can be used for testing purposes. If you want to modify your existing design or test new themes or plugins, you can do so in the staging environment without affecting the live version of your site. You won’t have to worry about making the wrong edits to your code or breaking your site, because any changes performed on the staging site remain there until you decide to publish them to the live version. 

There are several external plugins that enable you to create a staging site, but if this comes as a native feature with your hosting package then that’s a considerable advantage. 

CDN Integration

A content delivery network is highly recommended for websites that have a global audience. Not only does it make your pages load faster to visitors from different locations around the world, it also reduces consumption of your server resources which can help cut down your hosting bill.

Cloudflare is by far the most popular CDN that offers different tiers of service, including a free one. Some hosts facilitate quick automated integration with the Cloudflare CDN, while others require you to do it manually. If you need a CDN for your WordPress site, it’s better to work with a provider that already has this feature integrated in their interface.

Security Features

WordPress sites are a prime target for internet hackers and online spammers, which is why it is of utmost importance to take the necessary steps to secure your site and server from potential hacking attempts and other security threats.

Hosting providers often have different security systems in place to protect their customers’ websites from malware, viruses, DDoS attacks, injection attacks and other threats. Hosts that use premium scanning and protection services may be more expensive, but if you have a valuable website then it should be worthwhile to pay extra money for extra security.

This is particularly true for e-commerce websites which may incur huge losses in case their server security is breached.

Support Service

And finally, all of the above are useless unless they are accompanied by prompt support service that is available day and night to help with any technical issues. Some hosts may take days to respond to tickets while your website is down and you’re losing customers and money in the meantime!

Others may have 24/7 chat support that is only good for basic copy-paste answers while being completely useless with more complex problems, which may require waiting for long hours or even days until a senior tech expert resolves the issue. 

Take into account the company’s reputation and what others say about their support service. Get in touch with the support team yourself prior to subscribing and try to assess their knowledge and average response time. Premium support usually comes at a higher cost, so if you are on a low budget, don’t expect to get the best support service with cheap web hosting!

The saying “you get what you pay for” is often very true in the web hosting market, so don’t let the price be your main criterion when comparing different providers.