In discussions of web hosting, I frequently encounter the advice to use the best hosting you can afford; after all “You get what you pay for.” Well … While that can sometimes be true, to put it on a pedestal as unquestionable dogma is just silly. It is in fact easy to overpay for most anything, including hosting. My preference is to use the most affordable WP hosting that meets my requirements.
Hosting selection also depends on the nature of the site. For a business site I want rock-solid reliability and timely, knowledgeable help service. For a just-for-fun personal site I might settle for a higher risk of down-time and less-helpful service to save a few bucks.
Research to find the right web host can be exasperating. Fake reviews and affiliate link spam abound. I recently stumbled onto one site that seems honest, well-researched, and kept up to date. If you are in the market for web hosting, I think Research as a Hobby is a great place to start – in spite of the affiliate links and annoying pop-overs.
My must-have requirements for shared web hosting, in no particular order …
- LAMP stack – LiteSpeed (preferred) or Apache (acceptable) – not Nginx, Windows, other.
- cPanel – the real one, no substitute
- CloudLinux account isolation technology
- SSD storage
- Reasonable number of subdomains, email accounts, MySQL DBs, bandwidth, storage
- Softaculous Autoinstaller – Purists prefer to install WP manually, but Softaculous works great for me
- PHP version selector
- Free Let’s Encrypt SSL
- Good baseline site speed – to be turbocharged using a Cloudflare page rule
- Not associated with Endurance International Group (EIG)
- No obnoxious up-selling or other BS marketing games
For a business site I add …
- High uptime in practice, not just claimed or “guaranteed” (I monitor with UptimeRobot and StatusCake)
- Timely, knowledgeable help service
- Automated backups
- Security: Firewall, intrusion prevention, spam filtering
I look for the lowest cost that provides all of the above.
For personal sites I use Buyshared.net. The base plan meets all my must-haves, and cost is an incredibly low $5/year – yes, per year! Speed has been very good. Uptime has been good with a couple of exceptions. Help service … well, I wasn’t expecting great help service. I have experienced a few glitches in the admin backend, and there is a frustrating lack of documentation. Overall, it works for my less-important sites and keeps my pocketbook happy.
For business sites I recently switched to SiteGround. It meets my requirements and offers some nice extras like built-in caching, automatic WP and plugin updates, and a version of the 6G firewall optimized for the SiteGround environment. To date, I am very happy with SiteGround. Cost will increase substantially after the initial teaser year, so I may revisit this topic in a few months.
Update 2017-10-21: As expected, revisiting. In the process of moving my business sites to MDDHosting. SiteGround rocks – had a great experience there – just a bit pricey for me after the first year teaser rate. MDDHosting – as best I can tell based on credible sources and my own short experience – rocks too. BuyShared also rocks, in its own way – super inexpensive, speedy, decent uptime, kinda on my own support-wise – great place for my personal sites.
Update 2018-01-26: My number of personal websites reached a point where it made sense to use a reseller account rather than individual shared hosting accounts. Wow – what a difference. Whereas I experienced an occasional technical glitch on BuyShared’s shared hosting, technical issues on reseller were pandemic. I never knew what would break when, and some things like DNS and email on most of my sites never worked at all. Rather than move everything back to individual shared hosting I decided to simplify my life and stick to one ultra-reliable host for all my sites. I now have everything – personal and business sites – in an MDDHosting reseller account, and am finding it a great experience. A bit harder on my pocketbook, but a lot easier on my sanity.
WPPOV supports freedom from Net Neutrality and the GDPR. The Internet of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.