I’ve been working with WordPress pretty much full-time for over 7 years. I’ve built custom plugins, premium plugins, and deployed a bunch of WordPress sites – both for my own company as well as for our consulting clients. So, I thought I’d share some of the details and, hopefully, it will help you find a good home for your WordPress hosting needs.
I am using, or have used, all of the services mentioned here except Rainmaker Platform. None of the links in this article are affiliate links. I’m just sharing my thoughts about things that seem to work well for me, and hopefully it will be useful to you if you’re comparing different options for hosting your WordPress site.
Site5 – Shared Hosting
Sometimes you just need an inexpensive way to get a small WordPress site online. Maybe your client is just starting out and they don’t have a big budget and aren’t expecting a great deal of traffic. Among the shared hosting companies, we’ve had the most success using Site5. One of the things that I appreciate about Site5, is their terms of service. They put restrictions on the types of content that they host.
Examples of non-acceptable content
- Pirated software
- Bulk Email related products
- Hacking/cracking related websites
- Warez and/or copyrighted MP3s
- Material illegal under United States of America law
- Sites containing or linking to material that may be considered detrimental to the public health, safety, or welfare. (Such as, but not limited to: Anarchists Cookbook, bomb making, weapon information, or anything else that may be considered detrimental or illegal.)
Keeping their servers free of this sort of content makes it easier to run fast reliable servers. To further makes this point, Site5 offers an uptime guarantee. They also always have provided good technical support as well.
Rackspace Cloud Sites
I’ve put a lot of WordPress sites on Rackspace Cloud Sites. Rackspace is branding this service as “Premium web hosting for serious developers.” I think that is quite a stretch for what they actually offer. There are, however, some really nice things about the service. For example, you pretty much have unending space for your sites. You can load as many sites as you want and use as much diskspace as you need. Now, it’s not all free. You pay for what you use, but there are no hard limits to the number of sites you can host. This is in contrast to plans that might allow up to 10 WordPress sites, or something like that. It’s nice to be able to have a single, consistent place to host a bunch of sites without having to worry about running out of space or resources.
The downside of Rackspace Cloud Sites is that you don’t get a whole lot of control over the actual hosting account. The most common way this causes a problem for us is dealing with zip files – you can’t create or extract zip files. It would be nice to be able to log in and create or extract zip files. Unfortunately, it requires a support ticket and they have to do that sort of thing for you. By limiting access to the file system, it probably provides some benefits in terms of overall security.
Performance isn’t quite as impressive as I’d like to see at this price point either. To get started with a Cloud Sites account, you’re paying at least $150/month. If you want to use SSL on your account, then bump that up another $20/month. If you’re thinking about paying these prices, then there are a bunch of other options available to you from other hosting companies. At this level you might want to start thinking about managed hosting providers or running your own server.
Managed WordPress Hosting
There is a lot to be said for not having to worry about things like security, backups, caching, and WordPress updates. That’s where managed WordPress hosts come in. Keep in mind, the costs are much higher than shared hosting, but you are getting a lot more stuff. It’s almost like apples to oranges – managed WordPress hosting is really a separate type of product.
The leader of the pack seems to be WP Engine, but there are others as well like, Pagely, and Rainmaker Platform. I have not yet used the Rainmaker Platform, but I have read a lot about it. It is actually a bit of a different product altogether. It is a full-blown content creation and distribution platform – another layer built on top of WordPress. It’s very closed in the sense that you can’t (easily) add your own plugins and themes, but you probably won’t need to either. They provide all sorts of tools with the idea of giving you a really powerful content publishing platform. The Rainmaker Platform really deserves a post of it’s own to get into all the features and tools it provides. I’d like to try it out and right a hand-on review sometime. But, for the sake of this post, I wanted to mention it because it might just be the one-stop-shop you’ve been looking for if you’re interested in a hands-off hosting experience that lets you focus on creating and sharing your content.
A newcomer to the arena of managed WordPress hosting is Bulletproof WordPress Hosting. Like other managed WordPress hosts, you get updates, security, backups, etc. But, they are a little different in their approach because you get a more traditional control panel (cPanel) to work with your site. This gives you more control over your own stuff like direct access to your database, and even includes email service – something generally not offered by any other managed WordPress hosting providers. You also get very high quality, hands-on customer support. One of the differences, in my own experience with Bulletproof WordPress Hosting, has been the direct access you get to really top-of-the-line, ubuer proficient, customer support. It’s not uncommon to immediately connect with someone who has years of server management under their belt. So you’re not sitting around waiting for a newbie to escalate your ticket to someone who can actually help.
The degree to which your account can be modified to meet your needs is also impressive. In other words, it’s not a one-size-fits-all experience when it comes to how your account is configured. For example, if you want SSH access, just ask for it and you’ve got it. Bulletproof WordPress Hosting also has shown really fast performance. Security is really strong as well. Included with your account is the Web Application Firewall from Sucuri. On it’s own, this would cost you $10/month and it’s included free with your Bulletproof WordPress Hosting account. I think Bullet Proof WordPress Hosting has a lot of potential and I’m really looking forward to watching them grow.
Where Do I Host This Site?
I am currently hosting this site on Digital Ocean and set the server up using ServerPilot. I treat this site a little differently from all my other WordPress sites for a couple reasons. First, I’m pretty familiar with WordPress and running servers. In fact, I run Ubuntu on my everyday laptop – including right now as I compose this post. I have a bunch of scripts that I’ve written to help me manage my daily workflow and it’s really nice to be able to have complete control over the server running my blog so I can integrate my scripts. For example, I run incron on my Ubuntu laptop which monitors my filesystem so when I create or update a file in a particular directory it triggers a script to be run. If I want to share a file or screenshot with someone I just put the file in that folder and my script will SCP it up to a directory on my server and place the URL to that file in my clip board. The script also shows a desktop notification once the file is fully uploaded. All this is to say, it’s nice to have the ability to get things set up and connected with this level of detail. Managed hosts generally are not intended to be used like this.
Here are some of the plugins and services I really like that are helping to keep this site running smoothly:
- WordPress (of course)
- Digital Ocean: Hosting
- ServerPilot: To set up the server securely with minimal effort – big time saver.
- Backup Buddy from iThemes: Site backups, but it can do even more.
- Amazon S3: Remote storage for my backups
- Sucuri WAF: Provides security, CDN, and caching
One thing I am still exploring is SeverPilot vs Forge. I started with ServerPilot and haven’t had any reason to switch to Forge, but I do really like what I see with Forge. If I get a chance to explore Forge in more detail I’ll try to share an update to this with a comparison.
Meanwhile, I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got any thoughts about any of these things.
Thanks for stopping by!