How to Choose The Best WordPress Hosting

WordPress

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If you could choose you would surely prefer to live in a beachfront resort than in a garbage dump. Choosing a home is a complicated process in which we invest a lot of time comparing all the pros and cons among the options we can afford. So the question is: if when you are going to choose a place to live you look at everything with detail, why don’t you do the same with your web hosting? After all, it’s like your home on the Internet.

My new hosting is super cool... oh! wait 😫
My new hosting is super cool… damn! 😫 Source: Giphy.

Nowadays there are thousands of web hosting providers out there. And the best ones (I’m going to try not to mention any specific name, since nobody has paid me to promote their goodness around here) usually provide a minimum of quality and features that will be enough for the regular user. But believe me, if you don’t make the right choice, you may be surprised in the future.

Recommended Requirements For Your WordPress Hosting

We don’t like negative surprises. And that’s why you should know the minimum requirements that your hosting has to comply with so that, when you move your WordPress site there, everything goes smoothly. This is super simple: just visit this official WordPress site to know them. At the time of writing this post the recommended requirements are as follows:

  • PHP version 7.2 or greater.
  • MySQL version 5.6 or greater or MariaDB version 10.0 or greater.
  • HTTPS support.

What you should do right now before you continue reading this article is check your hosting information details and see if they meet these requirements. Go on, I’ll wait here…

Go check your hosting to see if it meets the minimum requirements recommended by WordPress.
Go check your hosting to see if it meets the minimum requirements recommended by WordPress. Source: Giphy.

How did it go? Does your hosting meet these minimums? If it isn’t too much to ask, please leave me a comment below with your feedback—I’m sure our audience will be happy to know 🤓.

If the PHP and MySQL versions your hosting is currently using are slightly outdated, please ask their customer service to update them to the versions recommended by WordPress. This shouldn’t happen but, unfortunately, you’re not alone. There are lots of WordPress websites that do not run on the required PHP and MySQL versions. That’s why the page I linked to you before has an email template you can use to ask for help:

I’m interested in running the open-source WordPress <https://wordpress.org/> web software and I was wondering if my account supported the following:

  • PHP 7.2 or greater
  • MySQL 5.6 or greater OR MariaDB 10.0 or greater
  • Nginx or Apache with mod_rewrite module
  • HTTPS support

Thanks!

According to WordPress, the usage statistics for PHP and MySQL versions are currently as follows:

Usage statistics of PHP and MySQL versions in WordPress.
Usage statistics of PHP and MySQL versions in WordPress.

We have already commented in previous posts of this blog that WordPress is the most popular content management system today. It is used in more than 30% of all websites on the Internet. And believe me, that’s an incredibly big number.

Considering this, it’s tremendously discouraging to see that only 3.2% of the WordPress websites meet the recommended requirement of using PHP version 7.2 or higher. When it comes to databases, things are a little better. More than half of all installations meet the recommended requirements, although the number of WordPress installations with a non-recommended version of MySQL is also shocking: over 40%!

Using the proper versions of PHP and MySQL in your WordPress hosting is important to avoid security issues. That’s why you should ask your provider to react and update your hosting now.

The Essential Requirement That Your Hosting Should Meet

We’ve already seen the specific requirements WordPress recommends your hosting should meet. Once these are covered, let’s understand what your hosting should cover for you to stay with it or otherwise decide to move your website to a better place. Can you guess what is is? Yup: support. Whenever you need it. With no excuses and with a reasonable response time. If your hosting doesn’t help you when you need it, seriously, get out of there and don’t look back.

I know, what a bummer to have to take your website (and maybe domain name, email, etc.) somewhere else, to another hosting. But in the long run it’s the best thing to do if your current hosting is unable to help you when you need them to.

If your hosting doesn't help you, all you have to do is say that.
If your hosting doesn’t help you, all you have to do is say that. Image from topmoviequotes on Giphy.

Moving a website from one hosting to another can be scary, but it’s easier than ever. Today it’s even possible that the target hosting provider will take care of the migration for free! Cuz, you know, they’re are always looking for new customers 😉

Now just consider the following example (true story).

Recently a user of our plugin Nelio Content contacted us saying that he couldn’t use it because there was an error when accessing to Nelio Content‘s API. To give you some context, our plugin stores some information on Amazon’s cloud and relies on it for sharing content (if you want to know more about this, check out the previous link), which means it needs an API to communicate with it. So, the problem our customer was facing was that his hosting provider blocked all outgoing calls to our API (and other sites, for that matter). I know security is an important issue and that’s why some hosting providers block outgoing traffic but… blocking it all and not letting the user tweak what should or should not be blocked seems to me like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

We told the user to ask the hosting provider to please allow calls to our API (api.neliocontent.com). We gave him an explanation to copy and paste into the contact message to the hosting. The answer?

You will have to indicate us the IP or IPs to which you must make the request and to which port. In this way we can analyze whether it is possible to enable these requests in the firewall of the platform

If when you ask something trivial to your hosting, they seem more lost than an elephant in a china shop, run away right now.
If when you ask something trivial to your hosting, they seem more lost than an elephant in a china shop, run away right now. Source: Giphy.

Are you really asking for the IPs when we’re giving you the domain name? Also, in this case, we cannot provide a specific IP address because, since everything is managed with Amazon Web Services, we don’t know which IP the domain is pointing to (it can change every time Amazon considers it right). That’s why we manage everything with a domain name.

After that, I was only able to recommend the following to the user: “A hosting is there to help you. If they don’t do it in such a simple situation, I recommend you change to a different provider”. Which is a real shame shame, for the user has a hard time for something that could quickly be solved by opening the calls to that domain name in the provider’s firewall.

It is clear that when you have a problem is when you will see how good or bad your web hosting provider really is. I hope that when that time comes you’re lucky and your hosting provider is really helpful. And, if that weren’t the case… well, look for a new one 😉.

Featured image by Ostap Senyuk on Unsplash.

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Antonio obtained his PhD in Computer Science at UPC. He has several publications in the field of data mining and information retrieval applied to conceptual modeling and health informatics. He specialized in the design, development, and integration of web services and cloud applications. He's an active contributor to the WordPress community and participates in meetups, seminars and WordCamps.

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