What you ought to know to find the best WordPress hosting
Some sites will review services of inferior quality and tell you it’s the best WordPress hosting just to make a quick buck. But I recommend what I use.
With traffic to this site now near one million pageviews per month, where to host is among the handful of most important decisions I make when it comes to this website, which drives my livelihood.
After having a great hosting experience on a VPS.net Cloud Server for over two years, I decided to make the switch the Synthesis for a few key reasons:
- Optimized performance
- Theme support
- Cutting edge value
Trust me, I have tested many hosting solutions. Any time the upfront sticker price is low, hidden costs sneak in. These hidden costs include unresponsive support and poor uptime. Some hosts even sneak advertisements on your site without your permission!
So let me expound on why I love Synthesis, and also why I continue to recommend VPS.net and WestHost.
I’ll also provide a bit of insight into how this WordPress hosting business really works.
Why Synthesis Managed WordPress hosting?
Not every WordPress website needs managed hosting. But for serious WordPress site owners, especially those whose sites play an important role in their business, going with a trusted managed host is a prudent decision.
Serious WP site owners don’t want their plugins to get too far out of date and can’t risk being late on a security update. For my own sites, I’m on that quite quickly. For my clients, however, it can be a different story. I usually don’t manage their sites, I just optimize them.
In recent years, the managed WordPress hosting space has really grown. There are now several top-quality hosting companies that host WordPress sites exclusively. They all have optimized their servers for the best performance and security possible.
The Synthesis team is distinct among managed WordPress hosts (and web hosts in general) in that the service was founded by, and continues to be run by, actual web publishers with high-traffic sites that receive many millions of monthly page views. These guys — who are in the Synthesis Help Desk on a daily basis — understand the performance and security needs of real-world WordPress publishers. That alone makes the extra you pay worth it.
In addition to lighting fast performance and lock-down security, these are the specific benefits offered by Synthesis that I realized I could not live without:
- Linux optimization so that I do not have to.
- Yoast.com runs on the Genesis Framework, developed by Copyblogger’s StudioPress design team. All well-coded themes will work on Synthesis, but no other hosting platform is specifically tuned for Genesis.
- Synthesis provides their customers with an uptime checker called Site Sensor.
- They have backups down to a science, including a personal backup program that gives users control of their daily backups.
- The Synthesis team has proven technical aptitude and a forward-thinking mindset; an example of this is being one of the first hosting companies to offer SPDY support.
And switching to Synthesis is made easy with their migration service. They handle everything.
Synthesis really is more than just a hosting provider. Derick and his team are hosting partners. This is what I needed as Yoast.com continues to grow and evolve.
Check out Synthesis plans here.
VPS.net WordPress Hosting
Yoast.com was previously hosted on a VPS.net Cloud Server. They are a sister company to WestHost, both being part of the UK2Group. VPS.net allows you to basically build your own server based on a template of your choosing.
If you go this route, here is what you should be doing to your VPS.net server — based on the exact setup I used to have — to get the best WordPress hosting solution:
- Get a cloud server at VPS.net. Yoast.com used six nodes, though four would have been sufficient if I had not been hosting five other sites on the same VPS.
- Start with a clean cPanel image, and pick the location that is closest to the majority of your readers, in my case Chicago.
- Replace Apache with LiteSpeed. This adds a fee to your monthly bill, so be aware of that.
- Install APC so you can do object, database, and output caching with the help of W3 Total Cache.
- Set up a CDN using MaxCDN’s WordPress CDN solution, again with the help of W3 Total Cache and a so-called “origin pull” set up.
Update: Please consider W3 Total Cache alternatives, as the plugin doesn’t seem to be actively maintained anymore.
That might look like a lot of work, and it is, but it provides an excellent WordPress hosting solution for those who need it.
If you do want a setup like VPS.net, the best thing is that they will help you set it up. They’ll even migrate your site from your old install to the new one! To make use of that offer, email Rus Foster. He’s the Managing Director of VPS.net and he’d love to help you out, both in getting set up and in determining how many nodes you’ll need to start with.
A question I used to get asked often was why I didn’t use a dedicated server. The answer is that I could not scale a dedicated server. It’s either too big or too small, hardly ever perfectly right. Scaling this VPS.net server, though, was as easy as going into my control panel and adding a couple of nodes either for eternity or just for a couple of days. It’s all possible, and you won’t even have to reboot the server.
Let me also tell you this: I was on another “cloud-based” WordPress hosting solution before I started working with the VPS.net guys. I didn’t like it one bit. When my site got too big, they moved me off to what they call a “Dedicated Virtual Rage.” That was even more painful, resulting in lots of downtime. My experience over the last few years with WestHost, then VPS.net, and now Synthesis, has been entirely different. The only downtime I’ve seen in the last six months was caused by my own mistake of developing one of my own plugins on the live site.
WestHost WordPress Hosting reviews
For quite a while now I’ve been working with and promoting WestHosts WordPress Hosting services because they are the best “simple” hosting party I know. If you want to set up a simple WordPress site, do it without a hassle, and have someone you can call who actually knows what he’s talking about, then WestHost is the best WordPress hosting for you. In fact, if you use the coupon code YOAST20, you’ll get 20% off annual packages!
I’ve referred literally hundreds of people to them over the last 3+ years. I want to share a couple of reviews on this WordPress hosting solution from those people, randomly taken from emails I have received:
“I made the move this week. Everything Yoast says is accurate. So far WestHost has been awesome!” – Les Lynch
“P.S. I switched to Westhost for my WordPress hosting needs based on your recommendation…. after several ‘bad’ hosts it was the smartest move I ever made. The technical specs are great, the price is good… but its the customer service/support that makes all the difference. Thanks for the tip!!!” – Robbert Faber
That’s a simple 5-out-of-5 star rating as far as WordPress hosting is concerned. Usually there is something to complain about.
So why am I not hosted there myself? Because I do get more than a thousand visitors a day, a lot more in fact. I used to be on WestHost, and when I outgrew it, I moved to WestHost’s sister company VPS.net, and then to Synthesis. If you’ve got a smaller site, I still think WestHost is a very affordable and good solution.
A warning: what to look out for
Hostgator has been accused more than once by clients of adding links to their sites without asking permission that point back to Hostgator. Yet some of the review sites make Hostgator number one on their list just because Hostgator pays affiliates so much money (click for full image):
This is a very aggressive (and thus lucrative) market. I’ve been offered $150+ per signup myself to promote other WordPress hosting companies. On packages of $5-7 a month, that’s pretty ridiculous.
In my case, I make money by promoting specific companies whose services I’ve been using for years. In other cases, people do “comparisons” or “listings of good companies.” Bloggers with a lot of reach are being offered $100-$150 per sale. I’d like to know how you feel about those payola recommendations now.
WordPress should be easy: most sites don’t need much, as most WordPress sites won’t ever get more than a 1,000 visitors a day. Thus, dozens if not hundreds of WordPress sites can be hosted on one server. The only difference WordPress hosting companies can make is in speed and in customer support. And if they’re spending twice the annual revenue on paying off their affiliates, how much money do you think is left for support employees?
I encounter WordPress hosting issues all the time when I do my site reviews: certain plugins won’t work because they need more memory; servers are down often, causing a loss in Google rankings; the plugin installer in the WordPress back end won’t work due to a poor setup. I’ve seen it all.
Hmm…so maybe offering the best WordPress hosting isn’t that easy after all and you should pick a host that is proven to know what it’s doing and recommended by people you trust.