WordPress Web Hosting Performance
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If you follow Paulund on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ then you would probably know that recently I’ve been researching about new web hosting companies.
Up until now Paulund has been hosting on a shared hosting account which was fine for what I needed, I had the standard unlimited bandwidth, unlimited storage and unlimited domains.
But I quickly learned that when a web hosting company says you get unlimited bandwidth it actually means you get unlimited bandwidth until the server cpu's overload, which on a shared hosting account isn’t that much.
I was getting a daily problem of overloading the server cpus which meant that for a couple hours a day the server went down and therefore the website was offline. This is a nice problem to have, it means that the website is now too popular to be hosted on shared hosting and you to upgrade your hosting account to either a VPS or a dedicated server.
Here is an image of the resources Paulund was using on a shared hosting package, as you can see the CPU is always working close to 100%.
This will mean you get more processing power and should ensure that your website will never overload the server and shut down your site. The problem with VPS or dedicated server is the price, you have to pay a premium to make sure your website is always online. To do this you need to understand the benefits and disadvantages of each hosting type.
Shared hosting is the most basic hosting package you can buy and it is the type of hosting you will normally get for a new site, then wait for your site to out grow it and move to a more capable server.
The benefits of shared hosting is that they are cheap, some of the cheapest hosting can go from $2 a month.
With shared hosting you don’t pay for the server, you are paying to be one of the websites on a server. A server could have 10s, 100s, 1000s of sites on it and all the hardware needs to be shared across all of these sites. So if one of these sites is attracting 1000s of visitors a day it needs to share the resources of the server with the other websites.
Sharing resources between other websites is what can overload a server if you share the server with a couple other big websites then you will see that you get less and less resources from the server. When it is over loaded your site will run slower, it will take longer to connect to the server and could potentially go offline for a couple hours a day.
Obviously this isn’t good for your website and you have to realise when your site out grows the capabilities of a shared hosting server and the time when you might need to upgrade your hosting.
Virtual Private Server
A virtual private server is sort of inbetween shared hosting and dedicated server. You still share the server with other websites but instead of sharing all the resources of the server your site is allocated a certain amount of the resources. This means that if other sites on the server suddenly get a traffic spike your site will not be affected as your resources will not be touched.
The benefit of using a VPS is that you will always have a section of the server to use as your own and other sites will not affect how your website is handled by the server.
The downside of this is that you will only be paying for a section of the server and if your site needs more resources some companies will just not give you those resources and could shut down your site. So if your site has a traffic spike you might have to pay for more allocated resources or your site could get shut down. Therefore this option might lead to some unexpected billing depending on the amount of traffic your site is getting.
A VPS can also be scalable so once your site started using up your allocated resources you can easily upgrade your packages as and when you need more resources. You can keep doing this up until you now have the entire server allocated to your website.
Then you will be moving into dedicated hosting.
Dedicated hosting is when you pay for an entire server to host your website, this can be very expensive, a couple of hundred dollars a month will be an average cost of dedicated hosting. But the benefits are huge, you now have full control over the server. You can decide if you need more RAM, more storage, more processing power it’s up to you. You get to customise how the server works to fit your needs.
Your website will be the only website hosted on the server so you don’t need to worry about other sites traffic spikes shutting down your server, you only have to worry about your own site using up the entire resources of the server.
As this package type can cost a lot of money you should only move to this type of package when you need the extra resources. This could be when you get up to a million page views a month if you are close to that then I’m sure you wouldn’t mind paying the extra money for dedicated hosting.
Paulund has outgrown the shared hosting packages I was previously on so I was looking for either a better shared hosting account with another company or a VPS. At the moment Paulund doesn’t get enough traffic to need a dedicated server but maybe one day I might need to move it over.
Paulund is WordPress blog so my ideal hosting would be with a company that is mainly focused on WordPress.
There is one thing I don’t like about hosting companies and this is when they say you have unlimited everything and try to stay away from any hosting companies that say you get unlimited everything. As I was looking mainly for VPS you don’t get told that you will have unlimited everything and they tell you exactly the resources you will have access to.
I wanted a VPS but also wanted to be hosting from a known company and was willing to pay extra to a reliable hosting company. The priority of the hosts will need to be speed, I like the web to be quick and if the hosting company can increase the speed of the website then this is a massive bonus to them.
So I started my search for a new hosting company, first I sent out a tweet asking for help from my followers on which hosts they recommend.
Starting to research about new hosting packages, can anyone recommend some?
Thanks for everyone who replied I had some great recommendations have are some of the ones you have probably heard of:
- Media Temple
Hostgator is a web hosting company that do all types of hosting from shared hosting, reseller accounts, VPS or dedicated hosting.
The cheapest hosting packages start off at $3.96 a month, which is a very good price for hosting. For this price you get unlimited storage and unlimited bandwidth.
You should normally be careful of hosting packages that say you get unlimited because they are never unlimited, but I have heard good things about the hostgator hosting. I was very interested in their VPS package which started at $19.95 a month. This is a very good price, for this you get 10GB of storage and 250GB worth of bandwidth.
This was a good price for a VPS so I was very tempted with this, but decided not to go with Hostgator because of the price you will need to pay when your site scales.
Rackspace provide extremely reliable managed hosting packages for a high performance website. The problem with rackspace is that there hosting is catered for enterprise level websites, so you will need a lot of traffic to get the full use of the server.
If you choose rackspace as hosting you get a very reliable very capable fully managed hosting company but for this you will pay a premium. There cheapest hosting package are managed cloud servers and prices will start at £80.60 a month.
This was just too much for what I needed, maybe one day I can look at Rackspace again but it's too much for what I need right now.
Media temple is a massive hosting company which have a big reputation in the web development community, this is because they sponsor some of the biggest web development websites which means you will see there logo in lots of places.
With this reputation you can expect a very good hosting company at a reasonable price.
There are multiple hosting packages you can choose from, there shared hosting packages start at $20 a month, VPS start at $30 a month and dedicated server starts at $50. As you can see the pricing difference between these aren't much which will make it easy for your website to scale when you need to.
Media temple are a hosting company which I seriously considered but as Paulund is a WordPress driven website I wanted my hosting to be specialised in WordPress hosting. Being specialised in WordPress means they can help get the most out of my website.
Zippykid were the first hosting company I found which specialised in WordPress hosting and specialised in speed with WordPress.
The benefits of having fast hosting is that your website will load extremely quick, having a fast website helps your SEO and your bounce rate.
Zippykid claim they can help speed up your site and make it 3 times faster than normal hosting companies. They provide a fully managed hosting package with a secure environment to improve security on your WordPress site.
The starting package on ZippyKid is $25 a month for that they allow 100k visitors, you get unlimited bandwidth and unlimited storage.
ZippyKid were my second choice of hosting and I nearly signed up for their hosting but the reason why I didn't was because I found a hosting company which could offer everything Zippykid could but would be quicker than them...WPEngine.
WPEngine is a WordPress hosting company which specialise in WordPress hosting, they will only host WordPress driven websites. When you talk about WPEngine you are talking about the best money can buy WordPress hosting, but this premium WordPress hosting service does come at a price. There starting package is only $30 a month but you are only limited to 25,000 visitors a month, after this you need to upgrade to their middle package which jumps to $100 a month for WordPress hosting, for this you are limited to 100,000 visitors a month.
To start with I thought this price was too much for WordPress hosting but after seeing what you get for this price I had to try it out.
So what do you get for your money?
For $100 a month you can host up to 10 sites with a limit of 100,000 visitors a month.
There are 3 big advantages to hosting on WPEngine:
- Speed - They are the fastest WordPress hosting company
- Security - WPEngine helps manage your WordPress install to ensure it is always secure.
- Support - All employees of WPEngine are WordPress experts to get the best out of your WordPress site. Support is answer extremely quick, if you have a problem I always get an answer within 30 minutes of sending the support ticket.
The main reason to move to WPEngine is because everyone working in the company are WordPress experts and will run a fully managed service of your WordPress site and will even test and upgrade your WordPress version for you. Keeping your WordPress install up to date is a massive plus for security reasons and with WPEngine you don't have to worry about your site breaking on the upgrade as WPEngine can test your site before you upgrade.
You get daily backups of your site so if hackers do manage to get into your site you can always restore your site to the day before. You can even take snapshots of your database and files and restore to this point at anytime.
With WPEngine you will not need any caching plugins on your site. This means you can stop playing around with W3 total cache settings to try and get the best out of your site. WPEngine will configure the caching for you to get the best speeds out of your site.
If you want to test how fast your website can be on WPEngine they have developed a website speed tester, all you do is submit your website URL and your email and in a couple of hours you will get a detailed report on how WPEngine can improve your website speed.
Security is a big thing with WPEngine they will continually scan your site for malware attacks, they do everything they can to stop your site being hacked and if your site does get hacked they will fix it for you for free.
The uptime on WPEngine is perfect they guarantee 100% uptime, with this guarantee for any hour your website is down you will get 5% off your next bill.
They also provide you will a CDN package for free, no longer do you have to pay for separate CDN this is now included and managed through WPEngine.
A unique feature that is only available on WPEngine is a feature called the staging area. Whenever you activate a plugin or change theme on your site you can potential break your entire site. The plugin might have old functions which don't work anymore or that theme can be broke and now your site doesn't display correctly. The staging area allows you to activate the plugin on a test version of your live site to make sure that it doesn't break your site, you never have to worry about a plugin breaking your site again.
These are the main features of WPEngine, yes you have to pay a lot of money but I'm a great believer of you get what you pay for. If you pay for the best you get the best, no other hosting company will give you all these features with your WordPress site.
I highly recommend WPEngine for your WordPress hosting it costs a lot of money but you get the best service. I know for the price you can easily get a VPS or a dedicated server for your website, but then you have to manage it yourself, setup wordpress, deal with plugins. What if your site got hacked you will have to go through all your code and find the malware and restore your WordPress install. WPEngine takes care of all your hosting, performance and security so you can focus on what you do best your website. Personally I think WPEngine is the best WordPress hosting you can get and it's well worth the price tag.
They are currently offering a 60 day money back guarenatee so try it for 2 months if you don't think it's worth it you can get your money back.
Published at DZone with permission of Paul Underwood, DZone MVB. See the original article here.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.
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