Table of Contents
Updated: 5 December 2016
We’ve all seen the usual “choosing a host” articles. Get something affordable, with no downtime. Support, security, and backups should be mentioned. And speed is important.
These articles give you so much information, it’s hard to determine what’s good to have versus what’s important to have… and then there are so many providers suggested, you’re left trying to decipher if the author is actually giving any advice, or just laying out your options.
Here are some misunderstood features that I’ve learned are important to consider, during my time working with clients on different hosts:
These days, most hosts boast that they do backups… but not all backups are created equal. You need:
- Daily database backups.
- Weekly full, file backups.
- One-click restore.
Anything else, and you’re making a hard future situation harder.
So what? I could do these myself!
You can, in theory, do your own backups. Unfortunately, you’re probably less qualified than your host, so are you sure they’re being done successfully? Also, depending on your host, you may not actually be able to do a backup! It turns out, running a backup may use more processing power or disk space than your plan provides. So you’re left trying out multiple backup plugins, looking for the one that will work… that’s a waste of time, am I right?
Again, can you do this for free, using a WordPress plugin? Yes. Is it unbearably complicated and never actually full optimized for your server configuration unless you pay someone else to handle it? Yes.
You never think you need this, until you do. Keep your site up-to-date regularly, and maybe you never will. Have I had my site hacked and completely destroyed? Yes. Have any of my clients needed the security I provide to them? Yes, multiple times. Are we “careless” WordPress owners? No! It just happens; have a plan.
Here’s one I’ve actually thought before: I don’t need a staging site. And if I do, I can set it up myself; I don’t need a one-click staging site.
Why do you need a staging site? Staging sites are useful for testing theme changes before sending them live or for checking that WordPress updates aren’t going to negatively effect your site. They’re also the absolute, best, top-of-the-line option for troubleshooting odd behavior on your site. All that good stuff, now ridiculously easy.
Why a one-click staging site? Well, setting up a staging site can actually be pretty complicated and time consuming, unless you have the right tools. The “right tool” for me is a backup plugin… only remember how those don’t always work? That’s right. Phew, who knew that would cause so many problems.
When the time comes that you need to share access to your site’s files, be it with a designer, developer, business partner, or friend, collaboration should be easy. Well, at some hosts, it is! Just add that person as a collaborator and they’re in! No access to your personal information, and technically you could give them the boot at any time. All without needing to contact your host, set up a new FTP account, anything. This is the most secure method to share access to your services, and you should do it this way whenever possible.
Speed isn’t something I’ve benchmarked, but if you want to see how some of the top Managed WordPress hosts have performed when other people have tested them, run a google search for “wordpress managed hosting speed benchmark.” You’ll get different results from every result, but at the time of writing, Flywheel, WP Engine, Kinsta, and SiteGround seemed to have the advantage. 🙂
Shared hosts put many clients onto one server. You all share resources, so if one person is hogging them all, your site suffers. If one site is infected with malware, yours in turn might get infected. Private servers protect you from these various scenarios, including SEO hits that may occur from other sites that share your server. If you’re on a shared service now, have you ever noticed your site is sometimes slower than other times? This is why!
Managed WordPress hosting is notoriously “expensive.” You know what’s expensive? Building a business on a blog, and then watching all that hard work go down the drain because you weren’t properly protecting yourself and your assets.
Plus, if we calculate the cost of handling caching setup ($40+), regular backups ($100/yr), and security mishaps ($300/yr) ourselves, we’re looking at something like $37/mo, not counting all the headaches! Just keep that in mind when you’re looking at the cost of different providers that don’t include these items. (If they also provide free migrations, that’s another $99 per site, meaning you save more like $45/mo.)
Sale math here: if a host costs $15/mo and saves you $45/mo, is it like they’re giving you $30/mo?!
Flywheel does all of the above. They’re experts in WordPress, so their support is going to be better than any budget host you could find. When it comes down to it, they have a tick in every box on my list – and believe me, I spoke with a number of WordPress Managed hosts, because I was using these criteria to choose my own host!
I use Flywheel to host my own sites, so I can genuinely say that their approach to shared access, billing, and staging sites are a dream when collaborating with a client.
My second option would be SiteGround, specifically on the “GoGeek” plan.
- They do caching, backups, and staging sites.
- They’re affordable.
- I have a large number of clients using and loving them. 🙂
- They don’t include free malware cleaning, if your site gets hacked.
- There’s no secure way to share account access without sharing your login details.
- Scaling past 100,000 monthly visitors (because if you’re not there yet, you plan to get there, right?) may be difficult. Ideally, a spike in traffic would be smoothly managed, which the other hosts that have been mentioned would be able to seamlessly do for you.
- They’re technically a shared host, though they claim to isolate accounts.
I know, Flywheel is expensive and their support might not be able to help you to the extent you need. You need something faster and more advanced. Siteground isn’t even an option, because you have over 100,000 visitors a month. What now? Actually, I’d recommend chatting with Andrew at BlogTutor. Andrew will help you handle all of these things and more, on a host that’s not as familiar/friendly as either of these options. It makes up for that in speed. 😉