Types of WordPress hosting

WordPress hosting is a very competitive business. To someone who is looking to start a new WordPress site, it could be overwhelming to compare different plans on the market, especially since the specs and prices seem to differ so much in so many different plans. This post explains the 4 types of WordPress hosting and provides a guide which type of hosting to choose for your site.

Shared WordPress hosting

As the name implies, in a shared WordPress hosting plan, the WordPress host combines multiple plans into a single server. This means that every plan shares the same resources on the server. Shared hosting plans usually are priced low and they offer unlimited or unmetered resources.

Although this type of WordPress hosting plans are offered with unlimited resources, the terms and conditions usually dictate that you should not exceed above a certain percentage, such as 25%, of the server resources. This is the usual industry practice because many websites do not attract  large traffic. Combining multiple plans together allow the web hosts to offer low-cost plans.

Typical shared hosting plans:

  • $7 – $15 per month
  • Unlimited or a high storage space
  • Unlimited or high bandwidth
  • Non-specified RAM and CPU

When you are starting out building a WordPress site, you might want to go for shared hosting because of the low investment. A shared hosting plan will handle low traffic easily.

Shared WordPress plans from Hostgator
Shared WordPress plans from Hostgator

WordPress hosting on managed VPS

Virtual Private Server(VPS) is a step above shared hosting. A VPS is created by dividing a physical server into multiple virtual parts, hence the Virtual acronym.

The advantage of a VPS server is that it is similar to you owning the server itself. In other words, you can do more customisation to the server such as installing apps and customising the server settings. 

The disadvantage of a VPS is that they are more expensive and comes with smaller resources. They could also present a higher learning curve to new users, although there are managed VPS in the last few years that are relatively easy to use. In a managed VPS, you are usually given access to a control panel, usually cPanel. You can then install apps from the control panel and make setting changes with it.

Typical managed VPS hosting plans

  • $80 – 150 per month 
  • 2 – 8 GB RAM
  • 2 – 4 cores
  • 120 – 240 GB storage
  • 1 – 4 TB bandwidth
Managed VPS plans from inmotionhosting
Managed VPS plans from inmotionhosting

WordPress hosting on unmanaged VPS

In contrast, in an unmanaged VPS, you are given the access of a command line terminal. You will need to install any apps using terminal commands. As a result, you will need to be fluent in Linux in order to set up the server securely and reliably.

A beginning WordPress user should not choose VPS because of the learning curve. However, a cloud VPS is an attractive option to learn more about server administration, including hosting WordPress and other CMS. When your knowledge increases, you can use your knowledge to start a web hosting and designing business.

With the proliferation of cloud platforms, it becomes very attractive to subscribe to an unmanaged cloud VPS. Many reputable platforms, such as DigitalOcean, Google and Amazon offers cloud VPS for as low as $5 per month. When you requirement increases, you can upgrade easily with a click. The cost depends on the size of these cloud instances, and it can go as high as hundreds of dollars a month.

  • Starting at $5 per  month
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 25 GB SSD
  • 1 TB bandwidth
Unmanaged cloud instances from DigitalOcean
Unmanaged cloud instances from DigitalOcean

WordPress hosting on dedicated server

Running WordPress on dedicated hosting is the most expensive form of hosting. You rent a physical server with the host and you can install any apps that you want on it. These plans are the most expensive which can go to hundreds of dollars a month, depending on the specs of the server.

Typical dedicated hosting plans

  • $150 – $300 per month
  • 4 – 8 cores
  • 8 – 32 GB RAM
  • 1 TB SSD or higher HDD
  • Unmetered bandwidth

As you can see, the above specs are the specs of a typical computer. An alternative form of dedicated hosting is the colocation hosting. In colocation, you rent a physical space with the server host and place your own server with them. The reason you do this is that server sites have ready infrastructure such as high internet speed and reliable connectivity that you can tap into, which are not usually available in residential internet plans.

Due to the high cost, only IT specialists who know that they need their own server hardware will recommend their company to subscribe it. This plan is off-realm to most small-medium enterprises because of the cost and technical expertise required, and is also an overkill for the traffic for most websites. As mentioned above, if there is a need to handle high traffic, SMEs can always upgrade their cloud VPS.

Bluehost dedicated hosting plans

Managed WordPress

Managed WordPress plans provide the ease of use of a WordPress with the power of a VPS. Such plans are expensive and are usually provided by specialised managed WordPress providers such as Kinsta  or WPEngine. Many traditional web hosting providers are starting to provide managed WordPress hosting.

Typical managed WordPress hosting plan

  • $30 – few hundreds of dollars a month.
  • 10 GB SSD or more
  • 50 GB bandwidth or more
Kinsta managed WordPress plans
Kinsta managed WordPress plans

Summary of the different types of WordPress hosting plans

WordPress hosting comparison
WordPress hosting comparison

As we see, it is hard to compare the types of WordPress hosting by pricing and specs alone due to the different ways the plans could be hosted. It is also important to remember that for a particular type of hosting, such as VPS, the web host could set up the WordPress using Apache, Nginx or LiteSpeed Web Server. Other configurations of the servers could also affect the server’s capacity to handle high traffic.  

Choosing the right type of WordPress hosting plan

I summarise the ways to decide which type of hosting plan for your WordPress site as listed below.

  • If you are creating a new blogging site, you will probably need to spend some time driving traffic to it. Start with a shared hosting plan and track your site visitor traffic using Google Analytics.
  • If you are running an ecommerce site, you will want your visitors to have a smooth experience. Start with a low cost cloud VPS, such as a $10-$20 droplet from DigitalOcean. A VPS is more reliable because the resources are fixed and you will not need to worry the overhead from other plans. Likewise, track your site traffic and upgrade when necessary. It is useful to note that upgrading of a cloud VPS is easily done with a click for a higher specced cloud instance.
  • If you want more control of your server but you are starting a new site, go for a low specced VPS for $5 a month. This cloud instance would give you a good mileage if you set up your WordPress with cache. It would handle even bigger traffic load if you let it run LiteSpeed Web Server. The starter license of a LiteSpeed Web Server Enterprise is free.
  • If you are a professional blogger or already have a well-established online ecommerce site, go for the managed WordPress hosting plans. You would not need to worry about the configuration settings and they would be well-managed by the hosting company.

Since WordPress is open source, it is relatively easy for a technical proficient person to migrate your WordPress from one plan to another plan, or across a different company. This is one important reason why I preferred WordPress as compared to other proprietary content management systems.

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