When you have kids and are looking for childcare you do in-depth research on each daycare and backgrounds on each baby sitter. You wouldn’t trust your child to just anyone, so why trust your website to just any hosting company? Your business in your baby and your website is part of that. Where you choose to host your website is just as important as who you choose to build it. At the core, hosting companies are pretty similar, however, it is the small details that make the hosting companies different. Just like in our childcare reference, the differences can make one company a better fit than others. Let’s go more into the types of hosting, some top hosting companies, and the differences that make them unique.
Types of Hosting
There are really two types of hosting, traditional, and managed WordPress (managed WP) hosting. Since most websites are built on WordPress we are going to focus on WordPress hosting companies. Traditional hosting is also known as shared hosting. You get a portion of a server that you share with other companies. Think of it as a cubicle at an office. You get your own space to do what you want but you don’t get to choose where you are or who is next to you. This can hurt if someone around does something that could potentially damage or infect the server. However, the bonus to having your own space is that you are in complete control of that space. This can be very cost effective as you are often able to host as many sites as you need without impacting your monthly cost. The cost for shared hosting is usually lower than managed hosting because you are responsible for all the upkeep. Some shared hosting companies you may have heard of are GoDaddy, HostGator, and Bluehost, just to name a few.
Managed hosting is a little different. Think of it as having that corner office. It is only yours and you don’t share the space with anyone. Other business that host there each have their own server so what they do or don’t do won’t affect you. This type of hosting has the perks of extra security, having updates done for you, a support team, and faster speeds, and are usually more reliable. But having those bonuses aren’t cheap. There is more of a cost for a managed host. You do have less control as the updates are done automatically and installs are normally limited in number. The most common companies that offer managed hosting are Flywheel, Cloudways, and WPEngine.
Once you have made the decision on if you want managed or traditional hosting, it’s time to pick a company. This is where it really comes down to the details for each company and the special things they can do or offer. Let’s do some digging about what some of these managed hosting companies offer for the price they charge.
GoDaddy is one of the original hosting companies. It’s also the largest and most well-known. Much like everyone knows the name Coke or Pepsi, people have heard of GoDaddy whether they own a business or not. GoDaddy does offer the choice of shared or managed WP hosting.
So GoDaddy’s basic managed hosting package is just your standard starter package. You get to host one site for a decently low price. You get the standard 10GB of storage space and the standard FTP access. All in all, not a bad package for someone just starting out. The Deluxe package does give you a little bit more than the basic. It increases your storage to 15GB and does offer the SEO wizard to help make sure your site is SEO ready as well as a staging site. This allows you to make changes without affecting the live site until you are ready. The Ultimate plan basically doubles the Deluxe plan in size and adds in malware scans as well as free SSL for the first year. Not a bad deal again if you are just starting out.
All three plans do include the same additional items, like access to themes and plugins, one-click migration, daily backups, 99.9% uptime, and Microsoft Office 365 emails, just to name a few. These packages may not be a fit for someone that has been using WordPress for a while, but it does take some of the server work off your plate. Also, if you are going to have a large number of sites, GoDaddy may not be the answer you are looking for.
Blue host has been a shared server company for a while but has started offering managed hosting as well. They are a more expensive choice but the do offer larger starting packages than your average hosting company.
One thing they offer is the free SSL certificates for even the most basic package. This can be a $60-$70 value depending on where you purchase your SSL license. They also offer a custom dashboard and they take care of all security and caching for you. They are a good choice for the more technical business that knows exactly how much server space they will need.
Flywheel is a big name in managed hosting. One of their big draws is they offer free migration for all your sites if you are coming over from another hosting company. Pricing for this company is fair for all the perks you get.
Flywheel does offer free SSL licenses and they will do the install as well. They offer staging areas for all levels which is a big help if you are a designer. There is a smooth transition from staging to live site which eliminates the headache of transferring files. They have a good amount of security and have regular backups. One of the big pluses for Flywheel is you can have clients pay directly to them for hosting. This is major for companies that are agencies or freelance builders. There is no upfront payment and Flywheel can bill the client directly. They are a great choice if you are going to have a small number of sites. However, if you plan on having a large number of sites then it can get pretty pricey, even if you are on their bulk plans.
Cloudways is set apart from your typical managed hosting in that they allow you to choose what services you want/need. They are not actually a hosting company but rather the middle man between you and the services you want. You can make choices that come from different companies but the only one you have to deal with is Cloudways. You can choose the hosting servers you want, what platform you want (most choose WordPress). They have a wide variety of options for you to choose from so there is really no set price. What you will pay will depend on what you need. One downside is that after the first migration they do charge per each migration if they do it but you do have the option to handle the migration yourself. With Cloudways you can choose to be more hands-on with your server, or pay to be as hands-off as possible. It’s entirely up to you.
WP Engine is a mix of both worlds. The servers are shared and managed at the same time. Which means you do share the space, but WP Engine handles all the security, backups, server optimization, uptimes, and updates. They also strictly deal only on WordPress sites. This gives them expertise in hosting your WordPress site. They also offer a variety of reports for your hosting. This includes load times, page and content analytics, and visitor experiences. WP Engine is definitely a good hosting company for someone who wants to know exactly what is happening with their server.
There are a lot of hosting companies out there and these are just a few of the more popular managed hosting companies. Once you find one that works for what you want and for the price you want, it’s time to get started and continue to build your business. Make sure you keep checking back on what your hosting company is doing. Just like you would check in on how the daycare is treating your child, make sure you are getting what you pay for. Hosting is important and you need to make sure you do your homework and find the perfect fit for your website.