One of the most common questions I get have to do with hosting. What even is hosting? What is the difference between domain and hosting? Who should I buy hosting from? What is the best WordPress hosting?
Let me give you a simple analogy:
Think of your website as your content’s home. Your domain is the home address people will remember or write down that navigates them to your home. Now think of hosting as the actual house: the frames, the garage, the security system. This holds all your furniture and keeps you safe from intruders.
For example, my domain is mckenziesuemakes.com. I registered it on Name.com, which gives me sole ownership and rights to the name and no one else has access to that particular domain besides me. My web hosting stores all my data files – i.e. furniture – and handles maintenance work like backups, security, etc.
A dreamy home to represent your dreamy hosted site! 🙂 Photo: Studio McGee.
Just remember domain as the street your site lives on and hosting as the actual home. Simple as that! If you want to learn more and really understand web hosting, I recommend Web Hosting Beginner Guide.
My suggestion when registering your domain is GoDaddy or Name.com. They are simple, reasonably priced, and you don’t have to jump through hoops to change your DNS settings. GoDaddy was initially a domain register and now also sells hosting, so my suggestion is to use GoDaddy just for domains.
*Disclosure: Some links below are affiliate which means I will receive a commission; this does not increase your cost in any way. These links actually include a 20% off code on your first purchase!
Who should I buy hosting from?
The hosting you need will depend on what platform you’re using. Meaning, are you using WordPress, SquareSpace, Shopify, Blogger, etc.? Most platforms already provide hosting for you that is included in the monthly fee (or the free platforms like Blogger or WordPress.com). This post is specifically for those who are using WordPress for their website or blog.
Quick note: WordPress has two divisions. WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Not sure why they named them this way, it can be confusing but WordPress.com is a free version where you can easily and quickly get a site up. You have very limited control of your site’s look or plugins to add but it’s free. WordPress.org is self-hosted, which means you have to find and buy your own hosting. But you have complete control and freedom to add and change anything on the site, even create your own custom theme (which is what I offer to clients)!
Okay, confused enough? Don’t worry, I always help my clients who are starting a new blog decide which platform and the best hosting to use. I have worked with dozens of clients who have used plenty of different hosting companies, but I always recommend WP Engine for a number of reasons.
1. Great backups
When looking for the best WordPress hosting, having frequent backups of your site is a high priority. It will save you so much stress and hassle if an emergency comes. Most hosting companies offer this service for an additional price or you have to enable it. WP Engine is SO nice, they do a daily backup every day at 3:00 AM and if you have a problem, you can very quickly get a site backup that will still have all your content.
A few years ago I worked on a site for wonderful group of ladies. They had hosting from a random company (can’t even remember the name anymore) that was cheap and affordable. It worked just fine, but a year later, their credit card was stolen so they were given a new card number. When it was time for a renewal on the account, the company closed their account after sending one email and their site was down — no access to anything! There was nothing I could do so I suggested they contact the hosting company, which they mentioned was a headache to deal with. Worse yet, the company did not do frequent backups and so after two weeks of working with customer service, they had still lost a ton of their recent content. Don’t let this happen to you!
2. Easy for developers to set up/help/manage
WP Engine makes it easy to access the code safely and simple to manage. Their site is very user-friendly. Other companies like GoDaddy or Bluehost make it almost impossible for me to access the code which makes it difficult for me to add new features to the site.
3. Amazing Uptime
Uptime is the amount of time a host’s servers are up and running. If you’ve ever gone to a site that has a blank page or an error message, the site is on downtime. WP Engine has 99.99% uptime because they keep a cache of the site in the front-end system, instead of the backend like most hosting providers. 99.99% means in an average of 6 months, the site could possibly be down about 4.4 out of the 6 months. Other hosting companies, like GoDaddy are more around 98.88% which means your site could be down over 49 hours in 6 months (you can read more about the uptime report here with a graph showing the number of outages between WP Engine and GoDaddy).
4. Easy scalability
Let’s say you had a viral post or your site started getting a huge spike of traffic. A lot of hosting companies can not take the huge rush of traffic and your site will crash. No fun! This happened a lot to a previous client when she would post started growing her audience. It is frustrating to have a site crash while all your readers are trying to access the site!WP Engine does a great job of scaling a site’s bandwidth up to handle the traffic load and down to control costs so your site can have 10 hits to millions of hits per minute on a moment’s notice. So good!
5. Great customer service
There will be times when I need a little help to fix a problem and WP Engine is THE best when it comes to customer service. They always have a chat form (because who calls customer service these days!?) and every time my problem is fixed within an hour. I have had countless times with GoDaddy or Bluehost where I wait forever to chat with someone, who then doesn’t understand my problem, and their answer has nothing to do with what I am trying to fix. It can get so frustrating!WP Engine is here to save your customer service woes.
6. Simple Staging
Let’s say you have your site up and you want to add a cool new feature or maybe do a redesign of the site. Even just a redesign of one page! Every WP Engine site has a staging server where you can copy over your site and then work on new features without interfering with your live site. As a developer, this saves me SO much stress because I won’t have to work in the code on the live site. Because let’s face it, I’m not perfect and in code, a simple typo can bring a site down so having a staging site to work in the code is a win-win for both of us! Another big reason why WP Engine is the best WordPress hosting!
7. Total Security
Just like you would want security for your home, you want to prevent attacks to your site. I have been working with numerous hostings during my time as a developer and WP Engine definitely feels one of the most safe. You can read more about their security here.
8. Built for Speed
Your website’s speed is very important. If a visitor has to wait to a page to load, they will leave. Also just as important, Google considers website speed in it’s SEO ranking which will affect how high you rank in their results pages. WP Engine spreads out their requests across multiple serves while other companies are slower because of the thousands of sites sitting on the same server. The average speed of a website running wit WP Engine is 1.3 seconds while for GoDaddy (same page sizes) is 1.95 seconds. That little bit of a time is a crucial point of whether your visitor will stay or leave.
With every company there are always a few cons. One for WP Engine is there are a few plug-ins I’ve used in the past that are not allowed to be used on your site. The reasons is to keep the security of your site so this really isn’t a con but if you really like a plug-in, like YARPP, it will make you delete it off your site. Luckily there are thousands of plug-ins and it is easy to find a replacement with similar features!
The other con is price. Compared to other companies, WP Engine is more on the expensive side at $29 a month. However, the quality you get with WP Engine is definitely worth the extra bit per month to save your sanity and time. When it comes to pricing, you can’t beat GoDaddy for hosting. However, it must leave you wondering how something can be so cheap.
Something else I wanted to note: if your billing card expires or stops working, WP Engine will email you frequently and give you a 7-day grace period to update your billing information. After 7 days they will assume you no longer would like the hosting and will cancel your account. This is pretty standard for all hosting companies so always make sure your billing is up-to-date or that you check your email weekly.
You all know the phrase “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” I think this can also apply to your website as well. If you are just starting a blog as a hobby, then you should stick with more affordable hosts. But if your business is serious or you want to take it to the next level, getting a good quality hosting will help in that next step.
Although GoDaddy may be cheaper, I want to provide you with the best-available hosting service on the market to relieve as much stress as possible so you can focus on creating great content. If your budget will just not budge, you’ll have to make some sacrifices in quality and security, but GoDaddy will get the job done.
Interested in switching?
Now you may be thinking, “I would love to switch, but that seems like a huge hassle and scary journey to go down. It’s much easier to just stay where I’m at.” Totally get it, but no need to fear! With WP Engine, they make it super easy to switch, especially if you are already using WordPress as your platform. All you do is use their Migration plug-in to make a copy of the site, switch your domain DNS settings to point to the new hosting server, and cancel your old hosting! Your site will not have to go down for a single second!
I offer this service so you can relax and I can make sure the transition runs smoothly. You can contact me here if you are interested, and if you mention this post, I will give you a 10% discount!