Boy does web hosting come up a LOT.
“Which hosting company should I use?”
“My website is super slow and I need a new host”
“Can I spend $4 a month and get a good host?”
Site speed is absolutely critical in attracting people to your site and more importantly – keeping them there.
It is no secret that Google favours faster websites. On average every extra second your website take to load, you’ll lose 7% of your visitors. People who will go out in search of another company with a website that loads quickly.
Those two things should be enough to convince you.
On average every extra second your website take to load, you’ll lose 7% of your visitors.
The most important part of a fast website is choosing a good host. Even if you have the most optimised site on the planet, if it lives on a crappy server, it will take forever to load.
We’ve been through a ton of different hosting companies in our time building websites. We’ve seen hosts that are lighting fast through to some that are dog slow – with similar price points. Today I’m going to share which hosts we’ve settled on. Bear in mind there are plenty of good hosts out there, and just because I don’t mention one here, it doesn’t mean they aren’t good. These are just the ones we put all our clients on to.
Let’s get to it then.
What kind of host
If you haven’t already noticed, there are a lot of techie words thrown around in the hosting world. Shared hosting, VPS, managed hosting, WordPress hosting… blah blah blah.
Let’s start with a quick intro of the three most common.
Shared hosting means that your website will live on the same physical server (just a big computer) as a ton of other websites. It’s cheap, dirty and a great way to get started.
Some people will crap all over shared hosting and say if you are a serious business, you shouldn’t use shared hosting. Most of the time, that is total BS.
Unless you are expecting tens of thousands of views on your website per month, there are plenty of shared hosts that will work for you at a very affordable price point.
The downside is occasionally you might get lumped on a server with other crappy websites that ruin the party for everyone, and may impact your performance. This isn’t so common any more as hosts get better at managing this. But it still can be a worry.
VPS means Virtual Private Server. All you need to know is that it means you get dedicated processing power for your website. You get a lot more control over what you (or your tech guy) can do.
“VPS hosting” as a termn is pretty broad. You can have very barebones hosts like Amazon Web Services (AWS) where you need a techie to do everything for you (cheap), fully managed hosts where they give you access to a support team to help you out (more expensive), and everything in between.
If you’re not a techie or don’t have someone dedicated to making things run smoothly, stay away from unmanaged VPS like AWS. It’s not worth the headache when something goes wrong.
In the last few years a whole new segment of hosting has popped up called Managed WordPress hosting. This generally means they’ll do things like automated backups, security, plugin updates and some other bells and whistles. It usually costs a little more to give you all of this.
We’re putting less and less clients on managed hosting – but that is mostly because we are now managing their sites for them so they don’t need the bells and whistles.
Like all hosting, there are a lot of crap managed hosts and lots of good ones. Don’t think just because they call it WordPress hosting that everything will be fine. There has been a big trend for everyone to start offering “WordPress hosting”, and some of them are really bad.
The hosts we use and recommend
Shared Hosting in Australia
Many of our clients are in Australia, so we’ve got this section just for the Aussie’s reading this.
Host of choice: Panthur
Panthur are great hosting company with great support. A solid offering overall and they have plans starting at $10 Aussie dollars per month (no more currency conversion fees!)
Shared Hosting Elsewhere
For our US clients, we often recommend SiteGround
They have managaged and unmanaged options, great support and great performance. They start really cheap around $4 per month. We put most clients on the GoGeek plan.
As I’ve said, we rarely set our clients up on specialised WordPress hosting any more, but if I was going to, I’d choose Flywheel or WP Engine.
This section could get really techie, instead I’ll just tell you what we use and why.
We use CloudWays.
These guys are a little different than they way most VPS hosts work. They technically aren’t a hosting company. They run some of their own software on top of a few other VPS hosts which makes them much easier to manage, without a full time tech team.
For as low as $15 USD per month, you can get set up on your own Digital Ocean server running Cloudways platform on the top.
They add two layers of cache which make your sites much, much faster right out of the box.
Right now, these guys are my favourite host out there. Just a few things to note:
- They have their own control panel – so if you are used to cPanel you’ll need to re-adjust
- You cannot send email from a VPS – you’ll need to set up SendGrid as well to do the emailing
- You don’t get complete control of the server like you would with a barebones VPS
All in all, Cloudways are a great host to use. We’re moving all our company sites to them.
Have a question? Ask it in the comments below!