With so many hosting options for your website, you can easily get overwhelmed and choose something more out of convenience or low price rather than quality. Bargain hosting is usually bargain hosting for a reason. Security issues, slow performance, poor technical support, and a lack of features are all common complaints of bargain hosting.
If you pay for Google AdWords or other digital marketing ads, then just a few visitors leaving the site because it loads too slowly means your hosting is actually costing you money!
If your website is hacked, it can easily cost more to fix it than it would have cost for a better hosting platform from the start.
Of course, as in anything, there’s no reason to reach for the most expensive option just because it is the most expensive. There is hosting out there that will give you all the best options without breaking the bank.
Because of increased security concerns, most people are moving to secure websites. Secure sites have an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), which provides encryption for sensitive materials. This is what adds the “https” at the front of a web address, and the lack of an SSL may trigger a “not secure” warning in your browser.
Purchasing an SSL on top of hosting costs can be quite expensive, but now, thanks to the Let’s Encrypt project, an SSL can be obtained for free. However, not every host makes it easy to install a Let’s Encrypt SSL.
WP Engine is our preferred host for WordPress sites because they exclusively work with WordPress sites. Installation of WordPress is easy, and migration of an existing WordPress site can take less than an hour. Also, installation of Let’s Encrypt SSLs on WP Engine is simple and can be done very quickly.
SiteGround automatically creates an SSL for your site, so making your site secure is truly the matter of pushing a button.
GoDaddy makes it almost impossible to use a free SSL on their hosting platform, so you need to purchase one of their SSL certificates.
Budget hosting plans generally have the most trouble with slow server response times and site outages. Sites on older hosting plans with an average amount of pictures and elements to load can take as long as 5 seconds.
Recently, the PHP language, the driving force behind WordPress, has updated from version 5 to version 7. The new release is twice as fast as its predecessor, so there are major benefits to having your site hosted on a PHP 7 server. As we have transferred several sites from PHP 5 to PHP 7, we have seen sites gain as much as a 40% increase in page load speed.
WP Engine has made PHP 7 available for all of their sites. For existing sites on WP Engine, the transition can be made through a request to tech support. This requires some testing for WordPress plugin compatibility and changes to domain records, but the average transition is well worth the effort, and usually takes less than an hour to complete.
SiteGround has been offering PHP 7 for their accounts for the past year, while GoDaddy is now offering it for their Linux accounts. BlueHost announced in January of this year that PHP 7 is now their default for all their new WordPress accounts.
One of the most maddening aspects of budget hosting is that it seems that the hosting company is going out of their way to make it difficult to get a hold of tech support. Phone numbers and chat features are often buried behind layers of pages of “frequently asked questions.” At least one hosting company filters all their tech support calls through their sales department, so you get unnecessarily burdened with a sales pitch while you’re trying to get your site fixed.
Of all the hosting companies we have used, WP Engine far exceeds the competition in terms of tech support. All communication is through their chat window, and their tech support is both professional and knowledgeable. Wait times are usually under five minutes, and very often there are no wait times.
The best and most beneficial feature for WordPress sites is staging. A staging site is a connected website, an exact copy of your existing site, where you can test out features and make changes.
Staging sites are a standard feature within WP Engine. Staging is also available on SiteGround and GoDaddy Managed WordPress, but it is a premium feature only available on higher-level plans.
In the long run, budget hosting can cost you more money than what you save in the short term. An outage or slow site performance does not present a good image for your business, and an insecure site can send up a number of red flags. Investing in a good hosting company is the best way to ensure your web presence is secure.