I’ve been dealing with and using web site hosting services, at a personal level, since around 1996. At a commercial level, I’ve been hosting sites since around 1998. That’s a long time. I’ve also been working with WordPress since its first release in 2003. I’ve also configured many web servers for hosting WordPress and WooCommerce, and know a thing or two about what makes a good server stack and hosting environment for this particular CMS.
In this article I won’t be getting into all the nity-grity of what each options provides, and speed test results, etc. You can find thousands of articles online detailing all that. What I am sharing here is simply my professional opinion, as someone with over 25 years dealing with website hosting.
My recommended hosting platforms
First thing I’ll say, is if you have a commercial website, using WordPress and WooCommerce, don’t bother hosting it with any of the umpteen thousands of cheap shared hosting companies. That includes brands such as Hostgator, and any other brands owned by Newfold Digital (previously Endurance International Group / EIG) — which I found to be particularly slow. Pricing is great, but in my experience their shared servers are spread too thin (too many sites sharing too few resources). Same goes for pretty much any shared hosting service. You can get hosting with them for as little as a few dollars a month, and that’s for a reason. You get what you pay for. These companies generally squeeze as many sites (accounts) onto each server as they can. It’s a business model, and for very basic websites it’s just fine. But WooCommerce and WordPress are actually quite resource intensive applications. Sure, a clean WP installation will probably work fine on a $5 a month shared hosting service. But once you add a complex theme (and theme builder) into the mix, along with 30+ plug-ins (a very typical and average number), it needs more resources than cheap shared hosting is likely to get you.
So, having said that … if your site is relatively basic, without a lot of plug-ins, you might have some luck with GreenGeeks (I had sites hosted with them for many years, but eventually moved to “cloud hosting” or “virtual machine” hosting”). Another shared hosting company I used for some years, and can recommend is SiteGround. But remember, even though I picked those two companies out from the thousands that do shared hosting, and had sites with each of them for many years, I no longer host any sites with either of them. If you have a small and not particularly busy site, they will likely do the trick. Also, keep in mind, I wasn’t using their cheapest options.
So all my recommendations below are cloud hosting options. You can go two routes, managed and unmanaged (or self-managed).
There are numerous popular players in this market, and in reality I think it’s mostly a waste of time trying to say one is particularly better than another. Take advantage of their free trials, and just see which you prefer, and mostly from an interface perspective. The underlying server technology doesn’t vary that much to be of any significance to most small to medium sized websites.
The companies I’ve worked with and have had no particular issues with are:
At the lower (most cost effective) end of the scale are:
At the higher end (cost and performance) the main players I work with are:
Managed hosting route
For managed hosting, you’ll pay a bit more, but eliminate having to deal with most (if not all) server management tasks. That’s a big deal for any person or company that doesn’t have the technical know-how to manage a web server.
The three at the top of my list (as I’ve worked with them all):
I’ve had a lot of experience with Cloudways. I have numerous servers managed by them, and numerous clients hosted through them. Cloudways don’t provide the underlying infrastructure. You get to choose the infrastructure provider, which includes of those mentioned in the above two lists: Digital Ocean, Vultr, Linode, AWS, Google (all except Azure). I generally go with Vultr, but not for any particular reason. Digital Ocean is likely just as good a bet. Your choice may also depend on which region you need your server in, and which provider has a data centre there. For medium to large businesses, I suggest picking Amazon AWS or Google Cloud as the underlying provider, with Cloudways handling the management.
Cloudways will then manage your server for you, and deal with the hosting stack, etc. They provide you with an interface to handle with many tasks you’d otherwise have to hack away at the command line to achieve.
Kinsta claims to provide better performance than Cloudways, but my own experience with a resource heavy WooCommerce site (with around 80 plug-ins), was that it performed better on Cloudways — using an 8GB, 3 Core, “High frequency” Vultr instance). That size of server goes for the same price as the minimum plan Kinsta recommend using for a WooCommerce site.
My experience with WP Engine is they are great for WordPress sites, but once you throw a serious WooCommerce site into the mix, Cloudways is likely a better bet. I’ve had to move a few clients with large WooCommerce sites over to Cloudways (and that also means picking a suitably sized server instance with Cloudways).
Because I have experience with each of them, and often recommend their services to my clients—based on my positive experience with them—I am have affiliate account with Cloudways, Kinsta, and BigScoots. Please know that even if they didn’t have an affiliate program, I’d still be recommending them. If you check any of them out, and end up using their services, doing so via the links in this article may result in me receiving an affiliate commission. It doesn’t cost you anything., and any commission I receive helps me keep this site going. So, thank you.