The first thing a prospective WordPress site owner has to decide is where to host their site. There is plenty of advice on the web about how to choose a hosting provider for WordPress. As you might expect, some of that advice is accurate and worth reading, and some of it is so misleading it should never have been published.
Entrepreneur Cam Secore recently published an article on Business2Community that asks whether it really matters which web hosting company you choose. After all, WordPress is a PHP web application and all it really needs is a standard LAMP stack — something every web host is capable of providing.
While Secore makes some good points, it’s worth responding in detail to a few of the less well-considered claims in his article.
“The host needs to have at least PHP 5.2.4 installed and they must use MySQL 5 databases (the version numbers might change in the future) … If you are comparing hosts, then I can guarantee you that at least 9 out of 10 will match these minimum requirements, so that doesn’t help answer our question.”
Technically, this is correct. Those are the minimum versions of PHP and MySQL that WordPress will run on — although it won’t run well. The problem is this: PHP 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, and 5.5 are no longer supported by the PHP project, and PHP 5.6 is nearing the end of its life. No version of PHP older than 5.6 receives fixes for any security vulnerabilities that are discovered, and in the years since older versions of PHP reached end-of-life status, there have been a lot of vulnerabilities.
It would be a very bad idea to host a WordPress site on an unsupported version of PHP. No responsible web hosting company would host a new WordPress site on a version of PHP older than 5.6. It should not inspire confidence if a web hosting provider is incapable of providing a modern software stack.
The situation is similar with MySQL: all versions of MySQL older than 5.6 are not supported and should not be used.
WordPress.org advises that all WordPress hosts support at least PHP 7 and MySQL 5.6.
Resources And Performance
“The CMS just needs 4MB of space, and even active blogs (dozens or hundreds of 1,000-word posts) will just need about 50MB to 100MB of disk space. While unlimited disk space is vague, you can usually expect to get 1GB or more (usually more), which makes this more than enough.”
Secore makes some interesting claims here. When downloaded and uncompressed WordPress takes up about 30 MB of disk space, and that’s before any themes, plugins, content, or the database are added. It’s safe to say that these figures are not accurate.
But of more importance than resources is performance. Secore is right to say that any old web host can provide a functional version of WordPress with sufficient resources to serve a few dozen pages a day, albeit slowly. They’ll cram hundreds of sites onto a low-end dedicated server and charge peanuts.
But any blogger, business, or eCommerce merchant who cares about performance isn’t going to settle for that. Consistent low-latency delivery of web pages from hosting that won’t fall over when traffic spikes into triple-digits is vital to providing a positive experience for web users — and that takes care, technical expertise, and a commitment to building the best possible hosting platform for the application.
Secore doesn’t address support, but for many WordPress hosting clients it’s the most important differentiating factor between a capable web host and a great web host. Low-grade web hosts can’t afford to support their clients beyond the absolute minimum. A responsive and experienced support team can make a huge difference to the WordPress hosting experience and to the success of a WordPress-based business.
“So, does it really matter which host you use? Kind of, but not as much as you would think. While you need a host that will meet the minimum requirements, this describes most modern hosts.”
We’re confident that Nexcess’ clients know different. If you’re looking for WordPress hosting, find a provider who can give you an up-to-date, performance-optimized, and secure software and hardware environment and who will support you as you build your site and as it grows.