When you first start a self-hosted WordPress site, you can’t even get WordPress installed until you have a host set up, where you can put the files and database that WordPress needs to run.
So you may find yourself acting in a hurry just to get any old hosting set up, so that you can install WordPress and get to the “fun part”, or equally as plausible, is that you just don’t really know a lot about hosting, WordPress and web services to know what you need in a web host, and so choose whatever Google throws at you.
Unfortunately, I see a lot of my clients with really substandard web hosts, that not only make their life difficult and their sites slow and insecure, but also make my (or any other web developer/designer’s) life more difficult by having to work with proprietary management tools.
Hindsight is 20/20 and I know that a lot of people I work with regret their initial hosting choice because of many of these reasons. And it’s one of the main reasons that I almost exclusively recommend HostGator as my hosting provider of choice.
HostGator have been around for over 10 years now and have developed into one of the top hosting companies around. The reasons are simple:
- Current hardware, software and technologies, to keep your site running on the most up-to-date, secure and efficient servers.
- cPanel for managing your site – the most widely recognised and utilised control panel.
- Customer service reps that are knowledgeable, genuinely helpful and responsive to your needs.
In my experience, HostGator have always provided servers of excellent technical quality and keep services like PHP and MySQL updated, so that you never have to worry about compatibility issues with WordPress’ minimum requirements. You also don’t need to worry about things like being able to create a wildcard subdomain to use WordPress Multisite, like you do with other web hosts (yes, I’m looking at you DreamHost).
On their shared environments, they don’t tend to overload their servers in the same way that other shared hosting providers do; they keep the servers at a manageable level, where your site isn’t impacted by the sheer volume of sites running on a single server.
Furthermore, since it’s shared hosting, it comes with certain advantages. For example, you have shared RAM to work with, so if your site sees a sudden spike in traffic, it can temporarily pull on a pool of RAM resources to keep your site online. Even on some of my busiest days on shared hosting, I have never seen my site go down.
This is a big one. Even if you don’t go with HostGator, do not select a web host that doesn’t use cPanel to allow you to manage your site (and it shouldn’t cost extra – it should be a standard feature).
cPanel is an immensely powerful tool that allows you to manage your files and databases (using File Manager and phpMyAdmin), park and add-on domains, edit your DNS settings, run backups, setup FTP accounts, check stats, schedule tasks (with Cron jobs) and setup email accounts, to name but a whole lot of features.
Beyond that though, it’s very standardised; any web developer or designer worth his salt will know how to use cPanel quickly and efficiently, which means they don’t have to spend more of your money trying to figure out how to perform simple functions. And if you feel up to the task and want to try certain things yourself, you’ll always be able to find options on how to do it using cPanel.
HostGator’s customer service
I have been with HostGator for a good number of years now (after being with my fair share of hosts before that). One thing that continues to stand out and keep me with them is their customer service. You might only really be able to appreciate this if you’ve had some other web hosts in the past, most of which are notoriously difficult to deal with and don’t usually know a whole lot above the basics of web hosting and so aren’t of much use to you when you need them.
You’re going to need help, at one point or another, with your server. You’ll want to tweak a setting, but won’t know how, or you simply won’t have the permissions to do so and will need to contact the support department to have them do it for you.
On every occasion that I have had to get in touch with them, they’ve always been outstanding, in every aspect of their support; they’re courteous, quick to get a hold of (whether by email, live chat, or telephone) and most importantly, knowledgeable. I’ve had them deal with some difficult situations before, and instead of having me go and try a few things and keep coming back to them, they’ve always stayed with me and tried to resolve the situation themselves, no matter how long it takes.
It’s not as if you’re buying a new car, but the cost of your web host certainly factors into your purchasing decision. Fortunately, HostGator is very reasonably priced and will cost you in the order of $5 per month. There’s always cheaper hosts around (hell, there’s even free ones if you dare be so bold!), but cost can’t be the sole factor in any decision. For the service you get, both technical and administrative, that price is a steal and is on par with all the other major players in the hosting market, just with better service.
I’ve recommended HostGator to a whole lot of people now, all of whom have been extremely satisfied with their decision and it just makes me even more confident in their ability to provide a quality, affordable product.
So if you’re looking for a suitable and reasonable web host for your new WordPress site, I can recommend HostGator with absolute confidence.