TL;DR: The hosting provider you choose will determine the level of ongoing safety and support of your website. We discuss what the different types of hosting mean to help you make an informed decision.

When it comes to choosing a WordPress hosting provider, there are a number of factors that you should take into consideration. Simply going with the cheapest option will inevitably lead to headaches down the road—ranging from a slow or unreliable service to increased security vulnerabilities.

Beyond trusting your chosen partner, you should also take the time to evaluate your needs and base your decision on what’s right for you and your business.  

Types of WordPress hosting

There are a few different types of hosting options that range in quality and the extent of their service. They are:

  • Free hosting. 
  • Shared hosting.
  • Dedicated hosting.
  • Managed hosting.
photo of three wooden dice each with  a feedback faces of happy, okay, sad

Free hosting

As the saying goes, nothing in life is free. If it’s free, you end up paying in other ways—and it’s often a greater price. Every hosting provider needs to make money in order to pay for the servers your website is running on. If they’re not directly charging you, they will find another way to offset their expenses. 

In general, there are two ways free hosting is offered: through advertising or with a minimal viable product.

With advertising, the hosting provider will force a banner ad to display on your website. For anyone running a business website, this will likely diminish your authority and respect with potential customers pretty quickly. 

What minimal viable product means is, the hosting provider only allocates the bare minimum technical assets to run your website. Generally this will translate to extremely poor speed and performance for your website, particularly as you grow and gain more traffic.

With either option, your website will suffer and your business will be relying on a partner that is unsustainable. If your hosting provider is gone tomorrow, your website and business will be left in limbo until you’re able to restore  to a more trusted provider. 

In short, avoid free hosting providers at all costs. 

photo of a huge apartment building

Shared hosting

Shared hosting options are the most common and widely available. Think of it as placing your website on a server that resides in an apartment building. Your website will share its resources with all of the neighbors which, if not done well, could have serious consequences to your performance, security or otherwise.

As an example, most of the cheaper hosting providers don’t have the best security practices in place that could leave your website more susceptible to security threats. To make matters worse, they may not isolate websites on their servers properly, the equivalent of using the same key on every door in an apartment building. If a malicious actor gains access to just one of the hundreds or thousands of websites on a server, they may suddenly have access to all of the files and data for every website residing on that server. 

There is further risk as all of the websites on that server share the same IP address. If that IP address is blacklisted due to a security threat emanating from the server and your website resides on the same server, suddenly your website is blacklisted as well.

That’s not to say all shared hosting is inadequate; that’s far from the case. As in our apartment building analogy, not all apartment buildings are built or run equally. Some have doormen, access keys for the elevator, thicker walls, extra amenities, etc. 

There are definitely shared hosting providers across the spectrum in price and offerings. Whether you’re setting up a side project, just getting started with your business, or are running a large WooCommerce shop, there are plenty of shared hosting options available to choose from. 

Just keep in mind, while price isn’t the only indicator, as a general rule of thumb, if you’re paying less than a cup of coffee a month on your website hosting for your business, your website will likely suffer with either security, performance, support, or some other issue along the way.

Dedicated hosting

Like shared hosting, dedicated hosting comes in many shapes and sizes from renting an entire bare metal server (a physical computer server that just one customer uses) to a sliver of a server, also known as a virtual private server or VPS. 

Dedicated hosting is a step up from shared hosting in that you typically have dedicated resources allocated specifically for your website. It’s like moving from an apartment building to a single family home where you have complete control of how everything is set up and maintained.

As you can imagine, running your website on a dedicated setup requires some additional skills and expertise in order to ensure the server is secure and tuned for optimal performance.

photo of IT professional talking on the phone surrounded by computer monitors

Managed hosting

This leads us to managed hosting. With hosting providers, the definition of “managed” can vary widely depending on the circumstances. That said, the primary idea is that the configuration, security, and performance of the server are managed for you by the provider.

Some managed hosting providers go further and help with website management as well. With almost all managed hosting providers, you’ll get a higher level of support, additional tools and resources to help you better maintain your website, and generally an overall better experience.

Managed hosting providers may offer shared and/or dedicated hosting options. As before, the price point will jump pretty significantly as you move from a shared managed hosting option to a dedicated managed shared option. The price point for a good managed hosting provider starts around $25 and can go up dramatically from there depending on the services and setup offered. At the bare minimum, all providers should provide some level of security, backups and support, but be sure you do your research and know what you’re getting.

Generally speaking, you’ll get your money’s worth with a solid managed host provider. For the majority of businesses, this should be considered a necessary business expense and believe the value received will far outweigh the headaches from cheaper options. We highly recommend finding a managed hosting partner that you trust, fits your budget, and can provide the necessary amenities to support your business needs. 

Watchdog Studio offers WordPress hosting solutions aimed at helping provide every business the ability to get the hosting they deserve with reliable security, incredible performance, and personal support. Reach out to us with any questions you may have on selecting the right hosting provider for your business.

About The Author
Justin Korn

Justin is the founder of Watchdog Studio, and former Director of IT at both Wells Fargo Securities and AirTreks. A prodigy of the dotcom era, he now provides businesses in Oakland, California and the surrounding Bay Area with honest, expert website services to drive growth.