I’ve used many many hosts over the years, and even back in the day self hosted a number of environments, PHP of course, but also Tomcat Java servers (the configuration of which was insane at the time). These days hosting is beyond trivial for end users and baseline expectations are quite commoditized. So how do you go through selecting the right?
Since my work doesn’t depend on evaluating hosts for clients, let’s look at what other sources have to say. I’m sure you’ll sense some themes. First, Neil Patel of SEO fame, Best Web Hosting for WordPress: “[WordPress is] what I use to manage my blog here at NeilPatel.com, as well as my other sites and ventures. So if you’re currently using WordPress or planning to use WordPress for your website, it makes sense to invest in WordPress web hosting.” There’s a ton of SEO optimization and referral links (which is very common in lists of hosts) but the main questions posited are useful. Interestingly there is a section on VPS and dedicated hosting (heck this site is ultimately on Steadfast and many hosts are using AWS or Google Cloud). While I understand there is a niche group that might benefit from that kind of hosting, in my book, and for the benefits and peace of mind, managed WordPress hosting is the way to go. I’m surprised there was no mention of administrator usability, i.e. cPanel, Plesk, or custom.
So that’s a take from a preeminent SEO blog, let’s see what an agency thinks about selecting a host. Over at Reaction, What You Need to Know About Picking a Website Host in 2021: “[P]icking a company that understands your needs as a business, has time to help you troubleshoot issues as they come up, has the foresight to update key certificates and protocols before they flare up into larger issues, and can expand their offerings as your company can be a real chore.” This has very different tone and analysis of the problem. The post addresses more of the usability questions like onboarding. Here we don’t have a large list of affiliate links but a few that they have personal experience working with, though I’m sure it’s not limited to the ones listed. Also, I appreciate that they suggest G2 as a source, I’d drop in TrustPilot as well (though they don’t break out WordPress hosting like G2).
The folks at XWP skip over everything except the great performance question, The Four Pillars of Website Performance: “When you read the phrase “Website Performance,” what comes to mind? If you’re like the majority of people, performance is synonymous with one thing: speed. And sure, the speed of your website is important, but there are so many other pieces to the performance puzzle.” This was presented in part as a webinar with Pantheon but obviously valuable insight beyond so pressing the gas pedal to the floor with RAM, CPU, and harddrives.
There are also all the online WordPress news magazines and blogs that have various best of lists. WPBeginner, How to Choose the Best WordPress Hosting in 2021 (Compared): “To help you make the right decision, we have also done a side-by-side comparison of the top WordPress hosting companies including speed tests, uptime tests, and reliability test[s].” It’s pretty much guaranteed that WordPress resource sites like this are going to have a hosting section.
Last, as briefly mention above, are the review aggregators. G2 is think is the best organized in many ways. You can easily filter by your needs, compare various vendors, and actually read reviews. I also have a synopsis of their most recent quarterly update.
As for me, my setup and reviews are based on what I am using now or have used in the last year at The Host List.