Category Archives: New Website

How to Shop for a Hosting Plan for a WordPress site

One of the first things to consider when creating a new website is where you’re going to host your WordPress website. Before I go into the details of what makes a good choice for a website host, you may want to read this article that explains the difference between buying a hosting plan and buying a domain name.

It’s important to know that you don’t have to buy your hosting plan and domain name from the same company. I buy most of our domains from GoDaddy – but I do NOT recommend hosting with them. We’ve hosted our websites with Lunarpages for over 10 years with little complaint.

How do I choose the right hosting plan for my WordPress site?

There are a lot of factors to consider in making the decision about buying your website hosting plan. First, if you want to run a WordPress website, it’s important that you purchase a hosting plan that works with WordPress! WordPress uses the PHP programming language. When choosing a host for your WordPress site, you want to go with a host that offers “LAMP“, which stands for ‘Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP’. You can theoretically run WordPress on a Windows server, but I don’t recommend it and don’t generally take on projects where a client wants me to install WP on a windows server. It’s like, you CAN make hamburgers with tofu, but it’s not really meant to be that way.

What stats should I look for when shopping for a hosting plan for my WordPress website?

We all want a fast website, because every second a person has to wait for your site to load is a second they might choose to hit that back button. Site speed is a big selling point when shopping for a host, but my biggest concern has always been security.

I encourage clients who ask my advice about hosting to stay away from Godaddy hosting. While I think they are great for buying (cheap) domain names, their reputation for falling victim to security breaches and DOS attacks is probably one of the worst. Maybe they’ve improved that over the last year or so, but their name is still in my “little black book”.

After security, ‘up-time’ is very important. Servers go down for various reasons. When the server is down, your site is down. It’s unrealistic to expect a server to be up 100% of the time, but you want to make sure the history of the server uptime is above 98%.

Time to first byte, or ‘site speed’, is also key. Try bytecheck to see how fast the host website comes up. Naturally they’ll be running on the fastest box they own (dress to impress), so it will return much faster than sites hosted with them, but you can get an idea of their server speeds. I’d look for a number under .5 seconds.

Last but definitely not least is customer service. If you plan on maintaining your own website, you’ll no doubt need to be in touch with your hosts customer service. I’ve had experiences with a number of host service centers, from “good grief, absolutely horrible” to “wow, I’m impressed!”.

The bottom line…

The formula for choosing a good host for your WordPress site is a combination of all of the factors we listed above. Not every host is going to excel in everything. In my experience, rated from most to least important the qualities you want to look for in a hosting company are security first, uptime second, and customer service and site speed taking third place.

If you Google ‘WordPress host’ you’ll find blog articles recommending hosts – along with an affiliate link. Make sure you understand what the author’s MO is before trusting the source. My MO? Sure, I’d love you to experience a TrekVisual custom website design and monthly website plan that includes hosting – but we’ll work with you no matter who built your site, and no matter where you host. TrekVisual is more interested in building your trust for a long-term working relationship than making a quick buck.

What’s the difference between a domain name and hosting account?

I find many people confused about the difference between the purchase of a domain name and a hosting account.

TrekVisual’s domain name is trekvisual.com, and our website host is LunarPages. I use the following analogy to explain the difference between a domain name and website hosting plan: Your domain name is your web address, like the mailing address to your house. Your hosting plan is the physical location of your website, like the physical house you live in. You can’t have one without the other.

Usually, the first step in creating a new website is purchasing a domain name. That’s the .com address you want your website to have. Domains are purchased from what’s called a ‘registrar’. They’re called a registrar because you are actually registering the right to use that address through them. The domain name is the URL address that will be typed into a browser to access your website.

Your site files (the html, styles, scripts, images, etc. that make up the visual rendering of your website) need to be hosted – that’s what a hosting account is for. You purchase a hosting plan separately from your domain name to use as a storage space for the files that will make your website display in a browser when the domain name, or URL, is typed into the browser address bar.

If you’re having a custom website built by TrekVisual, and will be taking advantage of our website monthly plan that includes hosting, you only need to purchase the domain name, if you want a custom domain name like MyNeatWebsite.com. I recommend GoDaddy for domain name purchases. Namecheap is another site I use occasionally to buy domain names.

If we’re taking care of your hosting, we’ll map the domain for you with your registrar. Otherwise, here’s an article that looks at how to connect you domain name to your hosting account.

How do I connect a domain name to a hosting account?

If you’re not sure what the difference between the domain name and hosting account is, you may want to read What’s the difference between a domain name and hosting account? Following my analogy of address/house in that article, you can think of this step like registering yourself at the post office so the mail-person knows how to get your mail to you. When someone types in your domain name, the request has to be dispatched to the right location to find the files that displays your website.

If you’ve purchased a domain name, hopefully you are building your new website with TrekVisual and will be choosing to take advantage of our monthly website plans that include hosting, maintenance and security monitoring. If so, you don’t have to worry about any of this because we’ll connect your domain name to your hosting account for you. Just let us know you want it done, and we’ll take care of the rest.

If you’re purchasing a domain name and will not be hosting with TrekVisual, there are some things you’ll need to do to set up your hosting account. Although this process will vary from host to host, we’ll walk you through the basic steps to introduce you to the process. We’re always available if you need help mapping a domain to a hosting account.

If you host with the same company you’ve purchased your domain name from, your domain name will most likely be automatically mapped to your hosting account.  Otherwise, your first step is to find out what the Nameservers (NS) are for the host you’ve signed up with. Most times you’ll see a section in the email confirmation you receive after purchasing hosting that tells you what your Nameservers are. I have yet to see an email confirmation that doesn’t list the Nameservers. There will usually be 2 Nameservers, and you’ll need them both.

Log in to your registrar account (the site where you registered your .com (or other) domain name). Next, you’ll need to find the settings page that will list the address of your current Nameservers. Edit the Nameservers by replacing the 2 addresses with the 2 new ones you got from your new hosting company.

 

Setting Nameservers on GoDaddy

Since I recommend GoDaddy for domain name purchases but not hosting, here are the steps to change Nameservers in your GoDaddy account. Note that this is accurate as of the date of this blog entry, but may have changed since.

  • Log in to your Account Manager.
  • Next to Domains, click Launch.
  • From the DNS menu, select DNS Manager.
  • Under the domain name you need information for, click Edit Zone.
  • The domain’s Nameservers display in the NS (Nameserver) section.
  • Edit and replace the pre-existing GoDaddy nameservers with the new addresses. There should be 2.

Regardless of registrar, once you’ve changed Nameservers, propagation can take up to 48 hours. Propagation is the term used for the process during which your registrar passing the DNS change to the root servers, which then spider out to ISPs around the world to update their caches.

While you might see your website complete propagation in a few minutes in the US, it can take a day or more if, for example, your ISP is in Germany or New Zealand. When I first started in web design & development in the 90s, it actually did take between 48-72 hours for websites to propagate (which bordered on miraculous at the time). Now, I’ve seen it happen within minutes. Still, be patient – if you don’t see your new website when you type in your domain name after 48 hours, you may have a problem. Contact us – we’d be happy to help.