As they do when shopping for a car, WordPress hosting customers face a bevy of questions when determining which plan to drive off the lot. How fast do you want to go? How comfortable is the ride? What safety measures will protect you in case of a crash?
And, most importantly, how many cup holders are there?
Kidding aside, the host you choose for your WordPress website is a major decision. Experts encourage site owners to use the most secure web hosting company available, given the content management system’s vulnerabilities when plugins and core files are not kept up to date. However, security is at direct odds with performance; another critical component of WordPress hosting success. The platform needs optimized hardware and software configurations to operate at peak cruising speeds. Thus, the best hosting providers — just like the top auto manufacturers — combine the best of both worlds to give you a smooth, safe, and nimble ride to wherever you want to go.
Here are five key features to consider when choosing a WordPress host:
1. SSD-Powered Storage Delivers Content Up to 20x Faster
Hosting providers, including InMotion Hosting, that include high-performance, solid-state drives signal to site owners that the company invests in modern infrastructure and doing whatever it takes to help customers’ sites load quickly. The high-performance storage devices can make websites exponentially faster than do traditional hard-disk drives. SSDs store information on interconnected flash-memory chips instead of a rapidly spinning platter, making the drives faster, more reliable, and more durable. The newer hardware tends to be slightly more expensive, and SSDs have smaller capacities than HDDs, but the gap continues to narrow. SSDs represent an extremely affordable and easy way to improve your site’s performance.
At InMotion Hosting, the fastest WordPress hosting servers feature SSDs for up to 20 times greater performance. The server configurations push out up to 95% more data than HDDs, so you can reach more people at the same time.
2. SSL Certificates Boost Security Without Slowing Down Your Site
Speed means nothing if you expose sensitive data to the world. SSL certificates, which rely on the HTTPS protocol, protect site owners (and their readers, visitors, and customers) by encrypting the communications between web browsers and servers.
In 2017, more than half of all internet traffic was encrypted, signaling the widespread acceptance and use of SSL certificates. Many hosts, including InMotion Hosting, provide customers with private SSL certificates free of charge. The feature is especially helpful for those looking to start eCommerce websites or accept sensitive private data.
Original implementations of the added layer of privacy slowed websites somewhat, but more modern installations and configurations minimize the impact on page load times and may help you attract a larger audience. Google rewards HTTPS encryption with higher placement in search results, and the company recently announced that its Chrome browser will soon flag unencrypted sites as not secure in the URL display area.
3. Performance Upgrades Mean Caching and Modern Languages
In addition to SSDs and SSLs, InMotion Hosting and other strong WordPress platforms often tack on additional programs and improvements to boost your website’s speed. Luckily for customers, they come with fewer acronyms.
When it comes to optimizing your WordPress performance, caching is particularly important for the content management system. Instead of sending multiple queries to a website’s database to fetch and display the dynamic information, caching creates static versions of web pages that can be served up much faster.
Some hosts rely on a suite of third-party plugins for WordPress caching. But, InMotion Hosting built a proprietary Cache Manager that lets customers easily manage and control caching settings. The default settings work quite well out of the box, but more advanced users can dive in and make specific changes that help with their particular website needs.
In addition to caching, keep an eye out for other technical improvements hosts make. Modern versions of software (particularly the PHP behind WordPress) and web server hardware almost always provide faster service than older products.
4. Protect Your Info with Backups, Malware Scans, and Security Plugins
Just as your web host plays a major role in your website’s performance, you also need them to protect your files and private information. A variety of measures, both large and small, can all impact site security. First, a quality WordPress host provides automatic updates of the WordPress Core or plugins. Yes, you can easily configure the WordPress backend to do that, but this service offering serves as a good litmus test of the lengths a provider will go to in order to protect customers’ websites. At InMotion Hosting, customers can enjoy automated malware and intrusion detection services, a pre-configured web application firewall, and helpful US-based technical support.
Outside of WordPress, automatic and frequent backups provide an excellent safety net, as do staging sites. In case an update breaks or adversely affects a site’s appearance or functionality, you can seamlessly roll back to the most recent and desired version.
5. Masterful Managed Services and Support Help Fill in the Gaps
When in doubt with how to optimize your WordPress site’s speed and security, you should be able to rely on the people maintaining your servers. Given the vast popularity of WordPress, hosts regularly hire experts in how to run the CMS effectively and make them available to customers in the form of managed services.
Managed WordPress hosting can mean a wide variety of things to different companies, however, so you must read the fine print before agreeing to anything. Strict server management typically only includes updates and patches to the operating system, while full-service WordPress offerings can include automatic updates, security monitoring, and individualized consultation.
Managed hosting frees site owners from mundane maintenance, allowing them to concentrate on building and scaling their business or website. InMotion Hosting customers who want additional help can get full access to a dedicated team member with the company’s add-on managed hosting options.
Laura Bernheim shows first-time site owners and experienced developers how to explore new technologies and find better ways to work with established platforms. Originally trained as a journalist, Laura has contributed to HostingAdvice, Sports Illustrated, and several of the world’s top hosting providers.