Hosting performance refers to the speed and reliability of a web hosting service.

In this section, we’ll cover the performance factors to consider when choosing a web host. Performance, however, is really about speed. A host’s performance is determined by how quickly web pages load and how well they perform.

If a page takes too long to load, visitors aren’t going to wait because there’s thousands of others. Having a fast site is one of Google’s ranking factors.

So, what about Managed WordPress Hosting?

WordPress hosting is optimised specifically for the WordPress platform and may offer certain advantages over traditional hosting options. Some of the advantages of WordPress hosting include:

  • Improved Performance: WordPress hosting providers often use specialised servers and caching techniques to improve the performance of WordPress websites.
  • Automatic Updates: WordPress hosting providers typically handle the automatic updating of the WordPress core, plugins, and themes, which can save you time and reduce the risk of website breakage.
  • Enhanced Security: Many WordPress hosting providers include security features such as automatic backups, malware scanning, and website hardening to help protect your website from hackers and other malicious actors.
  • Technical Support: WordPress hosting providers often have technical support teams that are specifically trained to help with WordPress-related issues.
  • Scalability: Many WordPress hosting providers offer scalable solutions which can grow with your website as it gains more traffic and attracts more customers.
  • Optimisation: Many WordPress hosting providers offer tools and services to optimise your site for performance and search engine optimisation.

Key Points – Finding A Host Provider

One of the first things you’ll see in web host specifications is storage and bandwidth, sometimes referred to as the “number of visits.”

How much storage do you need? For example, a small one-page website does not require as much storage as an ecommerce store.

Is the storage or bandwidth limited or unlimited? For example, a small business site with a few visitors a day looking for service details and contact information is significantly different than a business streaming thousands of media files daily or an ecommerce store listing thousands of products.

Are server resources shared or ring-fenced? Most shared hosting  divides web server resources, including CPU, RAM, Storage, and Bandwidth, between hundreds of different websites. If one site gets greedy, it can consume a large portion of those resources and leave others fighting over the remainder. On the other hand, VPS and Dedicated Hosting ring-fence a specific amount of resources for each site, so you get a consistent level of performance.

As well as server resources, it’s worth checking to make sure the web host is using the latest server technology, sometimes referred to as the “software stack.” Technology advances quickly, and you’ll want a web host that moves with the times instead of using out-dated tech. For example, Kinsta’s software stack includes Nginx, LXD containers, PHP 7.4, and MariaDB for lightning-fast speed.

One other server consideration is to check if a web host offers one or several server locations. For example, if your primary audience is based in Australia, then it makes sense to choose a data center located in Australia (or nearby like Singapore) so that your web pages load faster.

If you can’t select a server location, then you’ll definitely need a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to speed up page loading.

Using a CDN is like having a mini-server nearby to help load and run your website faster and more efficiently, even from the other side of the world!

For example, if your website is hosted in the USA, users based in America will experience faster loading times than users based in Australia because your content has to travel a lot further across the world.

But with a CDN, your content would already be sitting on a “mini-server” in Australia waiting to serve visitors located nearby with an equally fast experience.

So it’s definitely worth checking if a web host includes a CDN service or you have to source and manage your own.

You’ll always need caching in some form, either at the server level or with a plugin, as it helps your web pages load much faster and improves the overall user experience for your visitors.

Some web hosts include caching at the server level, which usually means you don’t need to add any more caching as everything is optimised for the best performance.

On the other hand, some hosts don’t include any caching, which means you’ll likely need to install a caching plugin. If that’s the case, then check if there are any restrictions on what you can install. For example, if you host with Kinsta, who includes caching at the server level, WP Rocket is the only caching plugin they allow

Scalability is an important factor if website traffic is growing or fluctuating. You need to know how easily a web host can meet the demands of:

  • Occasional traffic spikes
  • Seasonal traffic trends (both up and down)
  • Long-term traffic increases

For example, Nexcess offers auto-scaling, which is free for 12 hours, whereas Cloudways allows you to allocate more server resources within a few minutes.

Note: Cloud hosting can scale seamlessly and handle big traffic spikes. Usually, you only pay your web host more money for the time you need the additional resources. Also, if it’s long-term growth, there’s no need to move or rebuild the server as it can scale with you.

When you’re checking a potential web host, take a look at the levels of security they provide, especially at the server level. For example, do they:

  • Apply the latest OS patches on your server to avoid vulnerabilities.
  • Install server level firewalls that filter out malicious traffic and hackers.
  • Provide DDoS protection to mitigate any potential DDoS attacks.
  • Have a data processing agreement that covers things like GDPR.

Backups are important! And web hosts provide different levels of backup services. So you need to check:

  • Does the web host back up your site?
  • How often does the web host run scheduled backups; e.g. daily?
  • How long does the web host retain your backup; e.g. 30 days?
  • Can you access and download the backups to your computer?
  • Can you run an instant on-demand backup and restore?

Google recommends every website should now have a SSL certificate to provide a level of reassurance to your visitors and protect sensitive data such as passwords and credit card details.

So you need to check:

  • Does the web host include and manage a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate?
  • Do you need a standard (e.g. Let’s Encrypt) or specialized (e.g. Domain Validated, Wildcard, or Ecommerce) SSL certificate?

Let’s not beat about the bush, you want to know how fast your issues will get picked up? Because if your website is down, you can’t afford to wait in a queue for the next support engineer.

Getting your call answered is the first step, but you also want to know how fast your issues will get resolved. For example, if you speak to someone on live chat, can they actually resolve a high-severity issue?

The best web hosts offer a choice of contact methods, including live chat, telephone, email, and an online support ticket system. some web hosts might say they offer 24/7 support when they really mean you can log issues 24/7, but they only operate 9am – 6pm PST.

Most web hosts run on Linux, but with some services, you can specify if you want Windows.

Note: Linux powers nearly 40% of websites whose operating system is known. This is compared to 22% of websites that use Windows. The latest Linux usage stats also show that 47.7% of the top 1,000 websites and 38.8% of the top 10,000 websites in the world use the OS. Similarly, 49.9% of the top 100,000 websites and 45.4% of the top 1,000,000 websites globally are Linux-based, proving its prevalence among the competition.

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