Clients often ask for our recommendation when buying web hosting for WordPress and particularly WooCommerce websites. Here, WooExpert Robin Scott gives guidance on choosing the right home for your WP site.
UPDATE – May 2020 re-write:
Updated 22 May 2020.
We’re talking about WooCommerce hosting here, so it would be remiss to actively recommend hosts who don’t support it well. For example, those hosts who have rolled their own caching systems, but where these don’t support WooCommerce; or hosting services which don’t allow “standard” operations (like transients, or wp cron) to operate as expected in their environment. Clients using such services will meet with dismaying results. So we won’t promote hosts who do those things.
WooCommerce is an eCommerce powerhouse, but it needs a good hosting environment which can handle the pressure of looking after such a refined service.
Take note hosts: you can’t just cover your weak shared server with varnish caching and hope everything will be fine.
Take note WooCommerce webmasters: you can’t just pay for $5 shared hosting and expect to build an eCommerce empire.
At Silicon Dales, we deal with serious, ambitious stores.
We only recommend hosts who can genuinely claim to serve the same.
Robin Scott – WooCommerce lead developer, Silicon Dales, 10 January 2019
The below will be updated in future as recommendations are updated.
Best Hosts for WooCommerce
Here’s a list in order of my personal preference for hosting WooCommerce.
Best of All Worlds: Cloudways – tech stack & flexibility
In my view, Cloudways provides the best mix of price, value and service. They have a variety of settings, but depending upon your requirement, I recommend to take a WordPress plan, with Vultr, as the cloud hosting provider.
Cloudways are an interesting new breed of provider in that they essentially offer both a panel, and an optimized preconfigured setup, for the cloud hosting providers – AWS, GCP, Vultr, DigitalOcean, and Linode- and therefore along for the ride come things like 1 click scaling, the ability to resize your files and database sizes based upon requirements, and also to pay only for bandwidth you use.
Supports all the good stuff, like PHP 7.2, 7.3, and 7.4 as well as MariaDB 10.3 and even the really cool stuff like Varnish and ElasticSearch, too, as well as Redis for those who really like to cache all the things.
Watch out for Cloudways’ support though – it’s AWFUL
By far the worst feature of Cloudways is their support. It’s truly terrible. It’s like a slow motion lesson in why not to ask a question… but this is where the service differs from the bulk of “managed hosts” – they don’t have smiley happy “support-gineers” or “happiness heroes” and this is perhaps a good thing: you pay for bare metal, with a panel in front, and a few scripts to do the necessaries.
If you need support – this is not the service for you. Except, that is, if you rely on the support and expertise of Silicon Dales for maintenance. In which case, Cloudways + Silicon Dales provides a truly world-beating stack that can get your Woo store operating at lightning speed with specialist help on hand when you need it.
However, on its own, the sheer technical capabilities you have available with Cloudways means… it’s still number one in this list. Just.
If you think you’d need support and a panel, I would invert Cloudways and Kinsta and go with Kinsta. It’s a bit more expensive. I would say, though, you get what you pay for with Kinsta.
For most small and medium sized businesses, particularly those with a lower technical comfort level, if you can afford $100 per month for hosting in year one, then take the Kinsta Business 1 plan and you won’t regret it.
Like Cloudways, Kinsta is hosted on a cloud provider, however unlike Cloudways they make the decision for you, and use Google’s Cloud Platform as the service on which to base a few configurations that they manage almost completely (infrastructure wise) – so they are a little more hands on than Cloudways, and for the non-technical, this may be a good thing indeed.
Kinsta’s stack is impressive, and can perform really well.
Watch out for – PHP worker limits
Everybody has to fix their price point somewhere. Kinsta bases its charging on your “PHP workers” which means that – particularly on lower pricing plans – you may find your system struggles a little for concurrency when you start to get busy taking orders on a WooCommerce store. This is often exposed by slow running queries, poor code and other issues (i.e. optimize your performance and you don’t run into this so much) but the onus is on you to run a tight ship if you start to pick up big numbers of concurrent users.
A blessing and a curse, this is something you need to be aware of – and you don’t get to increase this without scaling up.
But Kinsta does provide access to either your own, or their, New Relic, which is really invaluable when it comes to finding and resolving those performance bottlenecks. Along with WP CLI (also supported out of the box) and SSH access (yes, check mark here, too) there’s everything in our performance toolkit that you’d need to identify those code issues and slow running queries at Kinsta.
Pantheon – the Developer’s Friend
No complaints at all with Pantheon. I’d use them a lot more and recommend them more if the alternatives drop their levels at all. I would fully recommend your developer has a look at Pantheon: the Test -> Staging -> Production development environment is right up there.
Pantheon probably has historically had the most developer friendly environment and, like Kinsta, they have a real focus on providing a good fully managed hosting experience.
If your dev likes your environment, he or she will like working on your site. This is more important than you might think!
Bear in Mind – WooCommerce is Different
WooCommerce hosting is a little different, as it’s about speed & reliability but also, not caching everything so our checkouts don’t work [yes, this can happen].
Get the right stack for your store
Silicon Dales have helped hundreds of WooCommerce stores find the right host for best performance and maximized sales. With expert site migrations and preferential relationships with the hosts, you can be sure that your site performance is in the best hands.
Do your own research… or leave a comment
At the end of the day, do your own research, and ask advice from experts… leave a comment below if you’re undecided.
I’ll say a few words on affiliations, so you can be sure exactly what’s happening in Silicon Dales when it comes to hosting recommendations; and also because I think you should be aware of this subject.
Web hosts pay commissions to affiliates for referring sales. Almost every review of web hosting should be considered with this in mind.
We have used affiliate links in this content, but each host has been recently benchmarked, tested and used for clients.
As active members of the WordPress community, we also have an interest in promoting good hosting environments which help WordPress and WooCommerce achieve their best results and keep happy site owners coming back to this platform.
There are still caveats attached to most “good” hosts. When it comes to web hosting, there’s no such thing as perfection, but, there is such a thing as a best fit host for your needs.
We’ve tried to provide the extra detail that will help you find the right fit for your setup.
Hosts not mentioned above
We’re aware of the existence of other hosts than these three recommended providers, and have specifically chosen not to mention them in our top three. In case you are wondering if we didn’t know about them, that list includes, but is not limited to:
1&1’s shared packages are not good for hosting WooCommerce, but we have heard better reports of late of their cloud based offerings. If and when we have sufficient confidence to make a recommendation in this regard, we might. Otherwise, the jury is out for 1&1 – but note, the pricing is compelling, we know!
We don’t have sufficient experience with A2 hosting to make a firm recommendation.
A small orange
Used to be good as an upstart host, then was bought out and the quality diminished. Not good enough for us to recommend at present.
Like Hostgator and Dreamhost, Bluehost is probably best for “standard” WordPress sites, and not so good for WooCommerce stores, in our experience.
Dreamhost is a pretty solid WordPress host, and an active contributor to the WordPress project. Their shared hosting really is worth considering for more “static” WordPress sites, as you aren’t likely to get much more bang for your buck. But we’ve found that the resources on their shared packages aren’t sufficient for all but the smallest of Woo stores, so they don’t make it into the list above for this reason.
Flywheel uses a particularly idiosyncratic system, one which deviates a little from the WordPress core, and we can’t therefore work with it as easily as other hosts who don’t do this. We therefore are neutral about this service, as we don’t work on it.
GoDaddy offers really low prices and serves as an entry point of sorts for new WordPress webmasters. GoDaddy also provides domain services and email which are close to “as cheap as they can get”. In addition, they also have a more expensive “managed WP” product too. We don’t recommend using any of these to host WooCommerce stores.
Hostgator is aimed at the lower, shared, end of the market, and as such is perhaps a better fit for a smaller, not Woo, but mainly WordPress website. We tend to migrate larger WooCommerce stores away from this service, with good results.
InMotion’s hosting product we have found to be generally poor. Sites we migrate from their setup improve almost instantly on our new services, often at the same, or lower, monthly fee. For this reason, we can’t recommend their hosting to our clients.
Liquid Web are firmly on the watch list for us. Active contributors to WordPress and WooCommerce, Liquid Web’s team is helping to drive through some important structural moves (for example moving certain data to custom tables – nerd alert is high here!). Their managed WooCommerce hosting product looks interesting, and also their “standard” hosting products may be suitable for Woo too. We just don’t have enough data to make a recommendation… yet.
MediaTemple got bought out by GoDaddy and (while they maintain “different teams”) they have not really improved since about 2009. Not good enough for us to recommend.
Siteground used to be in this list, above, however, we’ve found that their caching system, and their “one click Staging” both tend to have issues. This is not site-specific – its every single time our developers have come into contact with this. Also runs cPanel which, while handy for webmasters, can be a resource hog and, in general, is slow, and therefore, sub-optimal. Speed matters.
Like Siteground, WP engine used to be in the recommended hosts list. We still fully rate WP Engine as a WordPress host. If you have a standard wp site, go there in a heartbeat: the technical stack is strong, and the support is excellent. However, we’ve often been a little bit dismayed at the TTFB on their infrastructure, which is only really covered by some aggressive Varnish caching. That caching can’t be on for, say, your checkout. This means your buyer’s experience is not as good as it perhaps should be. Can go back in the recommended list, and likely will, when issues such as this are addressed. Watch this space!
Please leave a comment below if you have come across a host which is not mentioned, or if you work for one of the above hosting companies, and you have improved your WooCommerce hosting capabilities. Impress us!
Silicon Dales developers are verified WooExperts, and have worked on 250+ projects in the past 12 months… View our profile @ woocommerce.com.
Get the right stack for your store
Silicon Dales have helped hundreds of WooCommerce sites find the right hosting environment. Contact us to get your store running on a fast, stable and well-supported system.