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Starting a blog is a lot of fun. But choosing whether to go with a free solution, like Blogger or WordPress.com, or whether it’s best to go with a paid, self-hosted option is a difficult choice to make – especially when you’re new to blogging. So let me help you out a little here: the self-hosted option is the best choice.
There are many advantages to hosting your own WordPress blog. You can make it look how you want it to look, and you can add whatever plugins you like. Basically, you have complete control of every single aspect of the blog. So, now that I’ve convinced you to get your hands dirty, and host your own blog, let’s take a look at the options for hosting that blog.
Well what can I say about shared hosting? Let’s start off with what it actually is. Shared hosting is when you rent a small portion of a very powerful server, that’s being shared by many other people and their websites. This can sometimes be shared out amongst hundreds of other people, and because all those websites are on the same physical server, it only takes a handful of larger websites to swallow up too many resources, and your website will be affected. Bad times.
Shared hosting is usually the first step people take when setting up their own website, usually because it’s cheap and easy to set up. That’s what I did when I started my first blog, and it was a big mistake. If you’re serious about blogging, and you follow some simple tips that will make you blog popular, you will outgrow shared hosting very quickly, meaning you will need to migrate to a bigger host.
I hear a lot of people, in various communities asking questions like “when will I know if I’ve outgrown my shared hosting?” And the answer is very simple. If your site is running slow (and it probably is on shared hosting) you’ve outgrown it.
Virtual Private Servers (VPS)
The next logical step once you’ve outgrown shared hosting, is a VPS. But they’re a lot more expensive, and really difficult to setup, right? Wrong. Suppliers like DigitalOcean and Linode offer really great VPS hosting for as little as $5 a month. I’ve used both of these companies, and I can personally vouch that they are both great companies to work with.
A VPS is a private, virtual server that exists on a much more powerful physical machine. But unlike shared hosting, you have a guaranteed allotment of system resources that only you have access to. So, even if there is a much bigger website than yours on another VPS, hosted on the same physical machine, that won’t matter: you’re always guaranteed the system resources that you’re paying for. Think of it like one big computer, running lots of little computers inside of it.
This means that provided you don’t overload your VPS, your website will perform much better. Plus, once your website grows, you can easily upgrade your VPS to a more powerful one in a matter of minutes – no migration required.
The trade off to running a VPS is that you’re responsible for the server yourself, so if something goes wrong with anything that’s installed on your VPS, your host probably won’t help. That’s why it’s so important to back up your WordPress site (although, in my experience, both DigitalOcean & Linode have been willing to help me with certain issues).
You don’t have to be some kind of computing genius to set up a WordPress site on a self-managed VPS. You can easily install a control panel like Zpanel (which is free and open source) to take care of all the legwork for you in just a few commands. Then you have a nice, web based control panel to manage your websites, databases, email addresses, and DNS, just like in shared hosting (except more powerful, of course).
So which type of hosting should you go for? Well, if I was starting out again, knowing what I know now, then I would absolutely go with a VPS from the very beginning. With companies like DigitalOcean and Linode offering such cheap, reliable VPS packages, there is really no need to settle for over utilised shared hosting.
Sure, VPS hosting is a little more difficult to setup and get going initially, but it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility for any intrepid blogger on a mission to make their site the best if can possibly be.
Do you have any web hosting horror stories? Or perhaps a hosting provider that’s the best thing since sliced bread? We would love to hear your stories in the comments below.