“Managed” WordPress hosting is becoming a big deal these days, and what it usually means are things like:
- Servers optimized specifically for WordPress
- Enhanced WordPress security
- Automatic WordPress backups and updates
- Server-level WordPress caching
- Other WordPress-specific options
In using WordPress since 2006, I have come to know the value in the above features, especially things like automatic updates, backups, and security monitoring. I used to pay for advanced plugins to do things like that. After spending years on cheap one-size-fits-all website hosts (Bluehost and HostGator), I started searching around for a managed host for my WordPress websites. After signing up for trials with premium hosts like WPengine and Pressable, I decided that they were going to cost too much (anywhere from $25-$99 and up depending on the number of sites).
I finally found the perfect option for me, and I now use and recommend SiteGround. For $7.95 (increases to a reasonable $14.95 after intro period) a month I get:
- Free website transfer from another host (I passed on this since I know how to do it myself, but you may find this helpful)
- Automatic WordPress and plugin updates
- Automatic backups of the last 30 days
- Server-level security
- Server-level caching using their proprietary plugin
- Free CDN
- Industry-leading support
- Extra WordPress tools to help move installations to new folders, clone installations, and update URLs if necessary
- No cap on the number of WordPress installations
Not having a cap on my number of WordPress installations is very important for me. Most sites I manage have low traffic and don’t have a lot of files. I prefer to have a cap on storage and traffic rather than number of installs, and SiteGround gives me that. I also appreciate that they don’t tout “unlimited” everything like most other hosts (and then shut down your site or force you to pay more when you start getting traffic). SiteGround tell you how much storage you actually get and about how much traffic you can expect to handle, and I appreciate their honesty.
About the only thing you don’t get with SiteGround are servers specifically tuned for WordPress since they also allow other software packages to be installed on their servers. That is something I’m willing to go without in order to save a few bucks.
How I’ve Used Our Hosting Account
I started using a self-hosted website solution in February 2007 to make HopeYouthMinistry.com. The youth ministry had a website when I arrived in June 2006, but it was one of those Christian-specific sites that was supposed to be “user friendly” but really wasn’t. I’m sure it was also costing us something like $400 a year (they’re out of business now). Switching to a self-hosted site would save us money and give us more flexibility. Looking back I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but I’m so glad I made the decision to try a self-hosted site and haven’t looked back.
After getting the original account for HopeYouthMinistry.com, I realized that I could add additional websites for free as long as you owned the domain name. When our church decided we wanted to host an outreach event for the community called “Taste of Hope” I bought TasteOfHope.org and we used that for publicity, which worked really well. The ability to make completely new websites for only the cost of a domain name is a real benefit of using a service like HostGator. For larger churches that do big events and have complex ministries, the possibilities are wide open for creating simple, dedicated sites with their own domain name for free.
How I Made the New Website for Free
Since the church already paid for website hosting for HopeYouthMinistry.com I realized that we could move our existing HopeLutheran.net website to the youth ministry hosting plan for no cost. We already owned the HopeLutheran.net domain name, which means all I had to do was the nerdy work necessary to point that domain name to our HopeYouthMinistry.com account (email me if you are in a similar situation but don’t know how it works).
So, we were ready to go from paying $200 a year (that is in addition to what we were already paying for the youth ministry site) for our main church website that was hosted through a church website provider to paying $0 a year by moving it to a hosted account. Now all I had to do was figure out how I wanted to build the site, which is coming up next.