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How to find the right web host and setup wordpress on it

I have been nerding it up on the computer since I was 8 years old (23+ years and counting today) and some of the stuff comes second nature to me, but when I talk to newbies and beginners I am always reminded just because it’s so simple for me that doesn’t mean everyone knows how to do it too.

That is why I’ve decided to write this guide….

So here we go… how to find the right web host and setup wordpress on it…

A new wordpress blog starts with a new domain name and a web hosting account.  If you don’t have a domain name registered, or a web hosting account you cannot setup wordpress on your own.

If you don’t already have a web host, or need a new hosting account for whatever reason (maybe to look unique, i.e. totally different IP address/geo/etc) then this guide is for you.

Where to start?!

Register a domain name if you don’t already have one.  Hit up namecheap HERE for the cheapest deals and prices that don’t increase every other month (Yeah F U Godaddy!)

After you are done and picked up a domain name, then the next thing you want to do is ask yourself;  where are your visitors going to be coming from?

If they are in Germany, then you need to find a host in Germany.

If they are in the USA, then find a host in the USA.

If they are in Viet Nam, find a host in Viet Nam…

The reason why its important to have your hosting account close to where your visitors are going to be coming from is because of something called ping times and latency.

Picture this, someone types in your web address. AllansVacuumCleaners.com (Yea I know..) and they are in the USA, but your web host is in China! Chances are when they type in the address it will take quit a bit for the website to load, and even if it loads most likely not all of the images/parts of the website will show up.   THIS IS BAD!!  

Why? Because the server is so far away from the person accessing the site, a lot of data (called packets) are lost in transit. Think about it, the data is coming through thousands of miles of fiber optic lines under the ocean or through various satellite up links.

A general rule of thumb, the farther away the server is from the visitor = the longer the time it takes for data to arrive.

Now that you understand WHY its important to pick the location of your server wisely, let’s continue.

To make it easy for you to understand this whole process of finding a web host for your wordpress site, I am going to give you a scenario and a task…

Your job is to find a web host for a company that will be doing business in Prague, CZ. (Yes that’s in Europe!)

The company wants to use WordPress to host their e-commerce WP blog. So what do you do?

Find a web host that supports wordpress of course.

Opening up google, and typing in wordpress hosting in prague is a wise idea you could try first.   But there’s a better way; actually there’s quite a few ways you can hunt down a good deal and a solution for the problem.

www.webhostingtalk.com – this is the industry forum for anything web hosting, you can hit this site up, create an account and post in the wanted section saying what you need. After a few hours you will receive replies from many people offering hosting.

www.serverbear.com – look at the different options available in the country that you want to find a hosting in, and expand from there.

As a general rule of thumb, it is a good idea to expand and include a few countries that are near our target country/city.

So for Prague, we can look in neighboring countries of Netherlands, Germany as well for some sweet deals.

Once we find a host, we want to confirm that they do indeed support wordpress and offer easy installation.

There’s three ways to do this

Way 1 – Hit up live chat, or email them.
Way 2 (my personal favorite) – Look if they have softalicious or fantastico available. If yes, then you know the host supports wordpress 99.99% of the time.
Way 3 – Look if they offer directadmin or Cpanel – this is a bit more advanced as not all installs of these site management tools offer auto installers for wordpress, but its a clue to find wordpress hosting.

Now that we have a list of hosts, what we want to do is obtain IP addresses of their servers and do a ping test. This is very important to measure the latency and ping time of how fast their connection is to our target geo location.

For pinging I have two great tools I use

Tool A – StartPing.com
Tool B – Cloud Monitor

Simply type in the IP address of each test IP you got from the hosts, and run a test – note down the MS response times for the cities of interest.

Chances are after completing this test, you will have a fair understanding of what host is the best for you. But before jumping in and registering with them there are a couple more things to check up on.

Here’s a list of questions I’d like to seek out answers to before making my final decision on which host I’ll go with.

What payment methods do they accept?

I don’t know about you but I personally hate giving out my credit card details and much more prefer to pay stuff via Paypal.

Do they offer 24/7 support?

This is very important, what happens if your site goes down? If the hosting company has no support it may mean you will lose a lot of money because your landing pages are down. Better be safe, and find a host with 24/7 support!

Are there any special deals available?

Searching on google, or looking through webhostingtalk by doing a simple search can help you save money. More often than not with these special panel wordpress hosting accounts I was able to save as much as 50% recurring just by looking for a special coupon they advertised.

Do they offer SSL certificates?

If you are running any kind of e-commerce operation like we do, SSL certificate is a must. Nothing sucks more than discovering your host doesn’t offer SSL certificates after you signed up and created your site.

Is the host reputable?

Do a search for hosting company review…  This may or may not work well, many fake review sites out there but if a hosting company really sucks you will read about it on forums and yelp. Always do a search.

Now before you sign up, you will probably be wondering WTF is Shared, VPS, Dedicated, Managed all mean right?

Shared is the type of hosting where you are sharing the server with many other users, usually a couple hundred and you pay a low monthly price for this.   Shared is a good start for most.
VPS which stands for virtual private server is a better solution than Shared, because it gives you dedicated system resources which are allocated for you, like specific ammount of CPU speed, RAM memory, disk space, etc.
Dedicated is when you own a server outright, so 100% of its resources are ‘dedicated’ to you and you only.     Dedicated is good, but it’s not managed like a VPS or a Shared server that is where the next option comes in.
Managed Server – a managed server is a dedicated server that the hosts manages for you, so you don’t have to worry about learning tech.  Just like with everything,  this does come with a hefty price tag, but the service level is often worth it if you are running large volume of visitors.

For now, no need to overspend at first and it’s OK to start with a Shared host…. your host … if they are good (make sure you follow point #5 from above) will let you know if you are overloading the server and offer solutions to keep your site running healthy and stable (upgrading when needed).

Signing up and getting wordpress setup

After you finish the sign up process for a new hosting account, you will have to change the name servers on your domain name via your registrar (that’s the place where you regged the domain like namecheap) account. The host will email you the DNS servers, and you can set these up at your registrar. If you used name cheap, its super easy and can be done from their control panel under the left menu Transfer DNS to Web Host.

I personally use DNSMadeEasy here, its a CDN based DNS with amazing response time to lower those milliseconds when we talk about latencies. You can get your account here.

So every time I get a new hosting account I just use the same DNSMadeEasy name servers which are:

ns0.dnsmadeeasy.com
ns1.dnsmadeeasy.com
ns2.dnsmadeeasy.com
ns3.dnsmadeeasy.com
ns4.dnsmadeeasy.com

and later go into their control panel to create the zones. This is advanced stuff, so if you are new, I recommend you use the DNS provided by your web host for now.

After the DNS is set, it will take a few hours for it to propagate. What propagating means is for the changes to go through all the servers on the internet globally so when someone types in your domain name they know what IP address (server) it is from, so they can view your website.

After the propagation completes, you can login to your control panel and install wordpress. Depending on whether your host uses directadmin or Cpanel you will have different ways to install wordpress. The good news is, both of these offer 1 click installs which makes it super easy to get your wordpress site up and running.

Most of the time they ask the location of the wordpress install you want, I always install wordpress in root since its our CMS of choice, and then set my admin username/password and database name. Title for the site and sub heading and press install. That’s essentially how easy it is to install wordpress.

NOTE: The procedure may differ from host to host so its best to hit up your live support via chat or Skype or something.

That’s basically it, hope you found this post helpful and if you have any related Q’s leave em in the comments.

Have fun!

-Attila

  • Snacks

    Very thorough guide, really helpful!

  • mrPascal

    Very comprehensive article !
    Thanks Attila

  • Mark Martinez

    Yeah, it’s so hard to find a site with real user reviews…