Recently I’ve been fairly vocal about the fact that having your own website or blog is a good idea for any writer or business owner. I also don’t try to conceal the fact that I think a self-hosted WordPress website is the best option in many cases. But even if you agree with me, that still leaves a lot of questions unanswered.
There are a LOT of web hosting companies out there, and some of the worst ones have some of the biggest marketing budgets. Because of this they’re able to secure thousands upon thousands of customers, and continue funneling dollars into ads and advanced marketing.
Some of the links in this blog post that go to hosting companies are affiliate links. This means that if you click on them and make a purchase at the website in question I may receive a commission. I really appreciate you using these links because 1) you don’t pay any extra and 2) it makes putting these lengthy blog posts together more worthwhile. But, if you’d prefer not to use my links you can also navigate to the sites normally and get all the same value as I’m going to discuss.
Just to briefly reassess, if you’re reading this post it’s probably because:
- You’re thinking about getting a website
- You’re thinking WordPress is a good idea
- You’re wondering where to host your website
When I first started learning WordPress I tested a number of different web hosts, and researched all that I could find that seemed even somewhat promising. I also frequent several groups in which questions are regularly asked of experienced users about hosting, and I pay careful attention to the trends in which hosts get recommended the most.
The following are the three web hosts I personally recommend. I currently use one of them, have used the second in the past, and may use the third in the future because it comes highly recommended by a number of advanced WordPress users I respect.
Web Hosting Canada (best for lower budgets and those who want Canadian, bilingual, and eco-friendly hosting).
Disclosure: I have been hosting my website with Web Hosting Canada for almost a year now, and recently started working with them as a content marketer and community manager. Because of this I’m unable to profit from WHC affiliate links, but they’re still the first Canadian hosting company I recommend. If you do choose them because of this article, please let me know!
Siteground (best for those who can invest a little more in exchange for a service which has long been considered among the best, and those who require international hosting).
A2Hosting (best for those with a medium budget who want hosting in the United States, Europe, or Asia.)
Web Hosting Canada
WHC is a Canadian company which has been around for close to twenty years. In that time they’ve built up a positive reputation as a high-value host that genuinely wants to help small businesses succeed. Their ratings on Facebook and Google My Business are both very high, and my personal experience with them has been very positive as well.
With datacenters in both Montreal and Vancouver, WHC is well equipped to deliver your website to users across Canada. 100% of their power used is eco-friendly, and they provide 24/7 support in both English and French.
Another factor in WHC’s favor is their strong variety of services. If you want to get started at minimal cost their shared hosting is priced as well as any on the market, and comes with everything you need included at the Pro level and higher. Shared hosting is great if you want multiple websites and don’t mind getting your hands dirty with some website management and server-side optimizations.
If you only need one website and you prefer to have as much as possible done for you, WHC’s managed WordPress hosting isn’t that much more expensive than their shared hosting. The difference is, with managed hosting WordPress comes preinstalled with recommended themes and plugins, so the experience is almost like using a website building service. You also have 24/7 access to WordPress experts who can help you make the right decisions for your site.
When your website starts to grow and you’re getting ready to scale, WHC makes it easy. They have powerful shared and managed plans that you can upgrade to, and cloud hosting and dedicated server packages for when you really need some extra power. If you’re looking to start your own hosting company or offer hosting services to clients, WHC also has a comprehensive selection of reseller accounts available.
Their only drawback that I’ve noticed so far is their lack of datacenters outside of Canada. Using a free CDN (content delivery network) can only do so much to speed up your website globally, and CDNs can present their own intricacies. Therefore if you think most of your website’s traffic will be coming from the United States or other countries, you may want to consider one of the other hosts on this list.
At the end of the day, I chose Web Hosting Canada for my first website because they seemed like the highest value Canadian web host, and because of their green energy initiatives. I haven’t regretted my decision at any point in time; my website has only gone down once due to a server error which they corrected as soon as I reported it. Support has helped me solve frustrating problems on more than one occasion, and I paid about a third of what I would have paid for the same service from other comparable companies.
My Recommendation for Lowest-cost DIYers: PRO Shared Web Hosting
My Recommendation for Less Technically Inclined Users: WP Go or WP Pro Managed Hosting
Siteground is an international web hosting corporation with holdings in four countries and five datacenters spread across the globe. They have perhaps the longest standing positive reputation among well known web hosts, and many of my WordPress instructors swear by their services.
If most of your website traffic is coming from the US, UK, or Europe or Asia, Siteground will be better equipped to serve your content to your users than the other hosts on this list because of their datacenters on three continents.
Of course, such an array of options comes with a cost. While Siteground prices may appear only a bit higher than WHC’s at first glance, it’s important to notice the rebill price. While WHC’s plans tend to rebill at 140%-200% of their starting cost, most of Sitegrounds go up to 300%.
I should also note that in recent months I’ve noticed a certain amount of complaints from Siteground users about issues arising that seem to be the result of overstuffing their servers. This certainly seems possible because of the company’s popularity and ability to grow its customer base rapidly, but overall I know many successful WordPress users continue to trust their services, and if I needed to recommend a host to international clients I would almost certainly start with Siteground.
My Recommendation for DIYers: Startup or Growbig Shared Web Hosting
My Recommendation for Done-for-you-ers: Startup or Growbig Managed WordPress Hosting
A2Hosting is an American hosting company with roots in Ann Arbor, Michigan (hence “A2”). I’ve never used A2 services personally, but as with Siteground I know several WordPress professionals who swear by their shared and VPS hosting. On a personal level, I really appreciate the way that A2Hosting’s site is set up. It was the easiest to navigate when doing research for this post.
With data centers in Michigan, Arizona, Amsterdam, and Singapore, A2 is coming close to competing with Siteground in terms of global availability. A2Hosting is also coming up on their 20th year in business, and is known for creating loyal customers with their support systems.
While A2’s reputation is not quite as sterling or long-standing as Siteground’s, the company makes up for it in several other ways. Simply put, you get more for less with A2Hosting.
For example, A2’s “Swift” web hosting package is quite comparable to Siteground’s “GrowBig” package. Siteground’s plan is only a dollar more to start, but the rebill price is almost double what A2 charges. Siteground does have the added benefit of one-click staging, but they also put a limit on monthly visitors, and staging is a small thing to pay an extra $10/month for.
The only drawback I’m aware of with A2 is that they suffered a ransomware attack in spring 2019. Ransomware is a powerful type of virus which, as its name suggests, attempts to hold personal information for ransom. This is a nightmare for any web hosting company because they manage lots of customer data.
However, to their credit A2 didn’t collapse, and they allegedly managed to recover fully from the attack within two or three weeks. Despite this event, everyone I know who was hosting with A2 before the attack is still hosting with them, and it remains a popular option among well educated WordPress users in the communities I frequent.
My Recommendation for DIYers: Lite or Swift Web Hosting
My Recommendation for Done-for-you-ers: Managed WordPress Hosting
Starting a website can be intimidating, and using WordPress can be even scarier than doing so with a website-building service. However, there are many advantages to using WordPress, especially if you’re building a blog. Although WordPress is now the most popular CMS for web design in the world, it started out as a simple blogging platform, and it remains the most powerful option for blogging in my opinion.
I’ve used or at deeply researched all of the best known website builders, and my overall impression is that they pale in comparison to WordPress in both freedom and functionality. However, if you’re going to use WordPress you need to do things right, and that starts with choosing a web host you can trust.
The next logical step is either learning to use WordPress yourself, or hiring someone to build the site for you. If you’d prefer the second option, feel free to reach out to me! I’d love to help you create the best blog we can imagine.