Update 1/24/20: I recently found this How to Choose the Best WordPress Hosting in 2020 (Compared) article by wpbeginner. They have more time, experience and resources than I do to spend researching this subject. It’s a great article with excellent information and suggestions.
My clients understandably often ask me to recommend a hosting company or domain registrar. I used to have a few companies that I suggested and I even had affiliate accounts with the same few so I made a little money and was able to get discounts for my clients when they purchased new hosting. Then I started noticing that some of the companies I liked were not so likable anymore for one reason or another. So… for a while now I’ve been avoiding suggesting companies nor promoting any affiliate links because I didn’t want my clients to hold me responsible when the hosting company I suggested became less trustworthy or reliable and quite frankly there were just not any hosting companies or domain registrars who I was in love with.
Recently when one of my clients asked me to suggest a domain registrar, I reluctantly tried to help him by telling him first who not to use. There are a couple of popular companies who I do not like for various reasons who I will not name here because I have several clients who still use them.
I suggested to my client when doing his registrar research to try to find an ethical company. I mentioned that I use Dreamhost but the last time I checked they only sell domains to people who have hosting accounts also. Today I had time to research this again and found Dreamhost now do sell domain names even if you don’t have hosting. I myself use Dreamhost for hosting and domain registration and I’m reasonably happy there. I do still have a few of complaints with Dreamhost:
- Their tech support is sometimes a bit slow to respond, it’s email and/or chat only unless you pay for phone support, I don’t need support with them very often though, so that’s a good thing.
- They don’t use cPanel and some of their dashboard features are a bit confusing until you get used to it. I always do seem to get what I need done though.
- As of late 2019 I started having problems with emails sent from my Dreamhost hosted WordPress websites going to Gmail spam folders. Dreamhost suggested I use the ‘WP Mail SMTP’ plugin, but I don’t need the extra work and potential for problems with that so I’ve decided I’m not going to use forms on my Dreamhost hosted websites for the time being. I consider this to be a major shortcoming with Dreamhost.
Dreamhost’s shared hosting has a manual user backup system, and it is possible to backup through FTP and with phpMyAdmin or by using a WordPress plugin. Apparently they also provide automated backups through the Manage Domain dashboard. I’ve never needed to restore any of my Dreamhost websites. Dreamhost’s managed WordPress hosting has Daily Backups & 1-Click Restore.
I’m pretty happy with my choice of Dreamhost (I may get a commission for purchases made through this link), I’ve been with them for so long now I don’t even remember exactly how long but it’s getting close to 15 years. The thing I like best about them is they are an ethical/green company (or so they say anyway). I like the fact that in using them I am supporting a company who cares about the environment and that’s very important to me. I’m trying very hard to reduce my carbon footprint. Apparently hosting is quite resource hungry and Dreamhost finds ways to offset their use of resources.
$50 discount on Dreamhost Unlimited Shared Hosting
(I may get a commission for purchases made through the above link)
I recently had the opportunity to try GreenGeeks.com which is another highly rated and environmentally conscious company. I found them easy to use, they have the familiar cPanel with Softaculous for easy WordPress management, free chat and phone support. I did have to ask for full resource support for the Divi theme and their Softaculous automated backups appear to be limited to one rotating backup, but they say they offer a total of three backups. Strangely the last time I checked my client’s account, there were 4 backups. The tech support person I spoke to said the company does monthly backups which isn’t very often but it’s certainly better than nothing which is what you might get at a cheaper hosting company.
I don’t guarantee backups for my clients and apparently neither do most of the hosting companies but the hosting company you choose should at least provide regular backups. I’ve never had a site fail unless my clients forget to pay hosting or registrar fees. I sometimes download backups but this is strictly as a backup to the hosting company’s backups, I can’t guarantee the backups will work, there are so many variables such as changes in technology, hackers, viruses, user error, digital corruption etc… WordPress websites require regular maintenance to keep them running smoothly and to protect against hackers. My website creation fees don’t include maintenance or backups. I can either teach my clients (for a fee) how to do their own maintenance or they can hire me to update the website software on occasion.
Dreamhost and GreenGeeks are both in Southern California. I feel good about supporting local companies.
I found this article listing and reviewing the companies they consider to be “green”: The best green web hosting of 2019. Dreamhost and GreenGeeks are on the list as well as some other interesting hosting companies. The author of the linked article (not me) does appear to have an affiliate relationship with at least some of the companies on the list, so you need to take that into consideration if you use the article to choose your hosting.
Another resource I use when researching hosting companies is this list of companies who support the free Let’s Encrypt SSL: Web Hosting who support Let’s Encrypt. It’s very important that your website is protected by an SSL these days, not only for security, but also for SEO. Dreamhost and GreenGeeks support the free Let’s Encrypt SSL and some others on the previously mentioned green hosting article list support it also.
I wish I could be more help to my clients in their search for the perfect hosting company, but technology changes so rapidly and the features the hosting companies offer change constantly as well. I can’t be responsible for what the hosting companies do. I think choosing a company based on their ethics and how much you feel you can trust them is the most important criteria. Inexpensive hosting is sometimes cheap for a reason. When choosing your hosting make sure to look at their backup policy, look for potential hidden fees, and compare the policies, resources and services provided by the different hosting companies.
Hosting companies often charge lower prices during the initial signup period which will increase drastically once the initial period expires. Keep in mind that if you pay for 3 years of reduced price hosting to begin with, when it comes time to renew it will renew at their regular price for another 3 years which can be quite expensive. So, after you’ve signed up, you need to change the renewal term in your account preferences.