Recently, we have been building a lot more websites with WordPress Multi-Site and Buddypress. There is a high demand for sites that need a open-source social networking option. Buddypress still has a lot of short comings, but it’s easy integration into WordPress 3.0 make it a popular choice.
I have found that Buddypress and WordPress can be a great solution to many social, media and other site development needs. However, finding a good host that will work well with both and allow for the natural growth of your site can be very difficult. So hear are a few rules I have come to accept when picking a host:
1. Do Not Buy a Share Hosting Account… You Will Regret It Later
I have tried a few shared hosting accounts with companies like GoDaddy, HostMonster and other popular low cost hosting services. The shared hosting accounts are always the cheapest options advertised on these sites and like most things in life, you get what you pay for. While these options are very affordable ($3 to $9 per month), you will find that you have very little access to your server setup and functionality. Often times, it is hard if not impossible to get multi-user subdomains to work (wildcards not supported) and usually the “technical support” is of little help. More importantly, if you site grows to any level of prominence, you will use up your server bandwidth quickly and rack up usage fees.
2. Ignore Hosting Review Websites
Hosting review websites almost always use affiliate links when recommending hosting companies. This means that they rank the sites with the best referral commissions the highest. Needless to say, they aren’t exactly unbiased in their selections. In most cases, they have never even used the hosting services they are recommending.
3. Pick an Easy to Upgrade Hosting Solutions
Your site may not have many visitors or users in the beginning, but you need to plan ahead for growth. If your site is successful, it can start eating bandwidth and memory quickly. Especially if you are streaming any sort of media from the server. You want to pick a host that has entry level packages that allow for simple upgrades without having to move your entire site to a new host. Many times there are conflicts in coding, server settings, etc… when you move from one host to another. To avoid these possible setbacks and additional development costs, it is best to plan ahead.
4. Test the Customer Service Options before Buying
Check the companies website for live chat, 24/7 phone support and other ways to talk to customer support. Try them out before you buy and see how long you have to wait on average. Stay away from companies that only provide support through tickets and email.
While most hosting companies will say they do not provide software tech support for third party software, the good hosting companies will point you in the right direction. Still, you should have the programming expertise to manage your own websites. This is not the hosting company’s responsibility.
5. You Get What You Pay For
You do not want to cut corners and try to save money with cheap budget hosting. While you probably do not need to spend hundreds per month for a dedicated server, you also don’t want to go with the cheapest solution. You are best off picking a reasonably priced VPS (Virtual Private Server). They typically range from $30 to $50 per month and offer easy upgrade options.