If you’re thinking of starting a site, and decided that WordPress is for you, then the next step is deciding on how to host it.
Probably the most popular, and definitely the cheapest option, is shared hosting. It’s the least expensive option because there is generally no set amount of resources allocated per site. That allows hosts to put hundreds, or even thousands, of sites onto a single server. There is more than just one server(hopefully), but there’s an extremely high website to server ratio, which could end up causing problems.
If you’re just starting out, or have a low-traffic site, then shared hosting is perfect for you because of the low cost. Many shared hosting providers even have a domain included in their pricing! But, if one or more websites on the same server as you get hit with a lot of traffic, your speed could suffer. The higher end shared hosting providers will add more resources during peak traffic, but the really cheap hosting providers will likely just crash.
You also can’t really customize your server’s configuration, which will probably not be a problem for most people. Most providers give you access to a control panel, such as cPanel, which is where you can manage your website, install WordPress, and do everything else your host provides. However, you do still get less control than hosting WordPress yourself, which can be a good or bad thing depending on your server knowledge.
Once your site outgrows shared hosting, VPS hosting is the next step, followed by dedicated, then a cluster of servers. VPS hosting is in between shared hosting and dedicated hosting; your site gets allocated resources and is separated from the other sites, but still runs on the same server as others. The separation means that even if one site gets a lot of traffic, and their VPS crashes(which will probably not happen on Linux), yours will not be affected. This is generally more expensive than shared hosting because there can be less websites on each physical server. Some VPS hosting providers also give you more control over your server, which could include root access.
Once your site gets too big for even the highest end VPS hosting, the next step up is dedicated hosting. Dedicated means that you’re the only one with access to the server hardware. Dedicated servers are similar to VPS hosting, and you will probably still get a control panel, and also near full access to modify anything on the server. This does increase the risk of breaking something, so only modify server files if you’re comfortable with troubleshooting. However, dedicated servers can deal with significantly more traffic than shared hosting, and there is a near-zero chance of another website affecting yours.
Managed hosting is hosting in which someone else manages the server, and sometimes even your site, for you. You just work on creating content, and someone else does all the work of keeping your website’s software up do date and online. Of course, this makes managed hosting much more expensive, but in return you don’t need to worry about your site. While this is the most beginner friendly because it requires the least maintenance, it is rather expensive, with plans starting at $30+ for the lowest plans.
Despite the high cost, if you’re new to WordPress and have the budget, managed hosting is a great option. While there’s still a learning curve for writing on WordPress, it’s much smaller than the learning curve for doing everything yourself.