WordPress is one of the most common applications installed on hosting accounts, with shared hosting being ideal for novice WordPress users.
Many major hosts have partnered with Automattic, the makers of WordPress, to promote its blogging software.
But what do you really need out of a host to run WordPress?
Starting a WordPress Blog
WordPress is very lightweight and easy to install. It’s harder to find a host that doesn’t support WordPress than one that does.
But while the requirements of WordPress are simple, some extra features are ‘nice to have’ and will improve your WordPress hosting experience as your knowledge deepens.
Likewise, some hosts are less suitable for WordPress for a variety of reasons.
Note: This information was correct when this blog was first published (August 2010).
According to WordPress.org, there are only three actual requirements for running WordPress:
- PHP 4.3 or higher
- MySQL 4.1.2 or higher
- The Mod_rewrite Apache Module
Mod_rewrite is used for the Permalinks feature in WordPress, which is used by nearly all blogs, but could be omitted if you were really stuck. It’s very unlikely that your host won’t offer it, so we’ll bundle it in as a requirement regardless.
But you’ll need other features for the best experience.
Features That Make WordPress Better
In addition to the official requirements, there are a few things we’d recommend you look out for.
- WordPress will run on Windows (Automattic provides instructions on how to install it). But a Linux server makes WordPress easier. For PHP applications generally, Linux is just a better choice.
- The Apache web server is the best choice for WordPress. WordPress can work on LiteSpeed, but the process is more complicated and less straightforward. There is no official guide for LiteSpeed, and you’ll struggle to find help material online.
- You will need FTP access for anything more than the basics. If your host doesn’t offer it, consider the limitations as your site grows.
- A good control panel will help make your life a lot easier, especially when it comes to creating and maintaining databases and learning to manage WordPress effectively. Though not strictly necessary, cPanel, Plesk or another control panel will help you.
- WordPress by itself is only a few MB in size. But as your blog grows, you’ll need space and bandwidth. Start with a small package, by all means, but ensure you can upgrade later.
WordPress hosts are so common that none of these features are likely to be an issue, with the possible exception of FTP access. If your host doesn’t let you log in via FTP, it’s probably best to shop around for another that will.
What else should you look for? Here are a few miscellaneous caveats for specific circumstances.
- WordPress is PHP-based and dynamic. It can be very CPU intensive. Hosts that limit (or charge for) CPU cycles may be costly, and are probably best avoided.
- Automattic recommends ensuring your host has SuPHP installed for security reasons. You may also want to password protect directories on your server and tweak other settings. Read the WordPress ‘Hardening Guide’ for more information.
- If you want special features such as SSL, check these are provided. They aren’t associated with WordPress directly, but they might be required by an essential plugin.
Time to Choose a WordPress Host?
WordPress is fairly easy to install and use. That’s why it’s so popular. It doesn’t require lots of power, and most hosts provide affordable packages that meet its minimum requirements.
If your site is likely to need something quirky, that’s when you need to take care. Ask the host’s sales team what’s possible.
Finally, don’t forget to read hosting reviews to see how others have fared when using WordPress with your chosen hosting provider.
Missed These Awesome Posts?
Get exclusive content, deals & much more in our weekly newsletter. Simply enter your email below and hit [Submit].