I received a question recently via my Ask Me Anything About WordPress page, a free practical advice service I offer on all things related to WordPress. The question was as follows:

I was wondering what hosting service you use for wpliving. I’m looking for some hosting for a couple of wordpress blogs I have on wordpress.com. I basically want to make the jump over to wordpress.org, but I don’t have a big budget, what would you recommend? Thanks.

In this video, I begin by outlining the major differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org

before moving on to the task of selecting a budget hosting service. I cannot claim to have found the be all and end all solution to budget web hosting, but over the past decade I’ve been through a range of services, many of which I mention here.

In going through the different hosting services, I tease out some of the key points to keep in mind before committing to a hosting company, among which are the following things:

– Tech requirements: does the service meet the requirements for hosting a WordPress.org installation, including MYSQL databases, sufficient bandwidth and storage for your needs, the ability to use add-on domains in case you want to host multiple domains and multiple WordPress installations on one hosting service.

– A decent admin environment: these days most companies opt for Cpanel, an open source backend management client that allows you to manipulate all aspects of your hosting service. It is not the only client and many services offer a bespoke admin panel, but I think Cpanel is still one of the more user-friendly options.

– Solid uptime: does the hosting company guarantee uptime? While 100% is simply impossible to achieve given the inevitability of technical failure that all hosting companies fall prey to at one time or another, there is a basic level of service that should be maintained. Many companies offer 45 – 90 day money back guarantee options. My advice is to test out a new hosting service and monitor it closely for signs of frequent downtime, overcrowded server space and other problems.

– Good customer support: this is perhaps the most important aspect of any hosting company. I have been through so many companies that have performed poorly in this area and it has almost always led to me hunting for a new company. One way to find out how efficient the company’s customer support is, is to test it with some pre-purchase questions. How fast are they to respond? How efficient are their user forums? How many complaints are being lodged by users and so on. In short, make sure you do your homework.

I then end with a few thoughts on my current hosting service which is Hostgator.com

. I would definitely recommend them, but I would also recommend shopping around and seeing if you can’t find a solution that caters directly for your needs.

For those of you who already have 3rd party hosting, I’d be interested to hear what your experience has been. What do you recommend? What other tips would you give prospective users or newcomers to the hosting game?