Many websites are running on WordPress, the most popular CMS in use on the internet. Why is it so popular? WordPress was intended to be used as a blogging platform and from the beginning, it started to gain more and more sympathizers among internet users, mainly because many people found a way to share their thoughts, ideas in a simple and efficient manner. Being free and open-source and having a big community of users and developers behind its back, there’s no doubt why it is now the most popular CMS.Before running on WordPress, a website has to run on a server first, server which belongs to a web hosting company. A website built on WordPress has needs and these needs have to be satisfied by the web hosting environment.
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Otherwise, WordPress might show you the very popular but not so funny blank page. In other words, when you`ll open your website, you will see just an agonizing empty page. So, before deciding to pick up a web hosting plan for your websites, the web hosting company has to offer you access to files and features so that you get the most out of WordPress.
1. WordPress Specifications
Being a content management system, WordPress is built with PHP which gets your content and adds it into a database. Therefore, the web hosting provider has to fulfill 2 simple requirements:
- PHP 5.2.4 or greater
- MySQL 5.0 or greater
WordPress.org recommends an Apache server to run on. Is just a recommendation, any server that supports PHP and MySQL will do the job, but for a fully featured server environment, make sure it is Apache.
2. One-Click WordPress Installer
WordPress is known for its famous “5 minutes install” process, which sets up a working environment very fast. But before it, the WordPress files has to be already on the server and prepared for the process. For newbies, this step might be hard to complete. Many of the web hosts, like Brain Host for example, have implemented one-click installers for many apps, including WordPress, so make sure your web host have this feature too. Even if you’ll not use it, the presence of this feature demonstrates that the web hosting provider is a real player on the web hosting market.
3. .htaccess and php.ini Access
Sounds funny, huh?
.htaccess is a configuration file for use on web servers running the Apache Web Server software. When a .htaccess file is placed in a directory which is in turn ‘loaded via the Apache Web Server’, then the .htaccess file is detected and executed by the Apache Web Server software. These .htaccess files can be used to alter the configuration of the Apache Web Server software to enable/disable additional functionality and features that the Apache Web Server software has to offer.
Following this definition, .htaccess file is available only on Apache servers, this fact being meant to consolidate WordPress.org recommendation. The file is used, mainly to add extra functionality to your WordPress environment. Many of the plugins you’ll install will make use of this file. Even you, at some point will need to edit the file. For example, when you`ll change WordPress default permalink structure to a SEO friendly one, the file will be altered by the system. htaccess is such a sensitive file that could inadvertently shutdown a website(the most common thing is the blank page, called “White Screen of Death”). Therefore, it should only be used when absolutely required. For this reason, some web hosts might not offer you access to it and is better to ask before picking up a plan.
Another file which you`ll need to edit at some point is “php.ini”. PHP.ini is very useful and it is a configuration file that is used to customize behavior of PHP at runtime.
WordPress set the default upload limit for images and files at 2MB. If you want to upload files bigger than 2MB, you`ll need to edit php.ini and change the value with a bigger one.
Being a system file, some webhosts might not grant you access to it. Make sure your webhost does.
4. Security Features Available
Like in real life, everyone needs to feel and be secure, including your WordPress based websites. The most common things to do to secure your WordPress websites is to have strong usernames and passwords for the admin panel and to update WordPress to the latest version.
Next, is your web host responsibility to ensure you features like Daily/Weekly Backups in case your website or database gets hacked or corrupted, 24/7 Security Monitoring for any attacks and issues, SFTP and SSH for secure file transfers and manipulation facilities and last but not least, suPHP for more secure PHP script executions.
5. 24/7 Technical Support
Last point, make sure the web host is offering 24/7 technical support, by email and most importantly, by phone. In case of a vital problem, you don`t want to wait until the next day when they will be available. You`ll need fast and valid solutions for your problems.
The number of WordPress websites is increasing faster and faster, WordPress powering more than 22% of the active websites. Building a website on WordPress is a smart decision, but without a properly set and featured web hosting infrastructure, you won’t be able to get the most out of it.