If you are a seasoned webmaster who has been working with WordPress since its early days, you must remember how it started out as a simple blogging platform with a very light code base. Back then, any mediocre shared hosting plan could effectively run most types of WordPress sites.
Over the years, though, WordPress has seen many dramatic updates and upgrades, which led to where it stands today as the world’s most popular and highly customizable content management system. But that came at a cost; it made the code base much more complex and the whole system became remarkably more resource consumptive.
In case you have an established e-commerce website powered by WordPress and WooCommerce, then forget about cheap shared hosting services! You’ll most likely need a virtual private server (VPS), a fully dedicated server, or a premium managed WordPress hosting solution. All of these options can offer adequate resources (CPU, RAM, concurrent connections, etc.) to handle the heavy server load of an e-commerce site.
But finding a provider you can trust to be there for you when something goes wrong with your website or server may not always be a straightforward task, especially with so many “best” hosts out there and so many contradicting reviews.
This isn’t going to be a rehash of the same “top 10” companies that the majority of review/affiliate sites keep puffing, often including some hosts that have useless outsourced support! This post will only focus on a few worthy recommendations that are reasonably balanced between reliability and affordability.
The following are arguably three of the best hosting services for WordPress e-commerce sites that have fast and reliable servers, coupled with prompt and helpful technical support.
1. Rocket (Managed WordPress)
Unlike other general web hosting providers that cram all sorts of websites and software into their servers, Rocket only provides WordPress hosting and they’ve specifically built and optimized their server software stack to work with the WP system in a very efficient manner.
They have one of the fastest fully managed hosting solutions for WordPress and WooCommerce. Their custom-built control panel is user friendly and makes it very easy to manage your WordPress site, whether you are an experienced webmaster or a total beginner.
Most of the functionalities that usually require installing third-party plugins come built-in and pre-configured with their plans, such as server-side caching, staging environment, automatic updates and backups, CDN, enhanced security, etc.
You can choose your primary server location from multiple global locations that are part of their Edge cloud network, which is optimized for lower latency and faster delivery of content to end users in different geographical locations.
Each plan also includes Cloudflare Enterprise CDN with more than 200 server locations worldwide that serve fast-loading cached pages of your site. Most other hosts only provide the free-tier CDN from Cloudflare, which isn’t recommended for business websites. Cloudflare Enterprise is the top-tier package that comes with advanced features and higher CDN speed. It works perfectly with WooCommerce and other plugins that need to bypass the cache.
As for security, Rocket utilizes Cloudflare’s website firewall as well as Imunify360. These provide real-time scanning and protection from the most common threats like malware, malicious code, SQL injection, cross-site scripting, DDoS and brute force attacks, spam, etc.
But what’s more crucial than technical features is customer support, and the Rocket team does an outstanding job when it comes to resolving technical issues in a timely manner. Their support team is available 24/7 via live chat. They are quite familiar with WordPress since it’s the only software they host, so you can expect any problems to be dealt with and fixed quickly. You can even have a live chat with the CEO of the company, Ben Gabler.
However, there are a couple of drawbacks with this provider. First, this is a premium service that comes at a relatively high price. It makes sense for small business and agency websites to invest in it, but if you own a small site/blog that gets little traffic, you may want to go with something a little less pricey.
Another disadvantage is that their plans do not include e-mail services. So if you want to use your site’s domain for custom email addresses, you’ll have to use a third-party email service, such as Google Workspace or Microsoft 365. As a matter of fact, most companies that specialize in fully managed WP don’t provide email accounts — probably due to the high risk of abuse and IP blacklisting.
2. ScalaHosting (VPS & Shared)
ScalaHosting offers high-performance and low-cost hosting services with solid servers that work great for small business sites. They have both fully managed and self-managed cloud VPS, as well as shared plans at reasonable prices. For VPS, you can choose from a few pre-set plans or build your own plan with your choice of the number of CPU cores, RAM size and SSD space (these are easily scalable).
You can also choose between three server providers: ScalaHosting, AWS and Digital Ocean. Prices and data center locations vary for each provider, with ScalaHosting’s own servers being the most budget-friendly option.
As for the control panel, you can go with either cPanel or SPanel. The latter is their own custom control panel that is similar to cPanel but comes completely free. If you choose cPanel, you’ll have to purchase a licence for it, which can add up to hefty costs in the long run. The free SPanel is a huge advantage and it also includes SShield, which secures your account with real-time protection from cyber attacks and malicious activity.
ScalaHosting does not have fully managed WordPress plans, but you get their SWordPress Manager platform as part of SPanel. It simplifies the management of WordPress websites with features like automatic installation and updates, backups, security lock, and a site staging environment (currently being developed).
And the best thing about this company is the helpful and responsive 24/7 technical support they deliver via live chat. There is rarely a time when their chat support isn’t available.
3. ChemiCloud (VPS & Shared)
ChemiCloud is another reliable provider of affordable shared hosting and high-performance cloud VPS. Their shared plans are capable of running a small to medium WooCommerce site, but you get more dedicated resources and better performance with a VPS package, which would be more suitable for a high-traffic website.
WordPress and WooCommerce plans (shared) come with cPanel, and include a free SSL certificate, daily backups, network firewall, 24/7 server monitoring, account isolation, LiteSpeed cache, and many other useful features. Some plans also include advanced server-side caching and advanced security, including malware scanning and removal.
VPS packages are fully managed and include a free cPanel license for one account (additional accounts require purchasing an appropriate license). Remote backups are available either for free or for an extra fee (depends on the plan). You can pick the server location from different data centers located in the USA, UK, Europe and other global locations.
Their support team is available around the clock via live chat, and support tickets usually get resolved in less than an hour. An important thing to note is that some of the prices shown on their website are discounted prices that only apply to the initial billing term, and after that the service will renew at the regular price. Make sure you check both the initial and renewal fees so you don’t get surprised later.
Do You Need VPS Hosting for WooCommerce?
A VPS is not necessary to run a WooCommerce-powered online store, but it’s highly recommended for busy sites that need optimal performance and speed. Shared hosting can also run WooCommerce, but since resources are split between multiple accounts on the server, a high-traffic WooCommerce site may experience slowness and even frequent downtime if it’s placed in a shared environment without adequate resources to utilize (this varies from one provider to another and from one plan to another).
If you are starting a brand new website and don’t expect much traffic in the near future, you can start out with an affordable shared hosting plan, and when your traffic outgrows the available resources you can then upgrade to a VPS or a more advanced plan.
Should You Choose Managed or Unmanaged VPS?
Most of the cheap VPS providers sell unmanaged services, which means you will have to handle all the technical aspects of installing, updating and managing the software on your server. Unmanaged (aka self-managed) VPS comes with limited technical support and should only be considered by experienced users who know how to run a server.
If you are a beginner or have limited knowledge about server management, it’s more advisable to go with managed VPS. Sure, it costs more, but the extra fee could potentially save you a lot of time and hassle by having a support team maintaining all systems and fixing issues when they occur, instead of you trying to figure out how to do things on your own, which may not be such a good idea if you are running a business website.