As a WooCommerce user, WooCommerce blogger and WooCommerce developer I often hear this question: “What’s the best hosting platform for a WooCommerce website?“.
Well, first and foremost, there is no “best” hosting for WooCommerce (and WordPress in general).
There are so many choices out there that defining the “best” is impossible. Besides, if there were a “best” hosting provider, there would be only one hosting company left in business.
So, a quick recap:
- There are many WooCommerce-friendly hosting companies
- There is no “best” WooCommerce hosting provider
- There is an “ideal” WooCommerce hosting platform, purely related to your WooCommerce website specifications and personal experience
In my own case, based on my own WooCommerce website features, on the level of organic traffic I get, on the quality of 24/7 support I require and on the hosting features I consider mandatory (cache, automatic backups, etc.), Cloudways Hosting is Business Bloomer’s “current“, “ideal” hosting provider.
Previously (2011-2016), I hosted with Blacknight, an Irish hosting company (I used to live there). It was the perfect “starter” hosting pack, with good features, but was lacking in support (only Mon-Fri at the time) and WordPress features (staging, cache, backup, WordPress skilled support team).
This is why in August 2016 I moved Business Bloomer to SiteGround Hosting (on the GoGeek plan). The package was just perfect for a WooCommerce website with 100,000+ monthly users, just slightly small in size when adding up all my side businesses and personal websites (I moved to their Cloud plan in 2019 because of that, indeed).
But something happened in late 2019 and early 2020: SiteGround decided to move their servers to Google, they changed the way they offer skilled support, I started noticing website loading errors and, last but not least, I was a victim of a huge DDOS attack (or something similar) they could not help we with. So I gave up and moved to Cloudways in June 2020. I’m very happy with this choice and I hope I won’t have to edit this article again!
In this article, I’d like to show you the (1) top WooCommerce hosting requirements and (2) the list of WooCommerce-friendly hosting companies I recommend based on what I’ve seen over the years for Business Bloomer and all my WooCommerce clients. In this way, hopefully, you can pick your “ideal” provider and concentrate on the other, most important things that matter in ecommerce: making mone… ehm I meant making your WooCommerce customers happy.
- WooCommerce-Friendly Hosting Providers
- WooCommerce Hosting Requirements
WooCommerce-Friendly Hosting Providers
I’ve decided to showcase different hosting companies based on your WooCommerce needs. If you’re starting in business and are short on money it’s better to start “small” and upgrade later on; on the other hand, if your WooCommerce website is active, generates traffic and orders you may need something more advanced and focused on performance.
Recommended Hosting for Small WooCommerce Businesses
Remember that, in business, “you get what you pay for”. If hosting is cheap, either your WooCommerce website is going to suffer from a performance point of view, you are going to be limited in terms of space and required features, or there is no 24/7 technical support given.
Having said that, if you’re only starting in business now or you run a small WooCommerce website with little traffic and just a few sales, these hosting providers will suit your needs:
Starting from $2.95/month for the first 3 years (current WordPress “Basic” offer), Bluehost is one of the cheapest yet WordPress-friendly hosting companies out there. I have no personal experience with Bluehost, but for sure with this price point it is suitable to small WooCommerce websites.
Starting from $6.99/month for the first year (current WordPress “StartUp” offer), SiteGround is definitely a good starting point for small businesses. I cannot recommend SiteGround enough after my 4 years with them, however once you start scaling I believe you need a better provider.
Recommended Hosting for Established WooCommerce Businesses
Once you start generating good traffic (e.g. 10,000+ hits per month), a decent number of WooCommerce orders and your website becomes your business partner, it’s time to invest in more powerful hosting options.
You will hear of terms such as “managed hosting”, “cloud hosting” and so on. Here’s where hosting becomes complex and difficult to set up, but thankfully the following companies are doing a good job in regard to WooCommerce compatibility. Some of them are built exclusively with WooCommerce in mind.
Starting from $10/month, Cloudways is currently Business Bloomer’s hosting provider. It came highly recommended because it’s scalable, support is available 24/7 and is pretty advanced from a technical point of view. Varnich cache and other tools are compatible with WooCommerce.
Starting from $15/month, templ.io hosting comes with free migration, free trial, free speed optimization and support specialized in WordPress and WooCommerce. They are still small as a hosting provider, which means they can handle support better and spend more time with each customer.
Starting at only $19.99/month, Nexcess, a Liquid Web brand, offers Managed WooCommerce plans that come with best in class security and Nexcess exclusives Plugin Performance and Sales Performance monitoring. Nexcess holds data centers around the world that deliver performance, reliability, auto-scaling and management control through a best-in-class open stack cloud platform.
Starting from $30/month, WPEngine gives you tools and infrastructure to enhance your WooCommerce performance. Their support team is very well prepared and available for any WooCommerce issues.
Starting from $49/month, WooCart is probably the first hosting platform built exclusively for WooCommerce. Their staging feature is excellent as well as overall performance, and hosting plans come with free add-ons. Definitely worth a try with their free trial.
WooCommerce Hosting Requirements
When you pick your hosting provider you need to consider and compare several features as well as the monthly price you pay. Having been a customer of both SiteGround and Cloudways, and having worked on several clients websites hosted on WPEngine and Bluehost, I can give you the top requirements for hosting a WooCommerce website.
If a hosting does not provide these features, you should avoid purchasing it. WooCommerce is a drain of resources so you must be careful when selecting your provider.
Free Trial Or 30 Days Money-Back Guarantee
Easy to explain – you should have the freedom to test a hosting platform, its features and your website performance before investing your money and transfer your website over. A hosting provider that does not offer a free trial or money-back guarantee is hopeless.
Free Website Transfer
The biggest pain when moving from one hosting to another is manually transferring your website over (or websites, even worse). You must clone website files and database and it’s never an easy task, especially for a WooCommerce website.
A WooCommerce-friendly hosting must come with free manual website transfer, at least for 1 website. Even better, they could provide a free WordPress migrator plugin, so that you can easily migrate sites in a few clicks from one account to another without messing around (check SiteGround Migrator – Cloudways WordPress Migrator – Migrate To Liquid Web & Nexcess – WP Engine Automated Migration – Bluehost Site Migrator plugins on the WordPress repository).
Transfers should be smooth, fast and easy. Besides, they should not transfer your website immediately – instead, the hosting provider should create an exact copy of your existing website so that you can access it, test it, assess it and – only then – give them the go ahead and go live.
You should be able to access this website from a temporary URL (such as ~126.96.36.199/your-site/wp-admin) while your current website stays live on your old hosting.
You can check if everything is working fine, check if there are frontend errors, and ONLY when you’re happy you can actually point your domain DNS to your nes hosting nameservers and complete the transfer.
Quick recap of the benefits:
- The website transfer service is free (for the first website at least).
- There is zero downtime: your website will go live only when DNS resolves (until then, your website will still be running from the old hosting).
- There should be free trial or 30 day Money Back Guarantee, no questions asked. If you’re not happy after testing you shall get your money back, and your current website won’t be affected by this.
- You don’t even need to give your hosting your website files and DB dump – install the migrator plugin and achieve that in a few clicks.
Free SSL Certificate
Another thing you should look into is the SSL certificate, an absolute requirement for WooCommerce stores. It used to be complex, technical and expensive to set up a premium SSL certificate, but luckily in the last few years Let’s Encrypt came to the rescue.
Your hosting should allow you to install a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate on all your websites, with a single click. There is really no excuse not to have your sites on HTTPS now that certificates are free, including non-WooCommerce websites, and there is really no reason why a hosting platform should not offer Let’s Encrypt integration and automatic renewal (every 3 months).
Let’s not forget, Let’s Encrypt certificates are absolutely fine for ecommerce websites as they are PCI-compliant.
A hosting is nothing without caching, especially if you have a WooCommerce website. Also, this caching system must be compatible with WooCommerce, in a way that it disables caching on the Cart, Checkout and My Account pages, which should never work under a caching environment because they provide user-specific forms and cookies.
Now, this article is not about the ins and outs of caching, so let’s give for granted you know what cache is and why it is vital for a WordPress installation. If caching works well, you will be increasing the number of hits a WooCommerce website can handle and boosting the website loading speed.
Server-Side cache (the one that runs on the server directly, so that you don’t need yet another WordPress cache plugin) should provide you with:
- Static Cache or “CDN cache”: caches all the static content of your website (CSS, JS, HTML, images, etc) so that your visitors can load this from the cache instead of the server whenever they come back to your website.
- Dynamic Cache: an extremely effective solution for dynamic WordPress websites. It caches the HTML output created by PHP and serves it directly from the RAM, instead of recalculating each time.
- Memcache or “object cache”: caches the database queries into the RAM in order to speed up the website even further.
- Varnish or “reverse proxy cache”: cache both dynamic and static content to increase not only your website speed but also your server performance. Handles all requests before they land to your server: its cache serves all users.
It’s worth it spending a little more each month to gain access to these amazing features. WooCommerce needs caching and cache needs to work well (it should come with a dashboard from where you can exclude URLs in case you have dynamic content in them).
One of the biggest reasons you’re about to switch hosting provider is because of customer support. I definitely could not cope with my old hosting’s Monday-Friday customer support. What’s more, I could not stand the common “hire a developer to fix this” reply to my queries and the very long live chat wait.
So, I transferred my WordPress websites to SiteGround and things changed for the best, then moved away from SiteGround in 2020 because their support got poor because of a bad company decision.
No matter what hosting you’re on, you must have access to 365/24/7 support, which is necessary once you start relying on your WooCommerce website to make a living.
You should never have to wait more than 5 minute if using the live chat or 30 minutes if waiting for a ticket reply. Fast turnaround is key.
Besides, support should be WordPress- and WooCommerce-savvy and help you especially with troubleshooting. If that’s not the case, you can’t call it customer service.
To me, WordPress support is worth many hundreds of dollars per year. Hopefully your hosting platform is as proactive, helpful, responsive and skilled as ever.
Another vital thing for WooCommerce is the staging feature. I cannot say this enough – if you have a WooCommerce website you MUST use staging, and it’s totally worth the extra money you’re required to invest to “unlock” this feature.
You can create a staging (clone) copy of a website with a single click so that updating, testing, customizing WooCommerce is soooooooo much easier. When WordPress/WooCommerce updates are available, you can quickly create a staging copy with a click, bulk update everything on the staging site within seconds, do a thorough test of homepage / Cart / Checkout / purchase / order admin and be assured that everything is going to be fine.
Now, repeat the same operations on your live environment or, if you feel brave, push the staging site onto the live environment and completely or partially overwrite it. You may lose data such as orders, posts and users, and here’s why WooCart’s lessloss staging is probably the best on the market out there.
Hosting plans suit different people and allow for a different number of websites, user visits, etc. The better ones give you unlimited installs, but always check what’s the GB limit (memory size) because one WooCommerce install takes at least 1-10 GB mostly based on the number of product images you upload.
Also, the more website hits you get the more you’ll need to pay. Not because they will block your website once you reach that limit, but because you will have RAM and CPU monthly limits which usually are directly proportional to your website traffic.
Hosting providers should send you automated messages as soon as you reach your RAM/CPU/GB threshold so you have enough time to upgrade to a more appropriate plan – if they don’t you will find out your website goes offline until the end of the month when counters will be reset to zero, and that’s not good. So make sure you ask this pre-sale question to whatever hosting platform.
Another thing to ask is how long will the website go down during an upgrade: will there be any “downtime” or will this be immediate and your users won’t even notice it?
SiteGround control panel gives you the freedom to enable/disable automatic plugin updates. For WooCommerce, you really want to disable automatic plugin updates based on my experience.
Always update plugins manually, on a staging copy of your WooCommerce website.
The same applies to your WordPress theme and WordPress core – never update them from your live WooCommerce website dashboard. Create a staging copy, update, test the checkout, test again, maybe test again and only then “push” the updates to the live environment.
The problem with SiteGround is that WordPress Core is set to auto-update by default, no matter what PHP you write in the wp-config file.
You have to make sure to post a ticket to SiteGround support stating you want your site to be removed from WordPress Auto-Update system.
Not sure why this is not currently possible from SiteGround control panel, I don’t see the reason why this should not be an option if you can already opt-in/opt-out of plugin auto-updates from there.
Unlimited Daily Backup, 1-Click Backup Restore
Your hosting provider should keep in-house backups for all your websites. If your website is hacked, and you placed your own manual backup on the same server, you’re doomed. That’s why hosting companies keep your backups somewhere else, in a safe place.
You won’t need a WordPress backup plugin, as your hosting will do that for you, on their servers, for free and automatically, once a day usually.
You will be and should be able to restore the full account, an entire website, just some files, a specific database and/or even emails with a single click, as well as having the freedom to create a manual backup at a given time with a custom label (e.g. “Business Bloomer before updating WooCommerce”), usually before updating plugins.
This out-of-the-box backup system is a great thing to have and should not count towards your GB server limits, because backups are stored elsewhere.
PHP Version Management
WordPress is faster and better optimized on PHP 7 – and soon it will work even better with PHP 8.
Your hosting should have a PHP Management tool from where you can switch a given website’s version and test its PHP compatibility (for example, you could test this on staging – never do that on a live WooCommerce environment).
The PHP switch is immediate and there is no downtime. Benefits are immediate (mostly, website speed) – ehm, unless your website breaks because one of the plugins is not compatible. This is why you shall test.