I'm often asked: What host should I buy for my new WordPress website?
That's a tough question, and one that many people will answer right away with their first choice for hosting. But you really should ask yourself... really, is anyone else's opinion of a host the most important thing you need before making a decision? I don't think so.
Many different things come into play when you begin to answer some of the questions that really matter. Below are a few hosts I recommend and the reasons why. I have personally used these services with varying degrees of success, keep in mind this is mostly for LAMP style of hosting. Consider your needs, budget, ratings, reliability and support.
This is my number one choice currently. Late in 2010 I begun working on their platform and I love it. I recently moved notagrouch.com and oscarstech.com to it and I'm happy as can be. I like running my websites again! In the case of Rackspace, I recommend their Cloud Servers. This requires that you know how to manage your hosting and stuff like updates and security and stuff. It's also a pricier choice but absolutely worth every penny. You have full root access and the ability to do whatever you want with your server, and if you find that you need more memory or disk space you can easily add this through their friendly control panel. They also have a strong support team that is available 24x7. Dreamhost. Is my 2nd choice.
I have to admit, I've complained about Dreamhost many times before. Sometimes in their blog, sometimes on twitter and I've even bitched them out on email. The support guys take it in stride each time. The past couple of times I had a problem, I handled it differently and approached them nicely. It all got resolved within minutes. You must be thinking the fact that you contact them enough to notice these kind of things should be a sign on its own. Granted once or twice a year my services will be unavailable for sometime.
There's another side to that story, every host I've worked with for more than 2 years has gone down about 2 or 3 times during the year. It happens. Sometimes its a datacenter outage, sometimes its just a mistake or spike in traffic. Fortunately for us as consumers we'll be seeing less and less outages as our data gets distributed across the cloud. In the meantime, for the price you pay, and the services you get Dreamhost cannot be beat. You need to be a developer, or a geek like me to actually need or use their stuff. I'll have to write a review to show you all that you can do with Dreamhost. Some of it you can do it with other hosts, some of it is only available in premium plans, and some of it is just not doable in other hosts. If these terms make a twinkle in your eye, Dreamhost is for you: Perl, SSH, SVN, Shell (bash,tsch, and fish can be installed) *unlimited* storage, users, domains and bandwidth ((Unlimited is of courseimpossible but it is marketed as such. I'm just using the same terminology. I encourage you to learn what it really means when a host says they offer unlimited anything.)) , RSYNC, PHP, and there's so much more. I pay from ~14 to ~18 USD per month because I use one of their private server plans, but you can find deals for 3 - 7 dollars per month.
DO NOT GET DREAMHOST. Their quality and service has declined tremendously over the past couple years. I no longer endorse them and I've removed all of their sponsorships from all of my sites. You've been warned.
Bluehost is a web hosting provider that has managed to serve 1000s of customers. Up until a couple years ago they were my choice host for new projects and for clients that needed basic hosting. They have a full service line of products and some people swear by them. I no longer use them for my own personal reasons. You ought to do your research if you really want to use them before you hand out any cash to them, refunds can be tough and watch out for auto-renewals. They make you jump through a couple of hoops to cancel your account if you want to do so. Otherwise they are stable and very reliable. Support isn't that great, a little slow for my taste, but they get the job done. They offer all the hyped and standard bells and whistles, like Dreamhost as far as the unlimited things go. However you don't have SVN for example. You'll be using SFTP/SSH after you give them your Driver's License, or you can use FTP & the ubiquitous cPanel. Highly rated always and one of WordPress' recommendations on their hosting page. --But then again, they recommend Godaddy for hosting, and I would just simply never make such a recommendation. That leads me to my next point.
Godaddy. Don't get it, I warn you now. I sigh if you got it already, but let me know if I can help you get out of trouble. In the other hand I will probably not help you if you went against my advice not to get it and you still did. Especially Windows based hosting. IMO, it is useless, cumbersome and poorly implemented. Godaddy does domains better than any other registrar I've tried, I currently host all my domains with them.
I must say that I don't recommend shared hosting from Godaddy. DO NOT get it... If we talk about dedicated server hosting, they are pretty good. I used them for a heavily trafficked server for about a year (250k pagevies/month is a lot for me.) And never had a problem I didn't cause myself. The only problems I ever encountered with their dedicated hosting service there were caused by me running the wrong command, or updating the wrong RPM. I had a Dedicated Fedora server. BTW, you'll never learn as much about hosting as when you host your own server completely. But for 99% of the websites out there, you don't need a dedicated server (plus they're about 100/month)
JustHost. Has a large fan base, I admin 2 WordPress blogs hosted on JustHost and it has been a pleasure working with them. Haven't had any downtime since I started working with them. I would recommend it if its within the budget. I have not done a full through review and have not used for personal projects or clients. I've always had clients come to me with hosting already on JustHost. I think they charge extra for SSH access if I remember correctly and I thought that was the only downside and kind of a tacky thing to do IMO.
Liquidweb. By far the best host I've worked with for standard LAMP type of websites, with the basics like PHP, MySQL, Apache and the usual suspects. (Joomla, WordPress, Wikis). They truly have support heroes there. I moved a client from a crappy ancient host named XO, and there were some issues with DNS and MX records during the transfer. The Liquidweb guys responded super quick to all my emails, I chatted with some of them and even called in a couple of times. Each time I interacted with them, they knew exactly what to do, where the problem might have been and what to tell the other host. If you can afford slightly higher than the cheap hosting online, these guys are for you.
Hostgator. I find it to be highly rated by everyone. I got a chance to work on a couple of sites recently and I find their service up to par, fast and always reliable.
The DNS instructions were a little bit fuzzy, on your control panel you have your DNS servers shown there but in some other locations it says to use more generic name servers. With this uncertainty of what the right settings should have been, and a super slow time to update records, it made a site move take about 10 hours longer than it should have. I don't think its Hostgators' fault, but I never have to wait longer than 20 - 30 minutes for DNS to update. Maybe its the network that Hostgator is being hosted from, or I was simply on a busy host with a busy name server.
Update Jan 2012. This is my host of choice at the moment and I think I'm going to be with them for a while. I've moved about 80% of my customers to it. I've been blown away by their level of support, it compares to liquidwebs and they are simply awesome. I've even got a discount for you if you want to use them. When you go to hostgator to buy your hosting, use coupon code Oscarstech25 and it will get you 25% off the sticker price.
Also, since I last wrote this post, they've fixed what I thought were a couple of DNS issues and the setup is now dead simple (as it should be) and extremely reliable.
InMotion Hosting. I learned about them at WordCamp LA 2009. I actually won a year of free hosting with their business class hosting plan. I'm using it for the development of the muychingon.com site that went down earlier this year for a facelift. So far they are fast, reliable and quick to work with. I think certain things are a little bit rough around the edges, but in general things work as they should and support is outstanding. Good as any other good host. They seem to have a lot of awards and stuff and they've been around for a while. I don't think they're going away anytime soon.
Do your shopping around. Take your time, if you're itching to get your content up and make it available to the world right away, why don't you setup a free account at WordPress.com, then you can take a little bit of time to really research your hosting options. Most of the prices you see advertised with super low rates like $3.99/month or something like that require you to pay two years in advance. You want to make sure you've made a good decision when you agree to a two year contract. Also, I recommend Dreamhost again in this regard, because you've got nothing to loose. They give you a 97 day return policy. That's 3 full months of time to completely take their service for a ride. Okay, enough about hosting and dreamhost... but I'm just sayin.
My previous article shows some of the questions I ask when checking out a new host or evaluating a current one.