Hosting doesn't matter? Yes, it does! Or why WordPress is so slow.

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I like WordPress and also trains

WordPress is an amazing system. Yes, you heard right. I've been creating websites since 1999, when I wrote my first websites on a white notepad background. I changed the txt ending in the notepad to the magical .html right after I saved my changes so I could see what I had actually created. And that's how I did it over and over again. Web development back then was absolutely different than today, it was especially time consuming, and the possibilities of HTML without CSS were also very limited. Hosting was also related to that.

Most hosting plans offered similar parameters plus or minus, so you could decide mainly on the credibility of the provider and the price. With a few exceptions, you basically couldn't go wrong and the parameters were fairly easy to read even for a not-so-knowledgeable user.

With the advent of PHP, other scripting languages, and the overall growth of dynamic applications, there have been significant changes in parameter estimation. I won't describe here the technical parameters for different applications, because I don't know all of them and it wouldn't be an interesting reading. We will focus only on WordPress, on which we currently run most of our clients' websites and a few of our own.

Insertion for people (meaning normal people who are not detached from reality like web designers)

How does WordPress work? For a better understanding, let's go back in time. As I wrote in the first paragraph, the way you used to create a site was to write code that was in HTML and save it in a file with an extension of .html. You uploaded this file to a server somewhere, entered an address, the server sent you the file, and the browser translated the HTML code into graphical form. And suddenly you had a super static page where the ultimate highlight of everything was scrolling text. By the very nature of the thing, it's obvious that these pages did not and could not respond to dynamic events. If you wanted to make a change, you needed to edit the HTML file and only then did the change appear. Thus, the demands on the web server were mostly limited to the space and speed of the connection to the backbone.

And how does it work today? Today, the web is full of dynamically changing applications and apps that respond to almost any interaction. This is also the case with WorPress, which no longer runs on HTML alone. It is now in version 5 and can do unimaginable things compared to the original version. Dynamic websites, including WordPress, generate content based on queries. In practice, in very simplistic terms, this means that you connect to a server, it sends a request to run a PHP file, which is much more complex than HTML and can process and generate, compute and manipulate content and data in various ways. The PHP file is processed by a PHP compiler (yes, I'm aware that this is not a technical term), which, based on the instructions, generates an HTML file and sends it to your browser, which displays it as in the previous example. The screen will then display the desired content with, for example, the latest videos of cats playing the keys. Of course, the whole process is much more complex. In the case of cat videos, you have to reach into the database, retrieve the video, see if you want to show an ad, etc.

So are you gonna tell us now?

It is clear that the requirements for web hosting have changed a lot and today it is no longer enough to go by basic parameters such as disk size or price. So, you ask, when will I finally tell you what matters and what to look for? Now, of course. That's why you're here, isn't it?

One of the basic parameters when purchasing hosting is whether it runs on SSDs. Size, as I wrote in the previous case, I do not care too much. Most web hosts today offer flexible space and unless I am building an e-shop with thousands of items and millions of images, the size of the disks is sufficient for me. In the case of a massive e-shop, I should still take a different path than with traditional hosting, but more on that next time. So for me, an SSD drive means both better data access times and that the provider is renewing the infrastructure and moving with the times, which is a good sign in the case of technology.

Another selection criterion, and for me a crucial one, is PHP itself, especially in the case of WordPress. As already mentioned, the whole WordPress is based on PHP, and therefore its efficiency and ultimate agility is determined by the performance of PHP. The performance of a site is not only affected by the disk and CPU speed of the server, a significant part is also the PHP settings on the server itself. One of the things to look at when acquiring hosting is the PHP version. Today we already have version 7.4.3, so the version provided by the hosting should not be too different and outdated. Other criteria are then the very specific instances and limits of PHP hosting, where the simple rule is the more the better. The first is the PHP memory_limit, which is the memory limit for PHP. Specific memory is needed when executing PHP scripts, so a low limit can cause problems for more complex solutions and premature termination of tasks associated with website malfunction. For peace of mind, the number should be at least 90 to 512 MB. Personally, however, I would focus on hosting with at least 128 MB. Another equally important thing is PHP max_execution_time. Here again, it is about how long the PHP processor will allow the script to execute. Some more demanding tasks require even longer execution times, but if this limit is not sufficient, the site may be functionally limited and some more complex scripts may not run out of time. Your site may then be full of errors and you will lose hard-earned visitors. Simply put, don't look for hosting where this value is below 60 seconds, or seconds.

With the technical parameters behind us, which you can find out from the hosting description usually before you buy, we must not forget the equally important part, which is technical/customer support. Although the hosting parameters may be ideal in your opinion, there are still quite a number of PHP modules that will need to be activated or their settings adjusted in certain cases. While it's not for everyone, it can significantly speed up the operation of your website. In these cases, it is then useful to have tech support that will be quick and sympathetic to you customers, without which any tech support itself might not exist at all. Indeed, some companies, or rather their employees, fail to realize this fact, and so it happens that relatively technically good hosting sites lose points here.

So what did I mean by that?

I'm deliberately not naming bad inns here that are best avoided. Since positivity is the trend today, I'd like you to be in a good mood and not have your day ruined by pointing out the naughty people in the hosting industry. So how to choose the right hosting? With us, because we do the best hosting. Sure, it's a bit of self-promotion, but we only offer our hosting to our customers and the projects our clients order from us. This hosting is tuned to WordPress, and because sky has no limit (by which I meant to imply the infinity of possibilities), so if something is missing, we deploy it immediately. Currently, all of our sites run on PHP 7.4.3, which for the more observant of you is the latest PHP.   

Don't despair

If you are not yet our customer, you can easily become one. It doesn't matter if you want to create a simple website or a large-scale project. You can always expect perfect service. To start working with us, just fill in form or just give us a call and we'll get started.

If you decide to create a website on your own, I will give you a piece of advice. In order to make your work go smoothly and to make sure everything is on a good foundation, we recommend OneBit hosting. Before we switched to our infrastructure, we had all the sites there. They're smart guys, from Brno. And if it's enough for Kofola (yes, it's really hosted there), it's enough for us and for you too.

Thanks everyone for your attention and I'll look forward to the next chat.


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