WordPress and Shared Hosting

After I getting linked by several high-profile websites, the increased traffic has forced me to move twice. These notes describe my own experiences with WordPress and its needs. Individual WordPress installations vary in complexity, so your mileage may vary.

An Introduction to Blog Hosting Requirements

I was originally on Pair Networks, a reliable host that I’ve been with for almost 10 years. My website presence was largely for personal and business use, handling email only. This changed in late 2004, when I started my blog Better Living through New Media. Readership was up to about 100 people a day, through organic search and friends visiting, and Pair’s inexpensive Advanced web hosting plan was quite adequate. At $17.95/month, it is considerable more expensive than other popular WordPress hosts like DreamHost, BlueHost, A Small Orange and TextDrive, but it was the host I’ve been with for years. The WordPress developers have a list of webhosts also that you may want to look at.

When you are starting out, your needs will be pretty basic:

  • Disk space, measured in megabytes (MB) or gigabytes (GB, which is 1000MB). The WordPress install only takes 3MB, and custom themes may add another megabyte. If you’re hosting lots of photos, podcasts, or videos, you’ll want more space, but just about any hosting plan will give you enough space. My entire WordPress install is about 500MB currently.

  • Bandwidth, measured in GB/month or TB/month (terabytes, which is 1000GB). For a site getting started, you’ll probably see less than 1GB a month of “normal” use. However, it’s the abnormal conditions that you’ll have to look out for.

  • Apache, MySQL, and PHP are the base requirements to run WordPress on a web server. In the case of Pair, the cheapest plan that includes PHP and MySQL is the plan I was using.

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p>The focus of this note is not installing WordPress, but on the traffic levels and server load issues that may drive you to move. For installation help, visit the WordPress Codex.

Getting Started: Low Levels of Traffic

As I’ve said, you can get started with just about anything. When I started blogging, I installed StatCounter and used this to monitor the amount of traffic I was getting. One nice thing about StatCounter is that is also gives you a nice way of exploring the patterns within the traffic, which gives you an idea of what people are looking at. The three fundamental stats of web traffic are pageviews, unique visitors, and referrals. A pageview is a page loaded with all the accompanying graphics and text. A unique visitor is a person who’s been looking at your pages. A referral is where the person “came from”, for example another website or perhaps a search engine.

While these stats are all interesting, the one that matters when it comes to choosing a hosting plan is pageviews. When I got started, I had a count of about 10-20 pages a day, which rose to around 100-200 pageviews over the next year. The site remained responsive and snappy…though the pageviews were a lot to me, the server handled this without any problem.