I get asked this question a fair amount, so I'm posting a series of great articles on the topic here.
UPDATE: We finally wrote a FULL article on this ourselves. Please read this FIRST:
Why is Shared Hosting a Problem?
First, you should be aware that shared hosting is very cost effective and popular, but it isn't a very good solution for sites that want a large-ish amount of data, or that have a fair amount of traffic. What's large-ish? Over 1000 listings for BD. What's Fair Amount? More than 5000 visitors/month. The bottom line: Shared hosting is cheap, but lacks the resources you probably will need to run a production site with WordPress and Business Directory installed when you have traffic + data. In my experience, you get what you pay for with WP hosting. Shared hosting is not what we recommend for established, trafficked sites. You will see too many random problems (such as white screens, 500 errors, invalid data showing up on the screens, and so on) that are easily fixed by upgrading the server.
Shared hosts will say that plugins like ours is the problem and that you have "plenty of RAM and disk space". However, these are NOT the limiting factors on shared hosting. What limits you is:
- Database query time
- Database query size
- PHP execution time
These are ALL limited on shared hosting. They will make any plugin look bad that is trying to pull and render a larger set of data.
The first thing you should do is read up on shared hosting vs. other options. Here's a great article on the trade offs with shared hosting:
And a great article walking you through the various server options (Shared, VPS, Dedicated):
Finally, Chris Lema, a noted WordPress business expert, walks through a MASSIVE set of options for choosing a WordPress host, including a really awesome set of tools that help manage hosting as well:
I highly recommend reading them all.
What can I do about it?
Your options are as follows:
- Upgrade to VPS hosting (we recommend a minimum of 128MB of RAM, but really 256MB is better to start. The actual numbers will depend greatly on your site, the content, traffic and amount of listings. 256MB is just a suggested starting point for new sites!)
- Upgrade to better WP-based hosting, like WPEngine (http://wpengine.com), GoDaddy Managed WP Hosting (https://www.godaddy.com/hosting/wordpress-hosting) or Pagely (http://pagely.com)
- Upgrade to a dedicated server where you control ALL resources (Amazon AWS, Rackspace, Azure)
Shared hosting won't do you any favors with a site that has existing traffic, or you want to display large number of listings. In some cases, you might even be in a situation with shared hosting that you can't install or run your site at all because you're stuck on a server that has a "busy neighbor" on the same machine stealing all your resources. There's no such thing as a free lunch with shared hosting, unfortunately.
EDIT: Here is a comparison site (reasonably unbiased!) of hosting companies: http://reviewsignal.com/webhos.....mpare#tab1
The first tab is shared hosting, some notable observations:
The BEST shared hosting provider rated 75% overall (compared with 95+% on Cloud providers, like WPEngine!)
The highest rating for shared hosting in support was 82%, but MOST averaged around 50-60%.
Uptime for shared hosting averaged around the 70-80% range, which if you're running a serious site, is atrocious!
EDIT 2: WooThemes came up with a great article: Questions to Ask Before Recommending A Web Hosting Solution. A great read--worth your time to educate yourself (or a client!) on what may benefit everyone.
Look at the data and make a decision based on that...price is only one of many factors in successful hosting.
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