How to host your WordPress Site on a Budget
In this post, you will learn how you can host yoour WordPress Site on a Budget: for under 10 US dollars a year. Also find differnt ways to install WordPress on Shared Hosting as well as Virtual Private Servers (VPS). In November and early December 2020, I ran a variety of tests on different configurations of WordPress hosting ranging from Shares Hosting to OVZ and KVM VPS’es. This testing was self-motivated, because I wanted to see how frugal one can get in terms of pricing, not features.
My work culmiated in a blog post on LowEndSpirit, and a series of smaller posts on the LowEndspirit Forum. I decided to collate the smaller posts and publish them here, because I believe this work deserves as wide an audience as it can get.
Frugal WordPress Hosting
Blocksy theme on ClassicPress: giving a Frugal WordPress Website with a modern look.
Testing Different WordPress Hosting Combinations for less than US $ 10 a Year
For sake of simplicity, we will consider a new WordPress site, which has a blog with about 20 posts and around 100 images.
The reason for choosing this threshold is as follows: Most of the beginner to mid level bloggers may find it difficult to keep producing new content. After the first two or three months, producing content on a steady basis is a difficult ask.
ClassicPress- A fork of WordPress
Consider the case where the blogger is moderately familiar with managing their website. In other words, they could be a candidate for either shared hosting (not managed hosting) or even a small VPS with some hand holding. We will set a budget of US $ 10 a year for the WordPress Hosting. The assumption is that each of these hosting plans cost less than US $ 10 including any discounts if any.
For the purpose of our testing, we will only use the base (free) tier of the following:
Theme: Astra, Blocksy, GeneratePress, Neve or Hestia Plugins: Optimization, security and similar tools. The most common ones include : ShortPixel, WordFence, Database cleaner, All In One WordPress Migration. CDN: using either of: [Cloudinary](https://cloudinary.com) or [Imagify](https://imagify.io) for images and scripts. [Quic.Cloud](https://quic.cloud) for LiteSpeed based web hosting.
The hosting plans are a mix of the following:
- Shared hosting (with or without LiteSpeed server), - VPS (OVZ or KVM) with a script based installer using terminal, - VPS with a panel based GUI installer such as Cloudpanel or [HestiaCP](hestiacp.com).
Script based installer for VPS (OVZ or KVM)
– Our $10 a year threshold applies to website hosting only. The prices for paid version of themes, plugins, scripts and CDN might be much higher. I am a proponent of ‘pay if you find value’ when it comes to Freemium products or open source projects.
– Using ClassicPress instead of WordPress. ClassicPress is a fork of WordPress, which I have come to like in recent months. It is lightweight and useful for hosting with less resources.
Hosting Plans Tested for WordPress
Table compiled by Amar Vyas based on installation, configuration, and testing of WordPress sites. November/December 2020.
Note: I have also tested on the following configurations:
a. SmallWeb Singapore, 1 GB Plan ~ 10 US dollars / year b. Myw.pt 2 GB Plan "Lifetime" deal at ~ 12 US Dollars/ year c. Nexusbytes' ServedEZ 1 GB Plan, Germany ~ 12 US dollars/ year The above three are all LiteSpeed based shared hosting plans, expected results should be similar to the first installation in the table above. d. In addition, I also have a setup with 512 MB RAM, 4 Cpu plan from Inception Hosting. WordPress installation took several trials, but finally things worked well with WordOps. This VPS Plan It cost me 12 Euros (~ 15 US Dollars), which is higher than the US $ 10 threshold I have set for this post.
Pricing plans for WordPress Hosting “Specialists”
Below is a list of Web hosting comapnies that specialize in WordPress Hosting. Note their pricing plans start typically at US dollars 30 per month or higher.
Commands for Installation of ols1clk.
Results from Testing the different installations
For each of the options in the below table, we tested the following:
– Loading speed using Google Page Speed Insights or GTMetrix
– Website performance using K6 page load tester (similar to loader.io)
Based on the test results, below are my suggestions:
Shared Hosting for WordPress
Minimum Disk space: 2 GB (NVMe) or 5 GB (SSD) with LiteSpeed server/ LS Cache plugin and QUIC.Cloud OR non-LiteSpeed hosting with CDN (e.g.BunnyCDN) and optimization plugins.
VPS with Server Panels
Minimum specifications for VPS hosting WordPress with a server panel
Stress or Load Testing the Frugal Hosting Setups
I tested nearly every installation on key 6, a load testing simulator similar to Loader.io
The testing scenarios were run for:
a. Up to 40 concurrent visitors, 10 minute test duration
b. Up to 50 concurrent users, 5 minute test duration
Results of load test for shared hosting with LiteSpeed server/ LS Cache
Results of load test for shared hosting with ClassicPress on Gullo’s LittleVZ 512 MB Plan, Singapore
Note that the specifications and the test factor consider the early stages of your blog or website, say up to the first two years. As traffic builds up, you may want to move on to more robust resources. However, optimization of the scripts, images and using caching plugins, etc. you may be able to cater to the increased traffic for much longer.
Our focus here is on frugality without compromising on speed or security. Particularly for the advent of WordPress 5.6, which is. separate topic of discussion.
When Should you Upgrade?
My philosophy has always been that once an activity starts paying for itself, that is the time to invest further into it. But at the same time when choosing a hosting plan, account for least two or three times the capacity. That is you may yet be able to cater to up to 20,000 visitors a month with these setups without much challenge.
For example for LiteSpeed based hosting, Quic.cloud gives you 10 GB CDN traffic, optimization of 10,000 images and hosting / delivery of scripts for free. For entry level bloggers, these limits should be more than adequate.
Similarly, a gigabyte of RAM on a 1 VCPU KVM with atleast 10 GB disc space allows installation of a server panel, and WordPress for up to 3 sites with pagebuilder like Elementor. You can add a CDN and optimization plugins for greater efficiency and loading speeds.
Server Monitoring installed by WordOps
Part III- Takeaways
A WordPress site is a function of many moving parts, which include but not limited to, the following:
| Version of PHP on the server | version of MySQL or equivalent database |
| Which version fo WordPress is used | Theme: whether it is lightweight or a loaded / heavy weight one |
| What plugins you use | The specifications of the server itself (CPU, Ram, Disk space, network. Etc) |
| Scripts or any other functions that you may have added. | Firewall and security settings including Limit rating. |
| The type of site and content (media heavy site versus text heavy) | Use of Content delivery network for images, videos, scripts, etc |
| Caching | Traffic |
As you may realise, there is no single way to address all of the above. Therefore it is important to do your homework particularly for hosting. Optimized hosting, something that is not oversold something that offers hardware and software specifications that can cater to the traffic are some of the criteria I am talking about. Secondly, we need to have as lightweight a site as possible by that I mean not having too much of a bloat, which many of the stock theme and plugin installations tend to do. Third, constantly update your site for plugins themes security settings, etc, keep monitoring the performance. The sites can have many points of failure, it’s your job to make sure things go right.
Summing it all up: WordPress on a Budget
There are Christmas deals coming up you may yet be able to pick up a deal or two around the price range I have discussed for different hosting options. One of the motivations for writing this post was to offer you, the go to person whom friends family significant others approach for help with their website related matters.
That was my case a few years ago, when someone very near and dear to me wanted a website for their blog and they were adamant on using WordPress. And Thus began my journey int he maze called WordPress hosting, which led me literally down a rabbit hole. Personally, I am not a super fan of WordPress. But the sites for our podcasting business, and this blog use WordPress as poison of choice. These are hosted on PHP Friends VPS and managed using Gridpane.
I hope that my above experiments and learnings allow me to share with you some insights. Hope you will find one or more WordPress hosting options to suit to your taste.
As an aside, I recommend using WordPress upto version 5.5 only. As on Dcember 8, 2020; WordPress 5.6 was released and there are likely to be teething troubles with this new release.
Resources and further reading
Alternatives to k6 and Loader.io for Website load testing
I came across multiple resources, posting a few
Product Hunt: https://www.producthunt.com/alternatives/loader-io
Website Speed Tools
Note: You should create an account / sign in to select a server closer to your location. Default is on Google Chrome/ Desktop in Vancouver.
Page Speed Insights: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
Note: You can select server (destination) location on the page
All screenshots are taken from websites of respective providers. All other images are created by Amar Vyas in December 2020. For any questions. Comment or feedback about this post, you can write to the author at [email protected] amarvyas.comor on Twitter: @meamarvyas