WordPress has many wonderful features, but out-of-the-box speed isn’t among them. Compared to a “normal” static HTML site, self-hosting WordPress on a typical inexpensive hosting site such as Bluehost, Namecheap, A2 Hosting, etc., sometimes can leave you wondering if your pages are ever going to load.
Not surprisingly — given the popularity of WordPress — there are plug-ins, step-by-step tutorials, and even entire companies dedicated to getting WordPress to display pages to visitors quickly. Conventional wisdom dictates that you must employ some or all of the various tricks available to improve your WordPress site’s performance. I’ve tried a lot of them, without finding anything worth the effort.
It turns out that you don’t need any of these tips, tricks, or techniques. What you need is a better hosting company.
If you really want better WordPress performance in one easy step, you can switch to WP Engine. For $30 per month, they’ll take care of just about everything except new content (including things you haven’t thought of, such as integrated staging and the best automated site migration in the business), and your WordPress site will be fast and secure.
However, if you want a fast WordPress site and you don’t want to spend $30 per month, you can equal or better WP Engine’s speed by hosting your site on Digital Ocean (sign up through this link and receive $10 in credit.)
For as little as $5 per month, you can have a screaming fast (like, blink and you’ll miss it) WordPress site. Yeah, I know; it sounds too good to be true. Here is the downside:
You have to manage the server yourself, including setting up the server software and handling security issues.
Fortunately, there is help available on both of these issues.
For setting up the server and installing WordPress, there’s ServerPilot.
ServerPilot makes setting up your Digital Ocean server a breeze. Best of all, if you’re a small fry, ServerPilot is free. You can’t beat it.
There’s still the security issue, which you can handle with a two-pronged approach.
Step 1: Install the Jetpack WordPress plug-in.
Let’s be clear: You should be using Jetpack anyway (you have to check out the Photon feature), so the built-in security options are just gravy.
But while Jetpack does a great job of keeping the bad guys out of your site, they can still get to your site, possibly overwhelming it to the point where no one else (not even you) can gain access.
That’s where Step 2 comes in: Cloudflare.
Cloudflare replaces your current DNS provider, and a lot more, making Cloudflare your first line of defense. But in addition to providing world-class site protection, Cloudflare has the fastest DNS response time I’ve ever seen — even faster than Digital Ocean’s built-in DNS, which is itself very, very fast.
So if you want fast and you want cheap, Digital Ocean is the way to go for WordPress hosting. It will take you a few minutes to set up accounts on Digital Ocean and ServerPilot (you can also do a one-click WordPress install within Digital Ocean, if you prefer), but from there on get ready for speed. Adding security via Jetpack and Cloudflare also improve site speed, so there’s no reason to go unprotected.