What is cPanel and How to Choose a WordPress Hosting Provider

What is cPanel?

cPanel stands for “control panel.” cPanel is a software that helps you easily manage your WordPress website and hosting account. You can use cPanel to:

  • Managing website files
  • Setting up email accounts & auto responders
  • Create Sub Domains
  • Create Parked Domains
  • Create Add-on Domains
  • Check Web Stats, and a lot more

cPanel software is one of the most popular web hosting control panels. cPanel offers a user friendly point-and-click interface that’ll help you customize your WordPress website and create professional email accounts.

GoDaddy offers similar a software for shared hosting called HCC (hosting control center.) Both software’s offer similar features, but the layout is different. I’ll discuss the setting for both cPanel and GoDaddy’s Hosting Control Center because a lot of people use GoDaddy as well.

The most useful feature that cPanel and HCC offer is the “One-Click Applications” feature. The “One-Click Applications” feature will allow you to easily install WordPress on your web hosting account. All you have to do is answer a few questions and click the “install” button.

You should now have a basic idea of what cPanel is. The next step is to find a web host that offers cPanel and also specializes in WordPress web hosting. In the next section, I’ll help you put together a list of web hosts that specialize in WordPress hosting.

It’s very important to choose the best WordPress hosting provider based on your needs. If you choose the wrong host, you’ll end up wasting a lot of time and money. In the next section we’ll discuss:

  • Types of hosting
  • Important features
  • Technical support
  • Special features
  • Policies

Types of WordPress Hosting

If you don’t have a WordPress hosting provider yet, then I’ll give you a few tips to help you choose the right host. Before you choose a web host, you need to understand the differences between the 3 basic types of web hosting:

  • Shared Hosting
  • VPS Hosting
  • Dedicated Hosting

Shared Hosting

The most popular type of web hosting is “Shared Hosting” Shared hosting means that there are many websites hosted on a single server. Shared hosting is the cheapest type of web hosting because multiple website owners are sharing the cost of the server.

If you plan on starting a small to medium sized website, then shared hosting will be the best option for you. If you’re also starting a website for the first time and you’re on a tight budget, then shared hosting is the best option as well.

Shared web hosting will usually cost between $3 – $15/month. Some web hosts will try to charge as much as $40/month for shared hosting, but that’s too much money. WordPress is a very simple script, and it doesn’t require that many resources to host a WordPress website.

On average, most people pay about $7/month for WordPress hosting annually. With a small investment of about $84, you can prepay your web hosting account for an entire year.

The only drawback to shared web hosting is that everybody on your designated server is “sharing” the resources. So if someone on your shared hosting account has a huge spike in website visitors, this could cause your website to load slower or act sluggish.

This generally isn’t a problem because there are administrators watching the web servers 24/7. If someone is consistently sucking up all the resources on a shared hosting account, the hosting provider will contact the offender and make them upgrade to VPS or Dedicated hosting.

VPS Hosting

VPS stands for “virtual private server” VPS hosting takes a single server and divides it into 2 or more virtual web servers. Each virtual web server acts as if it’s an independent machine, and it doesn’t share resources.

Since you’re not sharing resources or disk space, your website will run a lot faster. Your website is also more secure with VPS hosting compared to shared web hosting. With shared hosting, if a hacker gains access to one website the server, the hacker could cause problems for everybody sharing the same server.

With VPS hosting, everything is on you! You can install stronger security measures and you have full control over your virtual machine. There are several different packages for VPS hosting depending on how much disk space you need. The good thing about VPS hosting is that you can easily upgrade to more disk space without moving your website to a new server.

The drawback to VPS hosting is that you need to have some experience with web host administration. Your web host will give you access to the server to upload/download whatever software you want. If you don’t know what you’re doing, then you’ll end up confused.

If you’re new to web hosting, then this probably isn’t a good option. If you really think you’ll need a VPS because of the type of business you’re starting, then you can always opt for a Managed VPS. A Managed VPS means that someone at the data center will manage the server for you to make sure everything is set up correctly based on your business.

VPS hosting can cost anywhere between $30 – $150/month depending on your needs. If you expect to receive large amounts of website visitors and you need to handle the traffic, then you should go with VPS hosting. If you don’t have time to learn web hosting administration, then opt for the “Managed VPS” and you’ll be fine.

Dedicated Server

A dedicated server is like a VPS except the machine isn’t divided. With dedicated hosting, you receive an entire web server to yourself. Dedicated servers allow you to do anything you want; the entire server is yours. You’re basically renting an entire machine from the web host, and they’re just keeping it cool for you in there air conditioned data center.

This is the most expensive type of hosting. Huge websites like Facebook, Amazon, Pinterest, and all the other big names use dedicated servers. They actually use multiple dedicated servers because they can’t afford to have their websites crash or go offline. Dedicated servers cost between $100 – $500/month.   

Searching For WordPress Web Hosting

There are thousands of web hosting companies that can host a WordPress website. Before choosing a hosting provider, here are some of the most important features that you’ll need to consider:

Disk Space

Disk space measures how much information you can store on the server. Most web hosts will give you a lot more disk space that you’ll ever need. A basic WordPress website usually only has a few static pages like a contact page, about us page, terms and conditions page, sales page, and then a blog.

If you plan on creating a dynamic website that has a lot of videos, mp3 files, and photos, then you’ll probably need 2 or 3 gigabytes (GB) of disk space. Usually the cheapest shared hosting plan comes with at least 10 gigabytes of disk space, so you’ll still have way more than enough disk space.

If you’re still unsure how much disk space you’ll require, don’t worry about it. I’ll refer you to a few WordPress hosts that offer UNLIMITED disk space for your WordPress website.

Bandwidth

Bandwidth is a measure of how much data is transferred to and from your hosting account. Some web hosts may refer to bandwidth as a “Transfer Limit” and it’s measured in gigabytes. Your bandwidth is consumed anytime someone visits your website and clicks around visiting multiple pages.

Your bandwidth is also consumed when you upload photos, videos, WordPress themes, WordPress plugins, check your email, and so on. Most people never use up their disk space, but some people have been known to use up their bandwidth.

Your bandwidth limit is reset once per month, so you have to stay within your allotted bandwidth limits for about 30 days. If you go over your bandwidth limits, it’ll be rather expensive to purchase more bandwidth. Once again, don’t worry about it. I’ll refer you to a few WordPress hosts the offer UNLIMITED bandwidth so you’ll never go over the limit.

MySQL Databases

Databases are used to store information. Web programs called “Scripts” usually require a database to store information, and databases get accessed daily. Databases are important because WordPress will require at least one database to function on your web host.

20 – 30 databases should be more than enough because most NEW WordPress users only use 1 database. At the very most, I personally only use about 6 databases even though I have a hosting plan that offers unlimited databases. I’ll refer you to a WordPress host that offers UNLIMITED MySQL Databases if you want to play it safe.

My Top 3 Recommended WordPress Hosts

Based on the previous section, some of the most important features to consider when choosing a WordPress hosts are:

  • ·Disk Space (at least several gigabytes)
  • Bandwidth (the more, the better)
  • MySQL Databases (a WordPress website requires at least 1 database)

With that in mind, you’ll understand why I’m recommending the following WordPress hosts for new WordPress users.

1.) Bluehost $6.95 – $7.95/month (#1 Recommended by WordPress.org)

Bluehost offers: 

  • cPanel
  • Unlimited Domain Hosting (including Databases) 
  • Unlimited GB Hosting Space (Disk Space)
  • Unlimited GB File Transfer (Bandwidth)
  • Unlimited Email Accounts
  • Free Domain Name (1st year only)
  • 24/7 Phone, Chat, Email Support · VPS Hosting
  • Dedicated Hosting

Bluehost gives you unlimited everything, you’ll get a free domain name, they have cPanel, and they have 24/7/365 customer support. Bluehost is also well established since 1996, and that’s right around the time when the internet started to become popular. Bluehost is extremely easy to use, and that’s one of the reasons why they are the #1 recommended web hosts by WordPress.org.

Bluehost used to only offer shared hosting, but they’ve recently started offering VPS and Dedicated Hosting as well. Check out their website now for more details.

2.) GoDaddy $2.99 – $7.49 (Current discounted prices)

GoDaddy offers 3 different hosting packages for WordPress users. They have an Economy Package, Deluxe Package, and Ultimate Package.

Economy Plan $2.99/month

  • 100 GB space
  • Unlimited Bandwidth
  • 100 email accounts
  • 10 MySQL Databases
  • HCC (Hosting Control Center)
  • 24/7 Phone & Email Support
  • Month-to-month hosting available

Do not choose the Economy Plan. Although they offer 10 MySQL databases, you can only host ONE website on that plan. If you decide to start a new website, you’ll have to buy new hosting package for your new website.

Deluxe Plan $4.49/month

  • Unlimited Space
  • Unlimited Websites & Bandwidth · 500 Email Accounts
  • 25 MySQL Databases
  • HCC (Hosting Control Center)
  • 24/7 Phone & Email Support
  • Month-to-month hosting available

The Deluxe plan gives you the best value for your money. This plan is similar to the hosting package offered by Bluehost. This plan is currently on sale for $4.49/month, but it’s usually about $8/month just like Bluehost.

Ultimate Plan $7.49/month

  • Unlimited Websites, Space, & Bandwidth 
  • Unlimited Email Accounts
  • Unlimited MySQL Databases
  • HCC (Hosting Control Center)
  • Website Accelerator
  • Free SSL Certificate (So you can securely accept credit cards online) 
  • 24/7 Phone & Email Support
  • Month-to-month hosting available

If you decide to go with GoDaddy, then choose either the Deluxe or Ultimate Plan. GoDaddy also offers VPS Hosting and Dedicated Hosting.

As I mentioned earlier in this guide; most shared hosting accounts usually costs in between $3 – $15 month, so prices are subject to change. If GoDaddy increases their price by the time you read this guide, then can use the promo code: WOW24720. That promo code will discount 20% off your first purchase if you’re a new GoDaddy customer.

If the promo code above doesn’t work, just ask the customer service rep to find a promo code for you. GoDaddy is always offering some type of special promotion to save you money. Check out their website now for more details.

3.) InMotion Hosting 5.99 – $13.99/month

InMotion offers 3 different hosting packages just like GoDaddy. Their packages are called Launch, Power, and PRO. Just like GoDaddy, their introductory package won’t allow you to create that many websites. If you decide to host with InMotion, choose the Power or Pro package. Here’s a list of features:

  • cPanel
  • Unlimited Disk Space
  • Unlimited GB File Transfer (Bandwidth) 
  • Spam Safe Email
  • Data Backup every 24 hours
  • Host up to 25 websites on one account
  • Max Speed Zone Technology

The reason InMotion makes our list is because they offer Speed Zone Technology. InMotion allows you to choose the data center that hosts your website. So if you’re on the east coast, you can choose a data center on the east coast and your website will perform faster. They also have a data center on the West Coast, so if you live on the west coast you can choose that data center.

If you live within InMotion’s MAX Speed Zones, your website will move lighting fast. You’ll have to check their website to find out if you’re within their max speed zones or not. This type of hosting is perfect if you have a local business. All your local customers will have a great user experience when viewing your website. The faster your website, the better!

InMotion offers special discounts weekly because they need to stay competitive just like everybody else. Check out InMotions website now for more details.

Do Your Own Research

The WordPress hosts I’ve recommended are excellent based on personal experience. You should always do your own research before deciding on a hosting provider.

There are thousands of web hosts, so it’s impossible for anybody to try them all and call one particular host “the best.” You should read reviews online about different web hosts, and then narrow down your selection to three hosting providers.

Make sure that you select a web host that specializes in WordPress and offers cPanel/Hosting Control Center. The best way to search for hosting providers is to use Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Search for the phrases:

1.) WordPress hosting

2.) cPanel hosting

3.) Best WordPress hosting providers

You can also visit WordPress.org and you’ll see a list of their top recommended WordPress hosting providers. After you do your own research, I guarantee that you’ll see Bluehost, GoDaddy, and InMotion mentioned everywhere.

After you make a list of the top 3 web hosts that you’re interested in; the next step is to call each host and ask them a lot of questions. In the next section, I’ll cover some important questions that you’ll need the answers too before you make your final decision.

What Type of Customer Support is Available?

Customer support is very important. My cousin decided to use a no-name budget hosting company to save about $60/year. She may have saved $60, but it took her almost two weeks to install WordPress on her hosting account.

The web host she used didn’t have the “one-click install” feature for WordPress, and they didn’t offer 24/7 free tech support to help her. She was only paying $1/month for web hosting, but was it really worth it? Every time she called the hosting company, there was a 50/50 chance if someone would pick up the phone or not. She eventually had to switch hosting companies so she wasted her time and money.

Before choosing a WordPress host, you need to find out what type of support they offer. For example, if you’re having problems installing WordPress, will they help you install the software?

Does the web hosts offer 24/7 customer support? Your website will be available 24/7 so it makes sense to have 24/7 hosting support depending on your business. Some hosting providers offer 24/7 customer support, but if you call at 3 am, nobody is there to pick up the phone.

What type of customer support does the web host offer? Some web hosts will only offer email support and will take up to 24 hours to respond. Can your business wait 24 hours to get a problem handled? I know I can’t wait 24 hours if something goes wrong with one of my websites. I need my problems fixed right away, so I need 24/7/365 phone support available at all times.

If your website goes down, are you patient enough to wait 24 hours for an email response? If the answer is “No” then you should choose a host that offers 24/7 phone support; or at least a reasonably short guaranteed response time by email.

Hosting Policies and Guarantees

I know a few people that wanted to start an Adult and Gambling website. Some web hosts will not allow these types of websites, so you should read the “Terms of Service” before you choose a web host. If you’re still not sure, then call the web host to verify what type of content they allow.

For example, I know for a fact that Bluehost will not allow adult related websites at all. One of the reasons for this is that most shared hosting accounts are sharing the same IP address. So if someone on a shared hosting account uploads illegal porn, the IP address could get banned or black-listed and that can affect everybody on the server that’s sharing the same IP address.

What about Money Back Guarantees?

Most WordPress hosts should offer a 30-day money back guarantee. If their web hosting service is “so amazing” then they should be happy to let you try their service for 30 days risk free.

You’ll also need to find out how a potential web host handles prepaid accounts. For example, if you pay for a full year of hosting and you decide to cancel 2 months later; will the web host give you a pro-rated refund? Some hosts don’t offer pro-rated refunds or any refunds at all. So make sure you ask about their refund policies before you purchase web hosting from anybody.

Special Offers

Some WordPress hosting providers offer free perks if you sign up with them. You need to always read the terms and conditions before you accept any special offers. Actually it’s better to call the web host and ask them what the stipulations are to any “free” offers. Some common free offers include:

Free Domain Name

Some WordPress hosts will offer you a free domain name. 90% of the time the “free” domain name is only free for the first year. After the first year, you’ll have to re-register the domain yourself which will cost between $8-$15/year depending on your domain registrar.

The price of a domain name varies depending on which web host you‘re using. Some web hosts will have a flat fee of $10/year for all domain names while other hosts will only charge you $2/year for a domain. The price difference usually depends on the domain name extension. For example, .net, .info, .us, and .org are usually less expensive than a .com domain name.

Web hosts usually give you a free domain name when you sign up for a 1 year prepaid hosting account. If you decide to leave the web hosts within the first year, they may not release your domain name and keep it. That will cause a major problem if you’ve spent a lot of time promoting that domain name.

If you’re not sure if you’ll stay with a web host for at least a year, then you should register your own domain and decline to use the free domain. You can purchase your domain name separately from a domain registrar like NameCheap or GoDaddy.

Free SSL Certificates

SSL certificates encrypt your website so you can securely accept credit cards. Free SSL certificate promotions usually work the same way as free domain promotions. The SSL is free for the first year and then you’ll have to re-register the following year at your own expense.

You should find out how much the SSL certificate costs to make sure you can afford it. Depending on how you set up your payments with the web host, they might automatically charge your debit card to re-register the SSL certificate after it expires.

A basic SSL certificate can cost anywhere from $60 – $100/year. Depending on your financial situation, an unexpected charge on your debit card for $60 – $100 might cause a problem. If you really need the SSL certificate, keep close track of the expiration date so you’re ready to renew it after the free period expires.

Referral Programs

Some web hosts will offer you special discounts, referral fees, or even free hosting if you refer your friends to them. If you find a web host that you like, find out if they offer a referral program. With some web hosts, you’ll only need to refer about 3 people per year to cover your web hosting fees for the year.

Once again, make sure you ask plenty of questions before you decide on a WordPress hosting provider. The most important feature is always customer support for new website owners. As a new webmaster, you’ll probably need to call customer support a lot in the beginning to help you troubleshoot minor issues.

You should now have an idea of what to look for when choosing a WordPress hosting provider. Narrow your list down to at least 3 choices and choose the best one based on your needs. In the next chapter I’ll give you an overview of cPanel and your Hosting Control Center.

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