Your WooCommerce hosting infrastructure defines the performance and experience of your online store. It becomes a differentiating factor for growth when your online store scales up to serve a large number of visitors and their orders. Similarly, the hosting solution you choose should not add complexities but is able to solve these challenges with flexibility and robustness.
Whether your WooCommerce store has just started getting traction or is in a hyper-growth phase, switching to another hosting provider is a mess. How do we know this? Through experience — every month our engineering team gets involved with a number of WooCommerce businesses to help them migrate over to Convesio.
So how do businesses fall into this pitfall? The simple answer is a lack of research and awareness about the best WooCommerce hosting solutions. Nowadays, it is very easy to confuse regular hosting with managed WooCommerce hosting solutions and for that reason, I am writing the following guide to help WooCommerce businesses identify the attributes of a true WooCommerce hosting solution.
Can Any Type of Hosting Work for WooCommerce?
This is the first question that the majority of WooCommere users think about. Followed by, where to start? What to choose? And if this is really what I need? All of the above questions are valid but in my opinion, the questions that are often missed are where am I as a business? And where do I see it in the next few years?
To make sense of the rest of the article, it is important that you take a moment and answer these questions.
Great! Now that you have some clarity, let’s look at the popular hosting models that WooCommerce businesses use so you can decide if that is right for you or not.
Shared WooCommerce Hosting
In shared hosting, a number of websites are hosted on a single server. These websites share server resources equally but do not necessarily consume them in a similar fashion. Since there is no fine distribution of resources, a large site hosted on a server can easily hogg resources and deprive other sites of computing power. This leads to frequent 504 errors when the server becomes unresponsive and your WooCommerce store goes offline.
The shared architecture also poses serious security issues to your WooCommerce store. There is no concrete way of stopping a compromised site from infecting the entire server. This leads to further damages in the shape of data loss and interrupted business operations. Due to a shortage of computational power, you will experience delays and a very slow WordPress admin. Updating the core is also challenging as not all shared hosting providers offer the latest versions of PHP and MySQL.
Shared WooCommerce hosting is cheap and easier to use. A large number of beginners and part-timers prefer shared hosting to host their WooCommerce stores. This solution is suitable for testing out the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) of your actual store, hosting a low traffic blog, or selling a few products to a very targeted market such as selling syllabus books to the students of a specific college.
VPS WooCommerce Hosting
In VPS hosting, multiple virtual servers are created inside a server. Unlike shared hosting, the computational power of the server like CPU, RAM, and storage is dedicated to each virtual machine. Although the overall resources of the server are the same, you do not have to worry about the consumption of other sites. Similarly, it is more secure as compared to shared hosting as each website is hosted inside its own virtual environment which gives it some level of isolation and protection against vulnerabilities.
VPS WooCommerce hosting is an affordable option when compared with dedicated servers, however, managing and running a VPS sometimes require additional skills unless it is managed by the provider. Scaling is also an issue with VPS hosting. The assigned resources are limited and do not scale with your business’s growth requirements. You can anticipate your requirements and pick a larger VPS server for your store but that can increase the hosting budget substantially when the server is being underutilized.
VPS hosting provides decent resources to power your WooCommerce store but the resources do not auto scale when demand increases or decreases. The hosting stack is built for the general web and you will need to do a lot of work in order to optimize it for WooCommerce along with server maintenance if you pick an unmanaged service.
Managed and Unmanaged Cloud WooCommerce Hosting
This is a VPS hosting on steroids. Cloud WooCommerce hosting is very much similar to VPS hosting with a few distinct features. Cloud computing is the latest and greatest technology for hosting sites. It ensures reliability through a network of servers that share resources and distribute load when needed to prevent the sites from going offline. It also offers better disaster recovery as compared to dedicated, VPS, or shared hosting.
When it comes to cloud hosting there are two popular variants — managed and unmanaged. In unmanaged cloud hosting you pick the provider of your choice for example Amazon or Google Cloud and configure everything by yourself. From installing the WooCommerce to set up the database and other pieces of software, you are in charge of everything. The same goes for troubleshooting the error and issues. Although your WooCommerce store is hosted on high-availability cloud infrastructure, you still have to do a lot of manual work to keep things running.
In managed cloud hosting simply subtract all the manual labor from above. You still get to host your WooCommerce store on one of the high-availability cloud infrastructure providers with everything is pre-configured for running a WooCommerce store. The hosting provider also updates and patches the server for you. Both unmanaged and managed cloud hosting is used by WooCommerce stores as it offers better performance, security, and reliability as compared to VPS. With managed WooCommerce hosting you can perform tasks like domain management, taking backups, and adding an SSL certificate with a click of a button.
What is Specialized WooCommerce Hosting?
So far we have looked at different options for hosting a WooCommerce site. All these options are capable of taking your store online and some of them even offer options to manage various aspects of your store. However, is this enough for running a successful online store? Or for a WooCommerce store that has growing requirements? Well, the simple answer is no.
Only the hosting solution that is built specifically for WordPress and WooCommcrce can guarantee the optimum performance, security, and scalability of your WooCommerce store. Compared to regular hosting, WooCommerce hosting contains all the required features as well as a selection of additional tools and services to enhance the user experience of your customers.
The specialized WooCommerce hosting is ideal for both mid-sized to enterprise-level online stores that can not compromise on the performance and security of their store. Since it is built to run WooCommerce, it gets all the latest updates and upgrades focused to deliver optimum performance. Another advantage of hosting your store with WooCommerce hosting is that you get expert support that has a strong knowledge of how things work on a WooCommerce site.
It is also significant to know the people behind the solution. For example, Convesio was designed, built, and is currently managed by the same people who have been in the WooCommerce business for decades. This enabled them to incorporate their extensive knowledge with the latest tech to solve the issues they have been solving for other WooCommerce stores for years.
The following section covers the features you should look for when selecting the best WooCommerce hosting provider for your business.
How to Choose the Best WooCommerce Hosting?
Picking the best WooCommerce hosting provider becomes easier if you understand what a successful high-performing WooCommerce store requires. The next step is to match these requirements with the features set of a hosting provider. If all boxes check then proceed with that best WooCommerce hosting provider.
WooCommerce stores are complex and I am not referring to the number of products or your monthly visitors. I am pointing at its dynamic architecture that by design is resource-intensive as compared to a non-WooCommerce site. There are performance and availability challenges that require well throughout strategies and a powerful backend to support every operation. Not just that, your WooCommerce store also needs multi-layer WordPress security in place that can protect it from vulnerabilities and data theft.
Let’s look at the features that are must-haves for your WooCommerce store.
WooCommerce Hosting Infrastructure
Underlying cloud infrastructure is responsible for powering the entire hosting platform. It is crucial that the infrastructure is not only powerful but also reliant to withstand the high-volume traffic and have coverage for maximum availability. All of this simply translates into a consistent high-performance and reliable online store.
Not everyone can benchmark all the available infrastructure providers out there against performance and availability. However, providers like Amazon, Google Cloud, DigitalOcean, and Steadfast are known and endorsed by industry leaders for their performance, availability, and coverage. For the same reason at Convesio, we host all our customer’s WooCommerce stores on AWS, Google Cloud, Steadfast, etc.
As a WooCommerce store owner, you should ask about the provider the hosting company uses for its hardware requirements and do they have data centers closer to your target market? Look for the uptime status in those regions and then take your decision. Remember, traditional caching alone can not make your store fast, you need a fast origin server as well as caching with special WooCommerce features for optimum performance (discussed later).
Important WooCommerce Hosting Features
Now that you understand the requirements to run a WooCommerce store, let’s look at the important features that the best WooCommerce hosting offers to fulfill these requirements.
It is essential for the WooCommerce hosting provider to offer an optimized hosting stack along with a powerful cloud infrastructure. This includes the core environment on which the WooCommerce runs as well as the software layer that boosts performance. A WooCommerce specific hosting ensures that your store runs on the latest PHP, MySQL, or MariaDB versions for both performance and security benefits.
At Convesio, we solve performance and scalability issues by hosting our customers’ WooCommerce stores on a container-based architecture where each component of the stack runs inside its own container. This unique approach allows us to scale resources instantly and across clusters of servers in case your store experience an unprecedented traffic surge. This scaling occurs automatically so your visitors experience a consistent user experience during their online buying journey.
Similarly, all our business and enterprise plans come with Cloudflare Enterprise features which is a premium suite of performance, security, and scalability services. We believe that traditional CDN is not effective with WooCommerce as the pages like cart, checkout, and dashboard can not be cached. Therefore, we couple our fast origin hosting with Cloudflare Enterprise to offer the best performance, global coverage, and reliability to your store’s customers.
Security is another big challenge for online stores that a WooCommerce hosting provider can solve through its design and strategy. Being the best WooCommerce hosting provider, Convesio is secure both by design and implements the best strategies to further harden the security of WooCommerce stores. The container-based design allows us to isolate every website hosted on a cluster while features like free SSL certificates, automated backups, custom access controls, and an advanced firewall keep your store and its data secured.
Convesio also has a robust monitoring system in place that comprises its own strict policies as well as 3rd party services like Patchman and Human Presence. These services allow us to monitor your store, fix vulnerabilities, detect malware and run updates that are crucial for securing your store.
Convesio integrates well with Cloudflare Enterprise which comes with an array of security features like advanced DDoS protection, rate limiting to protect against Bruteforce Attacks, bot protection, traffic filtration, and more.
A majority of the WooCommere stores struggle when their hosting does not scale and limits the growth of their business. Scalability features enable your store to draw additional computational power to serve a large number of visitors. True scalability does not require any manual labor and it scales up and down according to business requirements.
Convesio tackles this issue by offering auto scaling feature that is easily enabled from its platform. When enabled, this feature can expand your server resources up to 10 containers to accommodate a large number of concurrent visitors. Additional server resources prevent your store from loading slowly and offer the same persistent performance to every new visitor.
Convesio manages resources among clusters of servers through advanced load balancers and a custom caching mechanism. It also leverages Cloudflare Enterprise edge network and smart routing to serve global customer-based with minimum latency and maximum availability. Serving both static and dynamic assets from Cloudflare edge shaves off the load on the origin server so it can perform mission-critical tasks more efficiently.
A managed WooCommerce hosting also comes with a feature-packed platform to help its customers navigate through complex tasks conveniently. The best WooCommerce hosting does not limit its users and gives control to its customers to configure various services. The platform features compliments the managed experience hosting provider offers.
Convesio’s managed platform is an example of a perfect balance between the things that should be managed and the options that customers like to configure themselves. We omitted complexities and provide only those features that are essential for any WooCommerce store owner. The features are strategically divided into
- Domain Management: This allows you to point your custom domain conveniently.
- Security Settings: This contains settings for SSL certificates, access rules, and security options for protecting your site against vulnerabilities.
- Backup Management: An overview of existing backups, their snapshots, and the options for setting the intervals for automated WordPress backups.
- Containers Management: Here you can find the number of active containers, auto-scaling settings, and usage information.
System Settings: This contains settings for setting up SFTP access, PHP settings, cache settings, and phpMyAdmin for the database.