Preparing to build a WordPress site or two

I looked at a video tutorial on how to make a WordPress site. I am planning to pay for hosting and register a domain and install a responsive theme. I’ve got a lot of goals in mind with this, and I want to be able to have some fun with it. I have two ideas running around in my head right now, “waxwealthy” a blog about debt, financial products and news as well as careers and attitudes about value, time and stuff. The other idea is “rock bottom” that blog will talk about addiction/recovery, legal challenges and social challenges facing people who have met misfortune with losing their things, family, jobs, or whatever.

Tell me what you think!

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First and foremost, who do you like for hosting? Are all web hosting companies the same, and it’s all about seeking the tiniest pricetag?

Oh wow! You are starting on such an exciting journey!

So, the question of hosting is a good one. All hosting is definitely not equal.

There are 3 options! It’s almost exactly like creating a new game, you have three difficulty levels. Easy, Medium, Hard.

Easy. Just use You can create a blog for for free, you can choose the subdomain so it’s still a unique place on the web ( for example), but it is a turnkey service. You log in, create your blog, and BAM you are writing.

Medium. Shared Hosting. This is more involved. Often you will be given, at the least, FTP access to your server. You can connect via an FTP client, and basically drag and drop files to your server. The hosting company will be taking care of ensuring your database software and web server software is running appropriately.

Hard. “Real” Server hosting. I say real because I can’t think of the correct term atm. But! with a service like Digital Ocean, they will create a server for you, then you log into the server via console, and you set up the various pieces of software needed to turn that server into a web server, ready to install WordPress. Then, you can install WordPress.

Personally, I have both some shared hosting and servers I have total control over. I use Dreamhost for my shared hosting, and Digital Ocean for my "real"servers. Both of the previous links should give you discounts on their hosting costs. (And, full disclosure, I get a small credit to my account).

Whichever way you go, feel free to ask questions and I’ll do my best to answer them.

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Thanks for the think butter Tim!

For completeness sake, there is a fourth option: managed hosting. This is specific to WordPress (and is slowly making its way to other platforms, like Drupal). This is like, where the WordPress software is managed by a company, but you can make changes to the site like you would in shared or full hosting (full = “real” or self-hosted, as it may be).

The downside to this is that it is often expensive. However, there are a few services that make it kinda worth it. What is your budget? I think of yearly budgets, so $10 - $80 for a domain/year. And then $5-$$$ /month. If you spend $10 a month, and get a .com, that is something around $150/year, all told. Note that discounts your own time, but you are in learning mode, so you time learning is valuable for doing so.

I’d check out WordPress Hosting – Top Security and Speed Managed by Experts, which is managed, but is relatively inexpensive. Also, I want to see someone host there! So take that with a grain of salt. :slight_smile:

Also, if you reach 1,000 visitors a month, we can talk about hosting with me. That is my new lower bar, since my infrastructure is suited for high volume sites, and has diminishing returns for anything smaller than that (really, more like 10,000/month, but you build for growth, right?).

Just wanted to point out that I tried out SiteGround and ended up canceling my account after a week. They couldn’t give me proper ssh access, and their support folks couldn’t figure it out.

For WordPress sites in the sub-1000 hits/month zone, I’d probably recommend DreamHost, their shared plans. DreamPress is nice, but not required for a new site.

Hi, I have a follow-up question. Like Tim, I’m also experimenting with setting up a website, and I’ve decided to try out “real” server hosting with digital ocean. When setting up a “droplet” it gives me a lot of options for images. Does anyone have a good recommendation for which operating system I should choose?

What are the different things that lead people to choose one or another?

A long while ago someone gave me pretty solid advice, and it applies to choosing the OS for both a server and a personal computer: go with your friends’ religion.

I say that, so when we say go with Ubuntu, we aren’t saying it because it is particularly better, but mainly because we all use it and therefore will be more capable and inclined to assist you. :slight_smile:

Of the distros available from Digital Ocean, you can safely disregard FreeBSD and CoreOS. They are fine systems, but for your purposes you want to stick to ones that have tons of docs that cover your use case. CoreOS (which I believe is now called Container Linux) is for, well, containers, which is overkill for a website like yours. FreeBSD is a different flavor of UNIX-like spice, and while parts of it are in your Mac, it has a specific community and use cases that aren’t focused as much on WordPress hosting.

That leaves the other four (from your screenshot), and from those you have two families: Debian/Ubuntu and Fedora/CentOS(/RedHat).

Fedora is one of my favorite distros, because they are opinionated in the same way I am with the desktop, but their web servers have defaults that I find difficult to configure, in part because I don’t use it very often. CentOS is an enterprise-y version of that, and both of them are part of the RedHat family, which is cool because RedHat is one of the most successful open source companies in existence. If you going with the OpenShift platform (more containers!), I would suggest checking it out.

Finally, Ubuntu and its awesome parent Debian. Debian is a popular and useful project, and Ubuntu is the mainstream version of it, created by Canonical to appeal to computing consumers. For a very long time it was the most popular distro, and since then all the popular distros have been based on Ubuntu, so that is saying something.

Ubuntu as a server is a very popular choice, in part because developers were using the desktop personally, and also because Canonical marketed and partnered the hell out of Ubuntu, and nearly any web app will run, with specific support for Ubuntu.

That is actually why I use it: over the years as I ran into an issue for either my PC or a server, almost all the solutions are for Ubuntu, and sometimes packages are available for Ubuntu in lieu of other distros. You are getting into web servers at an interesting time, when we are seeing alternative package managers for installing software appear, and leading the pack are snaps, the de facto choice for Ubuntu.

Anyhow, that was a long-winded mini-history on what all those distros are, but yeah, install Ubuntu. And stick with 16.04 for now, as it is the current Long Term Support (LTS) release, so it will be receiving updates until 2021. :slight_smile: