WordPress is a great platform for engaging readers with fresh content, but the blogging platform doesn’t run on just any system. Like any other form of software, it has system requirements, and these requirements depend on the software’s version. So while most hosting companies support WordPress, not all companies support your version or the new updates that come out each year.
The people at WordPress know that finding the right host isn’t easy when you don’t know what to search for. WordPress even offers a sample letter to send to host to verify they offer the right platform. In the sample letter, WordPress lists the system requirements.
“I’m interested in running the open-source WordPress <http://wordpress.org/> blogging software and I was wondering if my account supported the following:
PHP 5.2.4 or greater
MySQL 5.0 or greater
The mod_rewrite Apache module
Notice the MySQL and PHP version requirements. PHP is the framework language on which WordPress was built, and MySQL stores all the blog data. PHP and MySQL are critical for a WordPress installation, and these two versions have been out for several years. One aspect of a good, reputable web host is keeping servers and software up-to-date for security and stability purposes. If the host cannot support versions that have been out for several years, it’s a red flag that the host’s support team is not on top of the latest security and bug issues associated with older versions.
These specs are required for the latest WordPress 3.5 version, but if you run an older WordPress blog, older versions of PHP and MySQL are supported. For example, WordPress 3.2 only requires PHP 4.3 and MySQL 4.1.2. Leaving a WordPress blog active and running an older version is a security issue, and in some cases, you won’t even know the blog has been hacked. So watch out what version you have installed.
The suggested server software for WordPress is Apache or Nginx. Apache is probably the most common server platform of these two applications, and it also has a version for Microsoft Windows. WordPress will run on Microsoft systems, but it’s not recommended, especially for blog owners who are unfamiliar with the tweaks and add-ons needed to make it run. It’s also buggy, so it’s best to stick with Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP (LAMP) systems for WordPress blogs.
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After a host is found, the next choice is between managed or unmanaged WordPress hosting packages. For people unfamiliar with WordPress, managed lets the blogger write, and all technical hosting aspects are taken care of by the host. This is a great solution for businesses without the resources to keep WordPress up-to-date and patched. With managed hosting, the hosting company tunes the installation for performance, installs plug-ins, installs the latest patch releases, and ensures the server and software backed up. Managed hosting comes at a price, but it’s the most convenient form of WordPress hosting.
Unmanaged hosting puts all WordPress features and installations into the hands of the blog owner, and it’s a cheaper solution. This also means the blog owner is completely responsible for any patches and updates, and if the blog has performance issues, it’s up to the blogger to figure it out.
WordPress is free, but it takes a lot of maintenance to keep up with the latest releases. The right WordPress host will ensure you get the right features and options to run a fast, secure, and customizable blogging platform.
Jennifer Marsh is a software developer, programmer and technology writer and occasionally blogs for open cloud company Rackspace Hosting.