Last month, I wrote an article outlining 4 common mistakes that churches make with their websites. I could have included a fifth mistake that churches make all the time: choosing “cheap” hosting for their website.
In case you’re not familiar with what a host is, it is hardware and software that is used to store your website files and code. A host is basically a computer that is always connected to the Internet so that everyone can access your website.
There are many different factors to consider when choosing a host. You may be tempted to find the cheapest option you can, but that could hurt you in the long run.
Here are some things to look out for:
- Do they have good support?
- Do they scale well? (if you post a sermon that goes viral, will that crash the server)
- Do they provide good security? (so that you will be less likely to have your site hacked)
- Do they allow you enough space for your files?
There are several great hosting providers that are excellent across the board while still providing great value. Below I have listed some of my favorite hosts.
Before we get there, though, let’s take a quick look at some hosts you should avoid. These hosts offer super cheap plans, but tend to have poor support, slow infrastructure, and more security vulnerabilities.
Do your best to stay away from:
Who doesn’t like free?!? Keep in mind that you still get what you pay for (or in this case, what you don’t pay for). I’ve heard good things about both of these hosts, but if you are looking to do big things with your church site you should move on to the paid options.
Dreamhost provides free hosting for non-profit, 501(c)(3) organizations. While I have not personally had experience with Dreamhost, I’ve heard great things about their support. Be ready to prove your non-profit status. [Editor’s note: ChurchTechToday is hosted with Dreamhost and has had excellent solutions and service with this provider. They do offer premium services, not just free.]
FlockHosting is another company that I’ve heard of but don’t have personal experience with. They seem to have a heart for helping churches and should be at the top of your list if you have little or nothing to spend on hosting.
Churches who are serious about their web presence need to ensure that their web sites are running quickly and securely. If you are looking for a hosting partner who will help you scale and give you great support, I highly recommend the following hosts.
SiteGround is my “go-to” host for small and medium sites. Their price point is very competitive and their premium features are top notch and include a free SSL certificate, daily backups, and caching. Be aware that the first year is discounted by 60% and will increase to the regular price after the first year.
WP Church Host
WP Church Host is a new player in the church hosting space and is specifically built for WordPress. This is the same team that created ChurchThemes and they do solid work. If you are looking for a managed host that is super secure and super fast, look no further.
My day job is building scalable, enterprise level applications on WordPress and there is no host that I trust more than WP Engine. They’ve created a hosting platform that is fast and secure and is built to handle traffic spikes. Their support is also very responsive and will go the extra mile to help you resolve issues and keep things running smoothly. If you host multiple sites for your church, deal with high traffic, or want enterprise level tools and support then check out WP Engine.
For further reading on this subject, be sure to check out this survey conducted by the team over at ChurchThemes. They cover these hosts and others in depth and have some great statistics that will further help inform you when deciding on a host.