Looking to host your own installation of WordPress? If you’re familiar with cloud services providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), you might be considering it as a solution for hosting WordPress. What are the benefits and challenges of hosting your own WordPress installation versus using a managed WordPress host such as Kinsta? Let’s take a look.
What is AWS?
For those who may not be familiar, AWS is a cloud services provider. AWS allows individuals and companies of all sizes to create Web applications and other software projects and run them on servers owned by Amazon.
AWS eliminates the need for companies to buy massive data centers or rent entire portions of server racks from a service provider. Instead, you can get whatever computing capacity you need on demand, when you need it. When you no longer need that capacity, you can return it to AWS and stop paying for it.
As AWS itself likes to describe it, this is a utility model of computing. You don’t buy electricity for your home in advance; you use what you need and pay for what you used. AWS turns computing into a utility service, like the power company.
The Benefits of WordPress on AWS
The primary benefit of hosting WordPress on AWS? Control. You own your installation of WordPress and all the underlying data. You won’t face any restrictions from a WordPress host on what plugins you can install or on what kind of content you can host. This can be a huge factor if your content is on the more…risque side.
Another great benefit is scalability. As I said, AWS is a utility computing model. If your site gets popular, you can purchase more compute capacity on demand. Assuming you set it up correctly, you can host WordPress on AWS in a way that will scale automatically as demand for your site grows.
The Downsides of WordPress on AWS
Unfortunately, there are many downsides to hosting WordPress on AWS.
One downside is complexity. Installing WordPress on even a single virtual server in AWS’s cloud takes a certain amount of non-trivial technical know-how. Setting up WordPress in a way that it automatically scales during a traffic surge, however, takes even more technical smarts. This is more work than many people running a business wish to undertake.
Another (major) downside is cost. That solution I pointed to above? The base cost is $450/month. That’s significantly more than nearly any WordPress hosting provider on the market today.
All that said, AWS has taken steps to make hosting WordPress both easier and cheaper. The Amazon Lightsail service lets you install WordPress with a single click. Plans start as cheap as $3.50/mo.
So what’s the catch? Lightsail won’t scale out to meet increased demand, such as occurs during a viral traffic spike. You have to manually increase the size of your Lightsail instance. And there’s no technical support included. This means that, if users start to complain that your site is slow or dropping connections, it’s on you to troubleshoot.
Additionally, Lightsail doesn’t offer anything on top of WordPress that makes it easier to use. For example, if you want to make your WordPress site use HTTPS, you have to set it up yourself.
In my opinion, Amazon Lightsail is fine for hardcore geeks doing small, one-off projects. But it’s not a substitute for robust, scalable WordPress hosting.
The Benefits of Kinsta
If all of that is too much for you, consider a managed WordPress provider instead. As you can tell, I’m a big fan of Kinsta. (I’ve talked about why in-depth in previous articles.)
The great thing about Kinsta is that it is, itself, built on a cloud platform (Google Cloud). This means that Kinsta gives you the scalability benefits of cloud hosting with none of the hassle involved in self-setup. You can set up a new WordPress site on Kinsta in minutes. And as I’ve discussed before, Kinsta provides a slew of time-saving features. Remember how I mentioned how setting up HTTPS on Amazon Lightsail is a DIY job? On Kinsta, you can set up HTTPS with the click of a button.
What about cost? Given the automatic scalability, ease of use, additional features, and support that it provides, Kinsta’s costs are a deal compared to AWS hosting. My plan, Business 1, gives me five WordPress web site with up to 100,000 visitors a month. If you’re starting out smaller than that, you can start for as little as $25/mo if you buy a yearly subscription.
If you’re considering AWS WordPress hosting, I suggest checking out what Kinsta has to offer first.