Over the years I tried a lot of hosting solutions for simple static HTML and WordPress websites from cheap to expensive and they all have their pros and cons.
Today we’ll have a quick look at the three I use daily. Click to go to the corresponding section.
I started with Gandi in 2014 after a friend told me about it. Gandi is a French hosting company providing several services like domains, web hosting, email services, etc…
Gandi stands for “Gestion et Attribution des Noms de Domaine sur Internet” (Management and Allocation of Domain Names on the Internet). They are here since 2000.
Gandi has recently redesigned their platform (v5) and it looks great.
I love Gandi for several reasons. I never had any issue with Gandi, they always answered me quickly my support tickets and taught me a lot of things by directing me to the right solution whenever i was stuck.
Yes, they are not the cheapest, but I did try the following when I was trying to save money: I switched parts of my products over OVH (one domain and one shared server) because it was cheaper.
After a few months I decided to delete my account at OVH and bring back everything at Gandi. I did not hate the OVH interface but I largely preferred the Gandi one, and the time spent setting things between both services, renewing contracts, payments etc. were not worth the hassle.
So I decided to keep everything within Gandi; for all my French related websites, of course, because Gandi only have servers available in Paris, France and Bissen, Luxembourg.
For worldwide websites (mostly sites in English) I use the solutions below (AWS and GCP).
GCP (Google Cloud Platform)
I recently needed to host websites in the U.S. and in Australia. While Gandi could still be a viable solution (remember, their servers are located in France and Luxembourg) for small websites and if you take advantage of caching and CDN (content delivery network) I wanted to try big names like Google and Amazon to see if there are really a difference.
Short answer: yes! there are a lot of pros using Google and Amazon web services. Their infrastructure are the best so you will benefit from their know-how. Remember that’s Google and Amazon, two of the most tech-savvy companies in the world.
When looking for maximum performance and minimum latency you need to activate all the levers available, and server location is one of them.
Google is behind Amazon in terms of market shares, so they provide an aggressive pricing in order to grow their customers base. They have an interesting free tier offer with an “Always free products” and $300 worth of free credit.
Google Cloud Platform consist of a lot of products for all kind of applications but the one I mostly use is Compute Engine. This is so easy to launch instances and you can choose among a large variety of servers and databases. You can basically customize everything.
After a lot of tries, I found out that using pre-built images from the Marketplace is a huge time saver.
Right now the trendy instance I’m really enthusiastic about it the “openlitespeed-wordpress” Virtual Machine from OpenLiteSpeed.
I found it so easy to configure thanks to their interactive script that will help you setup everything from linking your domain to SSL certificate and HTTPS rewrite rules. In less than a few minutes you have you WordPress site configured and ready to go. They got a great documentation too.
With the “always free” tier, you can have an f1-micro instance witch consist of a server with 0.2 vCPU and 0.6GB Memory, 30GB of standard persistent disk and an OS like Debian or Ubuntu (I think you need to pay for Windows machine and CentOS). The instance must be located in the U.S. Central region.
That’s enough to run some experimentation and even some small reasonable websites. I’m not sur about the limits in terms of requests or pageviews but you can have a look at this article from redstapler and learn a few tricks to reduce the memory and bandwidth used (Swamp and caching).
AWS (Amazon Web Services)
I started to play with AWS a few years before trying out Google Cloud Platform. I must say that the two are pretty comparable for what I saw.
Amazon also have a free tier (some products are free forever, others only for the first 12 months). The main product I use is the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), which is similar to the Google Compute Engine I talked earlier. That’s where we will create and deploy our WordPress instances.
In 2020 you can only use the free t2.micro instance for 12 months, so this might not be the perfect solution if you are looking to host your website for free forever.
When you launch a new Virtual Machine, you can install everything yourself if you want more control, or you can use pre-existing VMs from the AWS Marketplace. That’s where we will find our WordPress one-click images from OpenLiteSpeed or Bitnami just to name a few.
Overall I found it a little bit easier to user GCP over AWS. You need less clicks and less back and forth to configure everything and get your numerous keys and credentials.
If you look for additional resources on both Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Amazon Web Services (AWS) and even Microsoft Azure, I would recommend the OnePageZen website which is full of tutorials and YouTube videos.