First, you have quite a few options to chose from.
- A managed WordPress service provided by your Webhost Service Provider.
- A WordPress instance installed manually into your Host webspace
- A WordPress instance installed manually and hosted on a Cloud server (see note below).
- A WordPress instance installed manually and hosted on your own server.
[su_note note_color=”#e0e7e9″ text_color=”#A3c6c4″] Note: I have an instance of WordPress installed and operating in an Amazon Web Services Lightsail environment, which is essentially pre-configured using an Application Package to support WordPress – option(b) in the diagram. This is not the only option as Amazon also provide their EC2 environment, which is a little more involved if you don’t mind tinkering. [/su_note]
WordPress is an open-source platform that is available, free, to everyone. Your involvement in the management of the platform is going to increase with the complexity of the installation. The amount of control that you have will also depend somewhat on the level of complexity and your involvement in the process.
As a general rule, the more control that you have, the more clever stuff you will be able to do … but … most people don’t need so much of the “clever stuff”. There are plenty of WordPress themes available that will do just what you want to do. You can download the WordPress platform here.
Please note that I am not referring, at any point, to the WordPress.com facility. This post is focussed entirely on WordPress.org, which gives you full control over the flexibility of your site.
The four WordPress options referenced above are shown relative to each other in the chart below. The simple option is shown in the bottom-left, with complexity and involvement increasing upwards and to the right. Not surprisingly, each option has its own pricing implication.
WordPress Managed Service
The WordPress Managed Service is a complete package and is delivered into a space provided by your WebHost. This is the space where all the magic happens, and you have direct access.
Your WebHost loads the WordPress application and all the necessary databases into the webspace and then makes it all available to you. The beginner.beginner.beginner.beginner.beginner.beginner.beginner.beginner.blooger.me site that you are looking at now is sitting on just such a managed service, provided by IONOS, mainly because when I began, I didn’t know about the alternatives.
I’m not going to move it now as it works fine and I would like to maintain an example of all the different structures that I am referring to.
At the low-complexity, minimal-involvement end of the scale, just about all the WebHost partners you are going to come across are offering similar Managed Service propositions. These are turnkey WordPress solutions that are just waiting for you to turn the key. It’s simple: press the button, point your domain at them and you’re off.
The WordPress Managed Service option sees your service provider taking care of all the software and database updates as they are released, and generally looking after you. The WordPress Managed Service installation will usually complete with a pre-determined set of plug-ins, which you may or may not choose to retain. You may also need to arrange for your own backups to stored “offsite”.
There is, of course, a premium to be paid for this service. It might be a good idea, before you commit yourself, to have a look at how the pricing of the different options compares. I certainly know more pricing and options now than I did when I began!
WordPress WebSpace Option
Then there is the WebHost WebSpace option, which provides a lot more control, but you will need to do a lot of stuff for yourself.
When you sign up with your WebHost – usually because you are registering your domain name and it makes sense to keep everything in one place – your WebHost will provide you with a chunk of disk space (the WebSpace) and some database access. What you get will all depend on the service provider and what is included in your specific package, so it’s difficult to say anything definitive.
The WebSpace is available for you to load essentially whatever you like, but it’s usually used for website files. You can load WordPress into this space, and providing you can configure the correct database connections – which will depend on your WebHost – you can point your domain name at your WordPress instance and off you go.
So, the “tricky bit” is that you will need to configure your WordPress DataBase but the instructions are provided and it’s usually fairly straightforward.
I feel now that I should be upfront and offer a little encouragement. I am not one of those techie types you hear about; I am trying this stuff on a “How hard can it be?” basis and so far, I’m not doing too badly. If I can do it, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to.
Thing is … it’s all fairly stratightforrward because WordPress is all fairly straightforward – so much so that 60 million people have chosen to download it.
It’s fairly easy to install WordPress by yourself; you can install it in the webspace provided by your WebHost. You’ll need a couple of tools, the most important being your PC and the other being the FTP client that will allow you to transfer files from your PC to your Host Webspace, but that’s about all.
It’s also possible that your WebHost provides some facility to allow you to upload files to the WebSpace without having to install any FTP programs. I have just had a look at mine and there is indeed an “upload” button. It’s probably worth a look as once the initial WordPress folder has been uploaded and the application is running, WordPress does pretty much everything else.
I use ForkLift 2 on the mac; ForkLift 2 is currently free – apparently to avoid confusion(?) – as ForkLift 3 isn’t available via the app store. ForkLift 2 is available in the App Store and it does the job! If you’re interested in ForkLift 3, it’s here at BinaryNights.com
I don’t use any FTP clients on the PC but apparently, FileZilla is good, and free. Maybe I’ll load it up and have a go.
As I said, you’ll need a PC of some sort. It’s possible to do this stuff on your phone or on a tablet, but it’s going to be hard work.
Click on the picture and I’ll explain the boxes and screens.
I’ve just installed WordPress into my webspace on IONOS. I apparently have unlimited webspace and an unlimited number of database instances to go at. Not a bad deal.
I have loaded The Blogging Beginner into my IONOS webspace. The Blogging Beginner is the place for simple step-by-step instructions to get the blogging beginner blogging!
WordPress on a Server in the Cloud
In principle, it’s the same WordPress.org download as in the WebSpace option, above. The application is uploaded to a server in the cloud, but in this case, the server can be provided by any cloud service provider … and there are lots of them.
The “gotcha” here is the database requirement. If you are going to use the WordPress.org download in the cloud, it will need access to a database. It actually needs access to a database wherever it’s installed, but in the previous options, it’s sort of been bundled in.
Setting up a database is going to fall outside the comfort zone for most beginners, so WordPress on a server in the cloud may not be an option. But I am going to ignore that negative road-block thinking … because there is an alternative.
The alternative that I am referring to is Amazon Lightsail. Amazon Lightsail provides the ability to load and configure a complete WordPress installation using a single click – near enough. I am sure that there are similar alternatives available from other cloud suppliers but this is the only one that I have tried.
Amazon Web Services provide the platform in the cloud, Amazon Lightsail isn’t free but the costs are comparable to the other options. The application package is provided by Bitnami, leaders in application packaging, and Automattic, the organisation behind WordPress.
This is all explained in the step-by-step guide, which is based on something that I completed recently – a site that was built for a local club, using WordPress, the Storefront theme and WooCommerce. The site was built and then hosted in a Lightsail instance on Amazon Web Services.
A working WordPress platform is just a few clicks away.
The principles of implementation are pretty much the same as those for the WebSpace option, but the destination for the domain is outside your WebHost’s WebSpace. This means that once you have set up your website on the cloud server, you’ll need to update the DNS parameters to reflect what you’ve done. The domain name needs to point to the appropriate WebSpace, otherwise, no one will be able to find you.
This approach falls into the (b) category in the chart at the top of the page, which is the simpler of the two approaches.
The (a) category is similar to the (b) category but without the pre-configuration for the WordPress application provided by the Application Package. It’s a step closer to managing your own server in your own garage.
I haven’t tried to set up one of these instances yet (it would be EC2 on the AWS platform), so I don’t have much to offer. One difference seems to be that it looks like the costs are directly related to the usage, whereas the Lightsail costs appear to be related to the Lightsail instance. I’ll update once I know more. I’m going to have a go at migrating The Blogging Beginner from the IONOS WebSpace environment to the Amazon EC2 environment.
WordPress on a server in your Garage
I have a WordPress instance running on a Linux box in my garage. I use it for testing landing pages and other stuff that I don’t need to be exposed to the outside world – not that there is anything dodgy going on … just saying.
Setting up WordPress in your Garage is fairly easy to achieve, especially if you are going to use the Bitnami Application Package. That way, you don’t have to mess around configuring database stuff, and it’s useful if you want to test locally. You can access your test sites across your home network.
I say “server”, it’s really just an old Windows PC that is now running Ubuntu rather than Windows, and I have installed WordPress using the Bitnami Application Package. It all works fine.
If you want to expose your garage sites to the outside world, things get a bit more complicated. Setting up the server and establishing a WordPress instance becomes the least of your worries, especially since you are running the server in your garage (from home).
You need to make your new server visible to the outside world.
This depends very much on where you are in the world and how bandwidth is distributed in your region. Most domestic internet access is configured to favour downloading over uploading, and most services are delivered using Dynamic IP Adresses.
So, unless you live in an area that supports high bandwidth uploading, running anything substantial from your gargage might well be a bit of a waste of time.
The other challenge, which is reasonably easy to address, is the impact of a dynamic IP address on people trying to visit your site. You will need to use a Dynamic DNS service that is able to keep track of your constantly changing IP address to maintain the link between your URL and the server in your garage.
This is probably not what you are looking for if you are just beginning, or even if you are established. But if you are interested, you will find the instructions by following the link.
Which WordPress option should I use?
If you’re starting out, go for the easiest.
The easiest is any turnkey solution from just about any service provider. This is where I started out, this page is sitting on the IONOS WordPress Hosting Platform.
You can compare the pricing of the different options but none of them seem to be particularly expensive, so ultimately it comes down to choice … and how much of a tinkerer you want to be.