Dedicated or shared hosting for WordPress MU

There’s been a fair amount of discussion regarding whether WPMU is ok for shared hosting or whether it should be set up only on VPS or dedicated servers, and I reckon it’s time to set the record straight :)

First up there is absolutely nothing wrong with running WordPress MU on a shared hosting account as long as you don’t have a massive amount of blogs or traffic (say 5000 max), don’t bugger up your install with loads of heavy plugins and are fine with some of the pitfalls of shared hosting.

Sure, is now on some fancy Serverbeach cluster with ngix, memcache and varnish all over it – but it started out on a shared hosting account, and spent much of it’s first year there quite happily!

And sure, there are benefits to using a VPS and a dedicated server – like being able to tweak your MySQL configs and php settings according to requirements (and WPMU does need a bit of tweaking to run right) and being outside of the influence of others pesky accounts or OTT backups.

But, at the end of the day, using a shared hosting account is absolutely fine for the vast majority of new WPMU-ers, and most hosts will be fine with it too – as long as they are not looking for massive efficiencies or offering simply impossible hosting packages that WPMU might actually exploit (I’m lookin’ at you, Dreamhost!).

And I’m not just saying this because WP.MU uses shared hosting – in fact I’m not even going to link to the host we use to show you how deadly serious I am – I think it’s about time we cleared this up because its’ a barrier to entry for a lot of potential WPMU users (who don’t want the expense of a VPS) and it’s plain and simple wrong.

All a staring out WPMU users needs to know is:

  • Who’s a decent shared host that they can use for WPMU
  • What plugins *shouldn’t* they use in order to not freak out their hosts (firestats springs to mind :)

Submissions of good hosts or painful plugisn welcome in the comments!


Comments (11)

  1. The WordPress feature to replace smileys in text with their graphical equivalent (core WP feature, not a plugin) increases CPU load greatly. If you do use it, make sure you also have one of the WP-Cache-like plugins; I’d recommend using WP-SuperCache.

  2. @James: I dunno what all this hype about firestats is about, firestats has a config file, where you can configure how often the stats are updated. Once you change that from “update at each visit” to something like “every 30 minutes” all is well in terms of system ressource usage.

    Besides, this comment form here, has some issues. After typing in my name, I pressed TAB but the cursodr jumped straight to the comment form. After I typed in my Website and pressed TAB the focus jumps to the top of the page, you might wanna fix the TAB order :-)

  3. Hi James,
    Yep – shared hosting works for several of my WPMU installs. I have a small reseller account with hostgator with 4 wpmu installs working very well. Install is as smooth as can be expected and performance is workable.

    All of my maintenance is on my sites themselves and not server related… which for my business is essential. Cheers, -terry

  4. Will i be able to have subdomains for my blog as –… if i host my wordpress mu on shared hosting ?

    Are there any settings i must do.. before installing on a shared host ?

  5. Great article.

    So now it’s 4 years later… WPMU is now built into the core of WP 3.0 and above. You’d think every host’s specs are more than enough to handle WPMU.

    However, we are brand new to WPMU, and our current configuration has about two dozen sites. We have 10-second page loads for very small pages with minimal graphics, and it seems obvious that our fancy dedicated server is not optimized for WPMU.

    You mention a lot of tweaking is needed to make it run right, especially for MySQL and PHP settings. I can’t find recommended specs for those settings, even searching WP’s site itself (maybe I’ve just overlooked it).

    Can someone please point me to a page (or pages) that discusses optimizing a server for WPMU, how many plug-ins are too much, and making the recommended tweaks mentioned above?

    I’ve been searching online for hours, so any assistance would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance,