Using WordPress for your website comes with no small number of benefits, which is why millions of people all over the world choose this popular platform. However, it still has some requirements, so you’ll want to make sure you’re meeting all of them in order for your site to function at its best in 2017.
WordPress Websites Require Very Little
One of the reasons WordPress has become so popular is because it has so few requirements. You need incredibly little to make use of this amazing platform and yet you can use it for so many different things.
Unless you’re planning to buy your own server to do your own hosting, most of the requirements for a WordPress site are things you’ll never have to think about. There’s a reason WordPress has spread across the world at such an impressive pace: because the vast majority of users need no technical ability whatsoever
That being said, it’s still a good idea to understand what this powerful platform requires in order to use it. It could become important someday should you ever need to make changes to your WordPress site.
What WordPress Requires for Hosting
Every website needs to be hosted. That includes WordPress sites, too. Hosting involves a server, which is really just a computer with one specific job: hosting your website. In simplest terms, a server is responsible for storing the files that make up your site, so, needless to say, it’s definitely a requirement.
As we touched on at the beginning, WordPress is fairly flexible where its requirements are concerned, but the company recommends that your host supports:
- HTTPS support
- MariaDB version 10.0 or greater OR MySQL version 5.6 or greater
- PHP version 7 or greater
Let’s take a look at these components in a bit more detail.
HTTPS: a Security Standard for the World Wide Web
WordPress began requiring hosts to support HTTPS beginning at the start of 2016. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise given that there is an industry consensus that HTTPS is better for the sake of a safe and secure Internet.
This is because HTTP combines HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) with the added S standing for Secure Sockets Layer (now, Transport Layer Security), often referred to as SSL, a popular cryptographic protocol.
In short, HTTPS makes it harder for hackers to steal information being sent between websites and browsers.
If you actually let WordPress do the hosting for you – a premium service they offer – you don’t have to do anything regarding this element because the company supplies all their customers with HTTPS. They partner with the open Certificate Authority (CA) Let’s Encrypt and is supported by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and other industry leaders.
MariaDB v. 10.0 or MsSQL v. 5.6
For the purposes of hosting WordPress, these two elements are interchangeable. However, MariaDB is technically the superior option. It can do everything MySQL does where your WordPress is concerned.
In fact, it was actually designed specifically as a binary drop-in replacement for MySQL. It doesn’t just perform better; it also brings new features to the table. This includes new database engines like Area (an alternative to MyISAM) and XtraDB (a replacement for InnoDB).
Fortunately, if you’re WordPress site is already running on MySQL, the database can be migrated to MariaDB.
PHP v. 7 or Greater for Scripting Purposes
PHP is a very popular general purpose scripting language that is used in web development. It’s also a common choice for programming, too. As PHP is the go-to option for dynamic, interactive sites, it makes sense that WordPress prefers it for theirs.
Fortunately, you don’t need to learn PHP. Again, WordPress is about as user-friendly as it gets. As long as your hosting service supports PHP version 7 or higher, it will have no problem supporting your WordPress site.
Other Servers WordPress Recommends
On WordPress’ own site, the company points out that the above are the only real requirements they have. However, it’s probably worth pointing out that in that same paragraph, they also recommend Nginx and Apache as the most robust and feature-rich servers for running WordPress sites.
To be clear, any servers that support MySQL and PHP will do. However, WordPress can’t possibly test every possible environment. Nonetheless, let’s now look at Nginx and Apache separately.
Apache: The Veteran Server Software Option
If you know anything about servers, Apache needs no introduction. It’s the most popular web server software in the world with a track record that goes back more than 20 years. Apache even played an integral role in the growth of the World Wide Web. The platform was the first to reach 100 million websites served. That number is much larger today.
Nginx: The New Challenger
Nginx is another web server that has no lack of fans thanks to the fact that it’s extremely easy to use, flexible and won’t overtax your resources. These reasons have been enough for many people to begin switching to Nginx from Apache for their WordPress hosting needs. As with MySQL and MariaDB, you can always migrate from Apache to Nginx if you want.
A Note for Legacy Environment Users
If you’re working from within a legacy environment, you may only have older MySQL or PHP versions to rely on.
The good news is that WordPress can still work with MySQL 5.0+ and PHP 5.2.4+. However, it’s recommended that you make it a priority to get away from that legacy environment or you’ll run the risk of having your site exposed to security vulnerabilities. The versions of those essential elements have reached official End of Life.
How to Check if You Have the Above Requirements Already
Now that you understand the minimal requirements WordPress has for using their platform, the next question you’re probably wondering is whether or not you have these essential ingredients already.
If you already have a WordPress site, you’re set. The only things you would want to know about would have to do with changing from MySQL to MariaDB. That’s something you can simply ask your hosting company. The same thing can be said for Nginx and Apache servers.
On the other hand, if you don’t have a WordPress site yet, the good news is that most of the above really isn’t something you have to worry about. Again, unless you plan to do the hosting on your own, just pay for hosting and they’ll take care of all of these requirements for you.
Most major hosting companies these days make configuration as easy as possible. When you’re signing up with them, you can tell the company you’re going to use WordPress as a platform and it will optimize your hosting package to make sure you’re all set.
Do You Have Enough Memory
The only other component worth discussing is memory. Without getting too bogged down in details, this refers to how much your server can hold. Recall that this computer’s job is to store the files for your website. This type of storage takes memory. If you don’t have memory, you can’t have a server. At the same time, if you don’t have enough memory, your server isn’t going to run out and leave your site hanging.
You might see the type of hard drive memory we’re talking about referred to as RAM, too.
For the vast majority of you, the processor power and RAM your server comes with will be more than enough for the needs of your WordPress site. You may never have to change those settings at all, either.
One telltale sign that you’re running low on memory is if your site is slowing down. This usually follows some kind of update that ups your usage.
If you want to check on this setting to make sure, though, just to be sure, you can use the Memory Viewer plugin. You’ll find it in the plugin repository. Install it onto your site and then activate it.
Once you do, you should be able to find it by viewing the source of your website. Scroll down to the very bottom. You should see a list of the plugin’s output. Aside from the fact that it will show you your site’s memory requirements, you can also use it to learn about where your site is using the memory you’re paying for. You might learn that some of it is being wasted.
As a requirement for your website, you may need to spend money to increase your site’s available memory. You’ll want to contact your hosting company to talk about which option they offer would make the most sense for your needs. Once you have sufficient memory your WordPress site should operate without issue.
If you have a WordPress website, you’re probably quite happy with its operation, just like millions of other people all over the world. However, that doesn’t mean it’s working optimally. As you’ve just discovered, WordPress does have a small amount of requirements you need to meet or your website will suffer.
While you probably already have them, take note of any you don’t and rectify that problem ASAP to begin enjoying all that WordPress has to offer in 2017.