In the first blog post in this series on how to build a Self-Hosted WordPress site, I explained how to get the basic plugins installed. Now it’s time to configure those plugins. First we will look at Quick Cache. This will work best with the appropriate supporting software on your server, which I will cover in a separate series of posts focusing on server configuration. At the top in orange you can see Quick Cache is off. A few paragraphs down, it tells how you can test if Quick Cache is working. Using Firefox, all you need do is open a Private Tab or Window and open your site in that, and view the source. If the code isn’t there, go back to plugins and select Drop-ins at the top. You will see you need to check if the WordPress wp-config.php has the line define(‘WP_CACHE’, true); in it. If it does not, you will need to make a manual edit of the file to add that line. See my separate guide on editing the wp-config.php file. Anyway, you simply switch Quick Cache on (the big yellow option) and save the settings at the bottom of the page. After I have checked that it IS working, I go back and select the ‘No, I don’t want the source code to contain any of these notes.’ I have tested Quick Cache against 6 other cache plugins, and this was a long way the fastest, with my home page loading in the Pingdom tests at about 0.35 seconds!! Before I did any fine tuning of my website, that was typically 12-15 seconds! (more…)
In the next few blog posts I am going explain how to build a Self-Hosted WordPress site. Yes, that’s right. No debate over which Content Management Software (CMS) to use. It’s WordPress. Sorry if that offends you, but I have been doing web design far too long to be bothered with anything else. For 99% of users, WordPress is fine and dandy. For the purposes of these blog posts, I am going to skim over some of the really basic stuff (I might come back and add a bit of detail). I know that you can develop a site on your local PC or Mac, but the first time you get stuck, anybody who tries to help you will want to see what you have, and that means you need a web server. Unless you want to do a simple blog, forget the WordPress.com hosting packages, and become a self-hosted site.
That means you should get a domain. I use GoDaddy. I can see no reason why you shouldn’t do the same. Priced in US Dollars and no sales tax, they are usually cheap and effective. You need a web server. There are hundreds of cheap ‘WordPress Specialist’ web hosts. Forget them. Forget all the special ‘free’ hosting deals. The bottom line is, less than US$40 per month is cheap – if you pay annually you can often get a discount on this, sometimes as much as 25% off. I have been through all manner of web hosts and deals over the years, so you might be wise to avoid all that heartache. My preference is for what is called a cloud web server. But, beware, my experience over the last year makes me wary of Cloud Servers that use OnApp for management of the server; my sites used to ave this and it often crashed, leaving me offline for a day or more each time. On a budget look for OpenVZ and for performance at a price use KVM, here is a comparison.
With a Cloud Server, this means that your site does not reside on one machine, but shares its resources across a lot of physical machines. This is a much faster and more reliable solution. Different hosts may use a different name for this type of package, but this is what you need. Unless you have a big web site in mind, you will want to start with a Virtual Private Server (VPS) with a Unix operating System (such as Centos), Apache, MySQL and PHP. To make managing it easy, you will want WHM, cPanel and EasyApache installed. Most importantly, you will want a Managed Service. That means, when it goes wrong, you get help. If you can persuade the host to do it for you, installing nginx as a reverse proxy server for Apache will speed things up, but make things a bit more difficult to manage.