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I have always hosted my own websites on my own hardware, this includes WordPress. I always see on shared hosting sites "WordPress Hosting" which looks to be the exact same as their regular hosting plan.

Am I missing something, or is there a difference, and how can I optimize my servers for WordPress?

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Of course you can optimize your servers like the hosting companies do, it just depends on how much skill you have and how much effort you want to take on. Here's a community wiki that might give you an idea of what to consider doing:

One thing that comes to mind as a great feature is to use nginx as a caching proxy server.

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I think it is safe to say that 95% of hosting is marketing.

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  • There's a lot you can do to optimize for WordPress, see my answer. Whether or not a hosting company is actually doing anything relevant is another issue though. – MikeSchinkel Mar 21 '11 at 17:13
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    Ah yes good post, the cron thing is a solid idea, I just meant that optimizing for WordPress hosting is very similar to any other hosting but it's true integration with themes, plugins, svn, updates and such can set it apart. -I'll edit my post – Wyck Mar 21 '11 at 17:18
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What it comes down to is what would you do to optimize a server running WordPress that you normally wouldn't do on a server running anything else? Not much.

There really isn't much other than pre-installing WordPress and a few plugins for you. Maybe they could provide some custom hosting features or proprietary plugins as well. Just about any other optimization, backup, security, caching, or other enhancements are things you would do anyway and would benefit any web server application.

I'm sure there are plenty of "WordPress Optimized" hosting companies that do nothing more than pre-install WordPress for you.

On the other hand, it could be that the hosting company has a very good knowledge of WordPress and knows how to address common issues and provide good customer support. That is certainly something for which it would be worth paying extra.

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  • The could potentially provide a lot: nginx caching proxy server, memcached to improve caching performance, a sphinx search server, etc. Most do not, but they certainly could and that would make me consider them very seriously. – MikeSchinkel Mar 22 '11 at 23:59
  • Right but that is all stuff that you would do to improve the performance of any server, none of that is wordpress-specific. – user4113 Mar 24 '11 at 23:56
  • Partly. Yes nginx, memcached and sphinx could be for any server architecture. But having the WordPress Nginx proxy cache integrator, the WordPress Memcached Object Cache plugin and the WordPress Sphinx plugin installed, configured and supported, for example, would be WordPress specific. Hosts to like WPEngine.com can and do offer WordPress-specifics. – MikeSchinkel Mar 25 '11 at 3:38

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