Hosting a WordPress Site on a Regional Server for Faster Speed
A few months back, we published an article about how to host a WordPress site on a VPS (Virtual Private Server) — where you get a dedicated IP address that enables you to easily set up secure connections to your hosted content. Since then, we’ve had dozens of you connect with us via the comment section of that article, asking about how to achieve the same type of performance from a dedicated server located in your region.
When it comes to site speed, geography really is something else. The closer you are to the data centers hosting your website’s content, the faster your site will load. So if you’re located in Europe, USA, or Canada, for example, your site will perform much better than if you’re hosted somewhere in Asia.
Now, it’s possible to host your site on a server in your region, but the truth is, this type of setup is relatively complex, and requires a significant amount of technical know-how to set up and maintain. For those of you who are fortunate enough to have a technical team available to help you, this type of setup is ideal — but for the average website owner, it can be somewhat daunting.
To make hosting a wordpress site on a regional server easier for everyone, we’ve put together this blog post. It will teach you the basics of how to host a WordPress site on a US-based Apache server, so you can experience the fastest speeds possible when browsing the web.
Choosing a Hosting Provider
Before you get started, you should consider signing up with a hosting provider. Many offer special deals if you host with them long enough, which can help you save a significant amount of money. For instance, the company we use, A2 Hosting, is one of the most affordable web hosts, and their special deals make it easy to justify the cost.
Unlike some of the other hosting providers, A2 Hosting doesn’t require you to have a specific programming language or platform in order to set up your website. In fact, they offer free basic installation, along with weekly backups, so you won’t have to worry about losing any content due to technical glitches.
The next step is to install WordPress on the server. Once the installation is complete, you can access the control panel of your hosted website by visiting your-domain.com/wp-admin in your browser. Here, you can update the content on your site, manage users, and create new posts as needed. It’s also where you’ll find the option to install WordPress security plugins, which we’ll discuss shortly.
Configuring Apache For Security And Performance
Once you’ve got WordPress installed and are ready to go live, it’s time to configure your Apache web server to work in harmony with WordPress. To do this, you need to perform a few basic steps, which we’ll discuss here.
Step 1: Enable Header and Footer
One of the first things you need to do is make sure that your server sends the right headers to indicate what type of content it is serving. For instance, if you’re serving HTML, you may want to enable the server to send X-Powered-By headers, so you can identify the software powering your site. You can also enable the server to send an X-UA-Compatible header, which indicates what browser you’re serving your website to, causing much less strain on older devices.
Step 2: Change Proxy Settings
The next thing you need to do is change your server’s proxy settings. These settings determine how your web server interacts with the internet on behalf of your site. The most common proxy settings are:
- ProxyRequests: By default, this setting is Off, meaning your server will not automatically handle web requests on your behalf. If you’re serving content from several hosts, this can help improve the performance of your site by reducing bandwidth usage and load times. If this is your personal or company blog, you may want to enable ProxyRequests so you don’t have to wait for the web traffic to come to you.
- ForwardedFor: This setting determines how the IP address of the person accessing your site is presented to the outside world. If you’re getting thousands of visitors a day, this setting can help reduce the number of bots (spambots) trying to access your site. There’s no need to enable this setting if you’re getting traffic from only a few hosts or geographic locations.
- ForwardedProto: Similar to the previous setting, this one determines how your server presents the data protocol used to access your site (e.g., HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, etc.). Again, unless you’re getting tons of traffic from a small number of hosts or geographic locations, you don’t need to worry about this setting.
- RewriteEngine: This setting determines whether your server will interpret URLs submitted by your users as HTML or XHTML files. If you don’t use HTML for any of the content on your site, you don’t need to worry about this setting.
- RewriteBase: This setting determines the base directory used by your server to interpret rewritten URLs. Changing this setting to /blog/ will cause all your page requests to be redirected to your WordPress installation.
Step 3: Check Foraches And SPF Records
Once you’ve configured your server to serve up your WordPress blog, it’s time to check for caches and submit the correct SPF records. Caches are like fast food restaurants for the internet – places where content is stored for quick and easy access. If you’ve ever logged into your-domain.com and saw a pop-up asking if you wanted to save this item to read later, you’ve encountered a cache. They’re also everywhere on the internet, and can help improve your site’s performance by storing previously downloaded files that can speed up subsequent requests. For example, if you’ve configured your browser to remember the password for your-domain.com, you can use that same password to quickly and easily access all your site’s files whenever you need them. This is a great way to save time and reduce stress; however, you need to be careful when caching content, as there are several caching pitfalls that can cause all kinds of problems.
Caching can be a great way to improve site speed, but it doesn’t always work in favor of the user. When the content is cached, the visitor will need to wait until the cached file is cleared before they can access the content again. Sometimes the process of retrieving the content can even take longer than just hitting enter! In these cases, you’re better off just reloading the page and hoping for the best.
Caching is also a great way to increase your site’s page load time, which simply means the time it takes to load a page. While there are several factors that can increase the load time of your site, the primary one is the number of times the page is cached. If you’ve ever seen a page speed checker, you’ll know that many major web hosts automatically cache your site’s pages. Therefore, if you’re worried about how fast your site loads, you may want to disable caches, or at least clear them regularly. They can also cause performance issues if not used correctly, so know when to use them and when to avoid them.
Installing And Maintaining WordPress Plugins
Before we wrap up this section, let’s discuss a few more settings that can help improve the performance of your WordPress installation.
One of the most important settings to consider is your WordPress plugins. Just like with your hosting environment, choosing quality plugins that are updated regularly can help improve your site’s speed and performance exponentially. Some of the plugins we recommend are: