Moving to WordPress in the Cloud

The average blogger is getting more tech-savvy, opting for virtual servers instead of shared hosting plans or a managed WordPress platform such as WP Engine. Based on a survey by W3 Techs, 30% of websites worldwide are powered by WordPress. As an excellent, general purpose CMS, WordPress is popular not only for personal blogs, but also corporate websites including ones with complex functionality such as e-commerce and membership areas.

A benefit of installing WordPress on a VPS from Amazon Web Services or DigitalOcean is the extensive control it provides you over the server. With full root access, you may install any plugins you wish without being limited to a list approved by your WordPress web hosting provider. As your website becomes more popular, a cloud server also allows you to easily scale to instances with more memory, at a comparatively low cost to upgrading your hosting plan.

On the flip side, when you host WordPress on your own, you are responsible for tuning, securing and maintaining the server. As anybody who has used them before would know, one click apps such as those on DigitalOcean are anything but one click.

Checklist for An Optimized and Secure WordPress Installation

Besides provisioning the instance within the dashboard here are some of the steps you need to take to prepare WordPress for production on a cloud server with any provider. After following this checklist, your WordPress install will be as good as a managed service at a fraction of the monthly cost.

  • Delegate your domain to the correct nameservers and create DNS records
  • Secure your MySQL server by disabling remote login, removing test databases, users
  • Add a swapfile to prevent your server from crashing when it runs low on memory
  • Enable www/non-www HTTPS redirect to protect passwords & prevent redirect loops
  • Modify PHP configuration (php.ini) to enable large file uploads (>2MB) in WordPress
  • Install ImageMagick PHP plugin to enable image cropping and resizing in WordPress dashboard
  • Connect Akismet with API key to shield your WordPress site from comment spam
  • Configure email gateway such as Mailgun for new user, comment, form notifications
  • Install Yoast SEO and Google Analytics plugins to verify your website with Webmaster Tools and submit a sitemap
  • Install Wordfence or Limit Login Attempts to block brute-force attacks of WP login
  • Enable SEO-friendly permalinks in WordPress (mod_rewrite, AllowOverride All, and .htaccess working in Apache)
  • Install a free theme from WordPress theme library or upload a premium theme. Some themes are dependent on other plugins such as Revolution Slider or Contact Form 7.

In general, the uptime for a VPS based WordPress installation will be better than a shared hosting plan. Your website won’t suffer when a neighboring account gets a spike in traffic and it will be less vulnerable to security holes from other applications sharing the same server. For a business or corporate website, or any serious undertaking, moving your WordPress install to the cloud can be the right choice.

Professional WordPress Install and Implementation

Our team of system administrators can help you migrate existing WordPress installs to a cloud provider, or set up an instance for a brand new project based on the specifications above. Compared to most WordPress agencies that are focused on design & development, our specialty is right-sizing the resources in the cloud and optimizing your infrastructure to be as secure and resilient as possible.

Most small to medium businesses would be well-served with a single server setup with scheduled backups, but larger enterprises may be interested in multi-site, cluster and highly available solutions. We also have the capability to cater to those needs so let us know how much traffic (monthly hits) you expect to receive and what types of media you serve through your website. Our WordPress infrastructure team would be pleased to design a custom setup based on your needs.


Downtime, and the inability to customize your WordPress instance with the plugins you need can be costly. Moving your website from shared hosting or managed WordPress platforms (such as may be the step you need to take to protect one of your business’ most valuable assets: its web presence. Contact us today.