What You Need to Know About Hosting WordPress on Microsoft Azure
Currently, around a third of all websites use WordPress (WP), including The New Yorker and BBC America. The ease with which you can install, deploy, and manage WP is a large contributing factor to its popularity.
While many sites that use WP can get by on shared hosting. Enterprise-level sites typically require more resources and demand greater availability. Here shared hosting falls short and they turn to public cloud services.
It makes sense, that companies would want to take advantage of the resources they’re already paying for rather than using a separate hosting service. If this is the case for you, or if you’re just trying to learn what your options are, you’re in good company. We intend to list all the benefits and limitations of WordPress hosting on Azure here so that you can make a just decision.
WordPress Hosting on Azure
Choosing where and how to host your site has a huge impact on what you’ll be able to achieve and who you’ll be able to reach. At a minimum, WP sites require PHP 7.3, MySQL 5.6 or a comparable database, and HTTPS support.
In addition to this, you need to account for how much and what kind of traffic you expect to see, where users will access your site from, how access might fluctuate, and what sort of services and plug-ins your host will need to support.
Azure can meet these minimums. Plus provide the resources required above and beyond the demands of most sites. This makes it a solid option for hosting.
Benefits of Hosting WordPress on Azure
Hosting your site on Azure can be an excellent way to maximize the benefits of your cloud and maintain centralized services. I have listed down the key benefits of Azure:
- Your users are likely to have a better overall experience. This is especially true if your site includes applications that require multiple round-trips for content loading.
- Azure can autoscale. It provides resources available on a global scale that smaller hosts have a hard time matching. This feature ensures that your services are maximally available regardless of traffic load.
- It offers an integrated Content Delivery Network (CDN) that can cache high-bandwidth static content for faster delivery. It also uses edge servers to speed delivery of dynamic content.
- Your data remains safe and easy recoverable through Azure Backup. This is even true if you experience data loss due to a breach, hardware failure, or malfunctioning updates.
If you are already using Azure services you don’t need to worry about migrating data and you know your services are compatible.
Downsides of Hosting WordPress on Azure
Although it offers many benefits, Azure has some downsides as well, the biggest of which is price. If you are not running an enterprise-level site that requires significant bandwidth or resources, Azure is likely not worth it. This is particularly true if you try to host through the app service as opposed to a virtual machine.
The other major downside is that WP can be painfully slow. If you try to use it with the free database option you likely won’t have enough storage or connections for anything but the simplest site. Luckily, you can solve this by upgrading your database and by optimizing it with plugins. Azure Database for MySQL is one database option and for plugins, you can try WP-Optimize, which clears out irrelevant data, like pingbacks.
How to Get Up and Running with Azure?
You can run WP on Azure either through the App Service or on a VM. The former is a simpler option with the latter requiring more expertise. Since the latter is a more complex process, I’ll refer you to this in-depth guide put up by The Windows Club. We’ll cover the former below with images demoed by the Deploy Azure blog.
Getting Started with Azure App Service
If you already have a site in operation, you’ll need to back it up using whatever method you prefer. A plugin like BackUpWordPress is one option if you don’t know where to start.
Through the Marketplace, search for and select WordPress, from which you can create an instance. You need to define your resources and configuration, including a name, subscription, and database provider. Installation and instance creation is automated for you and should only take a few minutes.
If you are creating a new site, you can simply run through the standard WP installation from this point. From there, you can create your site.
If you are transferring a site, you must restore your backed up the database after deployment is complete. To do this, connect to the database you defined during configuration through the App Service. Next, overwrite the existing localdb database with your backup.
After you have restored your database you can restore your content, such as themes and plugins. Do this by connecting to App Service through FTP and uploading your wp-content folder. You can find your FTP settings by downloading the publish profile from your App Service.
When you are done restoring your data or creating your new site, make sure to update the hostname in your WP settings. Additionally, you need to update your domain name and public DNS through the App Service.
Conclusion: WordPress Hosting on Azure
More and more businesses are adopting cloud services and many of these businesses are already using WordPress. Hopefully, this article helped clarify the pros and cons of hosting on Azure and gave you some guidance on what the set-up process entails.
Hosting your site on the cloud may not be the best option. However, if you already use Azure services and have an enterprise-scale site, this could be the perfect option for you.
Have any specific questions to ask? Comment below and we promise we’ll try to answer that 🙂