Last updated: December 12, 2018
WordPress Hosting: Which Brand Is The Best Home For Your WordPress Blog?
What You’ll Learn About WordPress Hosting
WordPress is the most popular content management systems (CMS) in the world today. And with good reason. You can do almost anything with it, without doing too much work.
This article will explain what WordPress has to offer, how to choose the right hosting for it, and how to start using it so it serves your needs.
While you familiarize yourself with the king of CMSs, don’t shy away from taking notes. I will extensively discuss the prime upsides and downsides of being a WordPress user, along with useful comparisons along the way.
Table of Contents
In the meantime, if you wish to skip to either part of the page, you can do so by using this table of contents.
- What Is WordPress?
- How WordPress Makes Your Life Easier
- How WordPress Hosting Makes Installation Easy
- Beyond Installation: What Else Should a WordPress Host Offer?
- Plugin Restrictions with WordPress
- Managed WordPress Hosting and Quality of Support
- The Most Important Non-WordPress Hosting Features
- What Does Optimized Hosting for WordPress Offer?
- What Are the Pros and Cons of WordPress?
- Top Three WordPress Hosts
- Final Thoughts
What Is WordPress?
WordPress is a free application that you can use to create websites. Most users create blogs, business sites, galleries, or portfolios, but it is highly adaptable and can be used for a variety of purposes. Using free themes and plugins, users can customize their site and extend its functionality.
Building a website with a content management system (CMS) is an increasingly popular option for small business owners who value versatility and simplicity. And one of the most powerful and well-known CMS applications on the market today is WordPress.
Brief History and Uprise of WordPress
If you want to start a blog, or you need to put together a business website, WordPress is one of the best places to start. The software has been in development for 15 years and was originally built on top of b2/cafelog — a pioneering blogging platform.
When b2/cafelog was mothballed, Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little decided to fork it and build WordPress on top. It has grown into something much more than a blogging platform.
WordPress’ Rule of the Web
WordPress has exploded in popularity; it powers more than a quarter of the websites that are currently active on the web. When you’re searching for WordPress hosting, you will be spoilt for choice. But that can make the buying decision even more confusing.
The vast majority of web hosts support WordPress. But that’s not to say that they are all equal. Some hosts will leave you to install and configure everything yourself; others will essentially manage the whole process and will step in if something goes wrong.
With all of these different variables to look at, how do you compare WordPress hosting? Let’s start with the basics of what WordPress does.
Why Choose WordPress?
WordPress is template-based. You simply choose a theme you like, customize it, and that’s it. And with a wide variety of plugins, add-ons, themes, and widgets to provide customization, you can use WordPress to create just about any kind of site you can imagine. This versatile software is used by millions to create e-commerce sites, social communities, blogs, and corporate websites around the world.
Small businesses like WordPress because it’s simple and versatile. It can do a lot, but you don’t need to have a lot of technical knowledge to get started — particularly if you choose a web hosting provider that has optimized its platform for WordPress.
How WordPress Makes Your Life Easier
WordPress isn’t a site builder (even though many people use it this way).
Note that if you are not technically sophisticated, manually installing WordPress may result in hours of frustration that doesn’t even end with WordPress properly installed. I highly recommend using at least using a one-click install, even though the WordPress developers have done everything they can to make installing it easy.
|How Long It Takes to Install WordPress|
|Install Method||Availability||Time (Minutes)|
So assuming nothing terrible happens, you can get a site up and running in far less than an hour. We’ll cover different installation types further down the page.
It’s Not an Overnight Job
However, getting the look and feel in place can take much longer. The software needs to be updated regularly to maintain security (so you don’t get hacked). And some hosting providers will only give you support with the basics.
If you’re a novice, you’ll need to learn on your feet, unless you pay for a managed WordPress hosting service. Even then, you still need to have a little background knowledge. Customer support from host to host can vary a lot, and managed WordPress companies like WP Engine may be too expensive for small sites.
Huge Bag of Features
Yoast SEO is a popular SEO plugin.
WordPress offers SEO-friendly URLs, RSS feeds, post categories, sticky pages, and media, and the interface is suitable for non-technical users.
WordPress is ideal for a personal blog with minimal traffic, yet it can also be scaled up to accommodate tens of thousands of visitors a day — providing your host’s server can support that amount of traffic. That’s one of the key reasons that WordPress has proven so successful.
The WordPress plugin repository contains additional bolt-ons that can be added to your site to increase its functionality. Plugins are essentially small chunks of code that can be switched on and off to incorporate new features into your site. Almost every WordPress site has a couple of plugins installed on their server; some use dozens.
What To Look Out For in WordPress Hosting
Additionally, WordPress has a template system for the way your websites will appear. These templates are called “themes.” WordPress has a library of free themes, offering thousands of options for layouts, color schemes, and content presentation.
Themes are designed to accommodate endless tweaking and customization. With only basic knowledge of coding, you can adopt a theme to do exactly what you need it to do.
WordPress hosting features to look for:
- Ability to grow with your website
- Daily backups that can be easily restored
- WordPress-specific support
- Automatic updates (core, themes, and plugins)
- Automatic backup before updates
- Staging server
- Server caching
- Content delivery network (CDN)
- Premium plugins to expand base functionality
- Premium themes to make your site look unique
- Administrative interface that is easy to use.
Yes, that is a mouthful, but don’t panic. Most of these features may be available without you realizing or having to manually look for them.
How WordPress Hosting Makes Installation Easy
WordPress is a complicated piece of software, which is why it can do so much: from running blogs to forums to e-commerce stores. As a result, installing WordPress is not a trivial matter. But the better your host, the easier they will make your installation.
This is one of the reasons getting the right host is critical. Hosts need the right infrastructure, security, and overall know-how. Almost any host can run WordPress, but not all can do it well. And not all make doing it easy on you.
Easy Installation vs Greater Control
In a general sense, some hosts make managing your site simpler by taking care of most of the maintenance and other time-consuming tasks. Other hosts provide your site with more power by providing extra features and add-ons. And, of course, there are hosts that fall at different places in the middle.
You want to determine what kind of a WordPress user you are. Are you the kind who wants management to be easy so you can focus on creating content? Or are you the kind of user who doesn’t mind doing extra work to greatly control a site with lots of extra features.
Now let’s look at the most basic aspect of WordPress administration: installation. Here the three common ways of installing WordPress.
Installing WordPress Manually
WordPress can be installed on practically any web hosting provider that offers Linux hosting. You just need to grab the zip file for the latest version, unzip it, and upload the contents via FTP to your server.
WordPress runs you through the setup process, and then you’ll need to point your domain to your new site.
The installation process isn’t difficult, but it helps if you know what a MySQL database is, and how to set one up. If you’re vaguely familiar with how web hosting works, you should be able to navigate your way through your host’s help files to figure out what you need to do. Domains can be particularly tricky to set up if you are completely new to hosting.
The Real Time of Manual Installations
The developers of WordPress claim that it offers a “five-minute install.” In all honesty, your skill level will determine just how long it takes you. But it’s unlikely to take you more than ten minutes.
It is, however, possible to completely mess up the process and not even get WordPress installed — particularly if you are a novice. So even fairly advanced users normally opt for one of the easier methods like one-click installs.
But if you feel up to it, WordPress provides an install script that takes the sting out of the process. And probably will get you up and running — well inside five minutes.
The Easy Way: One-Click Install
If all that sounds technical and difficult, don’t worry!
Many hosts know that their customers struggle with the technical side of the installation. So they offer WordPress as a “one-click install.” As the name suggests, these packages let you install WordPress from a script library by filling in a form (to set your blog’s username, password, and other details), then clicking “Submit.”
For beginners, the one-click method is far easier than the manual method. There’s nothing to download, nothing to upload, and no usernames or passwords to worry about.
Script Libraries and More
If this appeals to you, look for a host that offers one-click install packages like Fantastico, Softaculous, or MOJO Marketplace. The majority of cheaply shared hosting providers will provide some kind of script library for free.
Advanced users may prefer not to use the one-click option since some of the behind-the-scenes options will be outside your control.
The Easiest Way: Pre-Installed WordPress
Still concerned about installation? If you want a completely effortless experience, look for a hosting company that will install WordPress for you when you sign up.
You may need to open a support ticket, but you might find that the host automatically launches into the WordPress set-up process when you first log in.
Bluehost provides this feature. New shared hosting customers are on-boarded directly into a WordPress installer. It walks you step-by-step through a process that even looks like WordPress.
This process does greatly simplify the install process. And if you run into problems, you can get help via online chat or through the telephone.
Beyond Installation: WordPress Updates and How To Handle Them
We’ve established that WordPress runs pretty much the same way, regardless of the host that you use. And you can install it on practically any hosting account, providing it runs Linux (although some other operating systems can support it — albeit with some compromises).
But there are some important differences in the way that WordPress is installed and managed, and this is critical when it comes to usability and ongoing maintenance.
Besides installation, what else do you need to look for?
Making WordPress Updates Easy
Once your WordPress website is up and running, you’ll need to keep an eye on it and apply all of the code updates that come along.
Software that is out-of-date is a magnet for hackers and scammers. So if you (and your visitors) are to be protected from threats, it’s important to prioritize maintenance and regularly update it.
WordPress’ core code is updated regularly in an official release from its developers. You should always install new releases as soon as they become available. Depending on the way your site is set up, you may receive an email notification, a notice in your WordPress dashboard, or both. New releases are also announced on the WordPress.org homepage.
One Update Can Break Another
Updating the core code is easy, but it’s not without risk since it can break some part of your WordPress install. But the greater risk is in not updating.
SiteGround offers the best alternative: it takes a backup of your site before applying an update, so you can always roll back if something goes wrong. (You’ll need to have WP Auto Update switched on in your SiteGround cPanel to use it.) If your host doesn’t do it for you automatically, you should backup your site manually before updating WordPress.
Do WordPress Hosts Also Update Plugins and Themes?
In addition to core updates, there are also updates for your plugins and themes. Sometimes, these are just done because the creator is adding new features, fixing old bugs, improving performance, and so on.
But you will also find that plugins and themes usually get updated after a WordPress core update since this often requires small changes to be consistent with the new core code.
Automatic WordPress Updates
Like all admin tasks, there’s a tendency for updates to be delayed or forgotten. To make your life easier, SiteGround can automatically update the code for you.
This small but mighty feature could save you a lot of time if a WordPress update breaks your site, and it gives you complete peace of mind when updating WordPress; you can essentially leave it alone to manage itself.
SiteGround Offers WP Auto Update
Many shared hosting providers don’t provide any user-accessible backups. But this feature is included in all hosting plans at SiteGround.
To activate WP Auto Update (along with the associated backup service), log into your SiteGround account, head to your cPanel and click the WP Auto Update icon:
You’ll need to set up automatic updates for every site that you have at SiteGround, but it only takes a few seconds.
Note: SiteGround also gives you the option of updating your plugins too. Plugin updates are an extra chore, and the more you have, the more work you have to do. So this is a feature well worth using if it’s available to you.
Options If You Don’t Have SiteGround
If your host doesn’t offer automatic updates, you could consider moving to a managed WordPress host that will update all of your core code and plugins for you. Alternatively, there are plugins, like Jetpack, which can help with this — although you may need to pay a monthly fee to use all of their features.
Plugin Restrictions with WordPress
Some hosts may restrict the plugins that you can use. For example, WP Engine has a list of plugins that it doesn’t allow on its servers. Often, these are plugins that hog resources on the server. Other times, such plugins can be hacked to send out spam.
What to Do If You Absolutely Must Have a Banned Plugin
But if you desperately need to run a plugin, and there’s no alternative out there, these restrictions could hinder the development of your website.
It’s your choice. You might have to compromise a little on the way your site works in order to use some of the more cautious hosts for WordPress. If you prefer to run your site without limitations or tinker with code, hosts that restrict plugins may not be suitable for you.
WordPress-Specific Support and Management
Having WordPress-specific technical support is extremely helpful. WordPress is wonderful, but that’s due to it being a large, complicated software application. The core has over a half million lines of code, according to Open Hub. So it isn’t hard to mess up an install — turning a fully-functioning site into one that displays nothing but a database error.
Even if you know what you’re doing, you’re likely to run into problems now and then. So it is really helpful to have WordPress experts around whose job it is to help you.
Managed WordPress Hosting and Quality of Support
Managed WordPress hosting is a step up from regular shared hosting. With this service, your entire WordPress installation will be automatically updated, backed up, and monitored. This is ideal if you want nothing to do with the maintenance and troubleshooting of your WordPress site.
It will also be a huge time-saver for anyone with multiple sites or any business user that has better things to do than tend to their websites when they should be serving clients.
Are There Options Besides Full WordPress Hosting?
You are likely familiar with hosts like WP Engine, Page.ly, and Kinsta that only offer managed WordPress hosting. Other hosts offer hybrid solutions. For example, SiteGround provides management with all of its shared hosting plans, while InMotion Hosting offers managed WordPress as a separate service to its regular shared plans.
You will get better WordPress support if your host manages WordPress for you. That’s because management includes much of the technical maintenance behind the scenes, so hosts tend to have more skilled WordPress support staff available to answer your questions.
Support Channels and Opening Hours
When it comes to customer support with WordPress technical issues, there are two important points to remember.
The first point is that hosts have different opening times and different support channels. Look at the contact methods that your chosen host provides. It will probably support you via ticket or on the phone, but when are these services available?
If the host only provides support during office hours, and you’re in a different timezone, it may not be that helpful. And if you prefer to use live chat support, make sure that it’s available for both sales and customer support. Some hosts will only provide it for sales inquiries.
What is Covered Within Support?
The second point is that customer support sometimes only covers the “nuts and bolts” of your hosting account.
So while you may be able to get help with setting up your DNS, if you bork something on your WordPress site, you’ll be on your own. Unfortunately, many hosts just don’t have support personnel who are experienced with WordPress.
It’s a good idea to test out your host’s support while you’re still in your money-back guarantee period, just to ensure they offer the depth of tech support that you expect with WordPress.
How to Add WordPress-Specific Support
There is a hybrid solution with some providers, like Bluehost. You can bolt-on WordPress support for an extra fee on top of the cost of shared hosting.
Sometimes, these support fees dwarf the cost of the hosting plan, so check the fine print carefully.
The Most Important Non-WordPress Hosting Features
Regardless of how important WordPress is to your website, there is still a lot more to it than WordPress. So there are a number of things you should look for in a host besides its WordPress features.
We will cover the following list in deeper detail below:
- Bandwidth & Disk Space
- E-mail Support
- Domain Name
The Critical Hosting Elements: Bandwidth and Disk Space
Web host companies advertise hosting packages according to the amount of bandwidth and disk space you can use.
Bandwidth is the amount of information that you can send to your site visitors. In place of bandwidth, some hosts limit the number of visitors you can have on your site. Regardless of the accounting, it is pretty much the same thing.
WordPress stores content in a MySQL database, and it stores media attachments (like photos) as files. So the amount of disk space your host provides is an important issue. But it’s just one part of the picture when comparing host packages.
Why Is Disk Space So Important and What Pitfalls Are There?
In general, disk space is not an issue unless you are running a site that is very image intensive or that offers software download and the like. If you are going to be doing these kinds of things, you should talk to your host beforehand. Many have special plans for these kinds of sites.
Beware of plans offering “unlimited” bandwidth and disk space. If your host package is advertised as having “unlimited” resources, this doesn’t mean that you can host a file-sharing site from it.
All host expect you to adhere to an acceptable use policy (AUP), which basically means that your usage should be comparable to an average customer. So again, if you are going to be running a specialty website, you should talk to your host about it before signing up.
Other Non-WordPress Hosting Features
When you’re comparing WordPress hosting plans, make sure you’re comparing like with like. Alongside WordPress, you might need some “traditional” hosting features, such as email accounts and FTP access. Not all WordPress hosts provide all the options or as much of certain options as you may wish.
- Organizing a separate email host can be a pain if you’re not au fait with DNS records. Having separate email and web hosting also means that you’ve got two bills to pay each month.
So if you need email and WordPress at the same domain, buy a hosting account that combines both into one plan. That way, you can set up all of your domain records according to your host’s instructions.
You may also want a free domain name when you initially sign up with your web hosting provider. Free domains are common with vanilla shared hosting plans, but WordPress hosting plans sometimes don’t include them and may require you to register a domain yourself.
It’s another feature to look for if you want to save a few dollars at the start.
Virtual Private Server (VPS)
A VPS gives you more control of your server and dedicated resources.
Arguably, a virtual private server is overkill for a personal blog. For a medium-sized business, though, it could be a wise choice, since it will also isolate you completely from rogue customers using the same servers.
Remember: technical support is usually only included if you choose a managed VPS plan. So you probably want to select a managed VPS plan.
- Finally, pay attention to the kinds of backups that your host is taking.
Some hosts will only take daily backups of your database, not your hosting files. Some won’t take any backups at all unless you pay. You may find that free backups are not accessible to you, and are only for the host’s internal use; there could be huge restore fees as well.
- With WordPress, backups are crucial, just in case you mess with a piece of code that takes your site down. You can buy a separate backup plugin, but it’s nice to have backups included in your host plan. All hosts are different when it comes to backups, so it’s worth double-checking that you have some form of protection.
- PHP is important for WordPress and for other things. An enormous number of applications require PHP. WordPress itself requires PHP 5.2.4, although PHP 7 is recommended.
- Similarly to PHP, MySQL is necessary for many applications. It is also normally used for WordPress, which requires version 5.
Non-WordPress Hosting Options to Remember
Even if your entire site is based on WordPress, there are other hosting elements that you may need.
Other hosting features to look for, which are worth considering are as follows:
|Bandwidth||Enough to support your user base.|
|Disk Space||Enough to hold all your data and content.|
|Some hosts provide very limited email support.|
|Virtual Private Servers||Dedicated resources and one less worry.|
|Backups||Save your non-WordPress data|
|MySQL Databases||Many apps need it, including WordPress.|
|Data Center Choice||Choose to have your server near your customers.|
|Top-Shelf Control Panel||Easily administer your site.|
|One-Click Install||Install other apps, including WordPress, easily.|
|Account Shell Access||For advanced site administration.|
|PHP 7||The newest version of the language used by most apps.|
|MySQL 5||The default database for many web applications.|
What Does Optimized Hosting for WordPress Offer?
Thus far, we’ve discussed hosting WordPress with shared and VPS plans. But there are other options besides basic hosting.
Optimized WordPress Servers
Cloud hosting plans, such as HostGator’s cloud hosting, are likely to appeal to any business that wants blazing speed and good uptime.
But you can go one stage further than this and pick a host that has optimized its entire platform for WordPress. SiteGround is leading the way in optimized WordPress.
SuperCacher Will Speed Up WordPress
SiteGround offers its own SuperCacher service (which can be used with other platforms too, including Drupal). SuperCacher is available on all plans except for the cheapest shared hosting plan.
Using SuperCacher With WordPress
Caching plugins are popular on WordPress, with an impressive selection.
To use SuperCacher with WordPress, you’ll need to install SiteGround’s SG Optimizer plugin on your website.
The plugin will check for PHP 7 compatibility, upgrade your account if it’s compatible, and then give you the option to turn the caching service on.
SiteGround’s Special Security Feature
In addition, SiteGround has its own nifty AI bot protection algorithm. It monitors malicious login attempts on WordPress, flags suspicious URLs, and redirects those requests to a Captcha page.
This service is active by default on all hosting accounts, including SiteGround shared hosting and cloud VPS.
How Datacenter Location Affects Connection Speed to Customers
Ideally, you’ll want your WordPress website to be hosted on a server that is close to your customers.
Choosing the Right Location
So if you’re in Europe, you might look for a data center in London or Amsterdam, rather than picking a host with data centers on the west coast of the US. This can make a marked difference to the response time.
Some hosts have multiple datacenters, and they will allow you to choose which one your site is hosted on when you sign up. Others, like GoDaddy, will assign you a data center initially, and allow you to move once for free if you are unhappy with the response time your visitors experience.
Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A CDN is a handy tool when it comes to speed optimization on any website, so look for a hosting plan that offers CloudFlare CDN integration for free.
Many hosts, including SiteGround, now integrate CloudFlare in the control panel. If your host doesn’t, you can still set up CloudFlare as a separate service by using its nameservers.
What Are the Pros and Cons of WordPress?
As with all things, WordPress has its pros and cons. Here are the main ones you should think about.
Great reasons to use WordPress for running your website:
- Great user experience; easy to install and manage
- Highly scalable, so your website can grow without performance problems
- Intuitive interface that is based on a simple GUI and a WYSIWYG editor
- A range of options to host your site: from basic shared to managed WordPress hosting.
Reasons you may not want to use WordPress:
- Free themes can be over-used, so it might be necessary to pay for themes to avoid looking generic
- Small coding slips can cause catastrophe, and WordPress support is not provided with all plans
- Not ideal for more advanced use cases, like developing web apps or interactive websites.
Top Three WordPress Hosts
As you can see, there is a lot of competition in the WordPress hosting field. Thus it seems reasonable for me to tell you which hosts I like the best. Here are my top three WordPress hosts.
|Top 3 WordPress Hosts|
|Host||Price per Month||User Rating|
|SiteGround||$3.95 – $11.95||4.8 / 5.0|
|Bluehost||$19.99 – $49.99||3.6 / 5.0|
|WP Engine||$35.00 – $249.00||4.2 / 5.0|
They are a good place to start your search. But if none of them appeal to you, remember that there are lots more choices.
WordPress Hosting with Siteground.
First, if you want to choose your data center location and you think you’ll need technical help, SiteGround is the clear winner.
SiteGround is one of the best web hosting companies regardless of your needs. It also offers important WordPress enhancements, like its caching plugin, which could help to boost loading times and improve site performance.
The caching feature is available on all shared hosting plans, except for the cheapest.
WordPress Hosting with Bluehost.
Second, Bluehost provides an Optimized WordPress hosting plan. Although it doesn’t offer unlimited bandwidth, it does provide a massive visitor allowance that will suite high-traffic websites.
Alongside this, there’s a free domain, cPanel, free SSL, and MOJO Marketplace, plus a simple set-up process.
WordPress Hosting with WP Engine.
Third, WP Engine offers the ultimate premium WordPress hosting experience.
Convenience comes at a price, however; casual users may find that its plans are outside their budget. And it does restrict plugins (with good reasons).
It’s not for everyone, but if you can afford it, it’s one of the least troublesome options if you aren’t familiar with web hosting.
Think about the size of your website, your own technical skill level, and the amount of traffic that you expect your website to get.
If you choose managed WordPress hosting, look at the fine print and factor in the cost of a separate email host, if necessary.
Get Started Fast!
When you first sign up, it’s very important to get started with your host company right away and set up your site within the money-back guarantee period.
That way, you can test your host’s support, response time, and features, and you can always request a full refund if it doesn’t live up to your expectations.
What If WordPress Hosting Isn’t for Me?
Maybe after reading this article, you’re convinced that you don’t want or need WordPress hosting. Maybe you even have decided that you don’t want to use WordPress at all. Well, there are lots of other options.
Primary options besides WordPress hosting:
- Website Builders like Wix
- A CMS (Content Management System) like Joomla or Drupal
- Microblogging platform like Tumblr
- Online publishing platforms like Medium or WordPress.com
- E-commerce site builders like Shopify.
But let me reiterate: WordPress drives a quarter of the active websites on the internet. There is a good reason for this. WordPress is really good.
And WordPress hosting is becoming more and more popular because it makes using WordPress even easier. WordPress with WordPress hosting is what I recommend to all my friends and clients.