For any business or website, choosing the right host is an important decision. However, when you’re using WordPress to power your website there are some additional decisions that need to be made, including whether managed WordPress hosting is the best option for you. In this article we’ll look at some of the things you need to consider when choosing a host for a WordPress-based site, as well as some basic categories of hosts.
Whenever you’re looking at different hosts and comparing various plans it’s important to remember that no hosting environment is perfect for every site. Different sites have different needs and budgets also vary. So keep in mind the specifics of your site in order to find the best WordPress hosting option for you.
What is WordPress Hosting?
Over the past 5-10 years (as WordPress’s popularity exploded), several new hosting companies launched specifically for the purpose of serving WordPress users. Pagely was the first one, and others like WP Engine, Synthesis (later acquired by WP Engine), Pressable, Kinsta, and Flywheel also became popular options. These companies focus exclusively on hosting WordPress websites, so they know and understand the needs of WordPress users, and their architecture is set up for superior WordPress performance.
Aside from the companies that provide hosting exclusively for WordPress users, many other web hosting companies have created specific plans or packages for WordPress-powered websites. These hosts also offer services for non-WordPress websites, but the servers used for their WordPress plans are optimized specifically for WordPress, or they offer other benefits like automatic WordPress installation. Some hosts that fall into this category are Bluehost, SiteGround, A2, and BigScoots.
If you have a WordPress-powered website, you have a lot of options when it comes to hosting. You don’t need to go with a specific WordPress host. Most hosts make it easy to install WordPress with just a few clicks, so you can host your WordPress website with just about any host. However, there are some compelling advantages to choosing a WordPress host.
Here are some of the reasons why you might want to go with a WordPress host or a plan specifically created for WordPress users.
Typical web hosting companies have customers using a variety of different content management systems, shopping carts, and other scripts. The main problem with this is the fact that it prevents the servers from being optimized for a particular CMS, which means less-than-optimal performance.
Because companies like WP Engine only host sites built on WordPress they can optimize their servers specifically for WordPress. This results in pages that load faster, lower strain on the server, a better user experience, and better results for the site owner.
Hosts like SiteGround that offer WordPress hosting plans in addition to general hosting plans will use WordPress-optimized for customers that are on the WordPress plans.
Most, but not all, WordPress hosts will include some sort of automatic caching without the need to use a plugin, or they provide their own caching plugin that has been developed to work specifically for their servers.
While there are several popular caching plugins that can be used for free, many users experience issues with them or find them confusing and difficult to set up. If caching can be done without a plugin, it just makes it that much easier for you. For example, WP Engine has its own EverCache technology to speed up page loads and improve performance
Many WordPress hosts make use of a content delivery network (CDN) to help improve page load speeds. A CDN is a worldwide network of servers that delivers content to users based on their geographic location. The closer the user is to the server, the faster it will be.
Some hosts offer CDNs on all of their plans and others offer CDNs as a part of higher-priced plans. You can check the details of any host that you are considering.
The combination of having a server that is optimized for WordPress, caching, and the use of a CDN can result in significantly faster page load speeds.
Support from WordPress Experts
With the average web host, if you run into a problem with your site that is related to WordPress you may or may not be able to get help from your host. Many hosts do not support third-party installations, which would include WordPress.
From my experience, if you have a WordPress-related issue the customer support reps at most hosts will try to help you if they are able, but most of them are not WordPress experts.
A major advantage of going with a company like WP Engine or others that offer WordPress hosting is the fact that their support reps are well-trained and very knowledgeable on WordPress, and they will be able to help you with these types of issues. This support in some situations can save you a lot of time and headaches, and may even prevent you from needing to hire a WordPress developer to identify and fix the issue.
Because WordPress is open-source and extremely popular, it’s targeted by many hackers. If you take the right precautions you don’t need to be worried about the security of your site, and most managed WordPress hosts will offer security that is superior to what you would get with another host.
Hosts like WP Engine, Pagely, and others provide pro-active monitoring and scanning to help keep your site safe. WP Engine even offers disaster recovery services.
What About Pricing?
With benefits like better site performance, expert support, and enhanced security there is a lot to like about WordPress hosting. However, you may be wondering how much this is going to cost. WordPress hosting is very similar in price to any other type of hosting and you can find options that fit with any budget.
Budget hosts like Bluehost offer WordPress hosting at the same price as their standard hosting plans, so even if you are working with a very tight budget, getting WordPress hosting is still an option.
If you have the budget to step up in class, you’ll have even more options. Hosts like WP Engine, Kinsta, and BigScoots will cost more than a budget shared hosting plan, but you’re also getting high-quality hosting with fast page loads and excellent customer service, all at very reasonable prices.
In general, money shouldn’t prevent you from getting a WordPress hosting account. Of course, your budget will be a factor when it comes to choosing the right host and the right plan, but that is the case even if you are going with standard hosting instead of WordPress hosting.
Things to Consider When Choosing a WordPress Host
When you’re trying to find the best host for your website, here are some things to keep in mind.
The Importance of Load Time and Reliability
The reliability and performance of any website will be extremely critical to its success. Obviously, if the site is down it’s not doing anyone any good. And slow loading pages can cause visitors to leave and go to another site. Additionally, slow-loading pages can suffer in terms of SEO since Google uses load speed as a factor in determining rankings. Because of all of these things, the load speed of your pages is a very important factor.
In general, budget shared hosting will not have the same level of performance and reliability as VPS, a dedicated server, or managed WordPress hosting. If your site is for your business or makes you money in some way, make sure that you don’t choose a host based on price alone or you will likely experience less-than-optimal performance.
The good news is that you can get excellent performance even from the inexpensive hosts (less than $10 per month) that will be covered later in this article. And if you’re able to move up to a price range around $35 per month, you can get even better performance.
We already looked at the benefit of getting support from WordPress experts, and that’s something that you should consider. You may find this expert support to be especially important if you’re not a WordPress expert and if you’re not a developer.
There are other factors involved in support that you should consider. The most significant factors are the hours of availability, as well as the support options that are available. Regardless of what hosts you are considering, be sure that you know the details of their support before making a decision.
I would suggest always choosing a host that offers 24/7 support, and thankfully, almost all of them do (all of the hosts on this page offer 24/7 support). You don’t want to be in a situation where your website is down and you can’t get in touch with your host because it’s outside of their business hours.
You may have a preferred method of getting support. Personally, I tend to use online chat in most cases, with support by email being a close second. I rarely call a host for support, but it’s nice to know if phone support is available in case I do need it at some point in the future.
Think about your own preferences, and if you have strong feelings in this area, be sure that you choose a host that offers support in your preferred format.
Number of Websites or Domains
Another important factor that you want to consider is how many websites or domains you will be hosting. You’ll need to check the details of any plan that you’re considering because most plans will place some type of limit on the number of sites you can host on the plan. You might only be able to host one site on a plan. Other plans may allow for 5, 10, or even unlimited domains/sites.
Of course, the plan you choose will depend on your needs. If you only need to host one website and you have no plans to add others, you’ll have plenty of options. If you need to host more sites, be sure that you’re choosing a plan that will meet your needs.
Another thing to mention about managed WordPress hosting is that some of them will have limitations on themes and plugins that you can use. The reason for this is that certain themes and plugins may conflict with their servers or duplicate some functionality.
For example, WP Engine does not allow caching plugins or backup plugins, but that’s because these features are built into their service. They also don’t allow some other popular plugins because of performance issues. This is a minor issue for most users, but you’ll want to check before signing up to make sure that none of the banned plugins are critical to your site.
If you’re comparing a host like WP Engine to a more traditional web host to determine what is the best fit for you, there are probably some extras that you will want to consider. For example, many hosts offer a staging area that can be used to test changes to your theme or site before impacting the live website.
Of course, price is a factor that you will need to consider. When you’re weighing different hosting options against each other there is a big variety in terms of price. If your site or business is making money, it is recommended that you choose a professional hosting solution that will give you more reliability and better performance than a cheap shared hosting account. But in any case and with any budget, you’ll have some options. Continue reading below to see our suggestions in different classes.
Room for Growth
Something many people don’t consider when they’re choosing a host is how much room for growth they’ll have with that host. Changing hosts is not something you’ll want to do frequently, so be sure that you choose a host that will be able to support your needs as your site grows.
Most of the hosts covered in this article offer several different plans that will allow you to simply upgrade when needed. Upgrading with the same host is usually much easier than moving from one host to another.
Best Budget WordPress Hosting
If you are working with a limited budget, you can still get quality WordPress hosting. Here are our top recommendations for WordPress hosting at less than $10 per month.
SiteGround was one of the first major hosting companies to offer managed WordPress hosting in addition to general hosting for non-WordPress websites. Their WordPress hosting plans are priced the same as their general shared hosting plans, starting at just $3.95 per month.
Over the years, SiteGround has earned the reputation of being the best low-cost hosting provider. I personally used their hosting for more than 5 years for some of my websites and I found their hosting to be extremely reliable. Page load speeds on SiteGround tend to be faster than other hosts in the budget category, which is the main reason why they are highly recommended.
Aside from fast page loads and excellent reliability and uptime, SiteGround is also known for responsive and helpful customer service.
If you want the best performance, you’ll need to go with at least the GrowBig plan, which starts at $5.95 per month. The entry-level StartUp plan does not include caching, which can have a noticeable impact on the performance and page load speed of your site.
WordPress support (24/7), a Cloudflare CDN, SSL certificates, anti-hack systems, and automated daily backups, are included on all plans.
The one caveat with SiteGround is related to pricing. Although the starting prices are low, those prices will jump after your initial billing period. When you sign up, you can pay for 1, 2, or 3 years. When that period ends, you’ll be billed at the regular rate. For example, the $5.95 plan will become $19.95 per month and the $11.95 plan will become $34.95. The renewal price on those plans will put you into a higher class, and it can be a big jump to absorb in the budget.
Paying for a longer term will lock you into the lower price for longer, but that also means you’re committing to staying with SiteGround for a longer period of time.
Bluehost has been one of the leaders in low-cost shared hosting for a long time, but they’ve added some additional options to their lineup in recent years. One of those options is WordPress hosting.
The shared WordPress hosting plans from Bluehost are priced the same as their general hosting, so there is no reason not to go with a WordPress plan if you have a WordPress-powered website.
Bluehost’s plans start at $3.95 per month, which is the same as SiteGround’s entry-level price, however, the renewal price with Bluehost is $7.99 as compared to SiteGround’s $11.95. To get the cheapest pricing with Bluehost, you can pre-pay for 3 years’ worth of hosting.
The shared WordPress plans from Bluehost come with automatic WordPress installation, automatic WordPress updates, and a staging area to work on your site without making changes to the live environment. However, it does not include some extras like a CDN or automatic caching.
In addition to the shared WordPress plans mentioned above, Bluehost now also offers WP Pro plans, which are priced higher but are more comprehensive as managed WordPress hosting plans. Pricing for WP Pro plans starts at $19.95 per month and includes things like servers that are optimized for the best WordPress performance, daily scheduled backups, and malware detection and removal.
A2 is another low-cost hosting provider that offers plans specifically for WordPress users. Like Bluehost, A2 also offers low-priced shared WordPress hosting plans, as well as higher-priced managed WordPress hosting plans.
The shared WordPress plans start as low as $3.92 per month. You can lock that price in for as long as 3 years by pre-paying, or the regular price after renewal is $7.99 per month. In a lot of ways, the plans and pricing from A2 are similar to Bluehost. The lowest-priced shared hosting plan allows you to host one website on the account, and if you want to host more than one site, you’ll need to step up to the next plan. All of the plans from A2 include a free Cloudflare CDN account.
Also like Bluehost, A2 offers some higher-priced plans with more features and benefits for WordPress users. Their managed WordPress hosting plans start at $11.99 per month. The most significant advantages of these plans include their Turbo servers that are up to 20x faster, daily automated backups, LiteSpeed cache, and WordPress updates.
Best WordPress Hosting for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses
While the hosting plans covered above provide a good starting point for lower budgets, most businesses will benefit from stepping up to a slightly higher class. The hosts in this category are not budget hosts, but they all offer excellent value and very competitive prices. If you have a website that is making money, you’ll probably want to choose a host from this category.
WP Engine is probably the most well-known name among managed WordPress hosting providers. They’ve grown extremely fast and they acquired StudioPress (creators of the Genesis theme framework) which puts them in a unique position to be able to offer WP Engine hosting and the Genesis theme framework together. In fact, the Genesis framework and 35+ premium themes from StudioPress are included in all WP Engine hosting plans at no extra cost.
Pricing starts at $22.50 per month, which allows you to host one website and serve 25,000 visitors per month. All plans on WP Engine will provide you with a hosting environment that is optimized for WordPress and ideal for fast-loading pages. You’ll get their proprietary EverCache technology that speeds up page loads, a global CDN, and automated SSL certificates.
As far as customer support is concerned, the lowest-priced plan will offer chat support 24/7. If you upgrade to the next plan ($86.25 per month), you’ll be able to get 24/7 support by chat or phone. That plan also allows you to host 10 sites.
WP Engine has developed a reputation for providing reliable, fast WordPress hosting. In fact, Vandelay Design is hosted with WP Engine. When you combine the fact that your hosting plan will also give you access to the Genesis framework and a large selection of premium themes, WP Engine presents a very enticing option.
Kinsta was founded in 2013, and within just a few short years they had already developed an excellent reputation for both performance and customer service. Like WP Engine, Kinsta focuses exclusively on WordPress hosting.
As a customer of Kinsta, you’ll benefit from an excellent list of features on any plan that they offer. All of their plans include automatic database optimization, automatic daily backups, manual backup points, hack and malware removal, servers that are built for speed, a free CDN, a caching plugin, and more.
Pricing starts at $30 per month, which allows you to host one website and support up to 20,000 visitors per month.
Kinsta offers customer support 24/7 customer support via online chat.
BigScoots is the only host in this category that does not focus exclusively on WordPress, however, they do offer some excellent managed WordPress hosting plans.
Like Kinsta, BigScoots is not as well-known as WP Engine, but they have proven to be a very high-quality host that provides excellent customer service.
Their managed WordPress hosting plans include servers that are optimized for speed, a CDN, DDoS protection, proactive monitoring, enhanced security, automated backups, free SSL certificates and more.
BigScoots customers have access to email support 24/7 and they are known for very fast response times.
One way that BigScoots separates from some of the competition is in terms of pricing. Their starter plan is priced at $34.95 per month, which on the surface seems to be pretty comparable to many of the other hosts covered in this article. However, the starter plan supports an estimated 250,000 visitors per month. That’s 10x the number of visitors supported by WP Engine’s lowest-priced plan and more than 10x the visitors supported by Kinsta’s lowest-priced plan (which means you won’t outgrow the plan quickly). Although those numbers are estimated visitors, I know bloggers who have had more than 350,000 monthly pageviews on the starter plan with BigScoots, still with a blazing-fast website.
Flywheel, founded in 2012, focuses exclusively on hosting for WordPress-powered sites. What sets Flywheel apart is their emphasis on helping freelancers and design agencies. Flywheel offers free demo sites that you can use for development until your client projects are ready to go live. When the site is ready to go live, you can transfer billing and ownership to your client.
If you find yourself using the same themes and plugins over-and-over again, you can create site templates that will speed up your production time so you don’t have to install everything individually.
Flywheel also makes it easy for you to collaborate with others (clients, freelancers, teammates). If you’re a part of an agency, everyone on your team will be able to login to the sites that you’re developing.
Aside from all of those features, Flywheel offers rock-solid WordPress hosting and quality customer service. All of Flywheels customers are hosted on servers that are optimized for WordPress and all plans include a CDN, FlyCache, nightly backups, free SSL certificates, and more.
Pricing starts at $13 per month, which includes everything mentioned above, but only supports a site that gets about 5,000 visits per month. The $25 per month plan supports one site with about 25,000 visits per month.
In terms of customer support, all Flywheel plans come with 24/7 support by online chat. Phone support is also available for plans starting at $242 per month.
Like several other companies covered in this article, Pressable focuses exclusively on hosting for WordPress-powered websites. Pressable was founded in 2010 and later acquired by Automattic, the parent company of WordPress.
All of Pressable’s hosting plans include enterprise architecture to ensure that your site loads quickly, a CDN, free SSL certificates, JetPack Premium, staging sites, and more.
Pricing starts at $25 per month for a plan that supports one site and about 60,000 monthly pageviews.
All Pressable customers can get support 24/7 through an online ticketing system within the dashboard. Plans starting at $45 per month also have access to support via online chat.
Best Enterprise WordPress Hosting
While several of the companies listed above also offer enterprise plans for high-traffic websites with greater demands, there are a few companies who focus exclusively on serving enterprise customers.
WordPress VIP is owned by Automattic, the parent company of WordPress, and they are uniquely qualified to serve clients who are using the WordPress platform. While most WordPress-based websites will not have a need for this level of performance or service, those who manage very high-traffic sites may want to see what WordPress VIP has to offer.
Hosting from WordPress VIP features globally-distributed data centers for faster page load speeds, best-in-class response times, 24/7 support, automatic updates and security patches, hourly database backups, and constant monitoring. Pricing is not listed on their website, so customers will need to contact the company to get a quote for a suitable plan.
Pagely launched in 2009 as the first company to offer managed WordPress hosting. Since that time, the industry has changed and grown very quickly and Pagely now focuses on enterprise and VPS plans for high-traffic websites.
Pagely offers two categories of hosting with the VPS plans starting at $199 per month and the Enterprise plans starting at $2,500 per month.
All of Pagely’s VPS plans feature a custom cache engine, a CDN, advanced security, dynamic image resizing and optimization, automatic backups, free SSL certificates, dedicated IPs, staging sites, and more.
Customer support is available through a ticketing system on all plans, and plans starting at $499 per month also have access to support via online chat.
Which Host is Best for You?
Hopefully, the details above have helped you to find a WordPress host that meets your needs and your budget. All of the hosts covered on this page are capable of providing excellent hosting for the right customers, but which one is right for you will depend on your unique needs.