WordPress, the content management system that exploded in popularity during the blogging era of the early 2000s, is built on simplicity along with an excellent library of themes and plug-ins that extend the functionality of the site. In fact, WordPress is so well-liked that it supports more than 40 percent of all websites, from thousands of personal blogs to major media outlets, such as New Yorkers, PlayStation Blogand Rolling stone. If you don’t even know the code, WordPress is one of the best ways to bring a website to life.
How to Get WordPress Hosting
Most web hosts offer some form of WordPress-specific service, usually in an optimized environment. With servers optimized for WordPress, the CMS comes pre-installed, so you don’t have to download and set up a WordPress installation like you would when using a traditional web hosting environment. You should contact the web host’s customer support team to learn the specifics of its WordPress hosting offering.
Please note that here we are talking about the WordPress.org CMS which acts as the basis for your website, not WordPress.com. The latter CMS has more in common with website builders than traditional website hosting. As a result, WordPress.com is a turnkey (and more limited) WordPress solution, while the services in this roundup offer a much more flexible (and labor-intensive) DIY approach.
Managed WordPress Hosting vs. Unmanaged
When researching the level of WordPress hosting that best fits your site’s vision, you may see the option to choose either managed WordPress hosting or unmanaged (aka self-hosted) WordPress hosting. That choice is important, as the two options offer very different server maintenance experiences.
With managed WordPress hosting, your site lives on a server that is set up to work with WordPress. You’ll enjoy WordPress-specific security, automatic site backups, malware scanning and removal, and other benefits without worrying. Your web host’s server team will do the work for you. The downside? Managed WordPress hosting usually limits the number of plugins you can install to ensure your site operates in the best possible way.
With unmanaged WordPress hosting, your site lives on a server that usually only displays Linux or Windows operating systems. This type of hosting requires you (or an IT person) to set up everything yourself, including the features mentioned above that you get with managed WordPress hosting. You’d go this route if, say, there was some special software that needed to be installed. Or, you may like to get your hands dirty. You’ll usually save a few bucks on the self-hosted route as well, since you’re not paying the web host for server maintenance fees.
WordPress Pricing and Features
WordPress hosting prices are all over the map. The entry-level plans cost about the same as shared web hosting, but higher-tier plans can be upgraded up to around $60 per month. The advantage? Your WordPress installation should run more smoothly and setup should be easier in a WordPress environment than in a traditional hosting environment.
Before you sign up for a WordPress web hosting service, you should look for this interesting—and perhaps important—feature. Ideally, you want to invest in a WordPress host that provides unlimited monthly data transfer, email, storage, and 24/7 support. Many WordPress web hosts limit these features, especially on the managed side. WP Engine, for example, limits the site to 400,000 visitors and a relatively paltry 30GB of storage. If you expect a lot of site growth, you will want a host that can accommodate your future website expansion well.
In addition, you will want a service that offers Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) if you plan to sell the product. Ever see the green padlock in your browser’s address bar while you’re on your bank’s website? That’s the symbol that tells the visitor that SSL is installed. It is a symbol of trust.
An SSL connection encrypts the data traveling between your site and the user’s web browser, thereby protecting the transmission of purchase information. All of the WordPress hosting services in this roundup offer SSL certificates, but prices vary from company to company. Some companies include a free SSL certificate when you sign up for a hosting plan, while others charge nearly $100. Naturally, your web hosting needs will differ from the next, but keep these features in mind if you want a silky smooth WordPress experience.
The Importance of Uptime
The above-mentioned features are invaluable for a web hosting experience, but nothing can match the importance of a site’s uptime. If your site is down, clients or customers will not be able to find you or access your blog or products or services. New potential customers may lose your site altogether, and existing customers may go elsewhere out of frustration or confusion.
We’ve added uptime monitoring to our review process, and the results show that most web hosts do an excellent job of keeping sites up and running. Web hosts with uptime issues cannot qualify to be included among the best services in their field, no matter how solid their other offerings are.
Do You Need Dedicated WordPress Hosting?
If you’re planning to build a WordPress powered site, there’s no reason not to invest in dedicated WordPress hosting. It is full of benefits. That said, the WordPress environment won’t let you set up a non-WordPress site—that’s another thing to keep in mind, especially if you have a site in mind that will rely on a certain framework, for example. In those cases, you’ll want to build your site on shared hosting, VPS hosting, or a dedicated hosting service. And, if you want to start your own web hosting company, reseller hosting is the way to go.
Also, you should consider how long you will need WordPress web hosting for. If it’s a short-term project—for example, less than a month or two—you’ll usually receive a refund if you cancel your hosting within 60 days. Some companies offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, while others offer a 90-day money-back guarantee. Again, it’s worth doing your homework.
We’ve reviewed many WordPress hosting services aimed at individuals and small businesses, and included our favorites in this guide. The chart below covers traditional web hosts that offer WordPress hosting and self-service WordPress. It also gives you a quick overview of the main features you will find in each service. If you want to take an in-depth look at the WordPress hosting service, read the full review, linked below.
Just getting started with web hosting? Be sure to check out our primer, How to Make a WebsiteHow to Register a Domain Name for Your Website, How to Get a Free Domain for Your Website, and Linux vs. Windows: How to Choose the Best Server OS for Your Website.