How do you determine who is the best WordPress hosting provider? Ask a dozen people and you’ll get as many answers. We’ve worked with all the major hosting providers, and we base our recommendations on thorough testing and a considered view of price, support, speed and reliability.
Best WordPress hosting for bloggers and small businesses
For small businesses and bloggers who need an affordable option we believe InMotion is the very best WordPress hosting provider. We have more than one of our own sites hosted with InMotion and have become big fans of their rock solid performance and customer service.
They recently overhauled their signup and provisioning process to be super fast and efficient, but much more importantly we’ve always been very impressed by their technical performance. InMotion’s uptime and response times are best in class. It stands to reason too…look at what they are offering:
- Solid State Drives (SSDs) – Most WordPress hosting providers use old fashioned HDDs which are not as fast.
- Choice of Data centers so you can make sure you are as close to your customers as possible.
- Free migration from your existing host (if you have one), and
- Pre-installed WordPress so you don’t even need to install anything except your choice of theme and plugins.
- Unlimited Diskspace and free data backups (often a paid upgrade elsewhere)
- Free domain name registration
- 90 Day money back guarantee
Overall we don’t think you will find a better deal on really great shared hosting for WordPress anywhere else, particularly because they have also agreed to give WP Dev Shed readers a 40% discount on the standard rates!Get a 40% Discount on InMotion Hosting
Want to keep shopping around? Here’s our guide to all the best cheap hosting options.
Best managed WordPress hosting for businesses with more budget
In our opinion WP Engine is the gold standard in WordPress web hosting. They are quite a bit more expensive than standard shared hosting, but for good reason…with WP Engine you are working with a team of experts dedicated to nothing but WordPress, which is why we use them to host this very site. Their service and support is superb and their WordPress hosting infrastructure is specially tuned to ensure WordPress runs fast and smooth. They recently launched some killer page performance tools too.
Managed hosting of this kind isn’t for everyone, but if you are a business and you are prepared to spend a bit more to know your WordPress hosting is in great hands then WP Engine is definitely the place to go. Highly recommended.
Comparing WordPress Web Hosting Providers
Even when you’ve chosen a web host you’ll have to choose a plan, so it pays to understand the differentiating factors, and importantly what actually matters and what doesn’t.
Of course you should also start with a good understanding of what you need:
- Will your site be a standard business website with a few pages describing your business, or will it have 1000’s of pages?
- Will you need lots of storage for many large files, and will your storage requirements grow over time?
- Will your site consist of static content or does it provide some kind of interactive application? An application or script with lots of database calls will require more processing power.
- How many concurrent visitors do you need to cater for? Again, this will determine how much processing power you need.
Once you have a firm idea of your own requirements you’ll need to consider the following parameters when comparing the best web hosting providers…
What Are The Key Differences Between WordPress Web Hosting Plans?
- Diskspace: If you are starting a new blog or planning to run a simple WordPress powered site this is unlikely to be a major factor. You’ll only really need to think about this if you are running a very large WordPress site, uploading lots of media files or running a WordPress app that stores more and more data over time.
- Bandwith: Large media files, especially video, are what will use up the most bandwidth, but this can be mitigated to some extent by using a 3rd party Content Distribution network like Amazon Cloudfront or MaxCDN. A CDN will carry the bandwidth of delivered files rather than your host with the added benefit of better performance. If you will be hosting your own media you’ll need to think about how much bandwidth this is likely to consume. This calculator might be handy. All that said, if you are running a regular WordPress blog or a small business site with relatively few visitors (<1000/day) this isn’t likely to be a limiting factor.
- Processing Power: For most people this will be the most important differentiating factor. Assuming you have enough diskspace and bandwidth, it is the processing power your site has that will determine how many concurrent users it can handle and how fast it will respond when the number of concurrent users grows. It can be hard to determine how much processing power a shared WordPress hosting plan offers, so if the ability to grow and handle larger volumes of traffic is important to you then we’d recommend you look at a VPS or managed host with dedicated processing power.
- Drive Type: There is no doubt that the future is solid state drives. With no moving parts it is no surprise they are faster than regular hard drives with spinning disks.This is why we really like InMotion’s shared plans which all have SSDs.
We’ve taken all these factors into consideration in making our recommendations, as well as a great deal of experience with all the best WordPress web hosting companies so we also have a good sense of the more qualitative factors such as customer support.
Web hosting requirements for WordPress
If you are still shopping around for the best hosting for WordPress you just need to keep in mind the requirements for running WordPress. Thankfully WordPress has very simple requirements and will run on just about any standard linux based hosting service. Indeed a hosting company would be mad not to support WordPress given it is used on around 20% of all websites. That said, it pays to be aware of the specific requirements, namely:
- PHP version 5.2.4 (or higher)
- MySQL version 5.5 (or higher)
And that’s it! If you have these two then the latest version of WordPress will run great. Of course Inmotion and WP Engine are all good to go. Any web server that supports PHP and MySQL is good, but our recommendation is always to seek out a host that uses the Apache web server, and specifically can enable the Apache mod_rewrite module as you will need this to enable the friendly URL features of WordPress. As long as you use a reputable and experienced web hosting company then the chances are that this will be the case. If you are unsure we suggest asking them if they do enable the mod_rewrite module in Apache by default before signing up. We recommend you use hosts that run Apache only because along with Linux, PHP and MySQL It really is the most commonly used platform so you can always find people who can help either professionally or via the WordPress support forums.
Types of WordPress Web Hosting Available
Making sure you sign up for a service that caters for WordPress is actually pretty easy (almost everyone covers the basic WordPress hosting requirements), but still there are various levels of service that you can opt for, and you choice will depend on your needs…
Free WordPress Hosting
There is really only one option if you want free WordPress web hosting, and that is to go with WordPress.com. You can sign up and have your own site hosted at yourname.wordpress.com in a matter of minutes. If you are not sure if you are ready to commit to a running your own site on a dedicated domain then this is a great first step. The downside is that you don’t have your own dedicated domain, and for many people that is a big downside…having your own domain means you can brand yourself (and have a branded email address) rather than being a subdomain on WordPress.com. Check out our recent post on the problem with free wordpress hosting. There are other services like WordPress.com that offer a very similar free hosted service, but WordPress.com is run by Automattic, the company behind the platform, so it stands to reason that they know it best. It’s also worth noting that Automattic are very well funded so there is no chance that they are going to close up shop or disappear for any reason, and that WordPress.com does actually have a paid upgrade option which allows you to host with your own domain…so that might be a good upgrade path for the first time WordPress webmaster. That said, even if you pay to use your own domain on WordPress.com you still get the same WordPress hosting platform which does have some limitations, principally in terms of the plugins and theme customization options. It is these limitations that lead us to ultimately recommend you go for a self-hosted WordPress installation which will give you the ultimately flexibility…
Shared WordPress Hosting
This is where we recommend most new webmasters start out. Shared hosting means you will be on a server hosting hundreds of sites so you share the resources and costs of the server. It is a great option because it is affordable (starting at $5-7/mth) and you still get most of the features of a more powerful set up. Shared WordPress hosting plans are often sold as ‘unlimited’ bandwidth and storage which is a bit of a misdirection in a way because the performance bottle neck isn’t going to be bandwidth or storage, it’s going to be processing power. A shared server will provide your site with plenty of processing power for a few thousand visitors a day, but if your site grows to an extent that it has many concurrent users then you are going to want to upgrade to a WordPress VPS or dedicated server…and for this reason we do recommend you go with a shared WordPress hosting provider who offers a good upgrade path. Shared WordPress hosting accounts always provide you with a web based interface like cPanel to manage the various elements of your site, including email setup, databases and typically offer easy installation tools for all the popular web site software packages, including WordPress. WordPress isn’t actually hard to install manually in any event, but the 1-click installers do make it faster and ensure that all the file permissions are set right so that future updates to core WordPress, themes and plugins are all easily performed via the WP control panel. As above, we think that InMotion Hosting offer the best shared service.
WordPress VPS Hosting
A VPS server is a great next step up from shared WordPress hosting. It is also shared in the sense that your VPS will run on a physical server with other clients, but the server will typically host much fewer clients and you also get low level access to the server administration functions. It runs in effect like your own dedicated server, but on a server with other users. VPS hosting plans will typically come equipped with a control panel like WHM which allows even non-technical users to manage the various server functions via a web interface. For this reason a VPS is a great option if you are a designer/developer who wants to offer hosting to your clients, but doesn’t want to mess with technical system administration. We use a VPS to host many of our own sites and client sites.
Managed WordPress Web Hosting
If your site has grown increasingly popular, and you need the additional capacity, but you do not have the time, know-how, or the staff on hand to deal with server operations then managed hosting might be a great option for you. Once applicable only to dedicated plans, managed services can now be had for VPS, cloud or co-location hosting as well. It’s an option to consider if you:
- Lack sufficient expertise to properly administer the space.
- Are long on skills but short on time to manage a server yourself.
- Can justify the extra expense.
With managed WordPress hosting, you are renting not only the server but also its support team. Costs can vary. Depending on your choice of host, your benefits will include:
- Trouble-shooting and maintenance.
- Software installations and upgrades.
- Hardware repairs and server monitoring.
- Greater security and peace of mind.
- Built in Content Distribution Network (CDN)
- Built in caching layer for improved site performance
Dedicated WordPress support staff and faster problem resolution could provide the biggest benefit. A crashed website equals money lost. The dedicated knowledge and experience of the web host’s staff can get you back in action in a hurry. In spite of the extra fees, managed WordPress hosting solutions can still save you money. Under these plans, you will likely pay less for such essentials as software, hardware, server space and bandwidth. In addition, its relatively low cost is certain to trump the expense of hiring even one technology expert. This is why we host this site with the world’s biggest managed WordPress hosting provider, WP Engine.
Dedicated WordPress Hosting
If your site is a huge success then you will ultimately want to get your own dedicated server (though for 98% of all business sites and blogs a shared server or VPS is more than enough). This means you’ll have your own physical server hosted in the providers location, dedicated to just you. There are of course many levels of server you can lease, from smaller cheaper servers right up to very powerful servers with a huge amount of processing power. The important difference from shared and VPS type offerings is that you will have complete control over your WordPress hosting environment. If you get to this level you probably have your own system administration resource, though most dedicated server providers can also provide a managed solution (which of course costs more).
Hosting companies to avoid
If you spend enough time looking around at the various WordPress hosting offers out there you will come across plenty of cheap WordPress hosting offers of $1/mth. Sounds pretty good right? $12/yr for your hosting…I mean, what could go wrong? In our experience these ‘too good to be true’ deals always end badly. The companies providing this type of WordPress hosting might have the best intentions, but the fact is they can’t possibly provide the level of support you want for that kind of money. They can only hope to make money by doing serious volume and keeping their costs low. In the hosting game the biggest cost is people so that means less support. The few dollars you might save per year will not seem worthwhile the first time you have an outage and can’t reach anyone for days. Our advice is always to stick to reputable companies with a real track record and real support. No host is perfect, and from time to time you are going to need some support, so best to go with a WordPress host that you know will always be there when you need them. Your time and peace of mind is worth more than a few dollars a month. If you are on a budget there are some great options.
WordPress Hosting FAQs
Quick answers to your burning questions…
What is WordPress Hosting?
WordPress hosting is any hosting that supports the open source WordPress content management system (which is just about everyone these days). The specific hosting requirements are covered here. The term “WordPress hosting” can also be used in reference to the new breed of hosting companies, such as WP Engine, which only support the WordPress CMS and nothing else. Most hosting companies offer a server set up that will let you run any type of website, but these new WordPress specialists only run the one CMS.
Why WordPress hosting?
Why use a managed WordPress host? Managed WordPress hosting plans are typically more expensive, but they offer a few extras which are worth the expense…First, they deal in nothing but WordPress so you know all the staff and support are WordPress experts. They live and breathe it day in and day out. Second, they will usually offer advanced services standard, including automated backups and updates for WordPress core, themes and plugins. And lastly, their hosting platform is optimized to run WordPress fast and securely.
What is the best web hosting for WordPress?
How to choose WordPress web hosting?
We’ve tried to answer this in the section above on comparing WordPress hosting providers. You can also watch the Beginners Guide to WordPress Hosting video above too.
How much does WP hosting cost?
Good quality hosting for WordPress starts around USD$5/mth, though you can sometimes get better pricing when the big hosts are offering special deals. This price level is for a standard shared hosting plan. Do not be tempted by the $1/mth hosts, you get what you pay for. Pricing for managed WordPress hosting usually starts around $20/mth for the entry level plans. $25-30 is pretty typical. From there you start getting into VPS and dedicated server territory and here the price really depends on how much capacity you need. We’re on the $99/mth Professional Plan with WP Engine, but we also have a dedicated server for other projects which costs us $165/mth.
How to secure WordPress web hosting?
This is a great question and we could write alot more on this than we have space for here, indeed we already have. Check out these articles from the blog on essential WordPress security.
How to install WordPress?
If you are using a regular shared WordPress hosting provider they will almost certainly provide a website control panel with one of the popular script installers such as Installatron, Fantastico, Scriptaculous or possibly the newer Mojo Marketplace option which seems to be increasingly popular. Each of these options works in much the same way…login to your control panel and locate the installer tool. Click on the icon and follow the prompts to install WordPress. These tools all let you install a wide variety of web applications, but WordPress will always be top of the list as the most popular of all. You’ll be asked a few questions such as what directory you want to install WordPress in (usually it should go in the root directory, i.e yourdomain.com/) and what title to give your site, but once you have answered these you literally click install and wait a few minutes for the tool to do it’s job once installed you will be able to login and start managing your themes, plugins and content. I’m assuming here of course that you have already configured your domain name to point to your hosting account. Check out our post on domains and DNS basics if you need help with this.
Should I use Linux or Windows hosting for WordPress?
Short answer, Linux. You can install WordPress on a Windows server, but it is usually a bit of a hassle. We always recommend hosting your WordPress sites on a Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP set up, commonly known as a LAMP stack.
How to upload WordPress to hosting?
Long gone are the days of having manually upload and install WordPress on your hosting account. WordPress was famous for it’s 5min install, but these days it can be done in less than a minute using one of the common installers as described above. Don’t bother with a WordPress hosting provider that doesn’t take care of this for you…unless of course you are managing your own dedicated server, in which case you don’t need our help 🙂
Do I need CPanel to host WordPress
No, but it sure makes everything a lot easier in terms of installing WordPress and then managing email accounts on your domain etc. If you are looking at a shared WordPress hosting plan for your site I would go with a host that offers CPanel.
Last updated July 20, 2016.