The Best WordPress Hosting – An Expert Analysis
Page updated: July 2018
If you’ve landed on this page, you’re most likely trying to figure out which company offers the best WordPress hosting for your website. There are a lot of factors that go into choosing a good WordPress host, and the goal of this page is to provide you with awesome, high-quality information in order to help you be better-informed about WordPress hosting.
In my 10+ years of building websites professionally, I’ve tried nearly every host out there. I’ve had good luck and back luck; I’ve had hosts I love…and hosts I hate.
On most review sites, you’ll find that people recommend whatever host pays the most in affiliate commission—their motivation is solely to make money, not to actually recommend something worth buying, even if they try and make it seem that way—and I HATE sites like that, which is why you won’t find any of that nonsense here.
Disclaimer: yes, if you purchase hosting from one of the links below, I may receive a small commission…but that does NOT affect whether or not I recommend a host. If I think something isn’t any good, I will definitely tell you, despite commissions and all that nonsense. See the Hosting I Don’t Recommend page if you don’t believe me!
I want to help people avoid choosing a bad host, or a host that doesn’t fit their needs. I want WebHostingBuddy to be the best resource online for real, honest recommendations—so keep reading to learn more about how to choose the best WordPress host!
The First Question to Ask About WordPress Hosting: What Are Your Needs?
The truth is that there’s no such thing as “the best WordPress hosting” for everyone…some people have different needs, and that’s ok.
If you have a small personal blog with low traffic levels, shared hosting is probably the best and most economical choice for you—in this case, Bluehost or HostGator might be a good place to start. However, if you have a website with higher traffic or a business website, then you may want to go with managed WordPress hosting from a company like WP Engine or get a VPS from a company like Liquidweb if you’re reasonably tech savvy.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to help figure out your hosting needs:
How much traffic does my website get each day, on average?
If you’re only getting a few hundred visitors per day, and it’s just a personal blog, you’re probably ok staying with shared hosting. It’s economical, pretty easy to use, and generally reliable.
In my personal experience, the cutoff I like to use for shared hosting vs managed hosting/VPS options is about 300-500 visits per day. If you’re up in that range, it might be worthwhile to invest in a better hosting option than shared WordPress hosting. The reason for this is because shared hosting can sometimes get overloaded if the other people who you’re sharing the server with experience a traffic surge. This means that your site could slow down and other people could experience problems trying to access your site. When you’re on managed hosting like WP Engine or on a VPS, this is less likely to happen. Generally speaking, the fastest hosting will usually cost a bit more than budget hosting too, but it’s important for your site to be speedy if it receives a lot of traffic.
How elaborate is my site? How resource-intensive is it?
If you have a site with all sorts of images, whiz-bang graphics, and other animations, you might not be able to host it on shared hosting—you might need a server that has a bit more power. However, if you have a relatively simple blog that isn’t very elaborate, then shared hosting may be a good fit.
How important is support? How tech-savvy am I?
This is an important question to ask because often times the more you pay for hosting, the better support you get. If you’re someone who isn’t all that tech savvy, you may want to choose a host that has great support. If you’re comfortable with jumping into PHPMyAdmin, dealing with SQL databases, and other technical aspects of WordPress backends, you might be ok with a VPS or something that requires more management.
Most of the best shared hosts have pretty good support, however, shared hosting support will never match the level of managed hosting like WP Engine or something similar.
What kind of additional features do I need?
Do you need email functionality? Do you need a lot of disk space or bandwidth? These are important points to consider about when choosing a WordPress hosting package. The more disk space you have the more expensive the package will be. The more bandwidth, the more features, the more expensive the package will be. Keep in mind that you’re also paying for reliability and infrastructure often times as you spend more on hosting.
There are many little bells and whistles that hosts often try to upsell you on that you don’t really need, so when you sign up for hosting, make sure you read all of the options/fine print on the checkout page carefully.
The Best WordPress Hosting for Bloggers and Personal Websites
As mentioned above, there are multiple considerations when it comes to choosing a WordPress host. If you have a small to medium size blog or a personal website (assuming you fall in the traffic limits mentioned above) and don’t need anything fancy, I would recommend the following hosts:
#1 – Bluehost
They’ve been in business for quite a while and are one of the most popular and stable shared WordPress hosting options available. They are very “noob-friendly” and have support that is quite good. They offer the option to open tickets and also have chat support. Their support is also available 24/7/365. They also use cPanel and it’s laid out quite well.
I’ve used Bluehost to build sites for friends, family, and also used them professionally. I would say that from my personal experience, HostGator has a bit of an edge performance-wise, but Bluehost has better customer service and support.
Bluehost does offer different levels of shared hosting so you can expand or add features if you have a larger site. On top of that, they also offer VPS and dedicated hosting, although if I was going to buy a VPS or dedicated server, I would go with someone who specializes in that like Liquidweb. All in all, Bluehost is a great host for bloggers and people with single websites who don’t get a massive amount of traffic and want a host with quality hosting and support at a good price.
#2 – HostGator
HostGator was the first professional hosting that I ever bought, and they’ll always have a special place in my toolbox. They do a great job with shared hosting and have a lot of different packages for all budgets. Their Hatchling package is great for a new website or someone who is just getting started online.
One thing I like about HostGator is that they seem to have a really good handle on managing shared server resources. With all of the shared sites I’ve had on HostGator, it’s rare to have one that gets bogged down by other people on the server, and this isn’t something I can say about many shared hosts. I listed them second because in the last year or so, I feel like their support has fallen a little bit behind Bluehost, but it’s still better than most other shared hosts. When I was first getting started building websites, I can’t tell you how many times I got excellent help from the HostGator techs via chat…I swear they actually taught me a lot about how to run a server!
HostGator also does VPS, dedicated, and even managed WordPress hosting. I believe they do a better job on their VPS and dedicated offerings than Bluehost does, but I would still recommend Liquidweb or WP Engine for anything higher than shared hosting. I’ve recommended HostGator to friends, family, and also use them professionally. They’re definitely a solid shared host, and it’s really hard to go wrong with them.
#3 – SiteGround
SiteGround is a great host—their page load times are excellent, their support is top-notch, and they’re an all-around great offering. So why are they listed third?
Well, it’s simply because they’re sort of a cross between a shared web host and a managed web host, and their price is a bit more expensive (but it’s definitely worth it). They are one of my favorite hosts, simply because they really don’t have a weak point. Support, speed, options—they do everything well. They are a little bit more expensive than Bluehost, and definitely a bit more than HostGator, but as I said, I believe it’s worth it. I’m currently using them for a site that I built last year, and I couldn’t be happier.
The Best WordPress Hosting for Businesses and Higher Traffic Websites
If your website is going to be a business site, or you’re in the 300-500+ visitors per day traffic range, I would not recommend using shared hosting. If you have a business, you can get a WP Engine plan for as low as $29/month and in terms of overall business expenses, that’s not much—so it’s not worth it to “cheap out” on shared hosting. If your business website is down you could be losing customers and money, so you really need to make a little bit of an investment into web hosting and go above the level of shared hosting.
Do some small businesses use shared hosting? Sure—but I can’t say that’s a good idea. If you’re a blogger who’s receiving 300-500+ visits per day, you should be monetizing your site somehow, and again, $29/month for a WP Engine plan should easily be covered by ad revenue at that point if you’re at that traffic level. Managed hosting can be really important if you’re trying to grow your audience because it can offer the best performance and minimize your downtime, which can help your reputation with your audience.
With that said, here are the WordPress hosts I recommend for businesses and higher traffic websites:
#1 – WP Engine
I have used WP Engine to build websites for multinational corporations and also for smaller projects. They are literally, in my opinion, the best WordPress host currently out there—hands down, no exceptions.
Their platform is built from the bottom up for WordPress—they don’t host any other types of websites—WordPress only. This means that their entire platform is tweaked to perfection to work with WordPress. Their support absolutely rocks—you can call and get telephone support or chat support. They also have a ticketing system and from my experience, are very prompt at responding to tickets.
Their pricing starts at $29/month which is going to be more than Bluehost or some of the shared options, but you are getting a LOT more…a LOT. If there’s any way that WP Engine fits into your budget, they are literally the best WordPress host I have ever worked with. That said, their backend is proprietary and takes a little time to get used to (this happens quickly) and again, their price is a little higher, but it’s definitely one of those situations where “you get what you pay for.” I can’t say enough good about them.
#2 – LiquidWeb
Presently, at the time of writing, WebHostingBuddy is hosted with LiquidWeb…so what does that tell you in terms of my recommendation? They are awesome, they have amazing infrastructure, and world class support. You can literally pick up the phone at 2 a.m. and talk to a level 2 engineer in Michigan—yes, you heard that right. They call their support “heroic” and I think there’s a good reason for that.
They used to offer shared hosting, but not any longer. Their main claim to fame is VPS hosting and dedicated servers, but they do offer managed WordPress hosting as well (although I have not used that yet). I have had a LiquidWeb VPS for years, and can strongly recommend them.
#3 – Flywheel
These guys are great—they are another managed WordPress hosting company who has fine-tuned their platform to work with WordPress. What I like about them the most is that they offer a “Tiny” package starting at $15/month that works for testing out their service to see if you like it.
I have used them for a few different projects and have found their support to be pretty good and their reliability and speed to be excellent. They’re a lesser-known company in the WordPress hosting world, but I honestly believe that they deserve more notoriety.
The Best Managed WordPress Hosting
#1 – WP Engine
WP Engine is hands down the winner here—no doubt about it. I really feel that if you’re going with managed WordPress hosting, you should go with WP Engine. Obviously there are other options, and I think Flywheel does a good job of coming close, but WP Engine really deserves the credit here. Their interface, their support, their speed—I haven’t tried another host that comes close in terms of the total package for managed WordPress hosting.
#2 – Flywheel
As mentioned above in the previous section, Flywheel does a good job and is a very solid option for managed WordPress hosting. I do really like them—are they the giant that WP Engine is? No. Are they still a good managed WordPress host with a cheaper pricing and solid reliability—absolutely!
The Best VPS Hosting for WordPress
In terms of VPS hosting, it’s really hard to beat LiquidWeb—which is why there’s no runner up listed here. In terms of a VPS, I can’t think of anyone who does a better job or who has better support. Again, at the time of writing, WebHostingBuddy is hosted on a Liqudweb VPS—so what does that tell you?
With that said, their pricing is a bit more expensive than other more budget VPS hosts, but I’ve found that other hosts have a lot of problems with their VPS servers running slowly, almost similar to shared hosting. Also, when you’re running a VPS, you need to have good support with engineers who know what the heck they’re doing—and the only host that I’ve ever been satisfied with in that respect for VPS severs is Liquidweb.
The Best Dedicated Server Hosting for WordPress
#1 – LiquidWeb (again)
If you want a dedicated server, it means you probably have a website that gets a lot of traffic and you also probably understand how to manage a server. Liquidweb, as mentioned many times on this page, has excellent support and also has a variety of dedicated server offerings.
#2 – Rackspace
RackSpace is one of the top end suppliers of dedicated servers on the web. They have excellent support and an extremely good reputation. They are used by Fortune 500 companies and individuals for smaller projects.
Their pricing is a bit more expensive than Liquidweb and may not be affordable for some people, but if you need the best of the best in terms of a dedicated box, RackSpace is the way to go.
The Best Cloud Hosting for WordPress
For most people, cloud hosting isn’t something they need. It requires more technical know-how and can be finicky at times in terms of management. However, it’s often times cheaper than shared or managed hosting and you get more for your money too in terms of server power.
That said, there’s one host that I can recommend for WordPress cloud hosting:
They are a smaller, up-and-coming company based in Malta and have a unique approach to cloud hosting. They basically put a management layer on top of cloud hosting platforms like Digital Ocean and Vultr. This allows people to have the savings and performance of cloud hosting but with the support offered by traditional hosting.
I currently have 2 sites hosted with Cloudways and have been very pleased so far. While I wouldn’t recommend them to people who are new to hosting, if you know what you’re doing and are looking for a less expensive cloud option without some of the hassle of managing a cloud server they’re an amazing option.
Key Points to Consider When Choosing a WordPress Host
Obviously speed is also dictated by the efficiency of the code on your website, DNS, and a variety of other things, but there’s no doubt that speed is dramatically influenced by your web hosting. Some of the most popular search engines have said that speed is a ranking factor when they decide how to order the search results, so the faster your site loads the better. This means that choosing a web host that is optimized for speedy loading of WordPress pages is a must.
Inevitably, your site will experience issues. Whether it gets hacked, or you mess something up yourself, you’re going to need support at some time or another. It’s important to choose a host that offers 24/7/365 support because you never know when you’ll need it. Also, it’s a good idea to try and choose a web host that either doesn’t outsource their support or does so minimally. When a host handles their support in-house, it’s usually much better (such as Liquidweb and WP Engine).
Downtime happens with any host, but it should be kept to a minimum. When you’re choosing a host, you want a company who spends a lot of time maintaining their infrastructure and monitoring usage to avoid costly downtime.
Some hosts try to sell people on whiz-bang features that are relatively useless, but there are other hosts that do offer some features that are nice to have. For example, WP Engine offers a “staging” environment for building test sites. Liquidweb offers the ability to add extra IPs to your VPS without opening a support ticket. These are little things, but they do add up, and depending upon your needs, you might want to choose a host with certain features.
Pricing shouldn’t be the only thing that you think about when choosing a WordPress host or you’ll end up with a bargain basement host and your website will be down more than it’s up. With that said, most people are working within some type of budget, so it’s good to consider pricing to some extent. In other words, consider pricing but don’t be a cheap skate either. If you can afford $29/month, WP Engine is, hands down, one of the best available options in terms of middle-of-the-road pricing but with excellent service and a top notch platform.
Types of WordPress Hosting & Terminology
If you’re looking for a WordPress host, you may have wondered what some of the different terminology means. VPS hosting or shared hosting, etc. In this section, I’ll break down the various types of hosting available and explain what they each mean.
Types of Hosting:
With shared hosting, your website is on the same server as other websites. In addition to that, you share all of the server resources (CPU, memory, etc.). This is ok or even ideal for smaller websites with lower traffic, but when it comes to higher traffic websites sharing these resources can be a problem.
This is a step up from shared hosting. If you have a VPS it means that you are on a “Virtual Private Server.” In this situation, a dedicated server is partitioned into smaller virtual servers. You typically get a dedicated IP and do not share resources with anyone else on the server.
With dedicated hosting, you have your own physical server that your website is hosted on. You share nothing with anyone else and there’s no partition. This is ideal for extremely high volume websites or other high volume needs.
Cloud hosting is where you typically have dedicated resources, but not a dedicated server. Your resources are generally not tied to a single partitioned box like a VPS and your site’s content and files may be spread out across a network of servers (the cloud) and served from the box with the most available resources or box that will produce the fastest load time. This is ideal for people who are testing web applications or need an easily-scalable infrastructure.
Common Hosting Terminology:
Bandwidth is a term used to describe the measurement of data transfer from your server to another computer, or from another computer to your server. Each time a visitor lands on your site, all of the text and images are transferred to from your server to their web browser, and the amount of data sent and received in this situation is subtracted from the available bandwidth allotted by your host. If you get a large amount of traffic, you’ll want a host that offers a large amount of bandwidth.
This term relates to the amount of storage capacity that your server has to store files—the more disk space, the more files that you can store on your server.
When a person lands on your website this usually counts as a visitor. Managed hosting plans usually tell you how many visitors you can have per month for each pricing level. If you have a lot of visitors, you may need to upgrade to a larger plan. Outside of managed hosts, visitors are usually measured in bandwidth.
Because web servers are computers, they have CPUs (Central Processing Units) that process information for the server. Shared hosting accounts usually share CPU power between users, while VPS and dedicated boxes will usually have a number of CPU cores assigned to the box. The more CPU cores you have, the faster your server will be able to run.
Hosting to Avoid
Unfortunately, the internet is FULL of low quality web hosts. Even some of the mainstream hosting companies that you may have heard of aren’t the best in my opinion.
Because I want this site to be an extremely honest source of reviews, I created an entirely separate page called Hosting I Don’t Recommend. These are hosts that I have personally tried and been dissatisfied with. If you want to see my opinion on what to avoid, make sure to check out that page.
Common WordPress Hosting Questions
Do I need special hosting to run WordPress?
Not really, but you do need hosting that supports server side scripting and has a SQL database. For example, you can host a static website on Amazon’s S3 platform, but you can’t host a WordPress site on S3 because it doesn’t handle PHP and doesn’t have the capability of handling SQL databases. With that said, it’s best to choose a host that has experience with WordPress websites. You can also go one step further and go with a managed WordPress host like WP Engine where WordPress is all they do—which will probably give you the best WordPress experience.
How do I setup WordPress on my server?
Most hosting companies have documentation or tutorials on how to setup WordPress. It can be different at each hosting company, so you should check with your host and their tech support should be able to help you. Often times you can install WordPress via Fantastico or Softaculous (automatic installer programs that are often included with web hosting). Otherwise, WordPress has a guide on how to install their software here.
What if my host doesn’t include email?
Some managed hosts such as WP Engine don’t offer email as part of their hosting. This is because they want to focus on the hosting aspect instead of being distracted by dealing with email too. If you go with a host that doesn’t offer email, you have a couple options. If you only need to receive email but not send it, you can set up email forwarders at your domain registrar. If you need to send email, you can get a different host that does email hosting only. This is usually very cheap and then you just set your MX DNS records to point to that host. For this, I would highly recommend RackSpace email hosting. I’ve used them multiple times and find their email hosting to be excellent with great support.
How much does WordPress hosting typically cost?
The first thing to know about this is that the longer you pay in advance, the cheaper it will be. For example, if you pay up front for 12 months, most hosts will offer you decent discount over paying month to month. Generally speaking, shared hosting will be $3-$8 per month or more. A VPS will cost anywhere from $30-$90 per month or more and a dedicated server typically costs over $100 per month. Managed WordPress hosting like WP Engine starts at $29 per month and a smaller plan with a company like Flywheel costs about $15 per month. Prices can vary wildly depending up different packages, promotions, and all kinds of other factors.
What is the difference between WordPress hosting and regular hosting?
WordPress hosting is a term that’s thrown around and it tends to mean a few different things. Generally speaking, “WordPress hosting” means and hosting that is able to handle WordPress. However, there are people who sometimes say “WordPress hosting” and what they really mean is “managed WordPress hosting” instead. What’s the difference? Managed WordPress hosting is hosting that is specifically designed for WordPress where the hosting company typically only hosts WordPress sites and they’re an expert in WordPress; they also typically take care of any problems related to your installation and will go above and beyond what normal hosts will do when it comes to WordPress problems. Bluehost is a WordPress host, but WP Engine is a managed WordPress host. To make things a bit more confusing, some companies like HostGator and Liquidweb offer both WordPress hosting and managed WordPress hosting.
Are there any good alternatives to WordPress?
In my opinion, WordPress is really the best content management system out there for building websites. With that said, some individuals may be looking for an alternative. In that case, Joomla and Drupal are other popular content management systems. There’s also the option of building a static HTML site and rocking that instead of a WordPress site. I feel like I’m spoiled by WordPress though because every time I build a site using another method, it’s never as easy as working with WordPress.
Still Can’t Decide?
Are you still having trouble deciding on a host after reading this page? That’s ok! Choosing a can be a big decision and it takes a lot of research. On the chance that you just skimmed this page, take the time to actually read it (I know, it’s pretty long). There’s a lot of great information here, so take the time to read all of it and really do some thinking.
There are also a lot of other helpful pages on this site including individual reviews of web hosting companies, as well as comparisons between certain hosts such as Bluehost vs HostGator. You may also want to take the time to visit individual host’s websites and look over all of their plans and options in order to help you decide. Just relax, take your time, and you’ll find a good host for your website eventually!