When you are building a WordPress website, you will have to choose a web hosting provider. The problem is that there are hundreds of them. Each offering a unique set of features at various prices. This makes it confusing to choose a hosting provider. To make your life easier we have put together this stellar list of the top WordPress hosting providers.
It is easy to choose a hosting provider when starting out. It becomes difficult to switch hosting providers later on. It’s not impossible to switch hosting providers, however, it involves several technical barriers. These barriers can easily be avoided if you choose a good hosting provider from the start.
What is Web Hosting?
Creating your website is just half of the complete process. The website you create is stored on your local hard drive on your laptop or computer. People all over the world can’t access your website from your hard drive as your laptop or computer never stay on 24/7.
What you need is to store your website on a server somewhere that runs 24/7, so people can access your website a day, any time, from anywhere in the world. Through that server, people can access your website at any time. You don’t own the server, you use the functionalities and pay the hosting site for it.
Your website is accessed using your domain name. The domain name for each website is unique.. The hosting sites often also help you choose your domain name.
For this guide, our focus is on hosting alone. The hosting plans such as duration, rates, and features may differ but in the end, the functionality of hosting remains the same. Some functionalities of web hosting include email accounts, databases, website, FTP files upload, WordPress and website building tools. We’ll look into factors such as hosting websites, requirements, the process of hosting, etc.
To put it into simple words, WordPress hosting is similar to normal hosting where you upload and configure your website. The difference is that WordPress hosting is optimized specifically for WordPress websites in terms of speed, security, performance, etc. Some hosting sites specifically include on their page that their hosting service is specially optimized for WordPress.
When you configure your normal website it takes some time and effort. Most WordPress hosts are configured with one click to install WordPress. This process is seamless and effortless. You just need to click a button and the hosting site will do everything for you such as configuring your WordPress website and uploading its contents.
Now before you move on and start to host your website, you need to understand two basic types of WordPress hosting. These two are described in detail below.
Shared WordPress hosting
As stated in the name, with this type of hosting you will be sharing the host. What exactly is the host? Well, the host is nothing but a server where your website resides. It works 24/7. In this type of hosting you will be sharing a server that contains other websites too. This is hosting usually comes at a cheaper price relative to Managed WordPress Hosting.
Even though the server is being shared, the host offers performance optimization for your WordPress website. Along with performance it also includes the features of a one-click installer for WordPress. The first month on this hosting is cheaper, and the next month comes to the usual price. This type of hosting can be preferred by beginners who are just stepping into hosting.
Managed WordPress Hosting
Managed WordPress Hosting comes with some additional perks. It includes all the functionalities and features of Shared WordPress Hosting like security, optimized performance, and automatic upgrades. Additional perks include faster speeds, better security, server-side caching and regular malware scans.
These types of hosts also offer staging sites. Staging sites allow you to test the changes that you make to your website before running your website live. This is beneficial as you can test the changes you made, find and fix bugs before putting your website live.
This hosting is more expensive than Shared WordPress Hosting and falls in the range of $25+. With additional perks, you’ll have to pay additional money too. This is for more advanced websites. High traffic sites should opt for this hosting as it has many more features that are beneficial for them.
Elements to Consider before picking YOUR wordpress Hosting PROVIDER
Here are the main factors you should consider when choosing a web hosting provider.
- Speed – It’s no. 1 on our list because it’s the most important factor to consider when choosing a web hosting provider. Your website’s speed not only affects your search engine rankings but also your user experience. Page speed is a critical ranking factor considered by search engines when ranking websites in search results. It is therefore extremely important to choose a web hosting provider that has lightning fast servers.
- Uptime – Many web hosting providers claim to offer 99% uptime guarantees. However, only a few live up to this claim. Downtime can mean lost traffic and business. It can also have detrimental effects on your SEO efforts if it lasts for long periods.
- Security – Your hosting provider should ensure your data is safe and their servers are well secured. There are many security risks involved when you have your website hosted. You’ll want to avoid any kind of security breaches. Security breaches can easily result in data being stolen. This can mean damaged brand reputation and lost business.
- Backups – Backups are always the first point of fallback should anything go wrong. They are critical to the presence of any website. Most web hosting providers will offer free backups. Some might charge a fee for backups. It is therefore important to consider the frequency and cost of backups when choosing a web hosting provider.
- Customer Support – At one point or another you will need to contact the customer support of your web host. Consider the support channels on offer, their response times and quality of support when choosing a web host.
The 5 factors above are the most important ones you should consider when choosing a web hosting provider. There are other factors as well for example, pricing, cost of migration, add-ons, website builders, user panel, beginner friendliness etc.
Our Top 7 - WordPress hosting
Now that you know what to look for when choosing a web hosting provider here are the top 7 WordPress web hosting providers.
#1 | BlueHost
Bluehost is a hosting service that is recommended by WordPress.org. For purposes of this article we are not using their shared hosting service. Instead we are using their WordPress optimized service called Bluehost Optimized.
For comparison purposes we made copies of 1 website and hosted it on several different web hosts to be able to get a better idea of the speed. You will see throughout this article that the page size and the requests are similar.
Here are the speed test results from Bluehost for our test website.
As you can see Bluehost is very fast due to their optimized WordPress service. The optimized service makes use of a VPS server.
Along with great web hosting, Bluehost offer a free domain with all their plans. You will also get access to a free CDN, daily backups, SSL and emails. Their cPanel is easy to use and has a beginner friendly layout.
The basic plan of Bluehost WordPress optimized service starts at $19.99.
Bluehost have an extensive knowledge base that has several articles covering almost any topic you can think of. They have step by step guides and video tutorials as well. If you are a beginner, this will be a critical resource for you. Utilizing the search option in the knowledgevbase will answer most of your questions. However, you will sometimes need to talk to a person to get help.
In such a case you can contact their customer support through phone or live chat. They don’t have a ticket system though. Their support staff is helpful and well equipped with technical knowledge.
#2 | SiteGround
SiteGround is also officially recommended by WordPress.org. Before we get into the details, just the recommendation by WordPress.org makes it logical for SiteGround to make this list.
SiteGround provide both shared hosting and managed WordPress hosting as well. They are reliable with almost zero downtime.
The highlight feature of SiteGround is their speed. Few other providers can match their server speeds at similar prices. They use the latest technologies such as implementation of the Super Cache to boost website speeds.
In addition to the lightning fast speeds, the offer free SSL certificates from Let’s Encrypt, automated WordPress installations, unlimited professional email accounts, Cloudflare CDN integration, one-click staging and free site migration. Like most web hosting providers in this list, SiteGround offer free automated backups for your site.
Here is the speed test result of a website hosted on SiteGround.
SiteGround support is well trained and knowledgeable. They provide fast and efficient customer support. You can contact their support teams via phone, live chat, email and ticket. The response time on the live chat is unmatchable. It’s less than 1 second! To complement the excellent support, they also have a knowledge base that covers an extensive range of topics.
#3 | HostGator
HostGator is a popular web host amongst bloggers and small business owners. Their standout feature is their cloud hosting service. This is suitable for high traffic sites and loads your website up to 2 times faster than a normal shared host.
Here are the speed test results for our test website hosted on HostGator.
We used HostGator’s shared hosting plan for this test. Given the website loaded in 1.2 seconds using their shared hosting service, had we opted for their cloud hosting service the load time would have reduced significantly. Unfortunately for their cloud hosting service, they don’t provide website backups. You will have to purchase an addon such as CodeGuard to keep your website data backed up and safe.
HostGator’s dashboard is easy to use and work with. They also offer integrated caching that helps speed up your website.
HostGator support is up to the mark with industry standards. You can access their support through phone, live chat, ticket-based system and email. They have 680+ articles and 500+ videos on their knowledgebase.
#4 | WPEngine
WPEngine is another fast, reliable and managed WordPress host. They offer some fantastic add-ons such as daily automated backups, free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates and a free CDN for all customers. A CDN comes in handy when you are looking to improve the speed of your website. They also have a disaster recovery system and handle core WordPress updates.
Here is a speed test result of a website hosted on WPEngine
The speed of the tested website is excellent. Loading in under 1 second.
When it comes to customer support, WPEngine are known for providing excellent customer support. They have a team of WordPress support agents who are well trained on WordPress troubleshooting. Support is available 24/7
The price is slightly higher than most shared WordPress hosts, but you are sure to get value for your money. The startup plan is $25 per month.
If you are planning to migrate your website to WPEngine their technical team will handle the migration for you. This is at no additional cost.
WPEngine is the best alternative to SiteGround.
WP Engine has a customer satisfaction rate of over 97%. Support is available 24/7 through live chat. Phone support is not available for the personal plan. If the phone or live chat staff cannot resolve an issue for you, they will create a support ticket for you. Their premium and Enterprise customers receive one-on-one onboarding. They also have a dedicated customer experience team that is continuously working to improve their customer experience.
5# | Cloudways and Digital Ocean
Cloudways is probably the most unique hosting provider in this list. It a managed cloud hosting platform. With Cloudways you will need to choose a web hosting provider, or more specifically a cloud hosting provider. You will then get connected to the platform of the cloud hosting service. You will receive support and a management platform for your cloud service. You will pay a premium to Cloudways to use this management platform and support. Cloudways therefore is not an actual hosting provider.
Cloudways pricing is an estimate at best. Once you choose your cloud server and configure your required options you will get an approximate monthly price. The price can go up if you use more than allocated resources. This can be surprising at times.
For purposes of this tutorial we used Cloudways in conjunction with Digital Ocean. Here are the speed test results of Cloudways with Digital Ocean.
This is the fastest page speed we were able to achieve for our test website. This does not mean the other hosting providers are slow. A load time of under 3 seconds is always considered fast. However, Cloudways seems to be the king of speed.
Cloudways has a custom management panel and does not use cPanel. You end up sacrificing emails, a file manager, DNS and much more with Cloudways.
Website migration is done using a downloadable tool that will help you.
#6 | Kinsta
Kinsta is another managed WordPress hosting provider. Like most hosting providers in this list, Kinsta also provide free site migrations, daily backups and excellent security. You also get a custom dashboard to control your website features such as a file manager and DNS. You will have access to a range of analytics solutions and can allow multiple users to access your panel with various levels of permissions.
Kinsta pricing is crystal clear. With their basic plan starting at $30 per month.
Here are the speed test results for our test website hosted on Kinsta servers.
#7 | HostMonster
HostMonster is one of the oldest web hosting companies. They offer decent WordPress hosting at a decent price. You get a free domain with all their hosting packages. They use cPanel for management which is the gold standard for web hosting panels. There are not many free addons offered by HostMonster.
Here is our speed test result for our test website hosted on HostMonster.
This is the slowest result we have achieved for any hosting service we have tested so far. Given the amount of time HostMonster have been around, one would expect them to be industry leaders. This is not the case, however.
Customer support of HostMonster is decent and there is nothing outstanding about it. There are mixed reviews about their quality of support and users have sometimes found support agents lacking in knowledge. Phone support is available for both US and international customers. US customers have access to a toll-free number which none of the other hosting providers mentioned in this list offer.
View our full HostMonster review here.
Conclusion - WordPress hosting
We hope you now have a better idea of the pros and cons of various WordPress hosting providers. If you are looking for managed WordPress hosting, SiteGround might be your best option. If you are looking for lightning fast speed, Cloudways is best suited. If you are looking for low startup costs, HostGator or Bluehost might be best suited. Choosing a web host will depend on your requirements and preference.