Where to Host WordPress: Your Best Options

My Experience with Hosting

In the last 10 years I’ve tried & tested tons of of WordPress hosting companies and there’s one thing I’ve learned: there is no such thing as the perfect host. Every time a host started having problems, I moved providers hoping the next one will be the magic solution. That process repeated until I accepted that there’s no such thing as a cheap WordPress host with 100% uptime without any problems. However, I did learn which companies I could rely on to give me solid service, depending on what I was looking for.

I’ve also spent more money than I needed to to test out a lot of different hosting companies. When it comes to recommending a host to friends (over time) I also learned that for most, a simple solution is best.

When looking online for WordPress host recommendations it’s difficult to find unbiased information – there are good commissions for recommending hosting accounts so you’ll find many articles and guides on questionable sites  that  are recommending whatever host pays the highest commission. (We also get a commission if you signup from a link on this page, but we’re giving it to you straight & from experience – and more importantly – we still actually use all 3: Dreamhost, WP Engine, and HostGator.)

After years of trial and error – here’s the breakdown: For most people Dreamhost is the easiest to setup. Alternatively HostGator is just about as easy and offers the cheapest option (though you still have to prepay). WP Engine is the most professional and most stable – it’s the Rolls Royce of managed WordPress hosting.

Dreamhost is cheap, reliable, and has been a around long enough to deal with problems well when they arise. My girlfriend’s site ran 500,000 pageviews per month on DH, I host a bunch of sites on the same account too, and it’s been very solid with few hiccups. The biggest con is that support is done via e-mail, but when her sites have been down, they’ve responded in a reasonable timeframe. If phone support is really important to you, go with Hostgator instead.

What to use for which scenario:

Why Dreamhost? Easy 1-Click Setup

One of the biggest reasons to go with Dreamhost is how easy it is to setup a WordPress site with them. They have 1-click installation, which is the fastest way to get a WordPress site up and running (but do make sure to uncheck the deluxe install option so you get a clean installation without all the unnecessary themes & plugins).

Dreamhost

$8.95 per month

When I was with VPS.net, it took longer to install WordPress (and cost more to have cPanel and Fantastico installed in order to make this happen). Plus once the site was setup, I manually had to change permissions on folders so that uploads worked. While this was presumably more secure, it was also a royal pain in the ass.

I’ve setup dozens of websites with Dreamhost, and the 1-click install made it really easy. Also, they offer an automatic update function so that you’re always updated to the most recent version of WordPress (if you so choose), which is good for security and to keep the functionality updated (but mostly for security).

If you want the easiest setup, a low price, and reasonably good service go with Dreamhost.

Why WP Engine? Security & Support

WP Engine is the only hosting company that Automattic (the parent company of WordPress) has invested in – and for good reason. They host ONLY WordPress sites, have top notch engineers, and have a built-in CDN (Content Delivery Network) that makes your site load much faster. WP Engine takes care of a lot of behind the scenes stuff like security, scaling, making sure your plugins are working properly.

WP Engine

$29.99 + per month

Yes, they are relatively pricey. They’re also focused on running a single blog (or multiple blogs if you sign up for the higher priced plan). However if you’re serious about running a blog and want to save yourself a lot of headache in the future (and especially if you’re not super technically savvy) then that price can be well justified.

WP Engine also has a staging area in their dashboard, which is an awesome feature! You can duplicate your WordPress install and make changes to see how everything works before pushing it out to your live site.

I’ve even visited the offices of WP Engine in Austin, TX during SxSW and have a lot of respect for their team and company. They really are a cut above the rest when it comes to managed Hosting.

If you want the fastest website and the the best support behind you, go with WP Engine.

Why HostGator? When You Know What you’re Doing

I host a bunch of my sites with HostGator, including a number of WordPress blogs. I’ve been around the block long enough to know which plugins to install, how to change out themes and work with php and how to setup my own CDN (Content Delivery Network). I have spent a lot of time with this stuff so I’m comfortable with it.

Hostgator

VPS – $39.95 per month

I use WHM and cPanel and know my way around them pretty well. Whenever I install a fresh WordPress site I setup the MySQL database using cPanel and do a nice fresh install.

HostGator has been the most reliable host I’ve ever been on – they’ve had very little downtime (literally minutes over the past year and a half). Along with a good CDN they should be able to take care of big spikes in traffic and keep running smoothly. I’m on their Level 3 VPS and have been very happy. I pay about $50 per month but they’ve lowered their prices even more for new customers – $39.95 month when I last checked.

If you’re going to host a bunch of WordPress blogs or other sites and can setup your own CDN, you can’t go wrong with HostGator VPS. They’re also a good option if you’re only hosting one site and want to save the most money since they have the cheapest 1-domain option of all 3.

If you want a VPS, host multiple sites, and know what you’re doing – or – if phone support is important to you, go with HostGator

Conclusion

25 Comments

  1. NetOctave

    I think one more point to consider would be whether the host would do all the initial wordpress installations. This changes the whole equation as a user need not bother about the hard stuff (installing the blog, setting up email ids etc).

  2. Thomas Zickell

    I agree with some of what you said. I believe the only real WordPress host or whoso would ever recommend to a friend if they said you know of any good WordPress hosts? would be WP engine I am hosting my site right now it’s lightning fast on it outstanding support and if you’re paying $50 or more for a host as you are with host gator you should clearly look at how little $50 extra dollars a month is for your business and put it on the pro plan on WP engine if you can’t stomach paying that use Zippy kid you get very similar hosting to WP engine a content delivery network and 100,000 viewers a month for $24 And $5 more a month for every additional hundred thousand unique visitors. Now if you want VPS WebSynthesis is the only way to go for real WordPress hosting with a VPS for only $25 a month now please remember there’s no reason you need a VPS if you’re using managed WordPress host. Last but not least I would recommend page.ly they are able to offer quite a bit and those are the only hosts I would ever recommend to my friend if they asked me about WordPress. Your girlfriends website gets half 1 million hits a month and you put her on nickel and dime hosting why? Does this site not generate enough money to have a decent host I find that hard to believe if it’s really getting half million hits a month.

  3. Thomas Zickell

    I forgot to tell you one thing host gator has been accused and rightfully so please Google this “host gator found putting links customers websites” I am not going to say they do or they don’t I’m just saying apparently a lot of people on Google believe that they do.

  4. max

    @Thomas Zickell: Thanks for the input. And to my girlfriend’s site – a few months ago I did go ahead and move her site over from Dreamhost to WP Engine and have been happy with the change.

  5. Pingback: Your Website is the Foundation for Social Business

  6. Charles

    Another alternative is BlogDroid. Like WP Engine, they offer managed hosting but they are a little cheaper – and like Dreamhost they have an installer that makes it really easy for new WordPress users to get started. They also have automatic WordPress upgrades, the ability to create staging sites via a button and secure file permissions that work right out of the box.

  7. Laddi

    Good, information, but still I am confused about the best host, Dreamhost is Good, when I have hosted my sites on Dreamhost, rank of my websites in Google was really nice but when I moved to Hostgator, it fall badly… I need something like hetzner.

  8. Susan

    Thank your for this post. It is just unbelievably FRUSTRATING trying to find information on hosts for WordPress. Currently I’m with Hawk Host, which was recommended to me, but service there is by email only and spotty at best. If WP Engine really delivers on the promised security and expertise, it would be worth paying for.

  9. Boney

    Good information on comparing these hosts. I had my wordpress site hosted on shared with Hostgator, however after a while I moved it to VPS, but my site kept crashing. I did alot of research and after moving through various host, I finally host with webnet hosting. They provide quick support and also their server speed is pretty fast, I am quiet happy so far

  10. chris

    I just moved from a shared server to HostGator VPS (Level III) and have nothing but trouble so far. The site is 10x slower than it was on our developer’s shared server and we keep having to put out fires (figuratively), with things not working at all on our site.

  11. Bryan

    I have to agree with the article. Cost should not be the primary factor when one is looking for the best wordpress hosting. However there are a plethora of web hosts out there who offer great wordpress hosting for a very competitive price. One thing to consider is page load times for the host. Any reputable host should be able to give you some examples of sites they have on shared hosting. Then you can use something like pingdom tools to test the load times and go with the host that has the fastest load times and reliable support/hardware/network.

  12. Brian

    As a web design, I can say that WP Engine is the best for WordPress. If your a web business with lots of traffic WP Engine is a good investment , however I find Hostgator more that acceptable for most small to mid-size website, especially if you add cloudflare or a cache plugin. Hostgator also has really good support. I can hop on a chat or call and be communicating in usually 1-2 minutes, practically zero down-time. I can name several times where a website will be down and a client calls and by the time I check the website is back up.

    From experience with multiple clients, I can say Godaddy Hosting is not great for WordPress, even small websites it not that good. I also don’t like that they don’t use cPanel.

  13. michael

    Used to be a big fan of wpengine … but it looks like as they gain in popularity the service and attention to detail has gone out the window.

    I am on their 10 site plan ( $249/month gulp ) and I can’t get a ticket resolved on the weekend ?!? and when it gets finally answered it’s always the guy that just came back from vacation and I have to explain everything all over again.

    Just cancelled my plan with them .. I am sure for the same monthly investment I can get someone that replies on the weekend as well :)

      1. Leo

        Which host are you on? We’re pleased with WPEngine, but been getting 502 timeouts due to the amount of WooCommerce extensions we have. We are basically running 90 odd plugins at all times, and this causes 502 errors when we try updating the site. Add to the fact that we might soon be hitting 25k of unique visitors, we might need to look for a new host. 

        I’ve spoken to those awesome guys from WPE, but their ping timeout is 60 secs max. No adjustments possible :(  sigh. Any idea on where to host and not get 502 ping timeout?

      2. Max

        I’m very happy with ASmallOrange so I’d try them. However your situation sounds like you need expert help with your setup instead of throwing more resources at it. It might be worth getting a company like WP Valet or similar to go through your code/plugins and do a site audit.

  14. Adithya Shetty

    I’ve been using Hostgator since a year and hosted many of my sites there! Their customer service is pretty good! I only faced couple of downtimes when their Provo servers had outrage. . . apart from that, I’m very satisfied with performance. . .

  15. John B.

    I think the only reason that companies like Host Gator get put in these best WordPress or best Drupal (and so and so on) articles is just because they are an easy choice. WP Engine definitely has a great reputation and every one I know that uses them has been generally happy. My workplace uses Nexcess.net and we have had only good things to say about them. The support staff is knowledgeable and always quick to respond. They’re definitely worth a look.

    1. Max

      I’m always suspicious of comments that drop a reference to some no-name hosting company at the end of the comment since in my experience a majority of them are someone from that same company astroturfing.

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