Selecting the right web host for your business is incredibly important. Ideally, you get it right the first time and never have to worry about it again. In a perfect world, it “just works,” reliably serving your WordPress website day in and day out with minimal hiccups, downtime, and frustration.
Unfortunately, many small businesses end up having to jump from host to host as they search for a reliable hosting provider with great support. If you’ve ever switched hosting companies, you know this process can be a huge, time-consuming hassle. To avoid that frustration, it’s important to pick the best WordPress hosting solution now.
There are literally hundreds of hosting providers to choose from and though they all claim to be the best, the truth is that they can be worlds apart in terms of uptime, support team & customer support quality, and website speed/performance.
What makes a great WordPress host?
As you’re shopping around for the perfect web host, it can be helpful to know a little hosting terminology as well as some of the most important factors that separate great hosts from bad ones.
Which hosting options can run WordPress?
WordPress web hosting is simply a web hosting provider that is capable of running a WordPress site. Most modern hosting providers are capable of running WordPress because WordPress’s technical requirements are pretty minimal. PHP, MySQL or MariaDB, and HTTPS support are common and pretty entry-level in the hosting world so you won’t have to search to find a web hosting service that is capable of running WordPress.
A company that advertises “WordPress hosting” isn’t necessarily offering something of more value to you because most web hosts support WordPress. To find the best WordPress hosting solution for your business, you need to look a bit deeper. What you want to find is a web host with managed WordPress hosting.
Key point: “WordPress hosting” is almost meaningless since almost any hosting solution can run WordPress.
What is managed WordPress hosting?
Unless you’re an experienced WordPress expert or have a website administration background, you’re going to want a “managed WordPress host.” This basically means that all the aspects of managing a WordPress based website are taken care of for you by a hosting team that specializes in supporting and managing WordPress.
Your managed hosting provider will stay on top of updating WordPress, they’ll make sure your website is secure from hacking attempts, and they’ll even keep an eye on your WordPress plugins and WordPress themes to make sure they won’t cause any issues.
Plugins and updates can be incredibly confusing for novice WordPress users. Having a managed WordPress host will alleviate unwanted issues such as updating a plugin that is not compatible with the newest version of WordPress (as an example). A broken website can result after updating incompatible plugins, which can be a nightmare to fix.
Managed WordPress hosting typically costs more but for the overwhelming majority of small businesses, that cost is well worth it. It only takes a single avoided hack to pay for itself many times over. Even if you’re just blogging on WordPress, it’s worth it.
Key point: if your website generates revenue for your business, you want Managed WordPress Hosting.
What is shared WordPress hosting versus VPS WordPress hosting?
Shared hosts put as many websites as they can on each server to maximize their profit. Shared hosting is like living in a crowded apartment complex. If your neighbors are making noise, you’re going to hear it. If a website that is on your server gets a lot of traffic, your website’s performance will go down because you’re sharing the same resources.
VPS hosting, on the other hand, is like living in a quiet suburban neighborhood. Rather than sharing resources with all the other websites on the server, your website has dedicated resources it doesn’t share with anyone. This means your website will have the resources it needs if you receive a sudden burst in traffic and other websites won’t affect your site’s performance.
Since VPS hosting offers so much more in terms of speed and reliability, it does generally cost more than shared hosting. If your website processes transactions, it’s definitely worth the price difference. If your website is merely an online business card for your company and it’s not critical it be available, shared hosting may be enough. As a general rule, an eCommerce site should always be on VPS hosting.
Key point: Unless a $50 a month difference in pricing is going to break the bank, you want VPS hosting.
What are the most important hosting features to look for?
Look for hosts that offer:
- Daily backups – If something goes wrong, it’s critical that you have a recent version of your website to restore your site. If you’re going to be manually updating plugins and your theme, you will also want to have access to the backups so that you can back it up before you begin any updates.
- Adequate disk space (ideally on an SSD that offers faster performance) – Unless you have a particularly large site, most hosts will offer plenty of disk space because it is relatively inexpensive for them.
- Adequate or unlimited bandwidth – If you have a high traffic website, you may want to check on your past monthly bandwidth usage so you can be sure your future host offers enough.
- CDN support – A Content Delivery Network delivers your website to visitors as quickly as possible by leveraging data centers in their geographic area.
- Caching – A stored copy of your webpage is served to visitors to load it as fast as possible. If your site is updated frequently, you want to ask your host if they offer flexible caching options that you can edit without having to contact support (which can be a headache).
There are also some features that are nice to have, but not essential:
- Free domain name – If you’re just getting started and don’t already own your company’s domain name, a hosting package that offers free domain names can save you a few bucks.
- Free SSL certificates – You can buy an SSL certificate, but many hosting plans now include them. If you have an online store, blog, or really any website that gets visitors, you have to have an SSL certificate. This shows your customers that your website is safe and secure.
- Money-back guarantee – Most hosting companies offer an uptime guarantee or SLA (Service Level Agreement) that says they’ll refund your hosting fees if your website experiences downtime or disruption. To find a host that really stands behind their product and service, look for an unconditional money-back guarantee. At minimum look for a 30-day money-back guarantee so that if you need to switch hosts in the first month, you can get your money back.
- One-click WordPress installation – WordPress is not particularly difficult to install, but one-click installation makes it fast and simple for even the most technically challenged to get started.
WordPress Hosting Pricing: What to Expect
Hosting packages range anywhere from $3 a month up to $3,000 a month. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for when it comes to WordPress hosting companies. You’ll want to avoid hosts that advertise anything less than $15 a month. It’s simply not possible to offer adequate hosting resources at that price.
Hosting options at the low end are cutting corners somewhere and it’s often on support resources. That means you’ll have a hard time getting answers to your questions and if something goes wrong, you’re going to have to wait in a very long line to get help.
Trust us, saving a few dollars a month on hosting is not worth it. That being said, you will not have to pay anywhere close to $3,000 a month to get top-notch WordPress hosting.
Many of the best web hosts are in the $80-150 a month range. You will have no problem finding high-quality VPS WordPress hosting in that range. If you have a particularly high traffic site, you may pay closer to $300 a month.
Key point: Expect to pay around $100 a month for quality managed WordPress hosting.
What separates the best WordPress hosting solutions from the rest?
The factors that separate the cream from the crop are not the things you might expect. For instance, disk space and bandwidth, although critical and easy to compare, aren’t going to make or break your website. Most web hosting companies offer adequate amounts of both and a host that offers more of them is not necessarily a better host, so don’t fall into that trap.
The most important items to look for are often difficult to measure. It’s the items that companies are much less transparent about that end up making all the difference:
- Support response time – How long does it typically take to get a response to a support request and how long until the issue is fully resolved? When your site goes down after you hit “Send” on a big email campaign, each minute can feel like an eternity until the issue is resolved. Of course, every company will claim they have the best and fastest support team. A great way to measure this item, in particular, is to look at their reviews. See what other users are saying about their customer support.
- Load times – When a visitor lands on your site, each millisecond counts. Online shoppers are notoriously impatient. Google estimates that online stores lose roughly 50% of their customers if the load time is longer than 3 seconds. This greatly impacts cart abandonment and missed income opportunities. Load time is extremely important.
- WooCommerce specialization – If you’re running a WooCommerce site, try to find a host that has done some WooCommerce optimization. While WooCommerce is simply a WordPress plugin, it is its own animal and can put unique demands on hosting resources.
- Development resources – Hosting technology evolves quickly. You want a host that has devoted enough resources to adapting to the latest and greatest trends. Search engines like the almighty Google are known to favor sites that are fast and secure. The fastest and most secure hosts stay that way by adopting the latest and greatest technology as it becomes available.
The Best WordPress Hosting Options:
To make it easier to find the best host for your company, we’ve grouped them into 3 tiers:
Jump to High-end WordPress Hosts – These are hosts that have earned a reputation for the quality support, top tier features, and solid reliability. They aren’t the cheapest hosts available, but their pricing is generally worth it.
Jump to Low-end WordPress Hosts – If possible, avoid these hosts. If it’s not possible, here they are, but you have been warned. We would only recommend these solutions for a low-traffic WordPress blog, a side project, or a personal hobby website.
Jump to WooCommerce Hosts – These are hosts that specialize in catering to the unique needs of a WooCommerce eCommerce site.
The best high-end WordPress hosts:
These hosts are the cream of the crop. They offer cutting edge technology, advanced features, and stellar support. While these aren’t the cheapest WordPress hosting platforms, they are more than worth the cost.
Founded in 1996, Dreamhost has been a mainstay in the hosting world for decades now. That probably means they’re doing something right, and that’s part of why we chose to host our client sites with them.
Dreamhost’s free WordPress migration plugin makes transferring your website to Dreamhost a breeze. If the idea of using a plugin scares you, they’ll handle the migration for $99.
One of the things they do well is deliver a lot of value for your money. While they advertise WordPress hosting for $4.95/month, we would recommend their Managed WordPress Hosting package, DreamPress, which starts at $12/month, or their VPS Managed WordPress Hosting, which starts at $15/month (this is the plan that we use at GridSix.)
SiteGround’s managed WordPress hosting packages include the basic features you’d expect, like easy installation, easy site migrations, free SSL from Let’s Encrypt, and automatic updates. It also includes some advanced features you might not expect at this price point like staging, WP-CLI, PHP version control, Git integration, advanced collaboration, as well as other features that make SiteGround an excellent choice for WordPress developers.
Their StartUp hosting package is priced at $14.99/month (though it is listed at $6.99/month on sale). The best seller and most frequently purchased hosting option with SiteGround is their GrowBig plan which is $24.99/month (but discounted to $9.99/month). This does include free SSL and email, as well as daily backups and a 30 day month back guarantee.
Pantheon was founded in 2010 making it one of the younger hosting companies on our list of top hosts. However, this gives the company some advantages. Most importantly it means its WordPress hosting was built on top of the newest technology. Older companies have to migrate their infrastructure to match what Pantheon has always offered — ultra-reliable container-based infrastructure means that your site is less likely to go down and can scale easily if your traffic spikes.
Pantheon is a developer-friendly hosting platform offering many advanced tools that make agency collaboration a breeze. With pricing starting at a very reasonable, $29/month, Pantheon is worth serious consideration and earns its spot at the top of our list.
Flywheel has intentionally branded itself as the “easy to use” hosting solution. They’ve carefully considered the pain points typical of most hosting solutions and built more intuitive and streamlined tools. This makes it an excellent choice for less technology-savvy WordPress users or busy creatives who want things to “just work” and aren’t worried about being able to tweak advanced settings or have unlimited control over their site.
You can host with the Apple of the hosting world with managed WordPress plans starting at $13/month.
Built on top of the rock-solid Google Cloud Platform, Kinsta is one of the most advanced hosting solutions out there. A beautiful dashboard with intuitive controls (a surprisingly important feature), you can’t go wrong hosting your site with Kinsta.
One of Kinsta’s strengths is the speed of its development team. They’re regularly pushing the envelope and releasing powerful new features that keep them on the bleeding edge of the hosting world. Kinsta’s starter plan is only $30/month, which is affordable for most online businesses and blogs.
With so much competition, web hosting companies are trying desperately to stand out from the pack. WPEngine’s answer is to brand itself as more than just another WordPress host, it is a WordPress Digital Experience Platform. Whether this is just a fancy marketing term or a revolution in WordPress hosting, they offer some great features at a reasonable price.
WPEngine is well known for having excellent customer support. A very important feature to have when selecting your host. They have over a decade of WordPress specialization under their belt, which makes WPEngine a great option for any small business. Their starter plan begins at $30/month (but they generally offer sales).
The best low-end WordPress hosting solutions:
While these hosts may not offer the reliability, features, performance, and top-tier support of the hosts in our high-end list, they do offer a tremendous price to value ratio.
A2’s managed WordPress hosting is focused on website speed. They advertise speeds 20x as fast as competing managed WordPress hosting solutions. While we can’t verify those claims, their reviews are very good on websites such as TechRadar and Digital.com.
A2Hosting has several different packages to choose from based on your company’s needs. The first is Unmanaged VPS which starts at $8.99/month (currently discounted to $4.99/month). But their recommended plan is the Managed VPS which begins at $69.99/month (and is currently discounted to $33.99/month). With great reviews and many plan options, they are certainly worth checking out.
GreenGeeks is a unique web host in that their claim to fame is a smaller environmental footprint. The internet does a surprising amount of environmental damage each year so it’s great that there is an eco-friendly host focused on minimizing its environmental impact.
Their WordPress hosting begins at $2.49/month, Woocommerce hosting begins at $2.49/month, and their Reseller Hosting plans begin at $29.95/month. All in all, it’s a great option for a business looking for affordable website hosting.
Hosting over 2 million domain names, Bluehost is one of the biggest hosting companies in the world. They are probably most known for their very affordable shared hosting options that allow users to host unlimited websites on their shared plan. However, they have recently launched their Managed WordPress hosting option that starts at $29.99/month and is currently discounted to $19.95/month.
If you’re looking for a basic hosting plan, those begin at $8.99/month but they always have special offers and discounts. For only $3 more per month, you can get the Unlimited plan which allows for unlimited websites, SSD storage, a free domain, and SSL.
Hostgator made a name for itself by offering rock bottom pricing before that became a trend. Unfortunately, that pricing strategy came with cuts to support and advanced features. Currently, they’re offering $3/month plans with unlimited domains, unlimited storage, and unlimited bandwidth. While this may sound like a steal, do consider that they don’t advertise unlimited support or peak performance.
Hostinger offers quite a list of solutions and WordPress hosting is just one bullet point out of 20. This means they don’t specialize in WordPress so you’re unlikely to find WordPress-specific features and your support requests may not be handled by a WordPress expert.
Their Single Shared Hosting plan starts at $9.99/month (discounted to $0.99/month currently) and their Premium Shared Hosting starts at $10.19/month (discounted to $1.99/month currently).
A 90-day money-back guarantee makes Inmotion relatively risk-free to test out. Their WordPress hosting includes many premium themes and plugins and is fairly inexpensive. Their WordPress Hosting begins at $6.99/month, VPS Hosting begins at $29.99/month, and the Dedicated Hosting plan begins at $99.99/month.
We include this host in our list of top WordPress hosts only to caution you to avoid them. GoDaddy hosting has earned its reputation as one of the worst hosts in existence.
The Best WooCommerce WordPress Hosts:
Our top pick: Liquid Web
Founded by WooCommere guru Chris Lema, and built from the ground up specifically for WooCommerce sites, Liquid Web tops any list of WooCommerce hosts. Pricing starts at $19/ month so it’s accessible to anyone dipping their toe into the eCommerce world.
Built on top of their fast and flexible Nexcess Cloud, their solution can easily scale with your needs as your store grows in popularity.
While they stand out for their specialization and technical prowess, what really separates Liquid Web from the pack is their standout 24/7/365 support. Their support team consistently receives rave reviews from customers.
This is one host we can recommend without reservation. If you’re running a WooCommerce site, it’s a no brainer.
While Kinsta does not specialize specifically in WooCommerce hosting, like Liquid Web, they do specialize in only WordPress hosting which gives them a big advantage over hosting companies that only offer WordPress hosting as one of their many, many hosting solutions. Built on top of the rock-solid Google Cloud Platform, they’re sure to be able to scale as your store grows. They offer top-notch support and are definitely worth consideration if Liquid Web does not meet your needs for whatever reason.
SiteGround offers Managed WooCommerce hosting that might be worth a look. They have an emphasis on speed, security, and free SSL certificates, which are all things a successful WooCommerce store needs. On top of their reasonable prices, they also boast very good reviews for their performance and tech support.
Getting started with the right WordPress host for your company’s needs
Unfortunately, there isn’t one single best WordPress host for everyone. Rather, you’re going to need to make a list of your technical needs and search for a host that meets those needs and seems to have an emphasis on what matters to you.
- Is having top-notch 24/7/365 your highest priority?
- Is having the fastest website possible most important?
- Is it most important that your website be impenetrable to hacking attempts?
- Is your store growing so fast that your old host had trouble keeping up and you want a future proof host that can grow with you?
The fact is that while every hosting company pays marketers to paint their hosting solutions as the best for everyone, each hosting company places more emphasis on some areas than others. No hosting company is investing equally in support, speed, scalability, and security. They’re putting more emphasis on some things over others.
Your challenge will be finding the hosting company that reflects what you value most in a host.
The best way to determine this may be to use a review site like G2Crowd which has a subcategory specifically for reviews of Managed WordPress Hosting providers. Read through the reviews of a few hosts that seem to have the priorities you’re looking for. Look for those priorities being mentioned repeatedly and you should have a pretty good idea of which hosting companies would work best for your unique business needs.