5 Best WordPress Web Hosting Services of 2017

Find the best web hosting for WordPress! A review of the top WordPress web hosting companies & plans recommended for self-hosted WordPress sites.

Our official guide to the best WordPress web hosting

WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems for building a website. Did you know that over 25% of all sites on the internet are built with it? WordPress is awesome and we love it! But one of the issues we all face with WordPress is finding a suitable web host. WordPress is a bit resource intensive and requires a high performance web host along with a bit of onsite optimization to get it running at peak speeds. In this article, we'll discuss the best WordPress web hosting services that come highly recommended not only by us, but in the WordPress community as well.

The Best WordPress Web Hosts at a Glance

Here's a quick overview of the top choices for WordPress web hosting. We've listed the different purposes we would recommend each one for:

Web HostStarts at:Recommended for:Learn more
InMotion Hosting$3.49/moAffordable, high-performance WordPress hosting for businessesRead Review
HostGator$5.95/moCloud based WordPress hosting for uptime & reliabilityRead Review
Bluehost$19.99/moOptimized VPS hosting for larger WordPress sitesRead Review
WP Engine$29.00/moExpert WordPress hosting for serious performance & reliabilityLearn More
A2 Hosting$3.92/moFast, optimized & pre-installed WordPress web hostingRead Review

About WordPress and web hosting

Finding the Best Web Host for WordPress

Because WordPress is the most popular web publishing framework on the internet, it is supported by all the main web hosting companies and there is a lot of competition for the customers who use the CMS in development. WordPress site owners will need to browse and evaluate a large number of web hosting options in order to make an informed decision about which company or service will best serve the needs of their particular requirements.

There are free, shared, dedicated, VPS, and cloud server hosting options available. You’ll also need to decide between Linux and Windows servers, though the CMS will also run on iOS. Some important issues to consider when choosing web hosting for WordPress are:

  • The performance, reliability, and security of the web hosting company
  • The amount of disk space, bandwidth, & RAM allocated to the account
  • The server architecture: CPU processor speed, number of cores, type of RAM, etc.
  • Whether the server uses a Solid State Drive (SSD) or traditional hard disk drive
  • The average page load time, DNS response time, & permitted visits per month
  • Whether the web host offers one-click installation of WordPress & automated backups
  • The ability of the web host to scale to cloud load balancing & CDN services
  • The quality of the customer service & tech support provided, including turn-around time

With the many options for WordPress web hosting available, it is important to plan in advance and review the different features offered by the companies on a price comparison model.

WordPress.org screenshot

QUICK TIP: Visit WordPress.org to learn more about the CMS, including archives of free plugins, themes, and community support forums. Follow the WordPress blog for the latest news on core security.

Free Web Hosting on WordPress.com

WordPress.com offers free web hosting managed by Automattic which includes ads on the pages but also paid upgrade paths to remove these with different traffic limitations and developer options on the accounts. The service includes a varied selection of free themes, but somewhat limits the functionality of a WordPress site by only allowing a certain number of pre-approved third-party plugins. Free domains on this service are limited to subdomains, for example – mywebsite.wordpress.com, but registered domains can also be used with a paid upgrade. Business & VIP accounts are available with additional proprietary services designed to manage traffic, detailed analytics, and an increase in the number of permitted page views per month.

Generally, it is recommended for most businesses to host WordPress on their own server and not from WordPress.com, in order to have the full flexibility to develop on the CMS platform without the limitations imposed by the terms of service.

Shared Web Hosting for WordPress

Shared web hosting is typically sufficient for around 90% of the websites running WordPress, but increasing the number of plugins, multimedia widgets, and server processing requirements needed to generate each page load using PHP or other scripts will sometimes put a strain on server resources. Therefore, it is important to research the differences between web hosting companies to see what limitations are placed on each account with regards to CPU and RAM memory use—even in plans that are advertised with “unlimited” data and disk storage space. If your site generates a traffic peak that exceeds the CPU or memory use limits, it could be shut down temporarily, causing the loss of business or page views during critical moments of promotion or when a popular link is shared on social media. Cloud hosting with load balancing will guarantee that these shut downs do not occur when traffic spikes.

VPS Hosting for WordPress

Upgrading to a VPS account can be beneficial for WordPress hosting if the site is using CPU processing resources that exceed the limitations of a shared host or the site requires a custom server environment for new plugin development. With VPS accounts, it is easy to custom configure the server with the exact version of Linux, Apache, PHP, and other server software extensions that shared hosts may not support. With a VPS account, developers and site owners can also “dial in” the exact amount of RAM, CPU processing power, and disk space that is required to support complex WordPress sites. However, a VPS will not provide the same type of scaling for traffic that a Cloud host will offer during times of peak user activity. Systems administrators will be responsible for optimizing load balancing and maintaining data security independently for WordPress sites running on VPS.

Cloud Hosting for WordPress

Cloud hosting accounts have advanced load balancing, database management, and page caching software installed that will keep a site online during all of the varieties of traffic that may be encountered in usage, as well as the ability to launch new server instances if the traffic requirements are too much for a single server. For example, a WordPress site with ecommerce facilities might be fine on a normal shared hosting account except for during certain holidays, weekends, or special promotions when the majority of business arrives. If the site goes offline during those times, a significant amount of the business will be lost. Therefore, a Cloud service would be required to efficiently manage the various irregular traffic patterns and surges of site activity at different times that would overwhelm a shared host and lead to “slashdotting”.

Cloud hosting is also an advanced performance optimization route for popular community sites, portals, and web apps that scale to high amounts of regular user traffic, especially those with large numbers of simultaneous users. By being able to clone and reproduce the core WordPress site files and database to multiple servers in clusters, the site will always be online and if more traffic arrives, another server instance will be launched automatically. CDNs use this same principle to scale data geographically, placing servers in closer proximity to major media markets. Using Nginx is recommended for any WordPress site that will have more than 10,000 simultaneous users at a time, which is common for the most heavily trafficked sites on the web in media, entertainment, and enterprise. Because Nginx will typically replace Apache in the LAMP stack, it may not be advisable for all sites and requires a skilled systems administrator to implement with WordPress on cloud LNMP stack installations.

Dedicated Servers vs. Cloud Hosting for WordPress

Dedicated servers can be used for custom configuration of server software to support large media archives, video sites, web cams, streaming music, and Flash sites that require specific extensions. Dedicated servers hosted on business premises and managed by a salaried IT team of systems administrators and web developers are recommended for corporate sites with specific security needs related to user or company data. Dedicated servers rented from hosting companies on a temporary basis can be a cost-effective alternative to purchasing and maintaining hardware in an IT department. For example, for small start-ups using Agile and Scrum methodologies for web app software development or mobile apps made with WordPress. Cloud solutions are still preferred by many large site owners over Dedicated servers because the cloud stack can be configured with the same custom software needed for proprietary development solutions, while also scaling for performance and load balancing optimization, overcoming many of the limitations of “single box” hardware.

Server Architecture & Performance

Another fundamentally important issue to pay attention to when distinguishing between all the varieties of web hosts is the actual server architecture that is being provided to the account. Some “unlimited” shared hosting plans will employ older servers with outdated processors, slower hard drives, and less installed RAM on cheaper accounts, because the average general traffic is low for the hosted domains. When choosing between shared hosting companies or upgrading to a new server, look for companies who use the latest Intel Xeon multi-core servers with large amounts of RAM and SSDs for the best performance. Contact the sales staff of a web hosting company to inquire directly about the server architecture if the information listed on the website is unclear. Site owners should research the hardware differences between shared hosting providers with the same scrutiny to the actual server architecture being provided for the accounts that would be done for a VPS or Dedicated Server upgrade.

QUICK TIP: Follow WordPress on Twitter to get the latest news on core releases, CMS development, security issues, developer practices, and showcase articles for sites running on the platform.

WordPress – System Requirements

The main server requirements for running a WordPress site are easily met by most web hosting companies. For example, the only main settings that need to be confirmed are:

  • PHP version 5.6 or greater
  • MySQL version 5.6 or greater or MariaDB version 10.0 or greater

WordPress will run on Linux (LAMP), Windows (WAMP), iOS (MAMP), or Nginx (LNMP) servers.

QUICK TIP: Some web hosts may come with PHP v5.5 or less enabled by default. WordPress.org recommends PHP v5.6. If your host does not have v5.6 active, you can either enable it yourself via the control panel or contact your host to do this for you. Interestingly, approximately 66% of all WordPress websites still run on a PHP version less than v5.6.

WordPress Auto Installers

Most shared web hosts with cPanel or a proprietary administration section offer “one-click installation” of WordPress through auto-installers like Fantastico, Softaculous, and Mojo QuickInstall. This can be a quick and easy way to get started on a WordPress site, where most of the additional development is done by adding plugins, widgets, and themes through the WP admin section. Administrators only need to choose the domain name, create values for the database, user account, and password. This method is considered safe for most sites, though security updates to the WordPress core codebase are recommended to be done through the WP admin section so that none of the theme template or plugins customization made to a website in development will be lost. Users who install WordPress on a VPS, dedicated server, or cloud host will not always have this option though, and may be required to use the manual installation process.

Screenshot of the Softaculous WordPress auto installer

Above is a screenshot of the Softaculous WordPress auto installer. You can easily install WordPress onto your web hosting account by clicking the “Install Now” button and following the onscreen instructions. Furthermore, once you install WordPress, you can manage your installation from here. These options are very basic, yet you can still tell Softaculous to do useful things like keep your WordPress version, themes, and plugins up to date by auto-installing the newest version (so you don’t have to manually update them yourself). You can also backup and restore WordPress from here as well.

Pre-Installed & Configured WordPress

Speaking of saving time, some web hosts allow the option to install WordPress automatically and will optimally configure it for you. For example, A2 Hosting does this when you sign up for a hosting account. You can see in the screenshot below.

A2 Hosting's Auto-Install option at checkout

During checkout, you can select “WordPress – A2 Optimized” from the drop down menu. In this case, A2 Hosting will install a fresh copy of WordPress onto your hosting account and optimally configure it. This includes adding several handy plugins and caching is preconfigured. Sweet!

QUICK NOTE: WordPress completely installed and ready to go obviously saves a lot of time and is again, a convenient feature. Of course, some of us like to fully customize WordPress ourselves and choose which plugins we want, how we name database prefixes, etc.

Free WordPress Migration

If you already have a WordPress website and are looking to switch to a new host, check to see if they offer free WordPress migration services. Migrating WordPress from one host to another is relatively straight forward, but for many small business owners less technologically savvy, you might as well take advantage of this free service and ensure a smooth transition.

WordPress & Data Security

With WordPress data security, it is important to keep both the CMS and the installed server software stack updated with the latest platform security releases by installing patches which will prevent the site from being hacked. There is the continual development of malicious database exploits based on MySQL injection that hackers employ using automated “script bots” to seek out WordPress sites on the web to steal data and compromise server functionality. With shared or managed hosting and some cloud services, the web hosting company will apply the security patches to the server automatically. However, with VPS, dedicated servers, and some cloud services, a “DIY” approach or systems administrator is required. Failure to keep server software updated with the latest security patches can leave a website vulnerable to online attacks that exploit older versions of the OS, Apache, or installed third-party utility scripts. WordPress core updates and upgrades to third-party plugins should be applied through the WP admin section as soon as they are released by the development teams.

Final Thoughts & Recommendations on WordPress Web Hosting

Most small businesses and start-ups will avoid the obvious limitations of free web hosting services with WordPress.com, but will still be able to affordably manage a new website with a quality shared hosting account. Site owners can use a cost analysis approach between the various companies offering shared hosting in order to determine which provide the best server architecture, customer service, website uptime, and data security. The cost of “unlimited” accounts can be deceptive, as these typically include limitations on CPU usage, monthly page hits, and the number of simultaneous users which will require an upgrade to a VPS or Cloud hosting account for high traffic WordPress sites.

WordPress can be optimized for thousands of page hits per day on shared hosting accounts using performance enhancing page caching plugins. A “slashdotting” event, where a link to the site is shared on social media from one of the most popular sites on the web or mentioned in a national media report, could send many multiples of that amount of traffic to a site in an hour. This is when the website will need to rely on a Cloud server with automatic load balancing software to stay online under all conditions. Sites with consistently high traffic and custom configuration requirements will need to choose between a Cloud host, VPS, or dedicated server.

Cloud solutions provide the same advantages as a VPS or dedicated server for custom WordPress development solutions, and companies can grow their sites organically to manage large communities and unexpected traffic peaks without going offline. For this reason, most WordPress sites are recommended to start off on shared hosting and then move to a cloud hosting account when the business or community traffic grows. Cloud hosting solutions outperform VPS and Dedicated servers for high traffic sites that use a lot of resources, but may still be too expensive for small business sites without extensive ecommerce, multimedia, or social networking requirements.