WordPress Hosting Compared, Part 1: Overview

Jacco Blankenspoor

If you develop WordPress websites, you have probably come across WordPress hosting. This can be hosting your WordPress(.org) site with a specialized provider or using a specialized set up, or hosting it on WordPress.com itself. In this article I will explain what exactly is WordPress hosting, and when you would probably need it. In the following two articles in this series I will show you how to set up a WordPress site on a Virtual Private Server (VPS), WordPress.com, in the cloud and with a shared hosting provider.

There are three key features for which specialized WordPress hosting providers differ from regular hosting providers:

  • Optimization
  • Support
  • Specialized features

I will go through these one by one, after which I will show you a Prezi with a comparison table to help you decide on different types of hosting: VPS, shared hosting, in the cloud and on WordPress.com.

Optimization

This can be split into two different categories: One-time optimization, and ongoing optimization. One-time optimization is mostly used when you decide to host your site in the cloud, or on a VPS. In these cases you start with a pre-configured image and/or combination of services. It’s then up to you to keep your installation running at its best.

Ongoing optimization means you use a shared hosting provider or WordPress.com. Your site may still run on a cloud the provider is using, but the provider is responsible for maximum performance of your site.

Support

Most of us probably won’t need much of support from a hosting company, let alone support for a WordPress installation. But that doesn’t mean a customer won’t require support from you for their site. There can be many issues with a WordPress installation, especially with a site which has just launched.

You can arrange this in a support contract or by hourly billing, but what if you could offset these questions to a dedicated WordPress support desk? This is where shared hosting providers come into play.

They not only provide support on the hosting side, but help you with WordPress issues as well. You pay a premium for this, but if it can reduce the time you spend on solving problems yourself, it may be worth it. Especially when the question “Why is my site running so slow?” comes up.

Specialized features

Again, this is something in which shared WordPress hosting providers really excel. Managed upgrades, easy CDN deployment, fast and generous backups, staging areas, fully managed security and built-in plugins are features which most shared WordPress hosting providers include in their package.

That doesn’t mean you can’t do this yourself, but it does you save a whole lot of time if you can just step in and start using it. If you still want to do it yourself or keep maximum control, a cloud based solution or VPS would be more suited.

All of these three main features are things you could all do yourself. But depending on which solution you choose, there can be real time savers in here.

So now you know what to look for, let’s make a comparison of the most popular solutions, which are:

  • Cloud: Do-it-yourself, but with a head start. Full control.
  • VPS: Mostly do-it-yourself, but with some help in case it goes really wrong. Shared control.
  • Shared WordPress hosting: Fully managed, almost no control.
  • WordPress.com: The biggers WordPress hosting provider of them all, almost no control.

These will be compared on:

  • Time to set up
  • Ease of use
  • Optimization
  • Support
  • Features
  • Level of control (server)
  • Pricing (per install)

Prezi Presentation: WordPress Hosting Compared

Provider overview

Cloud providers VPS Shared Hosting WP.com
Amazon AWS VPS.net WPEngine WordPress.com
Windows Azure DreamPress Pagely
Rackspace Websynthesis

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