5 Hosting Providers for WordPress Users Compared

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5 Hosting Providers for WordPress Users Compared

This article is part of a series created in partnership with SiteGround. Thank you for supporting the partners who make SitePoint possible.

How do you know you’ll get the features, performance and support you need to run your WordPress website? How do you separate the quality hosting providers from the subpar? With so many alternatives, how do you ensure you get real value for your money?

We’re here to help. In our article The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Hosting Provider we created a series of checklists to help you make an informed decision. In this article we take things one step further. We take five of the best hosting companies out there and run each one through the checklists so you can see how they compare.

Here are the five companies and how they describe themselves:

  1. Bluehost: “Our mission: to empower people to fully harness the web.”
  2. DreamHost: “We focus on successful sites for web designers, developers, bloggers and online business.”
  3. SiteGround: “Web hosting is our craft. Latest speed technologies are our passion. Unique security solutions are our specialty. Amazing technical support is our pride.”
  4. Flywheel: “Beautiful WordPress hosting and management built for designers and agencies.”
  5. WP Engine: “WP Engine provides best-in-class customer service on top of innovation-driven technology.”

Not all of these companies are alike. We’re not just comparing apples with apples—because maybe you don’t need an apple. As we work through the checklists, we hope you get a clearer idea of what type of company will best meet your needs.

The first three offer shared hosting with strong WordPress options, giving you lots of configuration at a low price. The last two focus solely on low-maintenance WordPress hosting, but at a higher price. You’ll see the differences that makes as we work through the checklists below.

1. Speed & Performance

Your first priority should be to make sure your website will load quickly. The use of SSDs for storage, support for the new HTTP/2 protocol and having servers on multiple continents can shave seconds off your load times. In addition, options for content delivery networks and caching can speed your site even further.

Performance Checklist
BluehostDreamHostSiteGroundFlywheelWP Engine
Servers on multiple continents


CDN (content delivery network)CloudFlare (with advanced plan)12-29 cents per GBCloudFlare (with every plan)MaxCDN optionalIncluded in Professional plan and above
SSD storageNoYesYes

HTTP/2NoNot for shared hostingYesYesYes
BackupsCaching optionsVarnish cache for cloud plans onlyOPcache with shared hosting,,Varnish cache with DreamPressSuperCacherServer-side cachingEverCache

In a thorough WordPress hosting comparison, DesignBombs tested for performance. They used both LoadImpact and Pingdom to test load times for four of our sites. Here are the results with the fastest listed first:

  1. WP Engine: 260 ms (LoadImpact), 350 ms (Pingdom)
  2. SiteGround: 400 ms (LoadImpact, after caching), 942 ms (Pingdom)
  3. Bluehost: 640 ms (LoadImpact), 2794 ms (Pingdom)
  4. Flywheel: 1000 ms (LoadImpact), 1580 (Pingdom)

SiteGround is certainly a contender for performance. They have data centers across three continents, excellent performance-related features, and detail their infrastructure upgrades on their blog.

WP Engine has even better load times, though at a higher price. Their Professional plan (and above) have excellent performance features, though not as many as SiteGround.

2. Security, Reliability & Uptime

Security and reliability should also be high priorities when choosing a hosting provider. You want a website that’s always there, and resistant to hackers. WordPress need to be up to date (as do your plugins), and known vulnerabilities promptly patched. Proactive steps should be taken by the host to block attacks, and regular backups should be kept in case the worst does happen. Finally, your site should be carefully monitored so that if it goes down, the problem can be rectified immediately.

Security Checklist
BluehostDreamHostSiteGroundFlywheelWP Engine
WordPress UpdatesYes, including themes & pluginsYesYes, including pluginsYesAutomatic Update Protection
Vulnerabilities HandlingSiteLock scans for vulnerabilitiesSiteLock (optional)Zero day vulnerability fixesFree fixes when hackedManaged patching and updates
Brute-force detection/preventionCustomized internal toolsJetpack Premium with DreamPress planAI-based bot prevention + CloudFlare WAFIntelligent IP blocking, limited login attemptsDDoS mitigation and rule sets tuned to prevent attacks
WAF (web application firewall)SiteLock WAFWordPress specific firewall with DreamPress planCustom WAF rulesIntelligent IP blockingCombination of firewalls
BackupsDaily, weekly, monthlyRegular snapshots, Jetpack Premium with DreamPress planDailyNightlyDaily
Monitoring system
Jetpack Premium with DreamPress planCustom monitoring system that automatically fixes problems
In-house vulnerability scanning and remedies
ReviewSignal’s WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks (2015) tested our five hosting providers (among others) for uptime over 30 days. Here are the results:
  • Bluehost 100%
  • DreamHost 94.06%
  • SiteGround 100%
  • Flywheel 100%
  • WP Engine 100%

DreamHost does seem to go down from time to time, including a 42 hour period during ReviewSignal’s testing. The other providers had perfect uptime while being tested.

SiteGround proactively secures websites on three levels with zero-day vulnerability fixes and custom WAF rules. For example, in 2015 they added 855 firewall rules and 43 kernel patches. This level of care is quite unique among hosting providers.

They also have their own sophisticated monitoring system that proactively checks all server processes twice a second, and if a problem it detected automatically fixes it. This means that even when problems do happen, you’re unlikely to be aware of it – it’s typically fixed in less than a second.

SiteLock (a security service used by Bluehost, DreamHost and other hosting providers) is found to be dubious value by some reviewers. The custom security solutions offered by the other providers are superior, as is Jetpack Premium, which is included with DreamHost’s DreamPress plan. We’ll cover WordPress security options in more detail over the next few weeks.

3. Customer Service & Support

When it’s time to contact tech support, you want help, not a fight. You want answers, not a long wait. You need support available 24/7, as well as plenty of self-help resources.

Support Checklist
BluehostDreamHostSiteGroundFlywheelWP Engine
Available times24/724/724/79am-5pm CDT and 24/7 emergency support24/7
Support channelsPhone, email, chatPhone callbacks, chat, ticketsPhone, chat, ticketsPhone, chat, ticketsPhone, chat
In-house or outsourcedIn-houseIn-houseIn-houseIn-houseIn-house
Self-help materialsGuides, video tutorialsKnowledge baseTutorials and knowledge base, webinars, setup wizardHelp articles, video resourcesGuides

Only SiteGround quote their support response times, and they’re great:

  • Tickets: first reply within 10 minutes
  • Live chat: instant reply time
  • Phone: instant reply time

Designbombs decided to test out support response times when doing their web hosting comparison. They asked each of these hosting providers (and a few more) a simple question via live chat, and timed how long it took to get a response. Their conclusion: “SiteGround absolutely blew away the competition.” Here are the individual results:

  1. SiteGround: 15 seconds
  2. DreamHost: 6 minutes
  3. WP Engine: 11 minutes
  4. Flywheel: 15 minutes
  5. Bluehost: 40 minutes

SiteGround’s response time was excellent, while DreamHost’s, WP Engine’s and Flywheel’s were acceptable. Bluehost’s slow response to a chat enquiry is concerning.

4. Features & Limitations

Not everyone needs the same features. Geeks love staging and SSL while beginners value website migration and an easy-to-use control panel. Use the following table to determine which companies provide the features you value.

Features Checklist
BluehostDreamHostSiteGroundFlywheelWP Engine
WordPress PreinstalledYesYes
1-click WordPress InstallYesYesYes
Control PanelEnhanced cPanel, custom WordPress control panelDreamHost control panelcPanelCustom simple dashboardWP Engine control panel
Website Migration$149.99In beta and not free1 FreeFreeFree
SSLOptionalYes, with DreamPressYesYesYes
StagingNoNoYesYesYes, plans above Tiny
Blacklist WordPress PluginsNoNoNoThose that duplicate functionality or cause problemsSome plugins disallowed for security or performance reasons

SiteGround have the best range of features for the price. Flywheel and WP Engine don’t go into a lot of detail when talking about features—their services are aimed at companies who prefer to pay someone else to do the setup, and don’t need to know the details themselves. They find the extra cost a bargain. For those companies they are a good fit.

5. Philosophy, Culture & Reputation

Web Hosts Recommended by WordPress

When finding a host for your WordPress website, what better recommendation can you receive than from WordPress. Four of our companies appear on the official WordPress Web Hosting recommendation page.

We’ve dealt with more hosts than you can imagine; in our opinion, the hosts below represent some of the best and brightest of the hosting world.

The page is updated several times a year, and currently lists these providers:

  • Bluehost
  • DreamHost
  • Flywheel
  • SiteGround

How Stable Is the Company

How long has the company been around? How many people have chosen them to host their websites?

  • Bluehost started in 2003, and hosts over two million websites worldwide.
  • DreamHost started in 1997, and hosts over 1.5 million websites, blogs and apps (including 750,000 WordPress installations).
  • SiteGround started in 2004, and (as of 2016) hosts over 500,000 sites.
  • Flywheel started in 2012, and is used by over 50,000 agencies, designers and creatives.
  • WP Engine started in 2010, and have 60,000 customers in 120 countries, powering 500,000 “digital experiences”.

How Human Are They?

The “humanness” of a company is hard to pin down without living with them for a while. Here are some indicators from their websites and social channels which will help you get a feel for each company.

Bluehost’s social channels mainly promote new blog posts, which cover topics helpful to bloggers and webmaster. There’s no mention of staff or real people on their website. Their About page explains the company is part of the Endurance International Group, which includes HostGator, iPage, SiteBuilder.com and Domain.com.

The DreamHost blog covers topics relevant to web hosting, and their social channels are used to promote these. Their website’s front page explains that they are independently owned, “which allows us to stay true to our values and maintain our commitment to our community of customers.” They embrace open source software, and contribute code to OpenStack.

SiteGround displays photos and descriptions of their staff on their friendly website. “We take just as good care of our employees as we do of our clients. We believe that happy employees lead to happy customers, that’s why we offer all kinds of perks to motivate and inspire our staff.” They actively give back to open source communities – they are involved with more than 100 community events per year.

The Flywheel website displays photos of all staff, and has a “Life at Flywheel” section written by Melanie Phelan, the Employee Experience Coordinator. They seem to care about their staff. One of the positions listed is “Happiness Engineer”, which is their term for customer support. The company is “a product we believe in”, which they started “to improve the lives of the millions of web designers and developers.”

The WP Engine website has a professional, corporate tone, which matches the intended audience. They display photos of their staff on the website, along with quotes. Here’s the quote from Jason Cohen, the founder: “I started WP Engine because I wanted to work on interesting, real problems experienced by interesting, real customers, and come to the office every day thrilled to be working with the people around me. Somehow, we’ve been lucky enough to make that dream a reality.” When speaking of hiring opportunities, they use the words, “Join our family.”

ReviewSignal WordPress Hosting Ratings

ReviewSignal use algorithms to rate the top hosting providers using feedback shared on the net. Here’s how it works:

Review Signal turns conversations on Twitter into web hosting reviews. We’ve collected over 335,000 reviews about web hosting companies and publish them for consumers. Our mission is to take valuable insights publicly shared by others and transform it into useful information.

All five of our hosting providers make it into the Top 13 in their list of Top WordPress Hosting Companies. Here’s how they rank:

  1. Flywheel, ranked #1, rated 84%
  2. WP Engine, ranked #3, rated 76%
  3. SiteGround, ranked #4, rated 73%
  4. DreamHost, ranked #8, rated 58%
  5. Bluehost, ranked #13, rated 39%

6. Pricing

Ongoing Costs

Bluehost (shared hosting)

  • Basic plan (single website) $3.95 per month (normally $7.99)
  • Plus plan (unlimited websites) $5.95 per month (normally $10.99)
  • Prime plan (unlimited websites plus extra features) $5.95 per month (normally $14.99).

DreamHost (WordPress hosting)

  • Shared Hosting (multiple sites) $7.95 per month
  • DreamPress (fully managed) $16.95 per month

SiteGround (WordPress hosting)*

  • StartUp (one website, 10,000 visits per month) $4.95 per month
  • GrowBig (25,000 visits per month) $7.45 per month
  • GoGeek (100,000 visits per month) $10.45 per month

* With the current 65% off from the special promotion for SitePoint readers.

Flywheel (managed WordPress hosting)

  • Tiny plan (5,000 monthly visits) $15 per month
  • Personal plan (25,000 monthly visits) $30 per month
  • Professional plan (100,000 monthly visits) $75 per month

WP Engine (managed WordPress hosting)

  • Personal plan (single site) $29 per month.
  • Professional plan (10 WordPress installs) $99 per month.
  • Business plan (25 WordPress installs) $249 per month

Refund Policy

Bluehost has a money-back guarantee for the first month. “Try us and love us, or get a refund within 30 days of signing up. Your satisfaction is our top priority and we’re confident you’ll be pleased with our services.”

Dreamhost has a 97 day money-back guarantee for shared hosting.

SiteGround has a 30 day money back guarantee for all of their shared hosting plans. “Our 30 day money back guarantee gives you peace of mind that our services will meet the expectations set out in the TOS.”

Flywheel doesn’t give refunds, but with no contracts you are able to cancel at any time.

WP Engine has a 60 day money back guarantee. “If you’re not happy, cancel and request a refund within the first 60 days to get your subscription fee back! Excluding Premium and Enterprise Plans.”

Which Should You Choose?

That’s a lot of information! Which company should you choose? It depends on whether you prefer apples or oranges.

If you prefer your hosting provider to do the dirty work for you—including making the decisions they feel are best for you and your site—then look at WP Engine or Flywheel. Their plans cost quite a bit more, but for many companies it will be money well spent.

SiteGround, our preferred hosting provider, is the best choice if you are willing to do some of the work yourself, and are looking for good value for money. They provide excellent performance and reliability, and their affordable plans include more features and better support than their competitors.

Frequently Asked Questions about WordPress Hosting Providers

What are the key factors to consider when choosing a WordPress hosting provider?

When choosing a WordPress hosting provider, it’s important to consider several key factors. These include the provider’s uptime guarantee, which should ideally be 99.9% or higher, and the speed of their servers, as this can significantly impact your website’s performance. Other factors to consider include the provider’s customer support, security measures, and whether they offer features such as automatic backups and free domain registration. It’s also worth considering the provider’s pricing structure and whether they offer any money-back guarantees.

How does WP Engine compare to other WordPress hosting providers?

WP Engine is a popular choice for WordPress hosting due to its robust security features, excellent customer support, and high-performance servers. However, it’s worth noting that WP Engine’s plans are generally more expensive than those offered by other providers. If you’re on a tight budget, you might want to consider other options such as DreamHost or Bluehost, which offer competitive features at a lower price point.

What is Global Edge Security and how does it benefit WordPress users?

Global Edge Security is a security feature offered by WP Engine. It provides a range of benefits for WordPress users, including protection against DDoS attacks, a web application firewall, and SSL/TLS encryption. By using Global Edge Security, you can help to protect your website from malicious attacks and ensure that your users’ data is secure.

How does DreamHost compare to other WordPress hosting providers?

DreamHost is another popular choice for WordPress hosting. It offers a range of features including unlimited bandwidth and storage, a 100% uptime guarantee, and a free domain name for the first year. However, some users have reported issues with DreamHost’s customer support, so it’s worth considering this when making your decision.

What are the benefits of shared WordPress hosting?

Shared WordPress hosting is a cost-effective option that’s ideal for small websites and blogs. With shared hosting, your website shares server resources with other websites, which helps to keep costs down. However, it’s worth noting that shared hosting may not be suitable for larger websites or those with high traffic levels, as it can lead to slower website performance.

How does Bluehost compare to other WordPress hosting providers?

Bluehost is a well-known WordPress hosting provider that offers a range of features including a free domain name for the first year, 24/7 customer support, and a 30-day money-back guarantee. However, some users have reported issues with Bluehost’s uptime and server speed, so it’s worth considering this when making your decision.

What is the importance of customer support in a WordPress hosting provider?

Customer support is a crucial factor to consider when choosing a WordPress hosting provider. Ideally, your provider should offer 24/7 support via multiple channels, such as live chat, phone, and email. This ensures that you can get help quickly if you encounter any issues with your website.

How does SiteGround compare to other WordPress hosting providers?

SiteGround is a highly-rated WordPress hosting provider that offers a range of features including free daily backups, 24/7 customer support, and a 30-day money-back guarantee. However, SiteGround’s plans are generally more expensive than those offered by other providers, so it’s worth considering this when making your decision.

What are the benefits of managed WordPress hosting?

Managed WordPress hosting is a premium service where all technical aspects of running a WordPress site are managed by the host. This includes security, speed, WordPress updates, daily backups, website uptime, and scalability. The main benefit is that it offers a hassle-free hosting experience, allowing you to focus on running your business.

How does A2 Hosting compare to other WordPress hosting providers?

A2 Hosting is a reliable WordPress hosting provider known for its high-speed performance. It offers a range of features including free site migration, automatic backups, and 24/7 customer support. However, some users have reported issues with A2 Hosting’s uptime, so it’s worth considering this when making your decision.

Adrian TryAdrian Try
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Adrian Try is an Aussie writer, musician, cyclist, and tech geek.

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