The Best WordPress Hosting Providers in the World [By the Numbers]

Finding the best WordPress hosting (and shared WordPress hosting usually) has traditionally been the first port of call for those new to self-hosted WordPress. The combination of server administration, low monthly fees, and tempting add-ons (such as free domains) make it an attractive option for new webmasters.

Better still, prices have remained low over the years, while competition between the top WordPress hosting providers has continually driven the functionality on offer to new heights.That said, it can be a confusing world to navigate at times.

In this article,  we’ll break down the offerings of five of the most prominent WordPress hosting firms, and put real numbers next to different aspects of their performance, to help you choose the best WordPress hosting in 2017. 

But before we dig into the numbers, let’s begin with some background on shared hosting and hosting generally, and the approach we took with our testing. We’ll start with the latter.

The dirty little secret of most WordPress hosting reviews

The next time you’re reading some breathless paean to a hosting company, bear this in mind: they offer some of the biggest payouts in the affiliate marketing industry.This simple fact alone is responsible for a substantial percentage of the “reviews” you’ll come across online, which are often little more than barely researched puff pieces designed solely to get you to click on an affiliate link.

Our approach is fundamentally different. We purchased real plans and performed real-world tests, and in this feature we cover every aspect of the hosting experience, from initial offer presentation and sign-up through to backend administration, WordPress installation options, customer support, and site load speed.

What you’re reading here is not some rehashed piece cobbling together a couple of existing reviews, or the result of a cushy backroom deal with a hosting partner. It is the product of actual research in a live environment.

With that mini-rant out of the way, let’s get cracking!

Some background on best WordPress hosting as a market

Hosting is big business. It’s a $16 billion industry in the US alone and growing at 10% per year. And while it’s hard to isolate the exact percentage of that made up by shared hosting, over 50% seems a reasonable guess.As the name implies, “shared” hosting means your website will be sharing space on a server with potentially hundreds – or even thousands – of other websites.

A simple way of thinking about this is that it’s the equivalent of renting a cheap apartment. You’ll have very little idea of what your immediate neighbors are going to be like in advance.

The actions of those around you will also have a much higher chance of impacting on your life than if you were, for example, securely tucked away in a stately mansion on a faraway hill. Our stately mansion in this scenario would be the world of managed, dedicated WordPress hosting.

Also, just as in shared accommodation of any kind, there will be pooled resources at play. Imagine server RAM and CPU as being the equivalents of plumbing and electricity in an apartment building. If the building’s electricity goes down, everyone’s electricity goes down.

The good: You are not in charge of running the actual server yourself. This can require an unusual combination of skills which you or your team may not currently possess. It is also highly affordable.
The bad: You’re at the mercy of overall usage patterns on the machine you happen to be installed on. If your neighbor somehow breaks the MySQL server, it’s your problem just as much as his.
The ugly: If you find yourself in a bad neighborhood, you could be inadvertently associating with some genuinely unsavory elements. A 2012 APWG survey estimated over 50% of online phishing attempts originate from shared hosting servers.
So is shared hosting the best WordPress hosting for everyone? Let’s find out:

Who shared WordPress hosting is a good fit for

If any of the following scenarios are true for you, shared WordPress hosting could be an excellent fit:

  • You are a new business: As a new business, your immediate priority is getting a basic online presence established. Shared hosting is an excellent way of doing that quickly and affordably.
  • You have a limited budget and/or IT resources: Serious hosting and custom development require a major investment of both time and money. If you have neither to spare, shared hosting is a great way of getting started without breaking the bank or needing to hire full-time IT people.
  • Reasonable traffic expectations: If you’re simply looking to get your small brochure site or a basic e-commerce site set up, shared hosting is a great fit. If you are looking to launch a service with thousands of users that will IPO in six months, it is not.

Also remember, despite what the marketing material may say, you will be required to deal with technical issues somewhere along the line. Topics such as DNS settings and cPanel management are going to rear their head. If these areas are brand new to you, expect to have to do some quick learning.Let’s move onto the typical elements on offer with a WordPress hosting package.

Typical shared hosting package components

Like their cousins in the ISP and mobile phone provider space, hosting companies are often far too fond of blind-siding consumers with an overload of options and information in the hopes of forcing a sale.

An example here from the milder end of the spectrum would be the HostGator shared hosting comparison page »»

In an attempt to keep things manageable, we’ve highlighted the following most important areas for our overall package comparisons:

  • Cost per month: Hosting companies have a nasty habit of quoting the cheapest of all possible prices as the standard monthly price. To simplify matters, we’re taking the bare-bones, entry-level package from each provider and listing monthly fees at 12-month and 36-month contract durations, so you can compare like with like.
  • Space: The amount of physical storage space listed as being available on the server.
  • Bandwidth: The amount of traffic it can handle per month. Be aware from the outset that “Unlimited” will nearly always mean “Unlimited subject to certain terms and conditions”; just as with space, check your provider’s terms. DreamHost have admirably clear guidelines in this respect.
  • Sites: The number of websites you are allowed to run on the package.
  • Domains: Any free domain registrations on offer.
  • Marketing options: Any significant marketing incentives, such as free Google Adwords or Facebook advertising vouchers.

Please note: All of the sites we are reviewing here offer 24/7 customer support as standard. We strongly suggest you do not even consider a provider who does not offer this.

As we walk through each package, we’ll point out other relevant features on offer on a case by case basis.

We’ve also provided a separate Online Reputation listing per provider, which talks about relevant impartial customer opinions and data coming from our hosting survey.

A word on pricing

As you’ll shortly see, the monthly figures offered by our best WordPress hosting companies are extremely affordable. It’s all too easy when assessing shared hosting providers to get hung up on what are ultimately not very significant price differences.

To put things in perspective, all of the providers on our list offer a 24/7 service with 24/7 support for the price of less than three Tall Chai Tea Lattes at Starbucks per month.

Our WordPress testing strategy

We decided to go for a stripped-down WordPress install to make comparisons as fair as possible.

Each install used WordPress with the standard Twenty Fifteen theme and all plugins and caching disabled.

For the purposes of testing customer support, we installed each site on a temporary URL with the WordPress hosting provider, and reached out to them for assistance with how to set that up.

WordPress performance

In terms of performance, each WordPress install was tested in the following two ways:

Pageload tests with Pingdom: The homepage is loaded from three separate locations and the results tabulated.
Basic load testing with LoadImpact: We used LoadImpact to simulate up to 40 concurrent users hitting the homepage over a five minute period. The figures you see here are based on test runs with servers geographically close to the WordPress installations themselves. We also sense-checked these results with limited tests on more geographically dispersed servers.

A caveat on testing

Due to the nature of WordPress hosting, there is no magic single definitive test that will hold true under all circumstances.

What we were looking for here were illustrative page load times and reasonable overall performance indicators at low usage levels. Remember that your mileage may, and probably will, vary.

The candidates

Let’s move on to our candidates – the (allegedly) best WordPress hosting providers.

  • Three of the candidates – Bluehost, DreamHost, and SiteGround – are taken from WordPress’ very own shortlist of recommended hosting partners.
  • The remaining are leading providers in the overall and shared hosting spaces (according to our WordPress hosting survey and numerous sources from the web).

Here’s the lineup for our WordPress hosting comparison:

SiteGround vs InMotion vs WP Engine vs Bluehost vs DreamHost vs HostGator vs GoDaddy.

SiteGround

We went for the StartUp package. Although for a generally more WordPress-optimized package, we’d recommend the GrowBig plan. It’s a tad more expensive, but it comes with additional features, free SSL and priority support.Initial signup with this shared WordPress hosting plan was simple and to the point. The backend impressed as well, with its presentation of a carefully considered initial set of options.

WordPress installation

Getting WordPress up and running with the built-in installer took just a few clicks.

Customer support

As in with the other hosting providers, SiteGround customer support were able to help us get a temporary URL working quickly and efficiently.

Special mention has to go out to the slickness of their customer support software and the extra mile the staff were prepared to go in offering detailed account advice and providing screenshots. (This makes it a great HostGator alternative, for instance, if you want a more refined support environment.)

Pingdom test

Server location: AmsterdamNot surprisingly, the only install on the list hosted on a European server performed particularly well from Amsterdam. Melbourne, on the other hand, was thoroughly underwhelming.

Testing location Load time 1 Load time 2 Load time 3
Amsterdam 0.40s 0.40s 0.42s
New York 1.07s 1.16s 1.15s
Melbourne 3.76s 3.76s 7.75s

LoadImpact test

Server location: AmsterdamTesting machine location: Dublin, Ireland

Minimum response time: 0.46s

Maximum response time: 0.87s

There were superb times on a geographically close test server, but we experienced more variance with different locales.

InMotion Hosting

InMotion offers a lot of hosting options, but we wanted to look into the ones that are optimized for WordPress specifically, so we went into the “WordPress hosting” section and selected the plan called Launch. This one is the most affordable.The great thing about it is that you get SSD disk space without any additional fees (SSDs are known for their superior performance compared to the other hard disk technologies). Also, you can have 2 websites on this plan.

WordPress installation

Another surprise with InMotion is that you get WordPress preinstalled as part of your hosting package. All you need to do is tick the right checkbox during the checkout process. In other words, you don’t actually need to do handle WordPress installation on your own, it’s all being done automatically. Also, during install, you get to select your preferred “max speed zone.” There are two settings: east and west. Depending on which you choose, the site is going to be faster in some parts of the globe vs the others.

After everything is done, you’ll get the access details to your new WordPress dashboard, which is all that’s needed, honestly.

Customer support

Right after you sign up, you’ll realize that InMotion has a lot to offer in terms of support and helping you to launch your website. There are tens of different guides and tutorials on various hosting-related matters. There’s also a separate knowledge channel all dedicated to WordPress.

But that’s not all, the support chat is available 24/7. We’ve tested it by asking some domain-related questions regarding the temporary URL of the site. The person on the other end was able to solve those at first try. Really cool.

Pingdom test

Server location: Los Angeles, CAInMotion shows good performance near the sever location and also reasonably good results for Europe and Australia. This isn’t the fastest host on this list, but surely nothing we’d call uncomfortable.

Testing location Load time 1 Load time 2 Load time 3
Stockholm 1.70s 1.56s 1.72s
New York 0.97s 0.93s 0.96s
Melbourne 2.38s 1.98s 1.90s

LoadImpact test

Server location: Los Angeles, CATesting machine location: Washington, D.C.

Minimum response time: 0.83s

Maximum response time: 2.75s

InMotion’s performance is good up until the 10 concurrent users mark, at which point it takes a slight dip, but then restores around 20 concurrent users and stays somewhat level up until even 50 users. Overall, more than enough for normal usage and server load.

Online reputation

We didn’t hear from too many survey respondents using InMotion in our hosting survey, but the ones that did submit their opinions were very happy with the service they’re getting. They rated InMotion’s reliability at 4.4 / 5, the support at 4.2 / 5, and gave the platform the overall rank of 4.3 / 5.

WP Engine

The plan we’ve tested here is called Personal, and it’s the entry-level plan with WP Engine. As part of it, you’re allowed to have 1 WordPress install, and it can handle up to 25,000 visits a month, so probably more than enough for most new websites.

WordPress installation

The whole sign-up process with WP Engine is very straightforward, and I’m only mentioning it here because getting WordPress installed is an integral part of that initial sign-up. In other words, you don’t need to do any WordPress installing on your own, the WP Engine team takes care of that for you.

At the end of sign-up, you simply get an email with all the access credentials and important data regarding your new site.

Customer support

WP Engine offers some great support options – via helpdesk and chat (plus phone if you’re on a higher pan).

Overall, users report very good quality of WP Engine’s support – currently rated 4.5 / 5 by our survey respondents. And we can only confirm this, as the quick interaction we’ve had with the support team has been nothing but positive (helped us get the test site going after solving a billing issue).

Pingdom test

Server location: CaliforniaWP Engine shows great performance when accessing the site from a New York server (even though New York and California are properly away). European connections are also really good. Lastly, Melbourne connections get a bit lower performance.

Testing location Load time 1 Load time 2 Load time 3
Stockholm 0.94s 0.79s 0.77s
New York 0.42s 0.36s 0.34s
Melbourne 1.16s 1.14s 1.13s

LoadImpact test

Server location: CaliforniaTesting machine location: New York

Minimum response time: 0.21s

Maximum response time: 0.36s

Really good performance across the whole spectrum. The number of concurrent user connections had little impact on the results.

Online reputation

4.7 / 5 – that’s how users rate WP Engine’s level of WordPress optimization.
92% of users say they will extend their hosting subscription with WP Engine.
WP Engine reliability ranked 4.5 / 5 by users.

Bluehost

We went for the starter package here.One immediate point to note is that Bluehost was the only alternative on the list that doesn’t offer a monthly package. Twelve month commitments are the minimum, though that is offset somewhat by a strong money back guarantee policy that I have personally invoked without issue.

WordPress installation

In addition to the standard cPanel options in place, Bluehost’s one-click WordPress installations are handled by a service called MojoMarketplace.

The MojoMarketplace interface for installing WordPress left a lot to be desired. It was possible to install multiple instances accidentally, and overall feedback on what was happening at any given point was inconsistent and confusing. (For instance, when we look at Bluehost vs SiteGround, the latter gives you WordPress installs in just a few clicks.)

On the plus side, this gave us an instant opportunity to talk to support!

Customer support

Service via chat support was fast and friendly and helped us with clearing up the initial WordPress installation problems and setting up a temporary URL to view our site.

Pingdom test

Server location: UtahLoad times reported via Pingdom were broadly respectable but showed the sort of variance often expected in a shared hosting environment.

Testing location Load time 1 Load time 2 Load time 3
Amsterdam 1.8s 3.14s 1.57s
New York 1.01s 0.92s 0.87s
Melbourne 1.73s 1.71s 1.72s

LoadImpact test

Server location: UtahTesting machine location: Palo Alto

Minimum response time: 0.62s

Maximum response time: 4.9s 

The variance our initial Pingdom tests suggested seemed to be confirmed here with occasional spikes up over four seconds as load increased.

Online reputation

Bluehost reliability ranked 3.4 / 5 by users.
23.7% of Bluehost’s customers are first-timers to web hosting.
Bluehost is the first hosting platform ever recommended by WordPress.org.

DreamHost

We selected the standard shared hosting package with DreamHost, which was the most expensive of the base offerings we tested.Overall account signup with this shared WordPress hosting provider was slick and painless, and I was eager to see how DreamHost’s much-touted SSD servers would perform.

WordPress installation

The one-click install options in the backend worked straight out of the gate and the interface was generally straightforward to navigate.

Customer support

We needed some help in configuring a temporary URL as a subdomain on the main Dreamhost domain. Customer support was easily reachable via chat and able to help us clear the issue up quickly.

Pingdom test

Server location: Los AngelesDreamHost load times were impressively stable across locations and went into an early lead in terms of US response times.

Testing location Load time 1 Load time 2 Load time 3
Amsterdam 1.51s 1.25s 1.26s
New York 0.93s 0.79s 0.79s
Melbourne 2.74s 2.06s 2.18s

LoadImpact test

Server location: Los AngelesTesting machine location: Palo Alto

Minimum response time: 1.24s

Maximum response time: 1.68s

DreamHost stayed impressively solid throughout our test with just a small range of variance, but there was little evidence of the performance boost promised by SSD disks.

Online reputation

DreamHost rated 4.3 / 5 by users in our hosting survey.
DreamHost rated 4.4 / 5 by users when asked how happy they were with the value they’re getting for their money.
DreamHost’s user-friendliness ranked 4.2 / 5.

HostGator

We went for the Hatchling package here.Signup with HostGator was straightforward and we were soon logged into a pretty traditional cPanel setup on the backend without incident.

WordPress installation

Installation was also painless using the built-in cPanel WordPress installer. We did find ourselves having to update themes post-install, but that was just a matter of a few clicks.

Customer support

Again, we reached out to customer support for assistance in setting up a temporary URL. Here we hit our first minor inconvenience with a wait time of eight minutes on chat. They weren’t quite as quick to point us in the right direction as previous providers, but we got there in the end. (E.g. when comparing HostGator vs. Bluehost, the support chat is much easier to access with the latter.)

Pingdom test

Server location: Houston, TexasAgain, the initial load times were more than respectable across territories.

Testing location Load time 1 Load time 2 Load time 3
Amsterdam 1.31s 1.28s 1.22s
New York 0.93s 0.72s 0.72s
Melbourne 2.47s 2.45s 2.45s

LoadImpact test

Server location: Houston, TexasTesting machine location: Palo Alto

Minimum response time: 0.78s

Maximum response time: 0.89s 

There’s a clear difference here in terms of both overall speed and consistency, firmly under the one second barrier and staying there. Tests from servers in other geographical locations were slower but the consistency remained impressive.

Online reputation

HostGator rated 3.9 / 5 by users when asked how happy they were with the value they’re getting for their money.
HostGator rated 4.1 / 5 on reliability .
74% of users will extend their hosting subscription when it’s up for renewal.

GoDaddy

We went for the basic package here.Despite their formerly less than stellar user interface reputation, signing up to GoDaddy went without a hitch. I recently spoke to a GoDaddy customer representative at WordCamp London 2015, and it is clear that they’ve put a lot of work into the front-end to possibly become the best WordPress hosting out there.

This feeling continued on into the backend, which was a modern take on cPanel and intuitively laid out – the easiest one to navigate so far in fact.

WordPress installation

WordPress installation was a snap with the built-in installer.

Customer support

GoDaddy was the only provider on our list not to support the provision of temporary URLs, so we were forced to set up a standard subdomain here.

Our initial attempt to contact support via chat was less than ideal, with wait times of over 40 minutes reported, so we hit the phones instead. (E.g. when comparing GoDaddy vs. Bluehost, the chat can be accessed much quicker with Bluehost.)

Support here was superb. Extremely friendly and professional, they talked us through the subdomain options and assisted in making changes on the account itself.

This continued on in subsequent chat support tickets that were required to clear up some minor DNS snafus that emerged on the registrar side.

Pingdom test

Server location: ArizonaGoDaddy impressed instantly with consistently strong US and European load times.

Testing location Load time 1 Load time 2 Load time 3
Amsterdam 1.06s 0.93s 0.92s
New York 0.52s 0.42s 0.41s
Melbourne 3.04s 1.82s 2.14s

LoadImpact test

Server location: ArizonaTesting machine location: Palo Alto

Minimum response time: 0.63s

Maximum response time: 0.83s

As with HostGator, GoDaddy got down under one second and stayed there. Their performance in other tests wasn’t quite as consistent admittedly, but the numbers posted here are impressive.

Online reputation

GoDaddy is the biggest hosting company on this list.
78% of GoDaddy customers are likely to extend their hosting subscription.
GoDaddy’s reliability ranked at 3.8 / 5.

Other WordPress hosting options to consider

If neither of the options presented above speak to you, feel free to look into the following companies as well.

Note. They have all been proven to perform nicely for WordPress users, which our hosting survey confirms.

Here are the possibilities along with their important, user-rated ratings:

Best alternative WordPress hosting
COMPANY OVERALL SUPPORT VALUE FOR $ RELIABILITY
Kinsta 4.9 / 5 4.8 / 5 4.3 / 5 4.9 / 5
Flywheel 4.7 / 5 4.8 / 5 4.1 / 5 4.8 / 5
DigitalOcean 4.6 / 5 3.8 / 5 4.6 / 5 4.7 / 5

The overall verdict

Upon reflection, we would lean away from Bluehost on the grounds of a clunky backend interface, comparatively poor WordPress installation tools, slightly erratic performance and inflexible long-term contract requirements.

DreamHost, though more than respectable across their service offering and performance, didn’t do enough for us to justify the price differential in their offering.

Both HostGator and GoDaddy had slightly different plus and minus points, but none were ultimately persuasive enough to pick out a clear winner. We were impressed with their price point, setup process, backend and performance though.

On the managed hosting side, WP Engine has proven to deliver a really good performance, and it should be more than enough to handle any new or growing WordPress site.

In Olympic style – to highlight that all services are surprisingly good – we’ll hand out medals accordingly:

SiteGround
InMotion
WP Engine

Update. Taking our newest survey findings into account, we’d actually recommend you to go with the GrowBig plan at SiteGround. You get WordPress-specific features, free SSL, priority support, plus a great track record with our survey respondents.

Conclusion

We’d like to stress that none of the shared WordPress hosting providers here failed any test. The overall standard was refreshingly high. Furthermore, all providers also offer a full range of more advanced hosting options if you start to outgrow the entry-level packages.

Our hope is that the information above will help you do two things:

  1. provide a framework to distinguish between high-profile providers, and
  2. use their overall offerings as a sensible reference point if you are comparing with other hosting services in the market.

We’d love to hear more about your experience in finding the best hosting for WordPress in the comments below. Get in touch!