11 Ways Of Hosting WordPress Compared

To put a WordPress website online, you need hosting, sure. However, there are many different ways to host a WordPress website, each with their own advantages and disadvantages, pitfalls and target audiences.

So in this article I will give you an overview of all possibilities to host a WordPress site so that you can choose the one that suits you best:

1. Free Hosting on wordpress.com

Unlike WordPress.org, wordpress.com is a commercial platform maintained and owned by Automattic. Automattic is owned by Matt Mullenweg, the inventor of WordPress who is something like the benevolent dictator of WordPress for life. Hosting on the WordPress.com platform is very easy to set up and can be used for free, but is limited in the plugins & themes you can use, forcing your site to carry ads if you want free hosting or to pay for the service. In the premium rates, however, wordpress.com is anything but cheap and still has many restrictions.

Advantages & disadvantages

Free of charge
Stable and secure platform
Can also use your own domain name

Limited selection of themes and plugins
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Automattic can pull the plug at any time
No backups or recovery!
Limited community support
Max. 3GB data memory
No change to proper hosting possible!

Target audience

People who just want to start blogging and have no other demands on the website.

Recommendation

Really not to be recommended! Once you have built a blog at wordpress.com, it will be extremely hard to get it off. Also, you have few options when it comes to SEO and the choice of themes and plugins is quite limited, individual pages can be created here almost nothing.

Here you can find an overview of the packages and prices of wordpress.com

2. Cheap Shared Hosting

I’m sure you’ve seen hosting for one Dollar a month or so, maybe with the promise of unlimited disk space, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited email accounts and so on… But let’s be honest: the only way to achieve this involves two really bad ideas: 1. to put as many websites as possible on one server (we’re talking about thousands!) and 2. to offer very bad support as well.

If you have many thousands of websites on one server, there will always be competition for computing power, disk accesses and database calls. You can be sure that at some point the site will start to run slowly, maybe even be unreachable for days. Most of the time the hoster will not care about it.

In fact, offering hosting as such cheap means that they don’t have much money left over to pay qualified staff to manage and maintain their systems, or even provide proper customer service. So if the server costs 0.80 USD per month to keep it running, they can only make a profit with the 20 cents. If you include the costs for financial transactions and the offices, they may only be able to spend 5 cents per month on support.

So don’t expect the best of the best technology, fast response times on the phone and chat. Also don’t expect the latest and best to be installed on the server, i.e. the latest version of PHP for example. Such cheap hosters simply cannot afford to do this for you!

Advantages and disadvantages

Super cheap
You can use any theme or plugin of your choice
admin panel for managing your website
Possibly free SSL via LetsEncrypt (not guaranteed)

Possibly not the latest software and hardware
Possibility of hackers breaking in from one of the other sites hosted on the server
Server could often run slowly
Support will be hard to reach
Server could be down for days
Every problem is solved by upselling to a more expensive hosting package!
Definitely not suitable for e-commerce & online stores!

Target audience

Those who do not value their business enough to invest in it, or who simply need a very simple and above all cheap web presence.

Recommendation

Don’t do it! If you really want to appear professional and you want to run your business and your online presence seriously. If you are just looking for the cheapest possible hosting and can get by with little performance, go to Hostinger or check out the slightly more expensive but much better alternatives in my hosting comparison.

3. Professional Shared Hosting

Professional shared hosting usually starts at around 20 USD per month and like cheap shared hosting, many websites are put on one server. But that’s where the similarity ends.

Companies like WP engine, DreamHost, Siteground, Kinsta and Co. target this part of the market. Usually they offer a very well managed hosting package where there are bandwidth and processing limits per month, so you can be sure that the server will not be overloaded.

Some of them, such as WP Engine, also have limitations on which plugins can be installed. This is because, for example, you should not install a caching plugin because their infrastructure is already taking care of it, or they know that a particular plugin uses far too much processing power or has a high risk of hacking the site when it is used.

If you run into problems and need support, you can be sure in these packages that you will get a prompt response and less frequent upsets are offered as a way to solve problems. Of course, you may also need more power and be advised to update.

Advantages & disadvantages

Free SSL certificate
Often a free domain in a package
Qualified support staff
Good management tools

Limited available resources
Usually you will not get SSH access
It can happen that the website is no longer accessible if you have viral mail or TV commercials and you have not agreed with the hosting company in advance to deal with the additional traffic

Target audience

Those who value their online presence. This is a suitable solution for small business websites.

Recommendation

Professional shared hosting is a good first start for a website. Think about which company suits you best before booking. Some providers offer managed services, others specialize in e-commerce, and still others are more geared towards developers and make life easier for them with tools and staging systems. My recommendations here are especially DreamHost, Kinsta and WP engine.

4. Self-managed VPS

A VPS (Virtual Private Server) is a server that you rent and on which you can install anything you want. Usually they run either Windows or a Linux distribution. For WordPress it is always better to use Linux.

When you rent a VPS, you usually pay for the number of processors you use, the amount of memory you need, and finally the amount of disk space. There are many companies that work in this area. Starting at 2.50 USD per month, but of course you can’t expect much performance for that.

The disadvantage with this kind of hosting is that you have to manage the machine yourself. So if something breaks, it’s up to you. You also have to take care of security, operating system, server configuration, email configuration and so on. If you are not a DevOps specialist, I would definitely leave the finders of a VPS!

Advantages and disadvantages

Rather cheap
Versatile
You can install whatever you want
You can configure the web server as you wish

You manage, maintain and secure everything yourself.
The administration takes a lot of time

Target audience

Those who are as happy working on Linux as the configuration and tuning of PHP, Varnish, NginX/Apache, REDIS, Memcache or PostFix. If one of these words frightens you or says nothing, don’t choose this option!

Recommendation

If you want to take care of your VPS yourself anyway, I would book it directly with one of the big providers.

5. Managed VPS

Many hosting companies offer you virtual servers that are managed, updated and backed up by their specialists. You can concentrate on building and expanding your websites and still benefit from dedicated resources that are guaranteed to be available on a VPS. A few providers in this area are for example WP engine, Kinsta or Savii.

Recently, there is a growing number of companies that even administer and manage external virtual servers. They do this by installing a prepared software stack that they have created and know inside out. Perhaps the best known names in this area at the moment are Gridpane and Cloudways. There you can choose from different platforms for hosting, which are then operated with the same technology stack for you. For example, you can choose to have a VPS from Digital Ocean or AWS and leave the rest to the managed service.

If you need to install a particular technology stack, this is not for you. But if you’re just looking for quality hosting at reasonable prices, this is a great option.

Advantages and disadvantages

Super value for money
Scales immediately with increased bandwidth requirements
You don’t have to worry about anything
Proven software stack that works
Security is guaranteed by experts

Possibly no SSH access
You cannot install whatever you want (e.g. Fail2Ban, ioncube, etc.)
You need to know your way around to find the system

Target audience

Those who want professional managed hosting that scales easily and does not require the hiring of support staff.

If you just want a WordPress website online and don’t care about the underlying technology, this is one of the most cost-effective solutions for high-performance websites.

Recommendation

I have had very good experiences with the managed VPS of WP engine or Kinsta. If you have something special in mind, make sure before you choose a solution that your technology stack works on it and you don’t need things that the managed VPS hosting company can’t do!

6. JAMStack Hosting / Static CMS Hosting

J.A.M. (Javascript, APIs and Markup) is the hot shit in hosting. A dynamic website, like a WordPress, is turned into a static website and hosted on a CDN. At the moment Strattic is the best known provider for this kind of hosting for WordPress. JAMStack hosting works completely different than any other hosting.

Each time you want to edit a page or article, the system starts a separate container where your database and WordPress are stored. There you make the changes and push all pages together with scripts, CSS styles and images as static HTML to a global CDN. Afterwards the container is shut down again.

This has several advantages, especially a massive reduction of security problems and power consumption to keep the server running. But there are also disadvantages of this solution. For example you have to use 3rd-party APIs or self-written APIs if you want to store comments or other interactions on the website in the database. But if your site is basically just a static brochure, this is probably the best option.

Advantages and disadvantages

Very secure
Cached worldwide on CDN
Incredibly fast
Reduced CO2 emissions

Must use APIs to use things like comments or contact forms
Cannot store directly in the database
Must first boot the container to perform administrative/editorial tasks
No server-side tasks/cron jobs

Target audience

Those who want the highest security and performance, but do not have a dynamic side. For example, this would be a bad choice for an online store or a site that displays constantly fluctuating stock prices. However, if you have access to an experienced developer who knows about Javascript and APIs, you can create cool stuff with it.

Recommendation

In many respects, this is probably something like the future of hosting, but not everyone can afford to always use the latest of the new. I would say this is mainly for those who have rarely changing websites, so they want to post their information once and forget it afterwards. But there is still a lot to be done here, which will simplify the possibilities, especially in cooperation with content management systems. Currently I cannot recommend JAMStack hosting for WordPress for several reasons.

7. Managed Hosting

We now look at the top class of hosters. Managed hosting is the right choice for professional, large companies, or anyone who wants to be online all the time, with high availability and strong security. There are many companies that focus on this area, for example WP Engine or Kinsta.

Like the Managed VPS, hosting is a strictly controlled environment to which you do not have full access. But that’s fine, because you’re paying money for the hoster to take care of it!

Advantages and disadvantages

Super fast
Closed stack
Strong security
CDN often included
Some can do more than just WordPress

Probably no SSH/WP-CLI
Support possibly not 24/7
The number of websites that can be operated is limited

Target audience

This is the realm of big business, the digital agencies that resell websites or operate them for customers. I also recommend Managed Hosting to any company that doesn’t want to deal with website operation itself, but still wants a secure and fast solution with quality support.

Recommendation

If you can, you should get a managed hosting. Especially if you already have a successful online presence! But before you book anything, you should understand your current needs so that you can choose the right offer for you. I can especially recommend the Cloud providers WP Engine or Kinsta.

8. Dedicated Server Hosting

Here you have a whole physical server for yourself. Again, there are two options here: Managed or unmanaged. If you do not have a really good reason, always choose a managed server! Otherwise you have to take care of everything yourself, like with the VPS.

If you choose this way, you should schedule a detailed discussion with the hosting company to define the specifications of the machine you need. Otherwise you risk later upgrades and unexpected costs.

Meanwhile, a fully dedicated server is basically no longer necessary with existing server virtualization techniques. A dedicated virtual server is just as good, if not better!

Advantages and disadvantages

Extremely high speed
No competition for CPU, hard disk or RAM
Good support
As many websites as you want

Might cost more than you want to spend
Upgrading to a new server can be costly and time consuming

Target audience

Companies that require guaranteed and fast performance of hardware. For example, those who are serious about e-commerce and don’t want to risk that another site is on their server and something might interfere with the smooth operation.

Recommendation

Like the managed VPS, the hosting company can theoretically be anywhere in the world, so consider choosing one close to your customer base to keep latency low. And don’t forget to make sure that the support hours are available during your working hours

9. Dedicated multi-server infrastructure

Once your hosting needs reach the next level, a dedicated multi-server infrastructure is essential. This means upstream load balancers distribute traffic across multiple cache servers, which in turn connect to multiple web servers, which in turn connect to a matrix of self-replicating database servers, with a dedicated write server for your editors and many database read servers for your site visitors.

Add all the memcache, redis and shared file storage you can think of, and you have a highly complex server infrastructure that can handle extremely high loads.

Depending on the hosting company you work with, the hoster will take care of all infrastructure setup and maintenance, or your DevOps people will configure and set up individual applications themselves.

Expect to spend a minimum of 40.000 USD per year including support for this kind of infrastructure.

Advantages and disadvantages

You can run as many websites as you want
Support will resolve tickets as soon as possible.
A properly designed system will be able to cope with all visitor rushes

You often pay by GB for file and database storage
Every part of your infrastructure will have a price
SLAs (Service Level Agreements) can be very expensive

Target audience

Those who have several million visitors per month, who need excellent support and want a great deal of flexibility.

Recommendation

Choose a hosting company that is close enough to visit them personally. You run a premium stack and want to be able to knock on their door when you don’t get the support or service you need or to discuss new projects face-to-face. I personally use the services of PURE HOST for such complex setups.

10. Co-Location-Hosting

Your own physical server is here in someone else’s data center. This means that you really have to buy a real server and take care of ALL hardware and software errors.

Advantages and disadvantages

You know your server inside and out
You can upgrade or replace hardware as needed.

No support for hardware problems
No support for software
You must take care of all upgrades and patches yourself

Target audience

Those who used to have a server room in their building but no longer want this responsibility or it no longer pays off.

Recommendation

When choosing your location, pay special attention to security, accessibility, proximity to your company and peering of your chosen data center. You are probably right on target with the colos from Hetzner.

11. Redundant Failover Hosting

Now we come to the absolute top product in WordPress hosting. Redundant failover hosting can be operated with physical or virtual servers distributed across different data centers to take action when needed. This allows you to ensure the operation of the website even if any catastrophic event occurs (e.g. floods, power outages, EMP pulses, terrorist attacks).

The most important thing is that there is a good connection between the sites so that your database and files can be replicated regularly.

Advantages and disadvantages

Your business will continue even if the power goes out or another disaster strikes

Really very expensive
Regular check of failover required

Target audience

Those who cannot even afford to be offline for 5 minutes!

Recommendation

Weigh up whether you need a ‘like for like’ failover or something that can run at reduced capacity to reduce your overall cost. Also consider the human factor in failover! I would work with PURE HOST in this area.