If you’re thinking about launching a website, chances are you are considering using WordPress. It is easily the most popular content management system (CMS) in the world. And it's free.
Throughout the history of WordPress, the CMS has proved to be a versatile and lasting tool for beginners and pros. This is why WordPress is so widely used. But as powerful as it is, does WordPress come with hosting? Unfortunately, it does not. You’ll have to find your own web hosting for your WordPress site.
What is WordPress Hosting?
WordPress hosting is a form of website hosting — providing storage and access to a website— intended for WordPress websites. Because WordPress hosting was designed specifically for the world’s most popular CMS, WordPress sites run especially well on this type of web hosting. Most notably, sites with WordPress hosting should expect fast performance.
WordPress hosting usually comes with 1-click installation of WordPress, or even with the CMS already pre-installed. This gives you a good head start in launching your site.
Is WordPress a Hosting Site?
WordPress is a system that helps you manage your website’s content, but it does not house or store that content for you. Your website must have a home, which is why it’s so important to understand what WordPress hosting is.
There is a slight caveat to this answer. If you look into WordPress, you’ll notice WordPress has two distinct websites: WordPress.org and WordPress.com. WordPress.org is the free open-source CMS that is usually discussed when talking about WordPress (it’s the focus here). WordPress.com offers hosting and limited use of the WordPress CMS. They are not the same thing.
How WordPress Hosting Works
The basics of WordPress hosting is just the same as standard website hosting. All the files that make up your website (HTML, images, etc.) need a place to be stored. Your website host provides you with that storage (a server) and allows people to access the information being stored (your website traffic). Website hosts are like property owners and gatekeepers all in one.
Setting up servers is a highly technical and complicated matter. Website hosts build their servers for general use, which allows them to host all sorts of sites. Due to the nuances among the various types of websites types of websites, that means you’re probably not getting the best out of your host and server. With a WordPress hosting service, you get a server that is optimized for the super popular CMS. Things are configured for WordPress to run as efficiently as possible.
WordPress hosting is not the same as WordPress itself. How WordPress hosting works is entirely different than how WordPress works.
Do WordPress Sites Need WordPress Hosting?
Part of the story behind WordPress’ dominance on the web is its versatility. It can work on all sorts of platforms. You absolutely do not need a WordPress hosting service for your WordPress website. Most hosting services are compatible with WordPress. They would lose a huge chunk of potential business if they weren’t.
One way to look at hosting is thinking of the whole internet as living cities or communities. The buildings represent websites, and the land they are on represents a host server. To expand on this concept, you can think of WordPress hosting services as specialized communities, kind of like a retirement community. You don’t have to build your house there but living in a space and community built for your needs could make life a whole lot easier.
You certainly have options when it comes to WordPress sites and hosting. That’s part of the appeal of the world-leading CMS. However, if you want to get the most out of your WordPress site, WordPress hosting should be a primary consideration.
WordPress Hosting: Is It Worth It?
If WordPress sites don’t need to be on WordPress hosting servers, is there any real reason you should use WordPress hosting? Is WordPress hosting worth it?
There are certainly some benefits to keep in mind. But as with anything, there are two sides to the story. Here are some pros and cons you should consider when thinking about whether WordPress hosting is right for you:
Pros of WordPress Hosting
- Fast speeds: Nobody wants to visit a website with slow load times. WordPress hosting servers are optimized for speed. This ensures that your visitors have a smooth and positive experience when navigating your site. Fast-loading content is also a crucial factor in search engine optimization (SEO), and slow page speeds can negatively impact search engine rankings.
- Strong security: WordPress is the most used content management system on the web. It’s no surprise that WordPress sites are constantly being attacked. Your WordPress hosting is built with security protocols specific to WordPress sites. This adds a layer of protection you can’t get from general hosting services.
- Better support: For the most part, using a WordPress hosting service means access to WordPress experts. You can be confident that they’ll know how to resolve any hosting issues you may run into with your site.
- Easy to install: Though not impossible, WordPress can be a bit of a chore to install for beginners. Most WordPress hosting services offer quick and easy 1-click WordPress installation.
- A ton of choices: You certainly don’t have a shortage of WordPress hosting options. Plenty of companies are set up to tap into the extremely large WordPress market. If anything, there might be too many choices.
Cons of WordPress Hosting
- Optimized for WordPress only: While this is great for WordPress sites, it does hinder you from starting up any non-WordPress sites. This means having to source a new hosting provider if you ever decide to move away from WordPress as a CMS.
- Limited plugin access: Most WordPress hosting services don’t allow for full access to all WordPress plug-ins. This is primarily for security reasons as plugins are often the most likely to have vulnerabilities against malicious parties. While this might be seen more as a positive, it still might hamper you from getting the most of your WordPress site if there’s a particular plugin you really want.
- Higher costs: This is especially true if you go with a managed WordPress hosting service (more on that later). While there are some strong benefits, they don’t come free. You’ll have to decide whether extra costs are worth it.
Shared vs. Managed WordPress Hosting
Shared WordPress Hosting
Shared WordPress hosting is the more basic type of WordPress hosting. You’ll share space on a server with other websites. This would be like sharing an apartment with several roommates. Because the server resources are shared, this type of web hosting is usually associated with slower speeds. However, because WordPress hosting is optimized for WordPress websites, speed is not as much of an issue as it is with general shared website hosting services.
Shared WordPress hosting is the cheaper option. This makes it a sufficient choice for anyone starting up with a limited budget. Your site traffic is likely to not exceed your server’s resources.
Managed WordPress Hosting
Speaking of robust hosting, that’s exactly what you’ll get with a solid managed WordPress hosting service. With this type of website hosting, your WordPress site is typically on a dedicated server, virtual private server, or hosted on the cloud. This is like having your own house, own apartment, or even several apartments at the same time. You shouldn’t have to worry about sharing resources with other sites.
Managed WordPress hosting gives you an incredible amount of support for your website. Your hosting service provides you with the bulk of your site’s day-to-day hardware and software maintenance. They’ll make sure your security is well-tuned and manage updates for you. Many managed WordPress hosting services offer 1-click staging, allowing you to test changes to your site in a dev environment (not live on your website).
You’ll also have access to expert-level support to help you troubleshoot any issues with your site. Managed WordPress hosting is going to be more expensive than shared WordPress hosting. This makes it the better choice for larger, more established sites, and brands looking to scale their WordPress site in the future.
What to Look for in a WordPress Host
Now that you’ve learned quite a bit more about what WordPress web hosting is, you’re more set than ever to find a service to host your site. When combing through the many options, keep these following factors in consideration:
- Speed and resources: One of the biggest selling points about WordPress hosting services is that they are optimized for speed. Look into what type of speed performance your potential host promises, and how they use their resources to provide you with a high-performing site.
- Reliability: No matter what type of site you have, you depend on your web host for reliability. Look into reports about uptime/downtime. Make sure you have a host that can keep your site up and running as much as possible.
- Price: You always want to consider price when shopping for any type of product or service. Make sure to shop around and compare prices. As with anything else, keep in mind that expensive doesn’t always mean the best, and cheap doesn’t always mean the worst. Shoot for getting the most value for your dollar.
- Management features: If you are going the managed WordPress hosting route, take a close look at the management features being offered to you. You’re paying for these services. Make sure you’re getting the ones that are going to make running your site easy for you.
- Support: Beginners can work with WordPress with relative ease, but that doesn’t mean putting up a WordPress website and maintaining it doesn’t come with some technical challenges. Look into your potential hosts’ technical/customer support. Be comfortable knowing that when issues arise, you have somewhere to turn.
Try WordPress Hosting From Nexcess
No matter what your WordPress hosting needs are, Nexcess has options for you. You’ll get top-tier managed hosting that eases the pressure of maintaining your site. Learn more about Nexcess’ WordPress website solutions and WordPress ecommerce solutions.
This blog was originally published in November 2016. It has since been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.