BEST MANAGED WORDPRESS HOSTING – 2016

THE COMPLETE GUIDE ON HOW TO CHOOSE A MANAGED WORDPRESS HOST

Please Note: Before letting you dive into this awesome guide, we wanted to point out one hugely important fact: There are ZERO affiliate links on this page. The majority of hosting articles in the Google SERPs have commercial intent or are littered with bad advice to get people to buy affiliate products. Our goal is simply to give you our insights on the WordPress hosting industry, as well as links to external resources that could be helpful.

WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) on the web for an abundance of reasons — most notably because:

  • It is free and open-source
  • There are tons of themes/design packages available
  • There is a vast collection of plugins that add specific functionality to a WordPress website.

I mean heck, why wouldn’t it be the best option?

Well, indeed, it is the best option available for the majority of websites out there. That being said, the reason WordPress is such a fantastic platform is because everything is made so simple and easy to access — but all that simplicity on the front-end requires a lot of moving parts behind the scenes. All these moving parts can be incredibly taxing on the hardware that powers your WordPress site. This problem leads us right into the topic we are going to cover in this ultimate guide: WordPress Hosting.

In this guide, we will be covering everything related to WordPress Web Hosting. From what hosting is and why it is important to the features you need in a hosting account to the various hosting services out there and how they stack up against each other. Nothing in this guide is meant to “dis” any hosting providers, we just want to save people the time and energy of making mistakes that just about everyone makes at least once in their career.

If you have any questions on the topics covered in this guide, do not hesitate to leave a comment at the bottom of this page. We will be responding to them throughout the next couple weeks :)

Most Popular Content Management Systems
(Courtesy of BuiltWith)

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WordPress

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WordPress Hosting - The Definitive Guide to Choosing the Best Hosting Platform

Table of Contents

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Chapter 1: What is Web Hosting?

The Basics of Web Hosting

what is wordpress web hosting

Web hosting can be a complex topic to grasp if you are not familiar with how the internet works. So much happens from the time we type in a web address into our web browser and press enter to when we actually see the website appear. The goal of this article is not to break down the technical side of how web hosting works, but for those of you who are not very familiar, here are some great resources to brush up on your web hosting knowledge:

Best Resources To Learn About Web Hosting Basics

Chapter 2: Why is Web Hosting Important?

Why You Need to Think About Where You Host Your WordPress Site

why is web hosting important

Web hosting for a WordPress site is an often overlooked part of creating the website, but if you do not choose the right hosting account, there can be some seriously negative consequences for your business. Here are some things to think about when choosing a WordPress hosting account:

How much would your business be impacted if your website went down for 30 minutes during the middle of the workday? An hour? The entire business day?

If the answer to any of those scenarios is, “It would cost us a bunch of money!” or “We might lose a few customers.” or “Our employees would be lost and unproductive.” then the up-time or reliability of your hosting account needs to be a huge priority. In my opinion, cheap and unreliable hosting accounts are just not worth the negative consequences that they can cause. Any minute of any day, you could be getting a visit to your website from your biggest potential customer ever. Is the couple hundred dollars that you save by using cheap hosting services really worth losing current or potential customers over?

The answer is almost always: NO.

And don’t get me wrong, more expensive is not always the answer. In fact, there are many reasonably priced WordPress hosting plans out there. Read the rest of the guide to see our input on which WordPress hosting plans are the best value.

Cheap and unreliable hosting accounts are just not worth the problems Click To Tweet

 

If your website were to be hacked, would you know how to clean up the mess?

If your answer is, “Absolutely NOT,” do not worry — that is completely normal. But it does raise some concerns, right?

It should.

Most companies do not have IT personnel on staff that know how to handle these situations. If that sounds like you then you need to consider the level of security that your WordPress hosting plan provides. WordPress is great because it gives you access to themes and plugins, but those features are double-edged swords because not every theme or plugin is maintained as well as it should be. Certain “managed” WordPress hosting plans help monitor your site for vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers. We will cover this more in depth in the final chapter of this guide where we discuss some of the most popular WordPress hosting companies.

If your site were to be hacked, would you know how to clean up the mess? Click To Tweet

 

Is your industry ultra competitive in Google’s search results? Do your search engine rankings have a significant impact on your business?

If you answer YES to either of those questions, then you should consider placing a higher emphasis on the speed of your WordPress hosting plan. Just about every WordPress or SEO blog has beaten it into the ground that the speed of your website affects your search engine rankings. And it is definitely true. To what extent? Nobody can say for sure, but speed is certainly a ranking signal, as it directly affects the user experience on your site.

There are tons of ways to speed up your site from caching plugins to optimizing the size of your images to minimizing the code on your website, but those methods can be complex to implement and can cause problems of their own. Many hosting plans that are specifically for WordPress take care of the caching functionality for you — which means one less thing to worry about!

Here are some more great resources that cover why web hosting is so important to the success of your site:

Great Resources To Learn Why Web Hosting Is Important

Chapter 3: Basic Things to Consider When Choosing a Host for Your WordPress Website

There are many things that should factor into your decision. Here we list the essential features that basic users need and why they matter:

wordpress hosting essential features

Making a decision on which WordPress hosting company was right for you used to be much more simple than it is now. It used to be about how much space a host would give you or whether or not they had an automatic installer for WordPress. Nowadays there are so many different features that can make your life easier, different control panels/interfaces that can improve the user experience inside the hosting account and 3rd party integrations that bring outside functionality right to your fingertips inside the account.

In this section we will outline literally everything that could factor into the decision of choosing the right host for your WordPress site.

Uptime/Reliability

As discussed above, the real question is always how much would it cost your business if your site went down for 1 business day? Here at TheSiteEdge, this is simply one of the most essential elements that we stress to our clients when they are deciding on hosting. Do your research and choose a hosting company that does not have hundreds of “downtime complaints.”

Hosting Security Features

Yet another topic that we already touched on — and one that people just do not like to talk about — but sites get hacked. There are WordPress hosting platforms that make this almost impossible — and ones that will literally fix your site for you if your site does get hacked (which is awesome).

WordPress Hosting Speed

There are 2 reasons why your web hosting speed matters: SEO and UX. I believe they are equally important factors. Faster hosting = higher rankings + more interaction on your site. Boom!

Phone/Email/Live Chat Support

This is such a tough one because you never really know what the tech support is going to be like until you sign up with a WordPress hosting provider and you can’t always take customer complaints at face value (because people complain even if they are the ones to blame 😮 ). We will touch on this in the final chapter for each hosting company we have worked with.

Website and Database Backups

Make sure you have automated backups being taken of your website AND your MySQL database. Just about everyone that builds or maintains a website gets burned by this at least once before they learn (It makes it even easier if you just have to click a button to restore your site to an earlier version of itself). If you haven’t yet been burned by not taking backups of your site, I desperately urge you to start getting regular backups of your site and avoid the traumatic moment when you realize, “Holy crap. My website just got hacked into pieces and I have nothing to restore. Looks like I will be spending the next week rebuilding my website.”

Ability to host multiple domains/websites

This is straight-up overrated. In no scenario very few scenarios is it useful or in your best interest to host multiple websites on the same hosting account. Databases get big/slow and down the road you will wish you had set them up on individual accounts with sufficient amounts of resources to handle the load.

If you haven’t already noticed, I am trying to save you the trouble of making every single mistake I have made with hosting in my life.

Storage Space

Just like the last item, this is usually very overrated and just a sales technique of big-box hosting providers. You do not need unlimited storage space on your web server.

I repeat: YOU DO NOT NEED UNLIMITED STORAGE ON YOUR WEB SERVER.

Does it make sense that everyone gets unlimited storage space and everyone pays the same amount? Nope. It gets abused by others and you may very well be the one that suffers because of it.

SSL Certificate Purchase/Installation

If you plan on selling products or services on your website or just want to establish more trust with your audience, it makes things much easier on you if there is a simple process for purchasing and implementing an SSL certificate on your website. It is a pretty complex process if you have not done it before. Some WordPress hosts make this much easier than others.

adding an ssl to WPengine hosting

ssl

Awesome Resources on Hosting Uptime, Backups and SSL

Chapter 4: Advanced Features to Consider

Some hosting features can be much more important to Developers, Designers and Agencies than they are to Individual Bloggers or Businesses

advanced features to consider when choosing a wordpress hosting company

Here are the features you need to consider if you make a living doing web development or web design:

Caching Technology

Installing and configuring caching plugins can be a headache and they tend to cause issues with other plugins. Server-side caching through managed WordPress hosting plans saves an enormous amount of time and the performance is unmatched.

Bandwidth Limits

If you are setting up hosting for a site that gets a good amount of traffic, the bandwidth limit is definitely something to keep in mind. You need to be aware of 2 things:

  1. Will your site remain up and stable if you get a surge of traffic?
  2. What is your bandwidth/visit limit and how much will you be charged if you go over it?

Staging Sites

This is a newer feature that has saved our company a lot of time and helped us correct a lot of issues prior to us putting features into production. A few of the more feature-rich WordPress hosting plans allow you to copy your site over to a “staging” site where you can test out new features, WordPress/theme/plugin updates, etc prior to going live with them. What makes this feature helpful is all about the ease of getting your site to and from the staging platform. If you do not care about having “staging site” functionality built into your hosting account, check out this plugin from Delicious Brains for migrating a site from one WordPress install to another, including local environments (it’s pretty awesome and has bailed us out of some tough situations where we were migrating a site away from another agency that would not give us access to the client’s hosting control panel — with this plugin you just need access to the WordPress admin to migrate a database). Another plugin that can help make a staging site more feasible is this one from iThemes (they recently added some new deployment options that make it easy to push and pull from a staging site).

staging sites - wordpress hosting

Scalability

If your goal is to grow your traffic to new heights, you need to ensure that wherever you place your WordPress site is scalable. If you are just going to have to move it somewhere else in a year when you have double the traffic, that just seems like a waste of time and a potential source of technical/performance issues. Ensure that server resources can be added as you and your site grow. Nobody likes having to manually migrate a website to a new server — it is so much nicer if you can click a button or just place a phone call to upgrade your account. No work, no DNS changes, life is good.

Integrated CDN Services

CDN services can improve your website speed and reduce the load on your server, thus improving its reliability. It is just another thing that you have to set up if it is not built into your hosting account in an easily implementable manner.

adding a cdn - managed wordpress hosting

Fantastic Resources on Staging Functionality and CDN Services

Chapter 5: Hosting by Affordability

Here we showcase standard shared hosting providers (not managed WordPress) that provide hosting service at ultra-affordable rates.

best wordpress hosting prices

If cost is your biggest concern — I don’t think it should be — but if it is, here is a list of well known hosting providers with plenty of tools at their disposal that are ridiculously cheap. None of these hosting providers really separate themselves from the others in terms of performance, so this group is in no particular order. Please note that all of these cheap WordPress hosting companies have a couple things in common:

  • They are all considered to be in the ultra-affordable price range
  • They all have unlimited 24/7 support (via phone, live chat, email and/or Twitter)
  • They all have auto-installers to help you get WordPress set up
  • They all lack true WordPress experts on the frontlines of their support teams
  • They all lack quality control and focus on quantity over quality — hence the ridiculously low prices. This is not necessarily a bad thing if pricing is your focus when choosing a hosting account.
  • If you ever see someone advertising Free WordPress Hosting, run as fast as you can in the opposite direction.
Please Note: These prices are for standard shared hosting accounts — NOT managed WordPress hosting. If you are definitely planning on going with managed hosting, the pricepoints just don’t vary quite enough to matter.

Ultra-Affordable, Legitimate Web Hosting Companies

Chapter 6: Top Hosting by Speed

Here we showcase hosting providers that consistently display industry-best speeds (according to external studies and our own experiences)

fastest managed wordpress hosting

Hosting speeds can very slightly from day to day, week to week — and certainly month to month. There are just so many variables that come into play that cannot be controlled in a speed test done by our agency here in Minneapolis. The factors that can affect load speed of a hosting account other than the hardware and software being used to run the hosting platform include:

  • Geographic location of user compared to hosting company’s data centers
  • Specific theme and plugins on website
  • Concurrent users on the website
  • Caching architecture
  • The fact that things change over time — one company could be the fastest hosting provider last month, and then show significantly slower speeds this month. There are reports all over the internet that directly conflict with one another in terms of who is the fastest.

That’s why we are not going to waste your time with another poorly conducted WordPress hosting speed comparison. What we are going to do is leverage one of the only reports that has tracked server response times from many of the most well known hosting companies on a monthly basis dating back to August 2014. The results were tracked from 4 different geographic locations including Western North America, Mid North America, Eastern North America and Europe. Here are the fastest WordPress hosting plans:

 

Please Note: Kinsta was not part of the above speed test that we referenced, thus we have no data for them. That being said, it is becoming quite common to see WordPress experts raving about their speed. See this article talking about improving speed by moving from WPEngine to Kinsta. It would be tough to argue against the fact that they are the fastest out there right now.

North America: The Current Speed Testing Results (August 1st, 2014 – June 30th, 2015)


  1. WPEngine: 201 ms
  2. Flywheel: 241 ms
  3. GoDaddy (managed WordPress, not shared!): 241 ms
  4. Pagely: 244 ms
  5. BlueHost (managed WordPress, not shared!): 257 ms
  6. WebSynthesis: 588 ms
  7. Siteground: 598 ms
  8. Pressable: 734 ms

Western North America: The Current Speed Testing Results (August 1st, 2014 – June 30th, 2015)


  1. GoDaddy (managed WordPress, not shared!): 189 ms
  2. BlueHost (managed WordPress, not shared!): 197 ms
  3. Pagely: 265 ms Flywheel: 289 ms
  4. WPEngine: 309 ms
  5. WebSynthesis: 632 ms
  6. Siteground: 672 ms
  7. Pressable: 785 ms

Mid North America: The Current Speed Testing Results (August 1st, 2014 – June 30th, 2015)


  1. WPEngine: 189 ms
  2. GoDaddy (managed WordPress, not shared!): 238 ms
  3. Pagely: 257 ms
  4. Flywheel: 273 ms
  5. BlueHost (managed WordPress, not shared!): 273 ms
  6. Siteground: 541 ms
  7. WebSynthesis: 611 ms
  8. Pressable: 684 ms

Eastern North America: The Current Speed Testing Results (August 1st, 2014 – June 30th, 2015)


  1. WPEngine: 111 ms
  2. Flywheel: 160 ms
  3. Pagely: 211 ms
  4. GoDaddy (managed WordPress, not shared!): 294 ms
  5. BlueHost (managed WordPress, not shared!): 296 ms
  6. WebSynthesis: 522 ms
  7. Siteground: 587 ms
  8. Pressable: 737 ms

Europe: The Current Speed Testing Results (August 1st, 2014 – June 30th, 2015)


  1. Flywheel: 283 ms
  2. Pagely: 380 ms
  3. WPEngine: 381 ms
  4. GoDaddy (managed WordPress, not shared!): 467 ms
  5. BlueHost (managed WordPress, not shared!): 472 ms
  6. WebSynthesis: 686 ms
  7. Siteground: 825 ms
  8. Pressable: 1025 ms

Web Hosting Speed Comparison Articles

Web Hosting Speed Comparison Tools

Chapter 7: Top Hosting by Features for Average Users

Here we separate the top WordPress hosting providers based on the features necessary for average users

chapter 7 wordpress hosting for average users

When we are discussing the best WordPress hosting providers out there — and more specifically: their feature sets for basic users — they all really have you covered (otherwise they wouldn’t be one of the best). For this section, the features we are focusing on include:

  • How easy the hosting account interface is to use
  • The helpfulness of technical support and how easy they are to get a hold  of
  • Ease of implementing an SSL Certificate
  • Security guarantees

Once again, if you go with a managed WordPress hosting account from a reputable company for your site, you will be in great hands. However this section is not about who is good, it’s all about who is great.

The Elite

wpengine hosting dashboard

click to expand

WPEngine: An obvious choice for all three factors we are analyzing.

  • Ease of Use: All of your websites installed on your hosting account are easily accessible from one administrative area. The way everything is organized in a hierarchical manner just makes sense — and it works flawlessly.
  • Technical Support: This is without a doubt my favorite thing about WPEngine — their tech support is off the charts good. In all of our experience in working with their hosting accounts, they have never turned us down when we ask for help figuring something out. NEVER. They work with plugin/theme developers to get plugins/themes in-line with WPEngine standards, they help you troubleshoot issues with caching, and they help you figure out problems when migrating your sites over to their platform — those are just a few examples of how they can help. 24/7 PHONE SUPPORT — that means that no matter when you need help, you can talk to someone directly on the phone.
  • Implementing an SSL Cert: Ridiculously easy. The steps involve clicking the “Buy SSL Cert” button, choosing a domain from a dropdown menu and clicking to confirm your purchase. They automatically install the certificate and make sure it auto-renews for you ever year.
  • Security Guarantee: WPEngine is so confident in their security that they offer to fix your site for free if it gets hacked.

Runner Up

kinsta dashboard

click to expand

Kinsta: Their feature set is potentially the best and their support is fantastic. They cover all the basics at an astounding level. They haven’t been around all that long and getting an SSL Cert set up is not easy, so before jumping the gun and ranking them as the best, let’s give it some time.

  • Ease of Use: their new dashboard looks better than WPEngine’s, but WPEngine still seems more natural to use.
  • Technical Support: Top-notch tech support that is beyond knowledgeable when it comes to WordPress.
  • Implementing an SSL Cert: Getting an SSL implemented on Kinsta is just not easy. You need to go elsewhere to purchase it and then get everything over to Kinsta so they can hook you up.
  • Security Guarantee: They will fix your site for free if it gets hacked. Ahhhhh, peace of mind.

Honorable Mention

flywheel wordpress hosting dashboard

click to expand

Flywheel: Close to WPEngine in terms of functionality, but failed our SSL Cert test and they do not have 24/7 support.

  • Ease of Use: Similar to WPEngine, all of your websites are easily accessible from one admin area. The interface is gorgeous, and gorgeous sometimes makes things just seem easy. As an added bonus, they will migrate your site from your old host over to Flywheel for free — which is awesome for basic users.
  • Technical Support: The support is definitely knowledgeable and top-notch, but there is one negative here — you can only get support Mon-Fri from 9am – 7pm CDT. I highly value the ability to get a hold of someone at my hosting company whenever I need to.
  • Implementing an SSL Cert: Flywheel does not allow you to purchase an SSL Certificate through them. So that means you need to go buy one somewhere else and then you need to pay Flywheel for them to allow you to get it set up on your account. This is a fail.
  • Security Guarantee: Same as the above, they will fix you up for free if your site gets hacked.

 

Links to Feature Lists for the Above Hosting Companies

Chapter 8: Top Hosting by Features for Designers, Developers and Agencies

Here we rank hosting providers by their features meant for advanced users and digital agencies

top hosting features for designers, developers and agencies

In this section, we will be going through each advanced feature that we identified in Chapter 4 of this guide and letting you know which WordPress hosting provider handles them the best. Keep in mind, we understand that there are plenty of ways around these issues and that they could likely be accomplished by you in one way or another — however workarounds take time, and time is money in this business. Here we go:

 

Caching Technology

All of the best managed WordPress hosting services do this for you, but some just seem to work more efficiently. Overall, Kinsta, WPEngine and Flywheel perform the best in terms of speed. In this case, we give the nod to WPEngine because of one teeny-tiny detail: they make it easier to clear the cache. WPEngine gives you the ability to clear out your cache from your WordPress admin, as well as inside your hosting account panel. Kinsta has you install a separate plugin if you want to clear your cache from inside the WP dashboard and Flywheel asks you to log into your hosting account every time you need to clear your cache. Pretty minor, but workflow matters!

Bandwidth/Visit Limits

Flywheel and Pagely are the winners here, as they simply do not charge you for going over your limit. They will monitor your account to see if your overage was a one-time thing or if it is the new norm — if they determine it to be the norm, they will just ask you to upgrade your account or purchase a specific block of resources. WPEngine does have overage pricing, but it is a reasonable $1 for every 1,000 visits over your limit. We like this because you only pay for the exact amount you go over your limits and you are never forced to upgrade. The only thing to avoid is a company that will rip you to shreds if you go over your limit. However, with the growing competition in the managed WordPress hosting market, these issues look like a thing of the past.

Staging Sites

WPEngine is currently winning this battle as they are the only one with a 2-way staging environment that is already in production. Move your current site over to a separate staging environment for testing with only 1 click. Move your staging site back to production with just 1 more click. We could have a new victor soon in this area as Flywheel is currently in beta with their 2-way staging feature and it has something WPEngine does not: the ability to choose whether you want to push just your files, just your database or the entire staging site to production. This allows you to work on file updates over a sizable period of time and then to push it into production without losing out on new posts, comments, or other data contained in your database.

Scalability

This is a wash on all fronts. All of these services are incredibly scalable. If you are in need of upgrading your plan, these companies will gladly get you on the right plan and make sure you are running smooth.

Integrated CDN Services

Kinsta, Pressable, Pagely provide free CDN service on every single one of their plans. WPEngine and Flywheel provide free CDN service at certain plan levels. You can always add it on the lower plan levels, but will pay an extra monthly fee. Even if you are paying for it, it is amazing to have the service integrated and not have to set it up on your own!

wordpress hosting for multisite

click to expand

Multisite

The most notable hosting platforms discussed in this article that support multisite are WPEngine, Kinsta, Flywheel and Pagely. All, except Kinsta (because they do not have an entry level plan), require you to be at least on their 2nd level plan in order to utilize multisite. Leading the pack, WPEngine makes working with and setting up multisite the easiest. Note: Web Synthesis and Pressable do not support multisite.

Chapter 9: Top Overall WordPress Hosting Platforms

Here we rank hosting providers by the overall value you and your WordPress site receive

top overall managed wordpress hosting

Here is what you have all been reading this post for: our overall groupings of the top WordPress hosting companies.

The Elite

  • WPEngine

    • The best overall when it comes to speed, features for average users, features for advanced users technical support and value.
  • Kinsta

    • Top of the line in speed, features for average & advanced users, and tech support — it just has a significantly higher priced entry point and is more expensive in general. Higher prices are not a bad thing if you are getting what you pay for!
  • Flywheel

    • Right behind Kinsta & WPEngine in overall speed and a top-notch set of features. Slightly lower entry-level prices could make them the preferred choice for many.

Second Tier

  • Pagely

  • Siteground

  • Web Synthesis

Third Tier

  • Media Temple

  • GoDaddy

  • BlueHost

  • Pressable

Chapter 10: Information You Need to Know About the Top WordPress Hosting Platforms

Here we go over each of the top platforms and the specific pros and cons of using their services. The goal is to help you avoid any surprises or disappointments that may arise after you move your site to a new fully managed WordPress hosting platform.

WPEngine WordPress Hosting Review
  • wpengine hostingSerious speed
  • All the features you need including daily backups, 1 click staging sites, easy to implement SSL Certificates, Git integration for developers and multisite compatibility.
  • Overall best technical support — including 24/7 ticket/phone support (phone support outside of business hours is only available if you are on their Professional Plan or higher)
  • Entry level plan as low as $24.17 per month
  • If you are on the Personal Plan, several of the advanced features are either not available or cost extra (entirely not necessary for one site)
  • Highly recommended for anyone that values high-quality WordPress website hosting. They have been around for a long time and are leading the charge when it comes to Managed WordPress Hosting.

Read WPengine reviews

Kinsta
  • Kinsta logoKinsta is the new hotshot on the block!
  • The speeds they produce are incredible.
  • Their clients that are speaking out are all saying great things about the performance and tech support.
  • They have all the top features and their dashboard is freaking awesome (see it here, just create an account — it’s free).
  • Compared to the others in this guide, they are spenddddyyyyyyy.
  • While we cannot recommend them higher than WPEngine due to the fact that they just haven’t been around all that long, if you desire ultimate performance, this is the place. They could very well be the best host for WordPress sites — only time will tell.

See Kinsta hosting reviews

Flywheel
  • flywheel wordpress hostingTop-tier WordPress hosting speed (very consistent across the United States and Europe)
  • Top-tier feature set for both average and advanced users including daily backups, 1-click staging (beta), Git integration and a beautiful hosting dashboard.
  • Fantastic and very knowledgeable tech support — but not 24/7!
  • Entry level pricing as low as $11.25/month for 1 small WordPress site (much smaller limits than WPEngine’s entry level plan — but hey, some sites just don’t have that much traffic!)
  • Entry level plans require you to pay for access to advanced features such as SSL and CDN service.
  • Highly recommended to anyone that values their WordPress website.

Read Flywheel reviews here

Pagely
  • pagelyTop tier in terms of hosting speed — the test we referenced shows it to be incredibly consistent from all locations
  • Nice features, but missing a 2-way staging site (you can push production to staging, but not from staging to production)
  • 24/7 ticket support (no phone or live chat), but have heard/read way more negative things about Pagely support than WPEngine, Kinsta or Flywheel.
  • Entry level pricing as low as $57.58/month — this is close to Kinsta’s pricing, but Kinsta seems to knock Pagely out of the park with its speed, support and dashboard.
  • Free CDN service at entry level plan.

Read Pagely reviews here.

Siteground

sitegroundThere are 3 things that stand out about Siteground:

  • They are not quite as fast as the top tier of managed WordPress hosting providers
  • Their support is phenomenal
  • Their pricing is much lower than the top tier of hosts in this guide

Check out what people are saying about Siteground.

Web Synthesis
  • web synthesis hostingThe advantages of Web Synthesis come into play if you want a suite of marketing tools for your website or if you use the Genesis framework (the company behind Web Synthesis is also behind the Genesis framework).
  • In terms of speed, they are solid and definitely light years better than standard shared hosting.
  • Entry level pricing as low as $47/month
  • What makes this plan truly worth it is if you are using the Genesis framework for your website. Nobody knows Genesis like these guys and gals do. You get your own built-in support team for way more than just hosting — and that can be huge.

Read Web Synthesis Reviews Here

Media Temple
  • media temple hostingMedia Temple has been absent from most of our sections, but they are a highly respected and well-known hosting company, so we wanted to touch on them here.
  • They have several options for hosting WordPress sites: Grid (shared), Managed WordPress, and DV (VPS).
  • The Managed WordPress will be the simplest and best in terms of security and WordPress updates. That being said, we have seen studies showing that their Managed WordPress accounts just do not perform all that much better than their Grid service. Also one study (last paragraph) argues that they got the Grid service to run as fast as the Managed WordPress service simply by adding and configuring W3 Total Cache on the Grid account.
  • Our agency has several of our client sites hosted at Media Temple, and while we are happy with the performance and tech support, the hosting account dashboard seems ultra-clunky and not very intuitive.
  • Their pricing is pretty darn good though. Entry level plans for their Managed WordPress service start as low as $20/month and include 2 WordPress sites. Their larger plans also include a couple free Google Apps accounts, 1 free domain (for 1 year) and 1 free SSL Certificate (for 1 year).
  • See their reviews
GoDaddy
  • godaddy managed wordpress hostingGoDaddy is a juggernaut. Their support is better than you would expect, and they do a lot of things well, but we would recommend going with a hosting company that truly specializes with WordPress. They have a lot of people talking about them on Twitter, and only ~30% are saying good things…
BlueHost
  • bluehost managed wordpress hostingFrom personal experience, going with BlueHost just is not worth it. They are big and their true market is hosting sites in bulk for next to nothing. Not the kind of company I trust with our babies (websites). See their reviews here.
Pressable
  • pressable maanged wordpress hostingPressable may be getting killed with bad luck in this guide, but their speed and uptime results are just not good considering the price. They also have a ton of unhappy (former) clients chatting on Twitter — learn what I mean.

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Sam Anthony -- TheSiteEdge
About the Author

Sam Anthony (@santh0ny) is the Co-Founder and Director of Development at TheSiteEdge, a Minneapolis web design, SEO and PPC agency based in Minneapolis, MN. When not in the office, he enjoys the simple things with his wife and young daughter. Sam is also a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan!

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47 Comments

  1. Good job, Sam :). Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  2. Sam,

    I just wanted to mention a couple things. You mentioned my 2014 WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks. I actually published the 2015 Edition last week and it’s available here: http://reviewsignal.com/blog/2015/07/28/wordpress-hosting-performance-benchmarks-2015/ with even more WordPress specialized companies included and with the latest data.

    Also, my site’s primary feature was unbiased reviews (with affiliate links) using Twitter data similar to HostingReviews.io which you’ve mentioned. Review Signal has been running since 2012 and has tons of data that’s automatically updated every day. If you’re concerned about whether the results are biased by affiliate links, feel free to compare the two. They look fairly similar with small differences probably because the volume and time frame I’ve been doing it (I have around 200,000 opinions while hostingreviews has around 9,000). http://reviewsignal.com/webhosting/compare has a big table of all the data if you’re curious.

    And finally, thanks for the great guide.

    Reply
    • Hey Kevin,

      Thanks for stopping by! I just updated the link so it goes to your latest resource. Your studies are fantastic and definitely some of the most in-depth out there! I certainly did not mean to discount the trustworthiness of your website and studies, so please do not take it that way. It is just an overarching problem with content related to hosting, as the affiliate programs are so lucrative. Thanks for commenting and feel free to shoot over some ideas if you think we left anything out that should be covered.

      Reply
      • Sam,

        Thanks for updating the link. I didn’t take it as a discount on what I do at all. In fact, I’m glad you disclaim it, you’re spot on with the industry being plagued with garbage reviews (I am on the fence about starting a blog series explaining/showing some of them). That is why I got involved with it and created Review Signal in the first place. I just wanted to stop by and mention it because my WordPress performance stuff seems really popular but nobody seems to actually know/pay attention to the review side of what I do which has been running for a long time now :)

        As far as thoughts about the article and what you might consider adding – more companies. If you read my latest edition you can pull a list of almost all the companies that are of any decent size in the space (check comments for omissions/new entrants like HostGator).

        Reply
        • Haha, that would be awesome. You have one guaranteed reader (me) if you do write that series! I will take another spin through your article here soon and see if I can get some more hosting companies added in. Thanks again.

          Reply
    • Kevin,

      Your list seems to not distinguish between the long-existing GoDaddy shared hosting (which has a horrid and deserved reputation) and the relatively new (offered for over a year) GoDaddy Pro Managed WordPress. Why?

      If this is a list of “WordPress Hosting Benchmarks” I suggest dropping the former and picking-up the latter. If you call GoDaddy today and ask them for hosting involving WordPress, they don’t even recommend the shared accounts (and never have). It’s like putting a token turtle in a rabbit race.

      I see you have MediaTemple in your list and would imagine that GoDaddy Pro Managed WordPress Hosting would rank up there as well, since they use much of the same infrastructure.

      Reply
  3. I noticed GoDaddy Pro Managed WordPress is ranked ~#2 in many of your benchmarks, yet they don’t make your recommended list for ‘average’ users. Also didn’t notice MediaTemple, which is basically the same infrastructure as GoDaddy (or vice versa).

    For the cost (which is 1/5 the cost of WP Engine and others), we’ve found GoDaddy to be very fast, mostly reliable (they had their first major outage in a year last week), with excellent Support.

    Despite a decade of shared-hosting issues, I’d really be “pressed” to not recommend their Managed solution. Unless I had a challenging setup or super-high traffic site, I’m not sure why they aren’t characterized as a Ferrari at Toyota prices.

    Reply
    • In re-reading this, you DID include GoDaddy and Media Temple in the 3rd-tier recommendations. Correction.

      Also, interesting to note that Kinsta starts at $287/mo. WP Engine starts at $99/mo. GoDaddy starts at <$10/mo.

      Reply
      • Hey Chris! Thanks for the comment. Totally understand where you are coming from. Here is why we put GoDaddy and MT in the 3rd tier: neither of them have true WordPress experts on the front line of their support staff (and MT speeds are not on par in most comps we have seen). I agree that their support system is way better than most people would assume, but WP knowledge is important if you are paying for managed WordPress hosting. If price is a big concern, then GoDaddy may be the right choice. However, we did not consider price as a very important factor — to us it was more about what you get for the price. And you are correct that Kinsta and WP Engine are more expensive, but the plans you referenced above set up for 10 WP installations. For 10 installs on GoDaddy, you would be looking at $50 a month. If performance is something that matters, then $287/mo or $99/mo should be an acceptable investment. For a lot of sites out there, a speedier and more stable website means much more $$ than they could save by skimping on hosting costs.

        Reply
    • Thanks Jason! I know about the new user portal, and it is definitely pretty awesome. Love the ability to quickly search for installs — so fast. Speaking of search functionality — when is WPE search going to be available to everyone? I know it is a current project and I’m sure I am not the only one looking forward to implementing it on some sites. I love the WPengine dashboard, I am pretty sure I say it is the most functional/intuitive of the bunch — and it is certainly very nice looking. Thanks again for the comment!

      Reply
      • Some other projects recently took priority over active WPE Search development, but I’m resuming work on the project as we speak. There’s not really any firm timeframe for general availability, but you can bet there’ll be a huge announcement once it’s ready.

        Reply
        • Any way you can get me into the beta? 😀

          Reply
  4. Amazingly indepth article with helpful resource. Thanks Sam.

    Another matrix performance per $ can also be added. Points can be given based on performance. It could lead to an interesting results. As I can see GoDaddy’s and Bluehosts’s WP managed plans are performing well in speed as well.

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Not a bad idea Ejaz! GoDaddy and Bluehost’s WP managed hosting did perform well in those speed tests. We have worked with them, as well as most of the other top managed hosts and just find WPE, Kinsta and Flywheel to be much more helpful with any WordPress technical questions and their feature sets are top notch. It’s all about what matters most to you. Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  5. Nice reviews. I appreciate the time & detail put into this.

    I work with small businesses with small (6-10 page) fairly static sites. I prefer the WordPress platform. I have a reseller account at HostGator but have been thinking of switching to a WP managed platform. Was thinking of multisite setup or add-on domains so I could add my clients under one WP managed account and still keep their annual hosting costs low. You said at the top of your post that multisite or multiple sub-accounts are not advisable.

    Do you think multisite or add-on domains on a WP managed site (WP Engine for example) would be better than my current reseller HostGator shared hosting for about 30 small sites?

    My small business clients would not want to pay the higher fees for a single managed account. I currently charge $100/yr hosting per client.

    Reply
    • Hey Bob, thanks for commenting — it certainly did take some serious time to put this guide together! To answer your question, I do think you would be better off (based on performance and support) on something like WPengine or Flywheel and going with the first level of account that allows for multisite installations. With Flywheel, you would be looking at about $75/month (possibly less if your sites do not need much disk space) and with WPengine you would be looking at $99/month. It would be easier to maintain, more secure and you would have knowledgeable WP techs at your fingertips. And you would still be profitable. (note: I do not love the idea of managing different client sites on a multisite. I think it just causes problems down the road and potentially locks people into their hosting situation. So you just need to weigh the pros and cons of the multisite approach.)

      The other thing you should definitely consider (since these are small sites and lower-budget) would be Siteground’s managed WP hosting. You would have plenty of space for 30 sites, and the support/performance will likely improve from your current hostgator account. You could get on their best WP hosting plan for under $30 per month.

      Hope that helps!

      Reply
      • Thanks for quick reply! I was considering SiteGround… thanks for mentioning it.

        Three questions: (this may not be correct forum to pose these)
        1. Your thoughts on Multisite vs. add-on domains with separate WP installations?
        2. I also host several HTML sites. Any issues with putting an HTML site on a WP Managed hosting? or should I just keep HostGator for my HTML hosting?
        3. I’m very familiar with cPanel & WHM — I assume managed WP hosting sites do not use cPanel or WHM. Is there much of a learning curve switching to WP managed hosting?

        Reply
        • 1. I definitely prefer separate wp installs. That being said, if budget does not allow for separate installs, you could definitely get away with using multisite — and the end product would likely be better than a low-budget shared environment.
          2. You would not want to host html sites on WP managed hosting. I would keep your current setup for those sites.
          3. Siteground uses cPanel for theirs. WPengine, Flywheel, Kinsta, etc have their own systems, but there is little to no learning curve. Their dashboards are awesome.

          Let me know if you have any other questions!

          Reply
          • Dear Sam,

            As far I know all the big WP players like Pagely, Pressable, WPengine etc, are all using 1 max 2 kind of “control panel themes/templates” just slightly customized so they can call its theirs… Im wondering if you could you help me finding it out what control panels they use instead of cpanel?!

          • I meant it all about their dashboards…

  6. Hi Sam,

    That is a great article on the subject, but what about Pantheon?
    It seems strange to me that you don’t talk about them since they are very much specialised in WordPress hosting.
    I’ve been considering moving my site to Pantheon lately and would have really liked to read about them in your article,
    especially how they are performing against WPEngine.

    Reply
    • Hi Sebastien! I am creating an account there and looking into it right now. I have seen great things about their speed, but they definitely appear to be more tailored to devs than more standard users (which is not a bad thing).

      I will get some stuff about Pantheon in here asap. Thanks so much for the comment.

      Reply
    • So, I set up a free account with Pantheon and imported our website to test out their dashboard, speed, usability, etc. Here is what I found: It is definitely not meant for the average WordPress user, but rather for developers or agencies with development staff.

      There is no doubt that the speed of the platform is top-tier. The biggest difference I noticed on Pantheon, was the WP-admin backend speed. Lightning fast.

      Another thing I will point out, is that their staging/dev system is ridiculously thorough. There are 3 workflow levels (dev, test, and live) and you can seamlessly push to and pull from each stage.

      I do not love the fact that a large proportion of their docs and materials are based on Drupal and not WP. If I am paying for managed wordpress hosting, I want dedication to WP.

      Pros: The development workflow is unlike anything I have seen anywhere else (really cool). Frontend/backend raw speed.
      Cons: Not meant for average users. Not WP specific. Dashboard is not as intuitive (or pretty) as WPengine, Kinsta or Flywheel. Pricing is high (comparable to Kinsta). Knowledgebase is much more confusing to use than it should be.

      Reply
      • Thanks Ben, this gave me something to think about. I already had WPEngine in mind,
        but I’ll have to take a look at Kinsta and Flywheel.
        Pantheon promote themselves as WordPress and Drupal experts so
        I thought their WP documentation would be great.
        Apart from that, based on what you are saying and what others told me,
        the staging system seems really good.

        Reply
        • Right on. Let me know what you go with and how you like it!

          Reply
  7. What about hosts like Hostgator and Dreamhost? I have two questions, please help:

    1. How does managed wordpress hosting on shared server from wp-engine rate as compared to dedicated servers from Hostgator or Dreamhost or any of these likes?

    2. How is managed wordpress hosting from Dreamhost as compared to managed wordpress hosting by the others mentioned in the guide?

    Please suggest need to take a decision asap.

    Reply
    • Hi Resse, thanks for stopping by!

      1. Managed hosting on a shared server from WPengine will be faster than dedicated servers from Hostgator or Dreamhost 9 times out of 10. And it takes much less work on your part.

      2. I would say Dreamhost’s managed wp hosting fits in right around where Media Temple sits. They don’t have the same quality of support as the top hosts in this guide and their account dashboard is nowhere near as good.

      If you are thinking about dreamhost because of their pricing, I would consider looking into siteground if you are trying to stay in the $10-$20 per month range. Otherwise, pony up the $30 for WPengine or Flywheel (you won’t regret it).

      Reply
      • Dear Sam,

        Thanks a lot for your response and the suggestions. I also really wanted to go with wp-engine, but their chat support scared me off, saying that if you have around 100 people on your site at the same time it will be quite slow. The customer support even said that even in the business plan it will be slow :-(

        Actually my wordpress site is not just a blog, it is a collaborative platform, where people make a user account, play games, answer questions, participate in forums, write blogs, post updates etc.

        Though I have not yet launched it and it is still in prototype stage. I was planning to start pre-launch networking and testing with potential target audience, by the end of this month and then start to pitch it to public and launch around 3-4 months later. So, initially for at least three months the traffic will not be much, but I can’t say it will be below 25,000 people and even if it will be below that, the user activity will be heavy like several people might be logged in at the same time and doing activities (at least I would want them to :-))

        So I am kind of stuck here, unable to decide. I definitely want a very fast and secure website but if I have to pay more, I was thinking that the host must not limit my visitors numbers so much (everyone works so hard towards their startup and dreams of bringing more traffic to their site and engaging them right!)

        I was even prepared to spend upto 100-150 dollars a month initially (but not more as I am bootstrapping). So is there a service, considering the demands of my website which allows me to survive at least next 1 year on that price a month, without me having to purposefully limit my dreams and efforts, worrying about my site will crash or become slow and also offers, good service, security and support.

        Please suggest. I would highly value and appreciate the advise and suggestions.

        Thanks and Regards

        Reply
        • Hmm, that is a tough spot. When users are logged in, they are not served the cached pages, which means significantly more load on the server. I am assuming this is why WPengine support was concerned. I think your options would be one of the high-end plans at WPengine or the first plan at Kinsta. Kinsta’s hardware will be plenty powerful, but now we are talking over $200 per month. If managed hosting is not a necessity for you and you are comfortable maintaining the server, you may just want to go the dedicated route — I personally just don’t like spending time on server maintenance.

          Reply
          • Dear Sam,

            Thanks again. First of all, it feel really relieving to be able to share and discuss my wordpress hosting concerns with someone. Have been just lost completely into the depths of internet and researching hosting solutions since last 2 days.

            Then yeah, you are right. Server maintenance is difficult on my own, since I would need to do so much more for the new business :-(

            Just a few more requests for suggestions:

            Do you think it would be possible to manage with DH or the likes within USD 100 per month for first 3-4 months before upgrading to the likes of wp-engine and Kinsta (keeping in mind the business plans I shared in my last message)?

            How bad is DH support? or is there a service that is comparable to DH with similar plan specifics but better support? (I see that they don’t have a 24*& phone number)

            Please advice I am very sincerely viewing and considering every piece of what you are suggesting and researching on it.

            Thanks and Regards

          • Resee,

            I never said DH support was bad. You could certainly try to use them for a period of time until you have the traffic that requires better hosting. So much depends on your code, that I cannot tell you with certainty what will or will not be enough firepower. Siteground would be my recommendation in that range.

  8. Dear Sam,

    You have been of great help seriously. After a lot of researching and re-evaluating after your suggestions. I am thinking speed, security, peace of mind and good service would be the most crucial factors for my startup for now than money :-) So may be I should go with wp-engine, may be the 2nd level Professional plan. What do you say?

    And later if need be, will try and I don’t know workout something to upgrade to their premium plans. Would that give me complete peace of mind that my website is in right hands? As for a tech media startup website is the bread and butter right!

    Do let me know what you think.

    Buy seriously hats off to you, for patiently listening and answering all my queries, a lots of trained customer service guys even got frustrated answering my questions :-)

    A personal question, however, may be it’s not right for this forum (can you share your email with me?) would you like to be on the core collaborators team of our startup? Since you write well, express your opinions well and seem quite knowledgeable. We are a tech media startup with collaborative platform and some great features, targeting global technology audience. Once, you share your email id I would like to share my website with you and discuss further. No pressure, but if you would be interested, do let me know :-)

    Thanks and Regards

    Reply
    • I think WPengine is a great place to be. It was my pleasure. Thanks for stopping by to read/comment. I would love to take a look and see if I can be of assistance. I will email you.

      Reply
  9. Awesome article Sam! Thanks for including a link to my review of Kinsta as well. Obviously Kinsta is expensive compared to some other hosts, but for companies that are spending 10k per month on advertising, it makes sense to take a small portion of that and invest it into a great web host. With hosting generally you get what you pay for. I have yet to test any host that will beat Kinsta’s blazing speed. Also I didn’t find their SSL cert process very complicated. They have a great tutorial written out on how to generate your CSR online, no need to ask them to generate it for you… They use intercom for support, another reason I love them :) and you simply attach your private key and cert and your good to go. They will even force SSL sitewide for you. WP Engine is also great, I actually recommend them in my toolbox as well. For those just starting out on a smaller budget, but still want good web performance, that’s who I recommend. And if you are really trying to pinch your pennies, I have had great success with client’s on InMotion Hosting, although they technically aren’t a managed WP host. The devs over there definitely know their WP :)

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment Brian! Your review of Kinsta was spot on. I think it is good to let people know that you aren’t just paying a bunch of money for no reason — the performance over there is amazing. You are definitely right about the Kinsta SSL process — if you are hosting your site there, you most likely already know everything you need to know about how to set up an SSL Cert. We just love on WPengine because they are so much more reasonable for most people.

      Thanks again for stopping by, Brian!

      Reply
  10. Hi Sam,
    Thank you for submitting your link. I plan on using it for tomorrow’s Weekly Round-Up. Check back tomorrow to mostlyblogging.com. Question: someone linked to me yesterday, and I never received a notification. I am new to self-hosting. Where would we look for notification if we were linked to?
    Thanks,
    Janice

    Reply
    • Hi Janice, thanks so much! The only notification you would get would be via trackback or pingback through WordPress. Otherwise, you could sign up for some kind of backlink monitoring software — not exactly sure which ones will notify you of a backlink, though. Mention.com might be a useful resource for you as it will find mentions of your name or web address across the web and notify you.

      As for finding the link that happened yesterday, you could check Open Site Explorer’s “Just Discovered” section, AHREF’s Site Explorer or Majestic’s backlinks tab. It may or may not be indexed in those tools at this point. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  11. Hi Sam,
    Very Detailed guide without confusing newbie. Currently Promote DreamHost on my blog but after reading your article i am thinking to promote SiteGround.
    I am from India, suggest some best hosting companies for indian traffic.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment, Shaikh! I think Siteground would be a nice choice. Regarding the best hosting companies for Indian traffic, I think you would be good with Siteground. For a high-end solution, Kinsta would be a good choice. They each allow you to choose a data center located in Singapore, which I believe to be one of the closest available locations.

      Reply
  12. I’d love to see a price vs speed analysis. Lets face facts… I don’t need the fastest hosing if it $40/month! I simply can’t afford it unless I get every client to pay into it and NEVER loose them. I’m looking for the fastest for the lowest cost. What company is that?

    Reply
    • Hey Aaron, considering what you value most, I think you should look at Siteground’s GrowBig or GoGeek plans — Check them out

      It’s a really nice value and it allows you to control how many sites you cram on there, so you can decide how many sites is too many sites.

      My stance on the matter is that you shouldn’t have to convince your clients to pay more if you explain the pros and cons and let them know that the value is worth it (because it usually is). Set your pricing where it makes sense for you and if a client thinks your prices are unjustified, give them simple instructions on how to set up their own account at a spot that is in their price range. That way you are not responsible for managing hosting accounts that are more susceptible to attacks/issues. Your time is valuable and fixing crummy hosting accounts is a terrible way to spend it.

      Reply
  13. Hello Sam,

    Brilliant,Brilliant Guide – Thank youi very much !

    Reply
    • That infographic is great! Love it. You guys are always doing cool stuff over there. The article and infographic are really well done, however I am pretty vocal about the fact that most shared hosting accounts do not perform well and can do more harm than good. I strongly believe in teaching people that are new to this industry that better hosting accounts from WP Engine, Flywheel, Kinsta and pagely are totally worth it — even if you are just paying for access to a knowledgeable support staff.

      Reply

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