Looking for the answer straight away? The best WordPress hosting for most people is definitely SiteGround. SiteGround is fully WordPress-optimized, affordable and their customer support team exists solely of WordPress experts.
As someone who wants to build their site with WordPress, you’re in great company.
Over a third of all websites run on WordPress. From microblogs to websites from Fortune 500 companies, from the barbershop on the corner to ecommerce sites pulling in millions of visitors – you’ll encounter WordPress across the entire website spectrum.
Although most web hosting providers support WordPress, some hosts are better suited for WordPress sites than others.
In this guide I’ve separated the wheat from the chaff. I’ll discuss hosting providers which are officially recommended by WordPress, premium providers and low-cost alternatives.
I’ll also take a stab a clearing the fog around what exactly is meant by managed WordPress hosting and finally, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions.
The best WordPress hosting providers of 2021
- SiteGround – The best allrounder
- Hostinger – Best budget alternative
- Kinsta – Best premium WordPress hosting
So what is it that separates these WordPress hosting services from the pack? Keep on reading for the answer.
#1 SiteGround – The best allrounder
Within the WordPress community, SiteGround is one of the most well-respected and popular hosting options.
All of their hosting plans are WordPress-optimized. This means you can count on automatic WordPress updates, speed optimizations and a 24/7 customer support team which consists solely of WordPress experts.
With the features they offer, SiteGround is barely distinguishable from much more expensive hosting services. You’ll be getting daily backups, a staging environment to test your website, and a CDN.
Since early 2020 they run on the Google Cloud Platform, a move I think was super exciting. It’s a fact that Google offers a top-notch cloud platform. The challenge is they’re not easy to use for people who aren’t tech-savvy. With SiteGround using their tech, they made Google Cloud accessible for all, and it has been a real game changer.
SiteGround is a WordPress hosting service which is great for beginners and seasoned veterans alike. Some of the world’s biggest blogs with millions of visitors run on SiteGround. Yet, their $6.99 fee for their cheapest plans makes them accessible for brand-new websites as well.
Furthermore, WordPress officially recommends SiteGround as one of the best WordPress hosts out there. As you can see, WordPress recommends Bluehost and Dreamhost as well, but this guide only lists SiteGround.
Why is this?
To start with Bluehost: they used to be a real straight shooter. But the quality of their service took a nosedive ever since they got acquired by EIG, a massive corporation which purchases smaller hosting companies, strips them of their customer support and R&D, and spends the savings on marketing and shareholder pay-outs.
Dreamhost is excellent but doesn’t have data centers across the world.
SiteGround is an independent company and has data centers worldwide. I use them for WebsiteGecko and many of my other websites.
More on SiteGround
#2 Hostinger – Best budget alternative
Hostinger has made a remarkable ascend over the past few years within the hosting industry. One of the main reasons for this is that they offer excellent hosting for ridiculously low prices.
How low? Their cheapest plan starts at $0,99 per month. Most hosting companies that operate at this price point offer a service which you wouldn’t even wish upon your worst enemies.
This doesn’t apply to Hostinger. Despite their rock-bottom pricing, they manage to offer a service that’s blazing fast, boasts excellent uptime and has an experienced (but not super rapid) customer support team.
Keep this in mind though: in order to benefit from their cheapest rates, you’ll have to pay 4 years in advance. This still sets you back no more than $50 though.
Hostinger has configured their servers largely around WordPress. This shows itself in their bespoke WordPress Acceleration technology (leading to faster loading times), Cloudflare protected name servers and LiteSpeed Cache.
At the end of the day, their service is not going to be as good as that of the other providers on this list. But if you’re looking to spend as little money on your hosting as possible while expecting a quality service, Hostinger is the best option for you by far.
More on Hostinger
#3 Kinsta – Best premium WordPress hosting
Kinsta is a VIP WordPress hosting provider. If you become a Kinsta customer, expect to get treated like royalty. Among their customers they count juggernauts like TripAdvisor, Ubisoft and SoundCloud.
Kinsta runs on Google’s Cloud Platform and uses all of their data centers, 24 in total. This ensures that across the world your site will load super-fast.
As opposed to some of the other players in this guide, Kinsta only lets you install WordPress on their platform. This type of specialization has several major advantages. One is that your website will be nearly hacker-proof. Another is that your site will have a near-perfect uptime and an overall performance which blows most web hosts out of the water.
One of Kinsta’s biggest pros is that their features are the same across all plans. This makes it a breeze to pick one of their plans. Just look choose a plan based on your monthly visitors and you’re good to go.
Kinsta is the perfect WordPress host in the following scenario: you’re looking to run a really big website, costs aren’t that relevant to you and you don’t want to spend any time on managing your hosting.
However, ignore Kinsta when you’re just starting out. At $30 a month, their cheapest plan is definitely not worth it for a brand-new website. For most new WordPress websites, I’d pick Hostinger or SiteGround instead.
More on Kinsta
What is managed WordPress hosting?
In this section I’ll explain what managed WordPress hosting exactly entails and why you’d want to use if for your WordPress site.
The confusion around managed WordPress hosting
The web hosting industry is confusing.
And this especially applies to managed WordPress hosting.
I can imagine that after a couple of hours of research on the topic, you’ll be left with more unanswered questions than you started out with. This is due to contradictory advice, definitions and claims from both blogs and web hosting companies.
So let me take a stab at demystifying managed WordPress hosting for you.
In a nutshell, with “managed” WordPress hosting your host will carry out optimization and maintenance on your server for you. However, there isn’t an objectively established checklist a hosting plan has to adhere to in order for it to deserve the label of managed WordPress hosting.
Then, you’ll see that certain blogs distinguish between managed WordPress hosting, WordPress hosting and shared hosting. Some web hosting providers do this as well.
(With shared hosting you’re sharing a server with other websites and users.)
So you might read something like, “once your blog gets really big, you should switch from shared hosting to managed WordPress hosting.”
This suggests that shared hosting and managed WordPress hosting are two different things. In reality, this doesn’t have to be so. To give you an example: WP Engine, whom everybody would agree offers managed WordPress hosting, has most of their customers on their shared hosting plans.
In other words, the same hosting plan can be both managed WordPress hosting and shared hosting.
Then there’s people which distinguish between WordPress hosting and managed WordPress hosting. According to them, only the really expensive services such as Kinsta and WP Engine offer managed WordPress hosting, while a provider like SiteGround offers “regular” WordPress hosting.
I see this differently.
Truth be told, a company like SiteGround offers largely the same managed WordPress features as the really expensive providers. But their customer support may not sort out your problems to the same degree the VIP-services might. Besides that, the performance of their cheaper plans is clearly not going to compete with that of the heavy-hitters, and the expensive services might be a tad better in scaling very large websites.
Ultimately both types of hosting offer managed WordPress hosting. Even a really cheap provider like Hostinger does so.
You can look at it like this: managed WordPress hosting plans lay on a spectrum. And some companies offer the service with more bells and whistles than others.
Here’s what you should expect from a good managed WordPress host
If I’d have to summarize the added value of managed WordPress hosting in one sentence, I would do so as follows:
Managed WordPress hosting allows you to purely focus on the design and content-creation of your site – your hosting provider takes care of the rest.
What this means is that your site runs better, the security on the hosting side gets taken care of, and that you won’t have to worry about server maintenance.
Let’s unpack this.
- Managed WordPress hosting is faster. Both on server- and application level the hosting provider applies all kinds of optimizations. They do caching on a server-level. And they configure the database and PHP in a way to work optimally with WordPress sites
- Stronger security for automatic updates. Due to its popularity, WordPress websites are a common target of hackers. According to Sucuri, 44% of successful hacks are due to outdated WordPress installations. The remainder is due to poorly secured plugins or outdated versions of plugins. A managed WordPress host ensures your WordPress installation is up to date at all times. They’ll also make sure your plugins stay up to date and might block the installation of plugins which could pose a security risk. Finally, managed WordPress hosts use custom-made firewalls in order to block hack attempts
- Better maintenance. Aside from keeping WordPress automatically up to date, managed WordPress hosting providers tend to offer daily backups. Sometimes they do backups even more frequently than that. Furthermore, they install WordPress gets automatically (and correctly). And you can often use a staging environment where you can test changes to your website before pushing them live for your visitors
- Customer service by WordPress experts. The customer support teams of managed WordPress hosting providers consist of WordPress experts. Whenever you run into a WordPress-related problem, they’ll be there to help you out. This is a stark deviation from regular hosts who do not nothing more than keeping their servers up and running
Managed WordPress hosting is more expensive than regular web hosting. But the added value easily justifies this.
Think about the following. Keeping WordPress up to date and other maintenance tasks can easily add up to 30 minutes each month. What’s an hour of your time worth to you? I bet it’s considerably more than what managed WordPress hosting costs you extra each month. And here we’re not even considering some of the other time-saving benefits, or the increased odds of keeping your site save from hackers (imagine the costs a hacked website would bring).
On top of that, WordPress.org is free to use and open source. There isn’t such a thing as a WordPress support team you can contact. Usually, to solve any problems with your site, it’s going to be you and the WordPress.org message boards and documentation. Or you’ll have to hire a WordPress developer.
Managed WordPress hosting comes closest to something like WordPress customer support, although there are obviously limits to this. How deep into the WordPress rabbit hole customer support is willing to go with you, seems to be directly correlated to how much money you’re willing to shell out each month for your hosting.
Expect the bare minimum from Hostinger, while Kinsta and WP Engine tend to go all the way, and with SiteGround striking a bit of a balance between these two extremes.
Summary: The best WordPress hosting
To wrap it all up, these are the best WordPress hosting services right now:
- SiteGround – The Best Allrounder
- Hostinger – Best Budget Alternative
- Kinsta – Best Premium WordPress Hosting
Which provider is the best choice for you totally depends on your needs. But I’d wager that for most people it would be SiteGround. SiteGround hosts websites in all shapes and sizes, is affordable, and has hands down one of the best customer support teams in the industry. Take it from a happy customer: WebsiteGecko uses SiteGround.
Kinsta is a VIP WordPress host that offers a completely carefree experience. If you’re looking for the most premium experience out there, they are a great option.
Hostinger is excellent for those looking to spend as little as possible on their hosting, while still expecting a top-notch service.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to use managed WordPress hosting for a WordPress website?
Absolutely not. WordPress websites run fine on the majority of hosting providers. Having said that, managed WordPress hosting comes with customer support from WordPress experts, automatic updates and servers which have been optimized for WordPress. This comes at a higher price, but you’ll be getting a carefree hosting experience in return.
Are there other WordPress hosting services which haven’t been included on this list?
There sure are – in fact, there are dozens of them. We extensively researched every major WordPress host on the market to come up with the shortlist you find in this guide.
The providers in this guide offer the best value for money. And whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, something premium, or something in between, there will be something for you.
What’s the difference between managed WordPress hosting and shared hosting?
Shared hosting means you’ll be sharing a server with other websites, while managed WordPress hosting refers to a WordPress concierge service. But the one doesn’t have to exclude the other. For instance, the majority of WP Engine’s customers are using their shared hosting plans. WP Engine is one of the most expensive managed WordPress hosting services out there.
Shared hosting which isn’t managed WordPress hosting will cost you less, but WordPress sites tend to perform worse on them as well. Furthermore, expect their customer service to not be nearly as good.