2021 January 8
Is it a scam or should you really go for WordPress-optimized hosting? Well, among "Nigerian princes" there are some actual gems. Let's see!
I’ll be straightforward. Most of the “best WordPress hosting” articles and videos is total and complete nonsense. You see, plenty of companies simply add “WordPress optimized” to their shared hosting plans without doing any actual optimizations. Because WordPress sells better.
That’s an outrageous marketing strategy. WordPress runs just fine on any typical web hosting plan. So today, I want to show you what to actually look for in real WordPress hosting and the providers that are actually offering a good deal.
So what’s important?
P.S. This will be a long read, so if you are not into that, you can also watch my video too.
First of all – server configuration is more important than the raw specs of your plan.
Look. Let’s say the plan offers you 50GB of storage with 100GB of bandwidth, 20 domains, databases, FTP accounts, and full DNS management + free setup and activation with the label “WordPress optimized.” Seems like a lot of stuff, right?
But what if I put all this in a little bit simpler terms comparing that plan to a car:
You’ll get: 4 wheels, 1 steering wheel, full coat of paint, ability to turn on and off the lights whenever you want, and full engine and fuel management. This car comes with the label “road optimized.” Silly, right?
Well, that’s exactly what those “WordPress optimized” hosts are selling. So what are the actual specs you should be looking for?
These are what makes WordPress actually faster than it is. All the rest – whistles and bells.
Unfortunately, finding companies that offer these things is quite difficult among the many “WP optimized” ones. But I’ve been monitoring providers for months and already have a couple of my favorites.
So in this best WordPress hosting article, you’ll find only the real deal and the companies that I like the most.
The best WordPress hosting options will have very specific server configurations as well as tools to make your WordPress website management easier. Here are my top choices rated:
SiteGround ticks all of the boxes when it comes to web hosting for WordPress – latest 7.4. PHP? Check. NGINX and Apache? Check. Custom caching solution? Check check check. But not just that – they take it a step further by offering WordPress optimization via a custom plugin that makes your site even faster. And it’s configured automatically.
So does all of this show up on performance results? Oh yeah.
I’ve created a website using SiteGround to test out their speed using all of the optimization tools provided.
My SiteGround WordPress website loaded in 2.1 seconds. That’s one of the best results I’ve ever gotten.
And the website turned out not too heavy – just 908KB when I would get 1.74MB with Hostinger and 3MB with A2 Hosting. So the A2Optimized is really minimizing all the files and images.
In comparison, I wanted to see how another “WordPress optimized” provider would handle the exact same website so I copied the site, uploaded it, and ran the exact same test.
The result was 4.8 seconds – twice as slow. I even went as far as optimizing that site with all the tools available but the result was still 4.1 seconds. So the specific server configurations actually make a difference. And a big one.
But SiteGround proved itself not only as fast but reliable too. I monitored my site for 30 days. During this time, my website was offline for just 4 minutes scoring very close to 100% uptime.
That’s a very reliable result.
So what will you pay to get the best WordPress configuration available?
SiteGround is on the premium side of web hosting with prices starting at $6.99. This will get you a website, all the WordPress configurations, 10GB of disk space, and bandwidth for around 10 000 monthly visitors.
This plan is great if you’re just starting out. On the other hand, if you’re just starting out, you might not need the most premium provider you can find. For example, Hostinger at $0.99/mo offers similar features minus that turbocharged performance.
I always say that when you’re getting started, it’s best to invest in getting the customers and not impressing non-existent ones with the fastest websites. You can always upgrade later. That said, I’m not recommending SiteGround if it’s a personal project or if you’re just building the foundations for your new business.
On the other hand, people with some experience under their belts will get the best value starting with GrowBig ($9.99/mo). This plan includes unlimited sites and additional features that cheaper providers (and the entry plan) are missing – a 3-layer cache and WordPress staging.
The 3-layer cache is one of the things that allows SiteGround to be the fastest in the industry. It works on servers and databases together to ensure the fastest possible way for a website to reach the visitor. Both static and even some dynamic elements will be cached.
Meanwhile, WordPress staging is the best tool for workflow and privacy. It allows creating a copy of your original site on which you can test out changes or fix problems. All while the original is functioning flawlessly for your visitors. Once you are ready – a simple click of a button and the changes will be visible on the original site.
So SiteGround definitely is a great WordPress hosting service. And even out of actual WordPress hosting services it stands out with better performance and better tools. So if you have money to spare, it is the best solution in the market right now.
Where SiteGround is premium, Hostinger is cheap with an entry plan priced at $0.99 a month. Nonetheless, this provider manages to tick all of the WordPress-optimized boxes – it runs the latest PHP 7.4, takes advantage of NGINX technology, and uses Litespeed servers that come with a server-side caching engine.
So where does this tech put their performance at?
Well, I’ve used exactly the same website as with SiteGround and ran it through GTMetrix. My Hostinger website loaded in 2 seconds.
This is a result using PHP 7.4, Litespeed cache, and image optimizations that come already activated with your WordPress installation.
The result is on par with SiteGround!
So how about the reliability?
Well, over 30 days, my website with Hostinger went offline for 7 minutes in total. That’s 99.98% uptime.
So on average, you won’t have any reliability problems with Hostinger as it is more reliable than 90% of cheap web hosts.
We’ve already established that Hostinger is cheap with their $0.99/mo plan. So what do you get in return?
Well, the $0.99/mo Single plan is reserved for the ultimate beginners. If you want to check how hosting works, create a small personal site like a portfolio – it’s great. You’ll get 10GB SSD storage with 100GB bandwidth for around 10 000 monthly visitors and a free SSL certificate. Unfortunately, the domain with this plan is paid.
Now, if you’re looking for a little bit more resources for, let’s say, a small business site, the Business plan for $3.99 offers great value.
This plan features everything – free domain, SSL, daily backups, and generous server resources for 100 websites. That’s 100GB of server space and unlimited bandwidth for around 100 000 monthly visitors.
Of course, you won’t get such features as 3-layer caching or staging that you get with SiteGround. Instead, you will get a server-level cache that works well but not on that turbo-speed level. That will show when more than a dozen visitors will log in to your site – Hostinger’s performance might slow down a little.
Apart from that, Hostinger is an easy to use provider with the support that’s very friendly.
For example, installing WordPress takes just a minute or 2 – you just need to provide your email, username, and password.
Talking about support, my experience was mostly great. Sure, sometimes they respond in a minute, and other times, you might need to wait an hour, depending on how busy the team is. But once you are connected, it’s a pleasure to chat with those people and the chat system is modern so you can send screenshots which helps solve problems more efficiently.
All in all, Hostinger is a great web hosting for WordPress provider. It checks all the boxes server configuration-wise and the price won’t break your bank account. It’s an option I recommend for users that are just getting started.
Another provider ticking all the boxes is A2 Hosting. Not only it will give you PHP 7 and above, Litespeed, and Memcached, but it also solves one problem that SiteGround and Hostinger have; A2 Hosting uses cPanel for hosting management which still remains the favorite of many users while other providers are switching to in-house panels.
So there’s that. How about the performance?
Well, the exact same WordPress website as before was loaded in 2.1 seconds which is on par with Hostinger and SiteGround.
On the other hand, I’m giving the points here to Hostinger. I got the exact same result with their cheapest plan while with A2 Hosting, I’m using the $9.99/mo Turbo plan.
It comes with all the optimizations like the latest PHP and caching as well as a plugin for minimizing images and files. At the same time, A2 Hosting website is still the heaviest out of the 3.
Now how about the stability?
Again, A2 Hosting goes hand in hand with Hostinger scoring 99.98% uptime with 8 minutes of downtime in the last 30 days.
That’s basically as good as it gets from what we can see now.
So as A2 Hosting prove themselves to offer the real WordPress hosting deal, what are the prices?
A2 Hosting prices start at $2.99/mo but all the optimizations are starting with the Turbo Boost plan for $9.99/mo. That’s where all of the good stuff is.
So a 3-year plan will cost you almost $360 for the full period (which you have to choose to get the 50% discount). Quite a big chunk but this includes all the essential and premium stuff for a successful website: support, backups, updates, and even staging.
And you also get cPanel.
You see, cPanel started increasing their pricing in 2019 and hasn’t stopped yet. So many providers developed their own panels like Hostinger’s hPanel or SiteGround’s SiteTools. That did not change the fact that people were used to cPanel and preferred it over anything else.
What this means is that A2 Hosting remains one of the very few providers that still have the full cPanel experience. And I admit it, cPanel is great – easy to understand, use, and navigate. It has all the needed tools to manage your WordPress site. In fact, I had reviewed A2 Hosting and went through the installation process with no problems.
Most importantly, should you pick A2 Hosting? Yeah, if you really want to use cPanel. Otherwise, Hostinger offers almost the same for a cheaper price while SiteGround is better as a premium option. Although if you already host with A2 – there’s no need for switching.
Finally, the elephant in the room – Bluehost. Every article you’ll read, every video you’ll watch will have Bluehost as the #1 WordPress hosting choice. Hell, even WordPress itself has it in the #1 spot. And I did too in a video from last year. So what changed?
Exactly nothing about Bluehost has changed. And that’s the problem.
You see, the same website as before loads in 4.2 seconds with Bluehost.
It is not a bad result per se, just not on par with the previous providers.
In terms of reliability, Bluehost also is one step behind. Over a month, it scored 99.96% uptime with 16 minutes of total downtime.
By no means that is bad. Just worse than others. So what makes Bluehost lag behind?
That is the lack of change. You see, Bluehost is using expensive and high-quality tech but doesn’t tick every speed checkbox the other providers do. It has PHP 7, but not the newest version. They are not using Litespeed servers and NGINX is not yet there.
So it seems that while Bluehost was showering in fame, other providers stepped up and overpassed it.
But does this mean that Bluehost is bad? Not at all and you’ll see that by taking a look at pricing and features. Honestly, I praised it quite a lot in my detailed analysis.
Bluehost plans start at $2.95/mo for 1 website with 50GB SSD storage, unmetered traffic, free domain name, and an SSL certificate. That’s an incredibly generous “starter-pack” for every beginner.
But that’s not the only reason why Bluehost is here.
You see, while other providers were ramping up their servers, Bluehost went in a completely different way. They try to provide the best and most complete customer experience.
I like to compare them to Apple. Everybody knows their tech isn’t the fastest or the cheapest. There are faster and cheaper computers when it comes to raw specs and power. But. Millions of people enjoy Apple products because of the experience the company creates, the features, and ease of use.
So using Bluehost, you’ll get easy access to a lot of tools that would be complicated otherwise:
So for around $100 for 3 years worth of hosting, you get this great experience. It’s especially great if you’ve never created a website before. And the price is in between the bare-bones Hostinger plans and the premium providers with all the whistles and bells.
Don’t get me wrong – these are all extras and can be done without. But it sure helps a lot if your experience is minimal. Think of this as building a computer yourself vs buying a pre-built one.
For me personally, I can live without Bluehost’s features. On the other hand, I can see that it is a highly valuable offer if you are a beginner.
Let’s sum this best WordPress hosting thing up. Which web host is best for you and your website?
So that’s that. I hope this was helpful and let’s chat in the comments!