All the WordPress webhosting companies I’ve personally tried or heard about from people I trust!
My compared criteria are SPEED, reliability (up-time), FEATURES (easy to make changes, add SSL?), and PRICING (not crazy expensive). Customer service is not as important for me since I can do 99% of things myself.
I’ve used nearly all of these webhosts myself (via clients) across a broad range of websites…from small blogs or portfolios to big shopping sites, database-intensive forums, or large portals with many tracking/ad/conversion scripts running.
Shared hosting (cheapest, but functional)
- SiteGround – most popular and considered top of the shared hosting tier. Fast, good features and support! The GoGeek plan starts at $11.95 GoGeek but renews at $35/month making managed hosting or unmanaged cloud far more attractive. (Their built-in SG Optimizer is *meh*, use SWIFT LITE for best results.) A2 is now becoming the favorite low-tier company due to SiteGround’s recent resource limits.
- HostArmada – low cost, good performance, and skilled and friendly 24/7 support. An awesome service and compares favorably (better service yet lower cost) against other shared hosting companies.
- WebHostFace – started as ridiculously cheap shared webhosting and even faster than SG. Their initial lifetime plans were a great bargain even if you only used them for only a few years. Nowadays, I think their performance has dropped greatly to be more in line with the usual shared hosting.
- A2Hosting – largely toted as a “great service” but many complain of long TTFB. I’ve used it and it’s definitely not on the same-level as SG. Their turbo caching isn’t much, either. It is cheaper than SG though.
- GNUHost (UK) – I heard good things about this one but haven’t tried it.
- serverfreak (MY) – cheap reliable shared hosting for Malaysians. Step below SiteGround.
- Veerotech – haven’t tried them yet but have heard good things. They’re a smaller large company (does that even make sense?).
- Krystal (UK) – good speeds and cheap pricing, also use LiteSpeed servers. I recommend this for UK folks. I personally tried it.
- GURU (UK) – another good UK host. Some people like GURU better than Krystal. They use LiteSpeed and allow crawling.
My personal recommendation:
Shared hosting is great for new websites with no traffic. It’s easy to use, allows you to host/manage many sites, and still pretty fast if you pick a good webhost. But the moment you get over 25,000 visits/month (and assuming you make some $$$), you should really consider moving to a VPS. The speeds are much faster and a magical world of difference for those who’ve never tried VPS before.
Those of you who aren’t married to cPanel and don’t need to have email hosting, should really just go with RunCloud or Cloudways. It’s far more performance and service at similar cost ($10-25/month). Should you want to ADD emails to Cloudways, you can go with G-Suite or use their Rackspace add-on, etc. Using a professional email service gives you much higher deliver-ability. If you’re a true techie, you can also do RunCloud.
I would also like to do a huge shoutout for the smaller webhosting companies. I’ve come to find they always offer better pricing and great service than the major ones who don’t care if you leave.
Unmanaged VPS hosting (best speeds & cost-efficient, but requires sys-admin):
- Amazon Lightsail – expensive and not as fast, with terrible UI. But can be useful if you want tighter integration with other AWS services.
- DigitalOcean – best pricing and sexiest interface, solid speed/uptime. Considered by many as the leader of the price war (race to the bottom for cheapest VPS). They are still quality but with slight issues for downtimes or slow to roll out old hardware. Also some bad PR and customer service here and there (shutting clients down erroneously).
- Prgmr – no-nonsense VPS for techies. Great pricing, solid speed and uptime.
- Linode – my favorite. Solid, reliable, no BS, always faster HDparm reads. They used to have some power outage problems but they are few and far between. Linode/Vultr/DO are top 3.
- RamNode – try them if you want to check out a smaller company (cheaper pricing), I like their DDOS-filtered IP protection. It’s a great idea if you’re running a webhosting business.
- Scaleways – not the best VPS provider (slower speeds, disks, CPU, etc), but still serviceable and offers $2.50/month micro-plan. Scaleways is considered really bad.
- Webdock.io – semi-managed solution. I haven’t tried yet but they’re now on my radar for some interesting value points.
- Vultr – similar to Scaleways (slower speeds, disks, CPU) but offers small $2.50 micro-plans and also bare metal servers. Vultr is however better in some parts of the world and considered even faster/more-reliable than DO by some, especially since their recent upgrade. Don’t bother with their DDOS protection; I hear it isn’t very good. I did have dropped network packets in their Sydney (AUS) datacenter.
Lesser-known unmanaged VPS hosts:
- LunaNode (CA) – nice VPS provider out of Eastern Canada (only) with good pricing, many configurations, and good reviews on the web.
- UpCloud (FI) – friendly Finnish company with servers all over the world; great speeds, pricing, and industry-leading SLA. I hear great reviews about them being faster (record-breaking IOPS) although my personal tests showed otherwise. Many customers switched over to them happily from Linode and DO. They have a nice UI, but I don’t like how the web console can’t copy-paste and stuck on Finnish keyboard. Chat support is nice!
My personal recommendation:
When buying a VPS, choose a company that doesn’t deal with shared hosting. For whatever reason, I find pure-VPS/dedicated hosts to be more knowledgeable and specific to the niche of high-performance servers and 100% up-time as opposed to shared-hosts who often over-sell their servers and have rampant downtime or performance-degradation.
It’s an important distinction to make that shared hosts are focused on features, ease-of-use, and customer service. VPS hosts are focused on hardware and speed. Basically, they are 2 entirely different businesses.
In case you’re wondering about different VPS providers. DO, Linode, and VULTR should be your industry baseline standard. From there, all the other backbone providers will differ in performance, pricing, or security features. They might also be the same for their base plans but differ on add-on pricing (they charge more for IP’s, DDOS-filtering, etc).
You should beware of new VPS providers offering huge discount pricing. Most of the time, the pricing and deals are legit and you will get incredible hardware at a great price. The big issue is knowing how well they’ll scale into the future. Many of them are really small-time providers mixing different hardware which will be harder to maintain over time and harder to get consistent upgrades/maintenance.
There are ALSO “managed VPS” solutions which are different from the options listed above which are the usual “unmanaged VPS”. Managed VPS allows you to have both VPS speeds without having to configure the server but comes at a high price that I think isn’t worth it. In case you’re wondering, I use “unmanaged VPS” and hire a sys-admin to handle it for me.
Learn more about VPS or cloud hosting:
Managed VPS panels aka “Cloud Panels” (high performance, low-cost, but for techies):
- RunCloud.io – most mature UI and has both Apache-NGINX and pure-NGINX stacks. Performance has improved alot since their latest RunCloud Hub caching solution (much more on-par with GridPane and top-tier NGINX performance stacks). I find them cheaper, faster, and more user-friendly than most average cloud-panels. Really full-featured panel; great for dev environment. Awesome support. My favorite choice in this tier.
- GridPane – good performance; clean/minimal but useable UI. Intro pricing is much higher than others, so only a reasonable deal IMO if you plan to have many servers. GP CEO Patrick Gallagher is known for terribly unprofessional attitude (publicly trash-talking or leading mobs against any who dare criticize any part of GridPane), but rest of the team seem like nice people. While this panel makes many promises and aggressive with feature development, their latest features can be buggy. Despite their “Transparent Pricing” label, it’s anything but. Their pricing and business model changes all the time. I never know what it is at any point in time. They also have an annoying cliche “online marketing” sales model where they’re always trying to upsell you to some expensive training program or secret products/services. I prefer a company that focuses on hosting and profits via hosting (not side-gig upsells).
- SpinupWP – new cloud-panel company by respected WP plugin house. Fast, but overly-simple UI. Feels like it has no features, slightly overpriced IMO. Great if you want a simple server and Digital Ocean. Delicious Brains recently sold off all their plugins to focus on this business…so we can expect aggressive growth here soon.
- Cloudways – popular managed cloud hosting, fair price, average performance but good enough for most folks, full-featured control panel (good for noobs and sys-admins). Most hassle-free option here for non-techies. Their support is the best in this hosting category. Friendly and helpful but will not teach you how to use WordPress! Make sure you purge/disable Varnish during development. They do have some buggy issues from time to time.
- Laravel Forge – another high-performance option. Similar to RunCloud.
- ServerPilot – an established panel in this industry. Trusted by many pros. Their UI looks more plain, which some folks like. They now have a cheap 1-server plan (unlike RC/GP).
- Moss.sh – haven’t tried it yet but really cool vibe. I like the branding. UPDATE: they are shutting down Sep 1, 2020. And update again, they are NOT shutting down. (Hooray!)
- Ploi.io – reminds me a lot of RunCloud. I haven’t tried yet but heard nice things.
- ClusterCS – same as others but this one also allows easy cluster-deployment for building your own HA environment without having to configure all those proxies and what not. How cool!
My personal recommendation:
These solutions were originally created for techies to manage their “unmanaged” servers from Linode/DO/etc for very cheap but still great performance. They used to be extremely technical and required a lot of server skill to use but have since become more and more approachable for regular power users.
If you’re a developer or at least WordPress and Google-expert, these are a fantastic/cost-efficient way to have your own powerful VPS server without having to do server management or muck around in the command line.
Premium/managed WordPress hosting (fast, but expensive & limitations)
- Amazon EC2 – expensive/weak to me, horrible over-technical UI.
- Flywheel – promises to be better than WP Engine but user comparisons are mixed. Nice UI. Doesn’t allow different PHP settings per site, stupid! I only recommend it if you have one tiny site. ($14/month & up)
- Kinsta – great branding and unanimously faster than WPengine/Flywheel although I’ve heard a few bad reviews about downtimes. As of AUG 2019, I can say they’ve definitely gone downhill and even slower now, with lower resource limits but still better than WPE. ($30/month & up)
- Pantheon – incredible speeds and service. Servers switch to inactive mode when websites get no visitors making 1st visits slower as the server “wakes” again. ($35/month & up)
- WP Engine – best marketed and most popular premium WordPress hosting. They’re like the GoDaddy of managed hosting. Not the fastest, have some plugin limitations, and many issues that people complain about. Non-techie users find them to be amazing (compared to crappy shared hosting), tech users find them to be sub-par (compared to VPS) and limiting. FYI: they use Linode servers and add proprietary caching layer; you can beat them with a $5 VPS. ($35/month & up)
- Closte – good performance but pricey. Some technical issues here and there and also rude-ish French support. Some people like them while others always run into problems. I don’t recommend them for non-techies. (I’m not gonna lie, I tech-snob snarkiness over some fake pseudo overly-courteous offshore scriptreader. It tells me I’m getting access to a real tech who has no time to handhold newb issues….but that’s just me.)
- Rocket.net – high-performance host with edge-caching capabilities. Pricey but works well and easy to use. Can be affordable enough if you only have 1 or 2 critical sites but definitely too pricey if you have many small ones.
Lesser-known premium/managed hosts:
- RaidBoxes.io (EU)- nice host out in Germany/Switzerland area using NGINX. Fast servers and excellent super fast/friendly support. My only annoyance is that they edit core files (so be careful if you ever migrate away from them).
My personal recommendation:
Unlike cloud hosts which give you a server with limited resources (hardware lease) and let you do whatever you want, premium hosts give you a traffic limit and guarantee high speeds (speed service).
Maybe it’s the DIY-techie in me, but I don’t like premium WordPress hosting. It’s really expensive if you have: 1) lots of traffic, 2) more than one site, or 3) an uncomplicated site. Go to WPengine and see how much it costs to host ONE site with 500k visits/month (answer: over $300/month). For a third of that price, I could get my own VPS and host a dozen of those. And assuming the sys-admin setting up the server is experienced, I could get those sites to load even faster than on WPengine.
Non-techies go with premium hosting because it’s the easiest way to set up a super-fast host. It comes with fancy panels and really easy to use, no configuration. Kind of like buying a new computer and just turning it on. Getting a VPS is more like buying individual computer parts and putting it together yourself. Some tech-savvy owners choose VPS because they love messing with tech things and appreciate the benefits-to-cost ratio. Other tech-savvy owners respect the complexity involved and prefer to pay someone else to deal with it (thus choosing premium hosting).
To those who say managing servers is too much work: setting up a server takes like 2 hours to build out and a few minutes of maintenance every couple months. How else do you think these “managed hosts” stay in business? None of them are proactively maintaining your server either. You call them when you have an issue and THAT’s when they fix things. Same goes for having your own server and sys-admin. Only difference is you save a ton of money.
Ultra-Premium WordPress Hosting (ultra-fast, REALLY expensive)
- Pagely – incredible speeds but REALLY pricey. ($299/month & up)
- Pantheon – is here in ultra-premium space as well. ($150/month & up)
- ServeBolt – still pricey but reasonable with ultra fast enterprise-grade performance. I like them. ($150/month & up)
- WordPress VIP – overpriced to me. ($1,000 & up)
My personal recommendation:
These guys are the absolute most expensive and most professional tier of WordPress hosting you can get. Super fast TTFB, great performance even for many dynamic requests. They’re more for huge sites….like 10 million hits/month and up, or really big stores. If you have less visits or smaller site than that, you can save a whole lot of money with other providers.
The first questions are…why are they SOOOO expensive and what do they offer that’s different from the other [much more affordable] premium hosts?
To start with, their server hardware and configurations are extremely optimized for performance. They tweak the servers for every possible bit of speed. Compared to other plans, it may not seem like a lot of resources but your configuration is much more customized than other hosts. They write their own php libraries/handlers.; it’s almost like running their own custom server software. Things like DNS are managed in a proprietary way instead of just leaving that to each customer. They have their own in-house panels.
For the most part, they’re complete overkill for 99% of customers out there. But suppose you had a huge worldwide business and don’t have expert sys-admins on hand, these guys are perfect for you. Their servers can handle tons of traffic and also huge traffic spikes. Also too… these server plans are not limited by traffic like WPengine/Flywheel/etc. These servers can handle virtually millions of hits, instead of WPengine and the others charging by traffic. 400k visits/month costs you $290/month at WPengine whereas with Servebolt, your site could easily handle 400k visits/day with their $150/month plan. So in theory, these plans could actually be higher performance and even cheaper than other hosts!
All those top guys will be about the same speed/performance….you should try Servebolt (I like them).
- Pay close attention to what their SLA says…ideal is at least three 9’s for that amount of money you’re paying. Many of them market themselves as “HA” but only offer 99.9% which is the same as most backbone providers.
- Ask them if their IP’s are already DDOS-filtered or if that’s an extra cost.
- All of them will be more than happy to load up demos for you to pit against each other.
- Might also be a good idea to test their support and see how quickly you can get access to a level 3 tech.
If you have tons of traffic, you should not be paying by traffic count (you should be paying for the stack management only). Keep in mind that some of the cheaper-priced ones offer limitations somewhere (visitor count, storage size, # of websites, bandwidth, CPU processing limit, etc).
If you have a budget of $5k, that’s fantastic but you really don’t need to spend that much. You could easily get the same performance if not faster for a small fraction of that. And not pay for all that overhead. Hire someone …. a direct level 3 tech who can provision and manage the server for you. Whatever other add-ons you like, you pay a much smaller fee.
Bad (or Mediocre) Webhosts
These are all the crap hosts. Avoid them, no matter what they promise. I’ve had direct experience with every company here through my own accounts or client/friends accounts. And yes, I’m well aware the companies below might have many happy users.
- 1and1 – yes, it’s bad.
- 20i (UK) – typical low-tier super cheap host…and super slow.
- ASmallOrange – used to be good but turned terrible when they were bought out.
- A2 (VPS) – weak, expensive. Sucks compared to others. Their 8 “vCPU” is weaker than even 4 CPU from typical VPS hardware providers (DO, Linode, etc).
- BellHosting – BAD!
- BeyondHosting – bad hardware, bad service, overpriced.
- BigScoots – slow and lots of downtime.
- BlueHost – customer service improved but servers are still slow. Awful!
- canspace.ca – really slow (even with no traffc) and lots of intermittent downtimes.
- DreamHost – great promises but mediocre hosting speeds, awful control panel and downtimes, but great customer service.
- DigitalPacific (AUS) – really weak low-grade hosting. Weak stack and over-priced.
- EIG companies – too many to list, avoid all EIG-owned hosting companies. Terrible service.
- FastComet – complaints about being slow, or that they’re great until they have random downtimes.
- Godaddy – they’ve improved over the years but still poor speeds, UI, and overall service. In case you’re wondering, yes…even their GoDaddy managed hosting sucks.
- GreenGeeks – I love their mission of ECO-friendly and clean energy. Their hosting, I’ve heard mixed results about. Some people say really helpful, fast, and great service. Others say the service is annoying and they can’t wait to get off. One thing for sure, many people feel their pricing and refund policies are manipulative. Just from looking at their site, I’d guess they are mediocre-performance shared hosting. Not bad, not great.
- Hetzner – hardware vendor in Germany popular for their low prices. Some feel they’re a great bargain for the price (super cheap dedicated servers) whereas others feel they have horrible support, issues with unfair billing and interface, also annoying technical/hardware issues. Their performance is subpar for me so I don’t consider them but do agree they are cheap.
- Hostgator – oh no. Now owned by EIG, same like BlueHost.
- Hostinger – seemed like a friendly new outfit. But I saw them get kicked out of Facebook groups for marketing too aggressively and also making shill reviews. (Their spam posting happened in my Facebook group, too!) Then I also heard of angry customers…some complaining about speed, others about service. Oh and these clowns only give you a free SSL for the 1 site, the others you have to pay! (No other legit webhost does this bullcrap.) The first time I went to their site, I saw a Cloudflare 502 error. Hmmmm…
- Hostnet.nl – terrible speed and customer service.
- Incendia Web Works – smaller (but great) company run by knowledgeable system expert Budd Grant. Great if you have one site and only one site to focus on. It’s not defunct but who knows, maybe he’ll start another.
- InMotion hosting – slow and bad service, horrible VPS. Also running vastly outdated software (old php). I move about 5-10 clients away from them every month. Link #1 Link #2
- Ionos (by 1and1) – sucks! Super cheap…what did you expect?
- InterServer – mixed reviews.
- KnownHost – known to be bad! There are some good reviews out there.
- LiquidWeb – absolutely horrible performance, but polite customer service. Gone downhill since they acquired WiredTree as well as other companies. I move about 5-10 clients away from them every month. Destroyed many acquired companies (like WiredTree). All their plans seem overpriced except maybe their bare metal servers, which are the only ones I would try from them. They’re like the GoDaddy of server hosting.
- LunarPages – average.
- Media Temple – used to be good…then they got acquired by GoDaddy. Now it’s in the shitter.
- NameCheap – better than Bluehost/EIG but still slow.
- Network Solutions – bad!
- nosupportlinuxhosting – cheap but good webhosting (with no support) for only $1/month per website. Small 1gb space limit, which is more than enough for small sites. Great option for web-techies wanting to get up and running for cheap. (They got hacked and closed down their service. No longer running!)
- OVH (VPS) – bad! Bad service, stuck IO, frozen boxes, reboot issues, slow disks, server crashes, many complaints out there.
- Pressable – supposedly a “premium service” but I found it to be slow.
- Pressjitsu – I really wanted to like these guys (they know their stuff) but their stack was underwhelming for me. Better than shared hosting but a step behind the usual “managed” tier like WPengine/Kinsta.
- Rackspace – used to be good but went downhill.
- Site5 – it’s gone downhill ever since getting bought out (by GoDaddy?), super slow. Many users switching away.
- SmartHosting (UK) – another UK one, like Krystal and GURU, and some people like SmartHosting better than Krystal as well but they’ve since been bought by Krystal and some people say they’ve gone to crap.
- SSD Nodes – on my radar. Love the website and vibe, heard mixed reviews. Some people are happy with performance and uptimes, others complain about slow speeds (oversold servers), confusing pricing, and poor support.
- WiredTree – has been really bad since the acquisition.
- VPS.net – horrible, tons of downtimes. These guys are the “shared hosting” of VPS providers.
- Wedos (CZ) – very cheap and very slow. Don’t use it.
- WPMU hosting – the same guys behind WPMU DEV. Somebody from our Slack group tried it and said his site was 4 seconds slower. Hahaha, not surprised.
- WPX Hosting – the owner is well-intended, creating WPX as a superior alternative to overpriced/poorly-support shared hosting out there. Most people are happy but the ones who aren’t…are really unhappy. I’d say they’re comparable to SiteGround (ok speed, great support). They aren’t good for big sites, even their big VPS plans. I often have backup issues with them, sometimes large sites, sometimes even small sites throw errors when trying to backup even a 40mb database. Their support is always helpful but I hate that I can’t do many basic things.
My personal recommendation:
Understanding why these webhosts are “bad” can be the most confusing thing for new website owners. On one hand, you have “expert” sites saying such and such company is “HORRIBLE, AWFUL, NEVER USE THEM!” and on the other hand, you see hundreds of “trusted” review sites showing thousands of happy customers and many 9.5/10 scores. How do you know who to trust?
Haha, you can trust your own experience or mine. Most people don’t listen and will go for the super cheap hosting with the 75% OFF promo code. The server may be fine for 2 months, or even 2 years, and then slowly degrades. Your site keeps getting slower and customer support will tell you it’s because of your theme, or your plugins (which could be true). You’ll even hit downtimes on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. Your host will assure you it’s only a minor server upgrade and will be up and running better than ever!
At some point you get fed up and start asking around. Your friend who just signed up with some other host gives you an affiliate code, and you take the leap all over again.. but the cycle only continues. You get bad service again and can’t figure out how to find a decent host. How is this happening?! It’s because these big name hosts pay huge affiliate commissions. That’s why you see them promoted by so many bloggers out there. An amazon link might only net them a couple bucks but a webhosting referral link can earn up to $150 per sign-up.
On my radar
These are webhosts that I heard of but don’t have any concrete opinion of their service yet.
- BunnyShell – reminds me of RunCloud. I like their polished website. Their vibe feels really professional.
- 10Web – can’t they get rid of that FOUT issue on their website? It looks so unprofessional.
How to Research Webhosts
Looking up establish webhosting companies
Check out the sites below to see what systems techs are saying about them.
- www.webhostingtalk.com – lots of webhosting reviews, Q&A
- www.lowendtalk.com – many sys-admins and webhosting experts, many new company deals
Looking up new webhosting companies
How do you research a new hosting company? With new companies that just popped up, you can’t. You have to trust in their branding and the people behind the brand. And not only that, but you have to trust that they’ll have the same enthusiasm for low pricing and great service in 5 years. Many new webhosts start out great but then start over-crowding servers to increase profits or don’t make enough to pay for quality support techs as their service grows. As expected, performance and service goes down so profits can go up!
Is there a way to technically measure them? Yes, you can ask them questions like how many resources per server, per account, etc. You can look up the TTFB’s, use their trial period to check disk speeds, how long to process queries, how many requests per second, etc. It’s a great idea but not something I can bother with. For me, when dealing with companies I don’t know, the biggest thing I’m looking for is how reliable they will be over the years. And only when I know they’re reliable will I start to compare CPU, disk speeds, max requests, etc.