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If you are about to start a WordPress website in 2021, then it’s a great thing. But when it comes to purchasing a hosting provider, there are several choices available, such as shared, VPS, cloud, dedicated, etc.
Most people start with a budget shared hosting provider as it is the easiest way to go. There isn’t anything wrong with that. But a shared host may not be the best option for all. So I thought listing shared hosts alone in this post may not be beneficial to many of you.
That’s why I decided to split this list into three categories:
- Managed Cloud
- Managed WordPress
And from each category, I have listed three providers each. I selected the providers based on my own experiences and from what I’ve learned from others online.
With that, let us explore each of the options.
Shared Hosting Providers
A shared host is not only the easiest, but it is also the cheapest way to get your site online. The drawback is, you are sharing the resources with other customers on the same server. So, it is usually the least performant and least reliable. But some providers perform exceptionally well, sometimes better than entry-level VPS servers.
A2 Hosting is a performance-focused hosting provider. When it comes to server power, they are on par with many low to medium-sized VPS servers. In addition to shared hosting, A2 Hosting also provides cloud, dedicated, VPS, and Reseller plans. But here we are considering only the shared hosting options.
- Established in 2001, A2 Hosting currently offers two server locations in the USA, and one each in Europe and Asia (Singapore). That’s a total of four locations, which is impressive for a shared hosting provider.
Coming to the features, A2 Hosting gives cPanel to manage your hosting accounts, which is standard in the hosting world. They also offer free SSL certificates issued by AutoSSL.
High-end plans also offer advanced performance features like Litespeed servers, Memcached, and Opcode cache.
Pricing & Plans
There are four plans on offer under the shared category – Startup, Drive, Turbo Boost, and Turbo Max.
The standard monthly price for the Startup plan is $10.99. However, highly discounted introductory prices are also available if you lock in for a year or more.
Overall, I think the price is on the higher side, considering that there are also no free domain offering.
- Month-to-month billing available: yes
- Standard monthly price for the lowest plan: $10.99
A2 Hosting Pros & Cons
- Server locations in three continents
- 24/7 support via live chat & tickets
- No free domain
- Slightly higher price than competitors
Dreamhost is one of the cheapest shared hosting providers you can find today. Established in 1996, they are also one of the oldest providers still in operation.
Dreamhost does not offer cPanel. Instead, they have implemented a custom control panel, which allows managing all the account-related settings. While I won’t say that lack of cPanel is a disadvantage, I prefer that over custom control panels. But, after spending some time with it, you will get used to the Dreamhost panel.
The list of features is also great, with free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates and Cloudflare integration. But compared to A2 Hosting, Dreamhost doesn’t offer too many performance-oriented features. Albeit that, Dreamhost performed well in my speed tests.
Live chat and tickets are available when you need help, but it is available only during daytime in North America. Also, their servers are solely located in the USA, none in other parts of the world.
Plans & Pricing
Under the shared category, Dreamhost offers two plans – Shared Starter and Shared Unlimited. The month-to-month pricing for the Shared Starter plans is only $4.95, which is comparatively lower. Also, Dreamhost’s monthly pricing is straightforward, without any setup fees or hidden charges.
On top of that, more discount is available when you go for the annual or three-year plans. Unlike A2 Hosting, Dreamhost offers free domain name registration for one year if you select 1-year or 3-year billing cycles while signing up.
Dreamhost Pros & Cons
- Cheaper pricing, straightforward month-to-month billing
- Decent performance
- Knowledgeable support
- Live-chat is not available 24/7
- No server locations outside the USA
If you are searching for a WordPress-focused hosting provider, then you should check out Siteground. On their plans page, you can see that Siteground offers both shared and WordPress hosting plans. However, both seem to be the same as the plan titles and prices are identical. So, let us check the latter.
- Based in Bulgaria, Europe, Siteground was established in 2004. Currently, they offer server locations in the USA, Australia, the Netherlands, Germany, UK, and Asia. So, they cover most of the regions except Latin America and Africa.
As a high-end hosting provider, Siteground offers many WordPress-centric features like auto-updates and support for WP-CLI. Siteground SuperCacher – a custom caching plugin – is another feature that improves the performance of your WordPress sites. However, that feature is not available on the starting plan.
Siteground is also highly rated among WordPress users and well-known for their excellent support.
Siteground offers three plans – Startup, GrowBig, and GoGeek.
The price for the Startup plan, which allows hosting one site, starts at $14.99/mo with annual billing. Month-to-month billing is also available but it costs $49.99, which is way too high in my opinion.
Siteground Pros & Cons
- WordPress-specific features like caching & wp-cli
- Well-known for its excellent support
- Server locations in Asia, Europe, and North America
- Comparatively expensive
- TrustPilot Score: 4.8/5
Managed Cloud Hosting
The main advantage of cloud hosting is that you don’t have to share server resources with other users. But self-managing a cloud VPS server is a big responsibility. That’s where managed cloud hosting comes to the rescue. They are not truly hosting providers. Instead, they provide a control panel to manage your VPS instances on cloud providers like DigitalOcean, Google Cloud, etc.
So, these are my top picks from the managed cloud hosting category.
Cloudways allows you to host PHP applications on the top five cloud server platforms – DigitalOcean, Linode, Vultr, GCP, and AWS. Until now, I couldn’t find any provider that can be considered as a true alternative to Cloudways. Established in 2011, they are based in Malta, Europe.
With Cloudways, you get a lot of advanced features without sacrificing useability much. But some technical knowledge is required to effectively utilize all the different settings available in the panel. It may not be as easy as a managed WordPress hosting panel (discussed in the next section).
The list of features includes one-click staging, Redis, Memcached, and Varnish caching, on top of a modern server software stack. They also offer New Relic – an enterprise-grade application monitoring service – without any additional costs.
When you create a server from the Cloudways control panel, they deploy a server from the chosen provider on your behalf. Everything is managed by Cloudways. For example, to create a Linode Server on Cloudways, you don’t even need an account with Linode. The advantage is, there is only one billing to manage.
And the disadvantage? You don’t get root access to your servers unlike on a VPS or dedicated server.
The price for Cloudways includes the server charges of the provider also.
The price depends on the cloud provider you choose. The starting price is $10 for a 1GB DigitalOcean server. If you were to buy it directly from DigitalOcean, it would cost $5.
So, overall the price of any DigitalOcean plan is roughly double the price of the server you choose.
Cloudways Pros & Cons
- Ease-of-use on par with shared hosting
- Simple pay-as-you-go pricing
- 24/7 support through live chat and tickets
- Host unlimited sites on any server
- Advanced features for performance and monitoring
- No root access to your servers
- Trustpilot score: 4.7/5
- Facebook rating: 4.4/5
SpinupWP is another cloud hosting control panel that allows managing VPS servers for your WordPress sites. But unlike Cloudways, you have to manage the two accounts separately. That is, you have to connect SpinupWP with your existing DigitalOcean, Linode, or other accounts by providing the appropriate access key.
The main thing I liked about SpinupWP is its beautiful interface. It looks modern and highly intuitive, even if you are migrating from a shared hosting environment.
SpinupWP also provides advanced features including backups to remote storage like S3 or DigitalOcean Spaces. You can also enable full-page caching for WordPress right from the control panel. It is in addition to other performance features like Redis and database caching.
Created by the team at Delicious Brains, SpinupWP is a relatively new service. But the team is better known among WordPress users with the WP Offload Media plugin, which allows offloading WordPress media files to top cloud object storages like S3.
But there is one disadvantage I have felt about SpinupWP. The support is available only from Monday to Friday. So, in case something happens to your site during weekends or when the support is not available, you will have to solve the issue yourself. If you have a decent knowledge of Linux server administration, you might be able to solve it yourself.
- Fortunately, SpinupWP does not block root access so that you can do pretty much anything with your server. Otherwise, you may have to wait until the support gets back to you.
So, I highly recommend trying out SpinupWP if you are comfortable with the Linux command line. SpinupWP takes care of all the software updates, security patches, and monitoring. But when some issues occur, your knowledge can save you a lot of time. Otherwise, if you need 24/7 support, Cloudways will be a better option.
SpinupWP offers two plans – Personal and Team. The standard monthly price for the Personal plan is $12/mo, which does not include the cost of your cloud provider.
Since the two accounts are managed separately, you have to manage two billings. So, if you are provisioning a 1GB DigitalOcean server with SpinupWP, the total monthly cost will be 17/mo.
SpinupWP Pros & Cons
- Lots of features for WordPress sites
- Connect any VPS server
- Root access possible
- Support not available 24/7
- Comparatively newer platform
- Trustpilot score: 3.4/5
Founded in 2012, ServerPilot is a veteran in the field of cloud server control panels. The user interface may not be as polished as SpinupWP’s, but it includes all the essential features. You get free AutoSSL for all the apps, firewall based on Iptables to block bad traffic, and so on.
Serverpilot does not offer chat support. So when you need any help, you will have to open a ticket, send an email, or use the form on their contact page to seek help. Since it is a tried and tested product, there won’t be many bugs or serious issues. So, there will be fewer cases to contact the support.
Serverpilot offers three plans – Economy, Business, and First Class.
The starting plan is Economy, which costs $5 per server, and $0.5 per website. For managing a small number of sites on a 1GB server, Serverpilot is cheaper than Cloudways and SpinupWP. But if you have a large number of sites, then it costs you more.
But again, if you want to manage high-memory VPSs, then Serverpilot is more economical than Cloudways. For example, if you have a large website on an 8GB DigitalOcean droplet, ServerPilot costs you $45.5/mo ($40 + $5 + $0.5), while Cloudways costs $80/mo.
ServerPilot Pros & Cons
- A proven software stack
- Cheaper per-server price
- Not many features compared to others
- Pricing per app can cost more when managing a large number of sites.
- Trustpilot score: 4.5/5
Managed WordPress Hosting
Apart from providing a hosting platform, Managed WordPress hosts especially take care of your sites as well. They do this by offering WordPress-focused support, uptime monitoring, and better security.
With all the premium-grade features, the pricing is usually on the higher side. For the same reasons, they are suitable for hosting high-profile websites.
Kinsta is one of the most popular managed WordPress hosting provider available today. Based in the USA, Kinsta was established in 2013.
A major highlight with Kinsta is that they use Google Cloud Platform for their servers. Because of that, they could offer 24 server locations for you to choose from.
The UI is very well-designed and the platform offers a lot of advanced features for WordPress. It offers a built-in cache and CDN so that you don’t need to use a third-party caching plugin.
Kinsta is also highly developer-friendly, offering support for WP-CLI, SSH access and easy staging areas.
Kinsta calculates your usage based on visits per day. This can be an advantage and a disadvantage. If your site has fewer unique visitors per day and more pageviews, then it can be beneficial. Otherwise, if you have a high unique visitor count, then a bandwidth-based usage calculation would be better.
Coming to the plans, Kinsta offers a total of nine plans. The starting price is $30/mo, which allows 25K visitors and 10GB of storage. Here, note that even if you cross that limit, Kinsta won’t shut down your site. Instead, overages will be charged at the rate of $1 per 1000 visits.
Kinsta Pros & Cons
- Offers Google Cloud servers
- 20+ server locations
- Lots of WordPress-specific features
- Usage is based on visitor count
- Facebook rating: 4.6/5
- Trustpilot score: 4.8/5
WPX is another managed WordPress hosting company launched in 2013 and based in Bulgaria, Europe. The highlight of WPX is that they do not rent any server resources. Unlike Kinsta which offers Google Cloud servers, WPX owns and manages its servers and content delivery network.
When you sign up for a hosting plan with WPX, you can choose from three server locations – USA, UK, or Australia. Compared to Kinsta, which offers 20+ locations, it is fewer. But their CDN has a presence in 25+ locations.
WPX offers three plans – Business, Professional, and Elite. The starting price is $24.99/mo for the Business plan when billed monthly, which allows hosting five websites and a combined bandwidth of 100GB per month. Note that unlike Kinsta, the usage calculation is based on bandwidth.
Their FAQ page says that your account or websites won’t be suspended even if you cross a plan’s monthly bandwidth limit. There is no mention of any overage charges though.
WPX Pros & Cons
- Own servers and CDN infrastructure
- Slightly cheaper than Kinsta
- Usage calculated based on bandwidth rather than visits
- Some advanced features like SSH access and Application monitoring are missing
- Facebook rating: 4.8/5
- Trustpilot rating: 4.9/5
Established in 2012, Flywheel was recently acquired by WPEngine. By the way, WPEngine is another well-known managed WordPress host that is worth considering. But, I decided to include Flywheel only because it offers a better pricing structure (see below).
Flywheel aims to make WordPress hosting easier for designers, freelancers, and businesses who create websites for clients. They also offer free access to premium StuidoPress themes, which is a great thing from a designer’s point of view.
Other than that, most of the features are the same as with other providers. Just like Kinsta, their servers are powered by Google Cloud Platform. On the performance side, Flywheel offers built-in WordPress caching and CDN, the latter powered by Fastly.
Now, let us check the pricing as well.
Primarily, Flywheel offers four plans: Tiny, Starter, Freelance, Agency.
In addition to these plans, they also offer custom and Growth Suite packages for heavy users.
The main thing that differentiates Flywheel from the rest is the Tiny Plan, which costs only $15/mo and allows 5k visits/month. So, if you have a small website with fewer visitors, Flywheel may be a better option.
The next is the Starter plan which costs $30/mo for 25K visitors. That’s almost in line with the starting plans of Kinsta and WPEngine, Flywheel’s parent company.
Flywheel Pros & Cons
- Cheaper entry price (Tiny plan)
- Google Cloud Platform and Fastly CDNs
- Access to StudioPress themes is a bonus
- Usage calculation based on visitors
- Trustpilot rating: 3.2/5
Best Hosting for WordPress: Conclusion
For any web host, people have varying opinions. So, choosing the best hosting provider is a difficult task. If you have any experiences with the providers mentioned above, be it positive or negative, feel free to mention it in the comments.
If you are just starting out and on a tight budget, then I would suggest you go with a shared hosting option like A2 Hosting or Dreamhost. Currently, this website is hosted with DigitalOcean on Cloudways. But to use it well, you need a bit of technical knowledge. If you have that, then cloud control panels are the most economical way to host WordPress websites.
On the other hand, if price is not a problem and what you want is premium support, then Kinsta is a solid option.