Web hosts also offer an array of options, from dedicated and virtual private servers (VPS) to shared or managed plans. Finding the right solution can be challenging, though, and it’s vital to understand the differences between web hosting companies, services, and features. Pick the right foundation for your website using our guide to compare WordPress hosting vs. web hosting.
WordPress is a content management system (CMS) created in 2003 that powers 43% of websites. It’s written in hypertext preprocessor (PHP), an open-source, general-purpose scripting language. It uses the open-source MySQL (structured query language) database management system.
Its ease of use makes WordPress sites popular for people with limited tech experience. Yet, the platform allows plenty of customization, which is ideal for tech-savvy individuals.
Since WordPress software is open-source, anyone can download it, meaning you can purchase cheaper, shared web hosting services and install WordPress for free. Managed WordPress hosting plans typically have optimized servers and automatic updates for improved security and performance.
WordPress features for your business website include the following:
- Browser compatibility: WordPress code meets World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards. It works in current browsers and maintains forward compatibility, meaning it will display in future browsers, ensuring seamless customer experiences.
- Plugin directory: WordPress users can choose from thousands of tools to increase site functionality. Plugins include social media widgets, calendars, and spam protection. Also, developers can create plugins using WordPress application programming interfaces (APIs).
- Media management: WordPress websites support images, galleries, alt text, and captions. You can use image editing tools or drag and drop photos into your posts or pages.
Additionally, your WordPress website is optimized for search engines and available in over 70 languages. Many WordPress hosting plans include pre-installed WordPress software or allow for one-click installation.
WordPress hosting is a subset of web hosting. The term web hosting refers to services that supply servers and storage for websites and related applications. It encompasses WordPress hosting, shared and managed plans, dedicated server hosting, and e-commerce solutions. With regular web hosting, business owners can select their preferred site builder and content management system, like Drupal, Joomla!, or PrestaShop.
With WordPress hosting, you can install the software on a less expensive shared web hosting platform that supports PHP and MySQL. But, unlike web hosting, shared or managed WordPress hosting plans come with WordPress-specific features and tools. Indeed, most web hosting providers use WordPress-optimized servers and retain technical support agents with in-depth knowledge of the WordPress system.
Therefore, looking behind the scenes at how the services differ when considering web hosting vs. WordPress hosting is important. Also, think about your business resources and technical capabilities. Since self-managed web hosting subscriptions require a more hands-on approach than managed WordPress hosting, you may need to be more involved with configuration, maintenance, updates, and security.
Shared and managed WordPress hosting providers offer:
- Simplified setup through pre-installed WordPress applications, optional themes, and plugins
- Enhanced performance thanks to specially-configured servers and caching software for improved site and page loading speeds
- Automatic updates for core WordPress site applications and server-level performance and security features
- Dedicated customer support agents familiar with WordPress applications, plugins, and common issues
- Server security to manage WordPress-specific threats, such as SQL injection or distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks
For people to see your website online, you need a domain name and web host. Some of the Best Web Hosting Services of 2023 offer domain registration services and web hosting plans. In contrast, other hosting providers require you to buy a unique address from a domain registrar.
After creating your account, the hosting company gives you access to an online portal or file transfer protocol (FTP) account. This tool lets you transfer and manage website files, like content or images, on the web server. Many web hosting plans also provide site builders, free themes, and page templates. These features help you develop a website without coding experience.
You can also configure settings that vary by host and subscription and may include email accounts or security options. Depending on the web host, you may need to point your domain’s DNS (domain name system) records to your hosting server’s IP (internet protocol) address. Once doing so, users can type your site address into their browser, and it will communicate with your web server. In return, the server sends your website files back and displays your site in the user’s browser. Learn more in our guide: What Is Web Hosting?
When choosing a web hosting provider, you’ll see many options, including cloud hosting, dedicated servers, WordPress-specific hosting plans, and VPS hosting. Consider several factors before selecting a company and subscription. Small businesses often think about their budget and expected site traffic. They also examine their technical requirements, e-commerce needs, and website complexity. Explore the possibilities for hosting your site online below.
Dedicated server hosting typically costs more than VPS hosting or shared hosting. But it provides dedicated resources, including random access memory (RAM), disk space, and bandwidth. You have control over your computing power through a central processing unit (CPU) and the flexibility to scale resources as your business expands.
Dedicated servers work well for companies with multiple websites or high traffic volumes. It’s also a top pick for businesses with specific compliance needs or complex, resource-intensive sites. Since you don’t share resources, there are fewer worries about performance issues during peak hours. Yet, a dedicated server requires more technical expertise to set up and maintain than a shared web hosting plan.
Unlike dedicated servers, shared hosting means several website owners use resources from one web server. In most cases, a shared web hosting plan is the least expensive option offered by web hosting providers. You receive a set amount of website storage, and your web host may recommend a subscription tier based on your site traffic. But, even if fewer people visit your site, you can experience performance issues if other site owners have high traffic volumes. Such is the payoff for sharing resources.
Shared hosting is a great option for startups and freelancers with minimal traffic. Your hosting provider may offer site builder tools and additional features to enhance your site’s performance. But, if you want to add resource-heavy plugins or e-commerce capabilities, you may want to migrate to a higher tier with more available resources.
This hosting service is a popular option offered by several companies on our rating of the Best Managed WordPress Hosting Services of 2023. It’s less expensive than dedicated server hosting yet provides more resources and reliability than shared hosting. With VPS hosting, the provider splits a server into several virtual servers. Each section acts independently with its own operating system and dedicated resources.
Web hosts, like InMotion Hosting, also offer specific VPS WordPress Hosting options. This service is great for WordPress sites as the company configures the virtual private servers for WordPress, provides free WordPress site migrations, and a site health monitor. If your business needs more resources and control than shared hosting offers but doesn’t need a dedicated
Some web hosts, like SiteGround, offer cloud hosting. The cost is less than dedicated servers but more than VPS hosting plans. Whereas shared hosting relies on a single server, cloud hosting involves several interconnected servers and data centers. They work together to handle website traffic and balance loads. If one server goes offline, another server automatically replaces it, keeping your site available to visitors.
You can choose cloud WordPress hosting or install another CMS or e-commerce program. The scalability and high availability make cloud hosting suitable for most business websites, including online shops. But fewer providers offer this option, and the cost can be a barrier to smaller companies.
WooCommerce is an open-source WordPress plugin. It adds e-commerce functionality to WordPress sites. A hosting service may have standalone WooCommerce packages or include this capability with all WordPress hosting plans. However, WooCommerce subscriptions are often optimized for online shops. They may provide content delivery networks (CDNs) for fast-loading web pages and offer pre-installed or one-click installation of WooCommerce software.
Some hosts have payment integrations, advanced security tools like secure sockets layer (SSL) certificates, and malware detection. Others, like WP Engine, include free tools like an AI-powered search box. These extra features increase the costs, yet you may pay the same amount or more to add functionalities to a shared hosting site.
Web designers or developers can expand their service offerings with reseller hosting. In this arrangement, you buy a hosting package from the provider and customize plans to resell to your clients. Depending on the web host, you can select your server resources, create various subscriptions, and brand the control panel.
The web hosting service maintains the servers, networks, data centers, and hardware. But you’re responsible for billing and invoicing your clients. You may also have to provide technical and customer support.
WordPress Hosting and Managed WordPress Hosting
WordPress hosting solutions provide server configurations and infrastructure for optimal WordPress website performance. Many offer one-click installation, plugin and theme support, and CDN integration. Web hosts may have dedicated and shared WordPress hosting options, with prices starting at $4 monthly for the first year.
Managed hosting plans include additional features and services but cost a bit more. These versions may deploy advanced security measures like malware scanning and perform regular WordPress site backups. Others offer staging environments for testing changes, priority support services, and free WordPress site migration. See our top picks in our Best WordPress Hosting Services and Best Managed WordPress Hosting Services of 2023 ratings.
Integrates with third-party tools
Many themes and plugins for customization
Optimized for search engines
Substantial support community
Although developers can customize WordPress, you don’t need coding experience to use the platform. It has a built-in editor to quickly add web pages, multimedia content, and blog posts. The learning curve is less than more complex platforms like Drupal. WordPress has a large and active community of users, developers, and designers. You can find answers to most questions through online forums and tutorials.
Since WordPress uses open-source code, many third-party services, APIs, and tools integrate with WordPress sites. You can also choose from many free and premium plugins for contact forms, search bars, search engine optimization (SEO), and more. Likewise, free and paid themes can change your site’s appearance.
WordPress includes SEO-friendly features like clean, well-structured code, mobile responsive themes, and a customizable permalink structure. Also, most WordPress hosting plans offer free and paid SEO plugins.
WordPress is an excellent solution for many businesses. However, there are a few situations where you may outgrow the CMS or find it unsuitable. For instance, as your online shop expands, you may prefer a dedicated e-commerce platform like Shopify Plus or Magento. While WooCommerce works with WordPress, other options require a standalone installation.
Likewise, a publishing platform or free website builder may make more sense if you only need a small site and have little to no technical experience. Companies wanting a highly customized website may also want a different CMS. Although WordPress is flexible, other systems provide different capabilities and security levels.
Once you’ve compared web hosting vs. WordPress solutions, it’s time to consider WordPress hosts. Many providers offer self-managed and managed hosting subscriptions. WordPress.org recommends SiteGround, Bluehost, and DreamHost. But several companies provide specialized servers for WordPress hosting.
Consider the following factors when choosing a company to host websites:
- Automatic updates: Because WordPress regularly releases updates, your hosting provider should install the latest version automatically.
- Performance and reliability: Look for services with caching technologies and content delivery networks to ensure fast website loading times.
- Scalability: Your hosting provider should make it easy to upgrade your plan or add more resources as your needs evolve.
- Customer support: Responsive and knowledgeable customer service is a must-have feature for business websites. Check for live chat, ticketing, and phone availability and response times.
- Backup and restore options: Automatic daily backups are ideal, but at minimum, look for a hosting service that makes it easy to perform regular backups.
- Pricing and overall value: Your hosting provider should offer plans that fit your budget. But don’t sacrifice security, support, or customer experience for a low cost. Compare providers to ensure services align with your needs.
- Security: Check out the hosting provider’s security measures, including malware scanning, firewalls, and DDoS protection. Free SSL certificates are a bonus.
WordPress.org hardens its core software to mitigate common vulnerabilities and threats. It recommends best practices for third-party theme and plug-in authors. Once security professionals detect a threat, they identify a solution and develop an update, which may happen automatically or manually, depending on your web host.
Hosting service providers offer several security features to keep your site safe. These may include SSL certificates, which ensure online transactions remain confidential, and malware scanning, which reviews your website for suspicious activity. Web hosting companies may use intrusion and detection systems to prevent DDoS attacks and provide firewalls to block spam or malicious actors.
WordPress Hosting Services
Why You Can Trust Us: 18 WordPress Hosting Services Researched
At U.S. News & World Report, we rank the Best Hospitals, Best Colleges, and Best Cars to guide readers through some of life’s most complicated decisions. Our 360 Reviews team draws on this same unbiased approach to rate the products that you use every day. To build our ratings, we researched more than 18 WordPress Hosting services and analyzed eight reviews from both professionals and consumers. We also surveyed 2,142 people who actively use WordPress Hosting Services. Our 360 Reviews team does not take gifts or loans of products or services we review. The 360 Reviews team may receive sample products provided for reviews, but all products are donated afterward. In addition, we maintain a separate business team that has no influence over our methodology or recommendations.
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