Johnny’s WordPress Hosting Review (UPDATED 2018)

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 tested a handful of these webhosts across a broad range of websites…from small blog or portfolio to big shopping sites, database-intensive forums, or large portals with many tracking/ad/conversion scripts running.

YES, this webhosting review guide is recent (as you are reading it). I update it regularly!

 

Good Webhosts

Shared hosting (cheapest, but functional)

  • SiteGround – best of shared hosting and very popular. Great speed, features, and service! Get the $11.95 GoGeek plan but keep in mind it renews at $30/month making managed hosting or unmanaged cloud far more attractive. (Their built-in SG Optimizer is *meh*, use SWIFT LITE for best results.) My Siteground review.
  • WebHostFace – ridiculously cheap shared webhosting and even faster than SG. I don’t even know how they do it to be honest. (Put it this way, the only con is that I don’t know what the “cons” are.)
  • A2Hosting – largely toted as a “great service” but many complain it’s actually slow (long TTFB). Definitely not on the same-level as SG.
  • 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.

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 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.

 

VPS hosting (best speeds & cost-efficient, but requires sys-admin):

  • Cloudways – popular managed cloud hosting, great performance/pricing and convenient control panel (good for noobs or non-sys-admins). Make sure you purge/disable Varnish during development. My Cloudways review.
  • DigitalOcean – best pricing and sexiest interface, solid speed/uptime.
  • Prgmr – no-nonsense VPS for techies. Great pricing, solid speed and uptime.
  • Linode – my favorite. Solid, reliable, no BS. My Linode review.
  • Scaleways/Vultr – not the best VPS providers (slower speeds, disks, CPU, etc), but still serviceable and offers $2.50/month micro-plan.

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. 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:

 

Premium WordPress hosting (fast, but expensive & limitations)

  • Flywheel – promises to be better than WPengine but user comparisons are mixed. Nice UI. ($14/month & up)
  • Kinsta – great branding but several bad reviews about frequent downtimes. ($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)
  • StudioPress – great speed AND comes with Genesis framework & themes.
  • WordPress.com – very good and they ought to be! ($24/month & up)
  • WPengine – best marketed and most popular premium WordPress hosting. Among the fastest, but with some plugin limitations. Non-techie users find them to be amazing, tech users find them to be sub-par and limiting. FYI: they use Linode servers and add proprietary caching layer; you can beat them with a $5 VPS. ($35/month & up)

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)
  • ServeBolt  – REALLY pricey one with ultra fast enterprise-grade performance.($150/month & up)

My personal recommendation:

These guys are the absolute most expensive and most professional tier of WordPress hosting you can get. 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!

 

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.

  • 1and1 – yes, it’s bad.
  • 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. My review.
  • 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.
  • EIG companies – too many to list, avoid all EIG-owned hosting companies. Terrible service.
  • FastComet – also marked as DO NOT USE!
  • Godaddy – they’ve improved over the years but still poor speeds, UI, and overall service.
  • Hostgator – oh no. Now owned by EIG, same like BlueHost.
  • Hostnet.nl – terrible speed and customer service.
  • 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
  • KnownHost – known to be bad!
  • 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).
  • LunarPages – average.
  • Network Solutions – bad!
  • OVH – bad! Slow service, many complaints out there.
  • Rackspace – used to be good but went downhill.
  • Site5 – it’s gone downhill. Many users switching away.
  • WiredTree – has been really bad since the acquisition.
  • VPS.net – horrible, tons of downtimes.

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.

 

How to Research Webhosts

Looking up establish webhosting companies

Check out the sites below to see what systems techs are saying about them.

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.

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