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A Quick Guide to WordPress Hosting

Posted: January 13, 20225 min read

Getting ready to build your website? Whether you’re a blogger ready to create your new digital home or a business in need of a functional, reliable website to take orders and grow revenue, you’ll need to have your website hosted before you build it.

Few website builders command the prestige that WordPress does—according to the brand, 43% of websites on the internet are built on WordPress. Thanks to its popularity and the demand for websites by users small and large, there are a huge number of options available for hosting and building websites on WordPress.

A Spectrum of WordPress Hosting Options

There are lots of options for getting your WordPress site hosted and a wide range of different services that can help. Individuals who want to pay for experts to manage their WordPress instance have different needs than bigger businesses who want to stand up and manage it themselves. Hosting needs also change over time as traffic grows and needs become more complex—which means spending a little more time now to choose your best option could save you some potential headaches down the line.

At its core, WordPress is an incredibly popular open source tool that is used to create websites and blogs. The open-source version of WordPress, available at WordPress.org or through 1-click deployments on cloud services such as DigitalOcean, can be used by anyone looking to have full control over their website setup. WordPress.org gives users infinite design possibilities but requires that they handle the technical details—hosting, plugins, security, etc.—themselves. Hosting your WordPress instance on DigitalOcean will give you this kind of experience. With WordPress workshops and other online learning tools, there are an incredible amount of resources to help beginners become skilled web developers.

Managed WordPress services are for people who would rather outsource the expertise necessary to set up, install, manage, and update their website. Rather than spin up servers and configure a website on their own, they pay a service to install WordPress, stand up their website with the necessary software, stay on top of security concerns, and more.

From Software as a Service solutions to DIY options, WordPress hosting is available in many different forms. Many hosting options are interchangeable in the sense that they all offer security, technical support, and the ability to actually host the WordPress script. But, with that said, there are some key differences between offerings that you’ll want to be aware of as you shop.

Let’s explore some of the most popular options:

Software as a Service (SaaS) Solutions

  • What is it? WordPress.com, a partner of WordPress.org, offers a SaaS-like experience which is great for beginners and people who want a less technical website management experience. Users will create pages, publish posts, get support, integrate Google analytics, earn ad revenue and more directly from their browser, with variable options depending on payment tier. This option enables users to do everything they’d expect or want to with a website without needing to pay a professional web developer.
  • Who’s it for? Nontechnical users and small business owners who need to set up a personal or business website without sweating the details.
  • What’s good? Included hosting, domain names, templates and WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors make getting a website up intuitive for the average user. Support is readily available to answer questions or to help.
  • What’s not so good? Convenience comes with limitations—templates may not satisfy dreams of having an amazing website, and users won’t have control over the underlying server.
  • WordPress.com offers a SaaS-like website builder based on the open source WordPress software.

Managed Hosting

  • What is it? Managed hosting is essentially paying WordPress experts to run your website for you, including daily maintenance. A managed hosting service will optimize your website for performance, backup your data, and ensure your website is secure, among many other services that take all the hassle out of managing your own website.
  • Who’s it for? Individual users and businesses who don’t have the necessary technical expertise and are willing to pay for it.
  • What’s good? Managed hosting is like eating at a restaurant rather than cooking at home. WordPress experts will provide for everything your website needs on the backend, including hosting, and you’ll rest easy knowing that the behind-the-scenes details are taken care of.
  • What’s not so good? Managed hosting could cost more than a SaaS or DIY option, with prices scaling up depending on storage, speed, and other needs. Managed hosting providers may also restrict the use of certain plugins.
  • Examples include Cloudways, WP Engine, Bluehost, and others.

Do It Yourself

  • What is it? Lots of people manage an open source WordPress installation on a public cloud service (like DigitalOcean) themselves, meaning they have full control over their server setup and can easily scale hosting up or down as needed.
  • Who’s it for? People with the time, expertise, and willingness can give installing and managing their own WordPress instance a try. Support from experts is available on most cloud platforms but can depend on the payment tier.
  • What’s good? Users have full control over their WordPress hosting and instance and can customize it as they like. Installing WordPress on a self-managed hosting system such as DigitalOcean is often the most cost-effective way to get a website up and running.
  • What’s not so good? Users have full control over their WordPress instance and are fully responsible for everything that can go wrong. Support is often available, and there are thousands of WordPress tutorials out there, but managing your own hosting does require some technical knowledge or the willingness to learn.
  • Examples include DigitalOcean and other cloud infrastructure providers.

Which Hosting Option is Right For You?

There’s a spectrum of WordPress hosting options for a simple reason: different users have different needs. WordPress is a powerful website builder beloved by nearly half of websites on the internet. With so many users, WordPress needs to solve for many use cases covering seasoned web developers down to those taking their first steps into website development.

DigitalOcean is a popular hosting solution for people who want to take a stab at building their own website and realizing their own unique vision. Spinning up your website takes just a few seconds with our 1-Click WordPress installation app—the 1-Click app will install WordPress on a Droplet (that’s what we call our virtual machines) and you’ll be able to start designing your WordPress site in less than a minute.

Try DigitalOcean for free with a $100, 60-day credit

As you explore your WordPress hosting options, remember to consider your own web development experience, whether you have the time and energy to run your own WordPress instance, and your budget.


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