This is our third annual WordPress hosting survey, and the more we do these, the more interesting things get and the more insights we discover!
But hold off on that for a minute, let’s start somewhere else…
First, we want to thank everybody who took a couple of minutes out of their busy daily schedules to complete the survey and review their current hosting providers. We got 830 valid responses in total, which makes this one of the biggest WordPress hosting surveys to date! It’s because of you that this was possible! 👍🍾
Why do a WordPress hosting survey?
We’ve been looking into the topic of WordPress hosting for a while now. Testing different hosts, experimenting with configurations, testing site speeds, load impact metrics, analyzing the offerings, pricing, etc.
We want for our recommendations to always be on point, but we can only go so far if we rely on just our own data. That is why finding out about the actual real-world performance of web hosts is so important.
So that was the main objective of the survey – to get actual input from actual real users, and truly learn which companies perform well for people in the long run vs which don’t perform at all.
Things we wanted to learn
As you would expect, the no.1 goal was to name the top recommended hosting company for WordPress.
The “WordPress hosting” label gets thrown around a lot these days, and every new host to the market claims to be the most optimized WordPress solution in existence. We wanted to test who’s really telling the truth here. But we were also after the fine details of the whole hosting experience.
The survey respondents | 🥇 Best rated WordPress hosting companies | Differences vs previous survey | How happy people are with their hosting | 💰 How much money people pay | Mainstream vs the rest | WordPress.org-approved hosts | “WordPress hosts” really “WordPress optimized”? | Do you need to be a pro to use it? | Security – is that a thing? | Does faster hosting = higher rating? | Actual uptime vs perceived reliability | Are premium hosts better? | Who’s the most changed-from host? | 🎓 Conclusions
The survey respondents
The audience this blog attracts is more on the pro side of the spectrum. For instance, 78.67% of the survey respondents identify themselves as WordPress pros (developers, designers, experts, people otherwise knowledgeable about WordPress). This means that their opinion of certain web hosts might be different from what the casual user would say. And it probably is … which our previous survey – the 2017 edition confirmed.
But that’s a good thing. WordPress pros is essentially the group that drives the movement in this space forward, and the people whom everyone else asks for advice when looking for the best host for their WordPress sites.
Here’s a more in-depth look at the respondents:
How many sites people host
|Hosting own sites vs for clients?||How many sites do you have hosted?|
|Just me||5 (average) / 3 (median)|
|Clients||23 (average) / 10 (median)|
|Totals||14 (average) / 5 (median)|
We certainly didn’t expect to see the numbers being that high. Even if we look just at the median, 5 sites is a huge number! This also tells us that our average respondent is quite far from hosting “just their one small personal blog.”
Also, it’s quite expected that people hosting sites for clients will report higher numbers here. On the average, those users have around 3.5x-4.5x times more sites hosted with their providers.
How many hosts did you test prior to the current one?
A huge majority of our respondents (more than 73%) report to have used 1-5 hosting companies prior to their current ones.
Here are the specifics:
|How many hosts have you used prior to this?||% of users||# of users|
|0 (my first host)||10.00%||83|
How much traffic do you get?
WordPress hosting survey respondents say:
|Your average monthly traffic numbers||% of users||# of users|
|less than 2,000 UVs||32.77%||272|
|2,001 – 5,000||17.71%||147|
|5,001 – 10,000||13.73%||114|
|10,001 – 20,000||9.88%||82|
|20,001 – 50,000||9.28%||77|
|50,001 – 100,000||7.23%||60|
|100,001 – 1,000,000||5.90%||49|
|more than 1,000,000||1.81%||15|
🥇 Best rated WordPress hosting companies
Here are 10 of the top rated WordPress hosting companies according to our 830 survey respondents:
- The hosting companies with the least number of entries have not been included
- Market popularity according to Alexa – lower values mean more popular
|Hosting Company||Rating / 5||Survey Popularity||Market Popularity (Alexa)|
Every survey is a snapshot in time telling something about a specific group of respondents. In our case, that group are WordPress pros and people generally taking care of multiple websites. Among them, SiteGround is the most popular choice (getting 16.27% of all survey entires).
However, please keep in mind that this doesn’t reflect the market as a whole since SiteGround is not the top player out there – this you can see if you sort the table above by the last column. The same goes, or even more so, for companies like Cloudways and Kinsta.
Whatever you see in this WordPress hosting survey should be compared to at least two other sources of data. First, let’s look at a more general survey that we did in 2017.
That one reached the casual WordPress user since it was conducted based on pop-up questions on our blogs and websites.
In it, we discovered that GoDaddy is still the sole giant in this market. Followed by HostGator and Bluehost, with everyone else far behind. This is also in tune with the Alexa data that we’re quoting above. That general survey also indicated nearly no entries for “boutique” (excuse the term) companies like Kinsta and Cloudways.
Then, there’s an even more objective source of data – Google Trends. I do realize it’s not a perfect metric, but still gives us a good overview of how popular these companies actually are compared to one another. Here’s a quick search comparing the popular hosts as per this survey:
Here’s what happens with HostGator and Bluehost added to the mix:
Now see what happens when we add GoDaddy:
Even though we need to be careful here since GoDaddy is much more than a hosting company, we still need to realize its dominance.
HostGator and Bluehost are 5x (ish) bigger than SiteGround, with Cloudways and Kinsta barely even registering when looking at the grand scheme of things.
With that said, we have to give credit where credit’s due … no matter how we do these surveys, no matter if they reach the casual user or the WordPress pro, SiteGround is still there near the top or at the top when it comes to user ratings and overall popularity. This year, they’ve scored the second best rating at 4.6 / 5 while getting the most entries.
The main differences vs our previous hosting survey
Our 2016 WordPress hosting survey featured similar questions and reached a similar audience. This allows us to compare the differences in the ratings for our featured hosts.
|Company||2016 rating||2018 rating||Difference|
Shout-out to Bluehost for improving by 0.3. Maybe one day…
Though, in all honestly, the mainstream hosting companies do tend to get a lot of bad press that’s not always deserved. Here’s Syed Balkhi raising a very interesting point:
Founder of WPBeginner
Despite a range of answers to all the other questions, most people seem – if not always 100% happy – at least content with their current hosting provider.
More interestingly, we also asked respondents which hosting company they would choose if money were no object:
- 66% of respondents would still stick with their current host
- 34.6% would choose another hosting platform; of those people, 14.5% say it would be WPEngine
💰 How much money people pay for their WordPress hosting
Here’s the distribution across the five most popular hosting companies, and the total numbers for all, in dollars per month:
|Company||< $5||$5 – $10||$10 – $15||$15 – $20||$20 – $30||$30 – $50||$50 – $100||$100 – $200||> $200|
|Average for all companies||17.1%||21.1%||16.7%||8.9%||10.6%||5.8%||8.9%||5.4%||5.4%|
- 13.3% of SiteGround’s customers pay less than $5 a month
- 25.5% of WPEngine’s customers pay $50-$100 a month
- 21.1% of all respondents pay $5-$10 a month
- 38% of all respondents pay less than $10 / mo
- 55% of all respondents pay less than $15 / mo
Some tweetables related to that:
We also asked our respondents how happy they were with the value they’re getting for their money. Here’s what they said:
Interestingly, those cheap prices don’t help neither GoDaddy nor Bluehost achieve a good value-for-money rating.
One more interesting result here is DreamHost. In this WordPress hosting survey, it’s only at 3.8 in value-for-money, but two years ago their users rated them at 4.4, which was the second best rating.
The total rating – all hosting companies combined – hasn’t changed in two years and it’s still at 4.0 / 5.
🤼 WordPress hosts compared head to head
This is the part where we compare different hosting companies against each other, dividing them into a handful of categories. Let’s start with the following:
Mainstream hosting companies vs the rest
On one side we have the GoDaddys, Bluehosts, and HostGators of the hosting space, and on the other we have everyone else.
(Charts by Visualizer Lite.)
As you can see, the mainstream hosts sit a bit lower than their “boutique” competitors when it comes to the overall ratings. The average difference between the mainstream and the rest is -1.0 in rating points.
Is there a difference in reported reliability as well?
Let’s now take a look at the type of user that usually finds themselves hosting with a mainstream company:
|Users of||Hosting client sites||Hosting own sites||Hosting this many sites|
Although nothing too brutal is going on here, we can still see a slight trend nonetheless:
- Customers of mainstream hosts are more likely to host their own sites. Customers of not-mainstream hosts are more likely to host their clients’ sites.
- Customers of mainstream hosts have fewer sites on the average than customers of not-mainstream hosts.
Lastly, let’s take a look at the number of hosting companies that someone has used prior to landing on their current one:
|Currently using||1-2||3-5||6-10||It’s my first host||More than 10|
Conclusions? Well, for instance:
- If you’re on WPEngine or SiteGround then it’s most likely not your first host.
- HostGator, on the other hand, is the most popular first-host choice in our WordPress hosting survey.
- Smaller companies, like Cloudways, are often something that people find after they’ve run through a large number of other hosts. 7.5% of Cloudways’ users have tested more than 10 hosts.
However, the differences in these numbers aren’t huge, which is a result of the survey reaching a more experienced group of users.
What about the WordPress.org-approved hosts?
As you surely know, there’s this mysterious, legendary, dare I say even magic web page at WordPress.org listing some recommended hosting companies (this one).
This web page has always been controversial. Essentially, no one knows how/why certain companies get their spot on the list.
The saga started with just Bluehost. Then we saw DreamHost, Flywheel, and SiteGround join the list. Then, after a while, Flywheel lost their spot.
At the time of writing, we’re left with these three on the list, in this order: Bluehost, DreamHost, SiteGround.
It just so happens that all of these companies have been rated and talked about in our WordPress hosting survey, so let’s now see how they stack up against each other and the other top players.
Let’s take a look at the overall ratings of those hosts plus their WordPress optimization scores:
|Company||Rating||WP optimization rating|
|Avg. for all companies||Rating||WP optimization rating|
|Company||Rating||WP optimization rating|
On the overall scale, we also have to give it to WPEngine and Flywheel, which lead the pack, both rated at 4.9 / 5.
You know what, let’s take the topic of WordPress optimization further and find out if the “WordPress hosting” label actually means anything. In other words, are hosts that call themselves “WordPress hosting” any better?
Are all “WordPress hosts” really “WordPress optimized”?
Because of how popular WordPress is, pretty much every major host has some type of plan marketed towards WordPress sites nowadays. We wanted to see if all “WordPress hosting” is the same when it comes to how our respondents answered questions about:
- WordPress-specific optimizations
- The WordPress-specific knowledge of a host’s support staff
- Only host WordPress sites
- Host all types of sites (but still have plans marketed towards WordPress users)
- Market themselves as “managed” in some way (this third group overlaps with the first two groups)
|Type of host||WordPress optimization score||Support WordPress-knowledge score|
|ONLY host WordPress sites||4.89||4.83|
|Host ALL types of sites||3.40||3.70|
|Use “managed” verbiage||4.41||4.43|
So, according to our survey-takers’ experiences, it appears like managed WordPress hosts really do offer better WordPress-specific optimization and support. Beyond that, hosts that focus 100% on WordPress seem to have the best optimization and WordPress knowledge, even versus generic hosts that still advertise a “managed WordPress” plan.
Interested in seeing how well specific hosts optimize for WordPress? Below, you can see a complete breakdown by the most popular hosts in our WordPress hosting survey.
|Host||WordPress Optimization Score||How WordPress Proficient Is Support?||Has WordPress Plan?||Uses "Managed" Verbiage*?||Only Hosts WordPress Sites?|
With the exception of SiteGround, none of the other “generic” hosts were rated over 3.36 when it comes to WordPress optimization, whereas all of the dedicated WordPress hosts scored above 4.75.
Do you need to be a pro to work with your hosting plan?
We’ve already looked at whether our respondents consider themselves WordPress pros earlier on in this analysis, but now let’s look at a rather related survey question: “Do you need to be a pro to work with your hosting plan?”
We’re doing this to find out how much of that reported WordPress optimization of some hosts can be due to the users’ own comfort working with servers, etc.
Here’s what people say about their hosts:
|Company||You need to be a pro to use this||You don’t need to be a pro|
Interestingly enough, HostGator has a relatively big number of people saying that the platform does require some level of proficiency with servers. Though, this might be a result of HostGator often reaching first-time hosting users, which has to have an impact on their opinions.
Security – is that a thing?
Website security is a complex topic and there’s a lot more to it than just installing some compact security plugins. Frankly, if you want your website to be secure, hosting is where you need to start. Or, to say it another way, if your hosting is not secure, nothing else will matter.
Hence, we were curious as to what users think about the level of security that their hosts give them. Here’s what we found:
|Company||I don’t know what they do||No, I am not!||Yes, I’m happy!|
WPEngine has only 5.9% of users admitting that they don’t know what the host does in terms of security; Kinsta – 5.6%; Flywheel – 4%. Users of those hosts are also happier with the security they’re getting.
The leader here is Kinsta at 94.3% and WPEngine at 90.2%. We also have to recognize SiteGround at 83% with only 1.5% of users saying they’re not happy with the platform’s security.
Faster hosting doesn’t necessarily mean a higher rating
If you’re a WordPress pro, it’s easy to fall into this trap of thinking that speed is all that matters when it comes to a web host. But when we compared our own performance tests to the overall rating of survey respondents, we struggled to notice any strong correlation between the two:
|Host||Avg. Page Load Time (s)||Overall Rating|
- A lot of users don’t really care about page load times unless they’re really bad.
- Our test data isn’t put under scale, so differences might not become apparent until a site gets more traffic.
No correlation between uptime and perceived reliability (at least not yet!)
First, let’s look into who’s the most reliable host in our survey vs the 2016 survey data:
|Company||2016 reliability rating||2018 reliability rating||Difference|
The mainstream hosting companies sit towards the bottom of the table, which was expected considering higher expectations from pro users.
But that’s not everything on the topic of reliability!
Now that we’ve started publicly tracking uptime statistics for popular WordPress hosts, we were interested to see whether there was any correlation between our uptime data and how survey respondents ranked each host’s reliability.
Well – spoiler – we didn’t notice any consistent connection (at least not yet).
Of the hosts that we’re tracking, the two with the highest reliability scores – WPEngine and SiteGround – do indeed have great uptime.
But at the lower end of the table, the data gets a bit murkier.
For example, so far InMotion Hosting is the worst-performing host that we’re tracking. Its 99.55% uptime correlates to more than 39 hours of downtime over an entire year. But despite that, InMotion Hosting still had a higher reliability rating than HostGator and Bluehost which are, so far, sporting a perfect 100% uptime (that’s equal to WPEngine).
Our uptime tracking data is still fairly young, though, so it will be interesting to see if our uptime data tracks closer to our survey data over the course of an entire year.
|Host||Uptime (last 75 days)||Down hours / year||Reliablity Score|
* Uptime data for the last 60 days.
“Premium” hosts do indeed offer better support
In this section, we’ll compare how popular hosts’ support teams fared in our WordPress hosting survey via two numbers:
- Overall support rating
- WordPress-proficiency rating for support
|Host||Overall support||WP-specific support|
There are some outliers – like SiteGround – but that’s generally how things shake out.
Of course, this conclusion isn’t really mind-blowing – it certainly makes sense that paying for a premium host gets you better support. But it’s always nice to get confirmation that the extra money really is worth it!
Oh, and shame on you, Digital Ocean. Though, we get that … DO is meant for the pros anyway, so you’re expected to be your own support, right? 🙂
⏮️ “Tell us about your previous host”
For me, this has been the most exciting part of the whole WordPress hosting survey analysis!
While getting to know what people think of their current hosts is interesting for sure, it’s also kind of expected to see mostly positive ratings. After all, why would you stay with a host that you dislike?
However, once we start looking into people’s previous hosts, this is where we can get some cool insights. Starting with:
Who’s the most changed-from host?
Those are the hosts that people generally get tired of after a while and decide to ditch for whatever reason.
|Who was your previous host?||# of users switched from it||How would you rate it?|
As you would expect, those changed-from ratings are on the low side. All of the big three – GoDaddy, Bluehost, Hostgator – have ratings in the range of 2.5-2.6. Among the rest, we have SiteGround, WPEngine, and A2 that have managed to score 3.0-3.1.
Overall ratings vs changing-from ratings
Now let’s compare the hosts’ current ratings vs ratings given to them by users who have moved on.
|Company||Changed-from rating||Current rating||Difference|
WordPress hosting vs experienced users
Another thing we wanted to look at is whether a user’s experience with other hosting companies has any impact on how they rate their current hosts.
This table presents the overall ratings based on how experienced with hosting the respondents are:
|Company||My first time||1-2||3-5||6-10||10+||Average|
|Average for all companies||3.9||4.3||4.3||4.4||4.5||4.3|
In our opinion, this is not necessarily because the companies chosen by first-timers are bad (all of them got better rankings from experienced users), but perhaps beginners have overall higher expectations. What do you think of this?
I’m sure there are many more gems to find in this data set, but I, personally, am all out at this point. 🙂 So now it’s over to you.
As mentioned at the beginning, we are making the raw CSV file available for download, so please feel free to take it and use it for your own analysis. (Don’t forget to let us know if you publish anything based on the data!) Download here.
Once again, we want to thank you all for taking part in this WordPress hosting survey! You rock! 🎸
Don’t forget to join our crash course on speeding up your WordPress site. With some simple fixes, you can reduce your loading time by even 50-80%:
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