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[RESULTS] 2018 WordPress Hosting Survey – Aka "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of WordPress Hosting"

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CodeinWP Editorial
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What you’re about to read are the results of our 2018 WordPress hosting survey – aka. “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of WordPress Hosting.” Yep, we have good, we have bad, and we indeed do have ugly.

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! 👍🍾

Apart from the analysis that we have for you here, we’re also making the raw CSV file available for download (here). Feel free to use it as reference when making your own analysis.

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

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

This is a really interesting piece of data to start with. First off, the total number of websites hosted among our respondents is 11,736. Wow!
Some more detail:
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
1-2 35.30% 293
3-5 38.43% 319
6-10 12.41% 103
10+ 2.65% 22
unspecified 1.20% 10
This is yet another thing that highlights our respondents’ experience with hosting, and perhaps also a testament that you’re not very likely to stumble upon your perfect hosting company on the first go.
Lastly, let’s look at the traffic numbers that our survey respondents drive to their sites.

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
unspecified 1.69% 14
Albeit this survey has reached WordPress pros most of all, actually more than 50% of the respondents report to receive less than 5,000 unique visitors a month. On the other end of the spectrum, only 24.22% get more than 20,000 UVs, and the rest falls somewhere in between.
Okay, since we know who the audience was, let’s now get onto the fun stuff! Staring with the biggie:

🥇 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 CompanyRating / 5Survey PopularityMarket Popularity (Alexa)
GoDaddy3.50.41223
Bluehost3.30.261780
HostGator3.70.301872
WPEngine4.40.374065
SiteGround4.61.005708
DreamHost4.10.2210030
A2 Hosting3.80.1612709
Cloudways4.50.3918544
Kinsta4.80.2523350
Flywheel4.60.1834689
Setting the ratings themselves aside (we’ll talk about those in a minute), it’s worth mentioning that we did get very different numbers of entries for each company. Please take this into consideration when interpreting the results for yourself. What this basically means is that those ratings don’t all carry the same weight.

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.

Company2016 rating2018 ratingDifference
SiteGround4.64.60
GoDaddy3.53.50
WPEngine4.24.40.2
HostGator3.73.70
Bluehost3.03.30.3
Kinsta4.94.8-0.1
DreamHost4.34.1-0.2
Flywheel4.74.6-0.1
As you can see, the differences are very slim. This actually makes us happy, since it’s evidence that these surveys really provide actual insight and represent the WordPress hosting market fairly well.

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:

Syed Balkhi
Founder of WPBeginner
Often larger brands like Bluehost, HostGator, GoDaddy, etc. get a negative reputation in the community, which I think is a bit unfair at times. For every customer that complains, there are hundreds who’re happy. These companies are hosting millions of WordPress websites and if you actually talk with their team, they’re doing amazing stuff behind-the-scenes when it comes to their technology stack. As developers and website builders, we need to fully understand our customers’ needs before sending everyone to an overpriced solution.

😃 How happy people are with their hosting

A very general conclusion when looking at the data is that, overall, people are very happy with their current hosts:

83.2% of the respondents rate their hosting providers at 4 or higher. Also, 89.6% would recommend their host to other people.

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.

In fact, 87% of our respondents plan to extend their hosting subscriptions after they expire, with only 13% planning to cancel.

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
SiteGround 13.3% 18.5% 23.7% 11.8% 13.3% 2.9% 12.6% 2.2% 1.5%
GoDaddy 23.2% 21.4% 21.4% 10.7% 8.9% 10.7% 1.8% 1.8%
WPEngine 2.0% 19.6% 13.7% 25.5% 13.7% 23.5%
HostGator 14.6% 26.8% 19.5% 7.3% 14.6% 9.8% 2.4% 4.9%
Bluehost 27.8% 22.2% 16.7% 16.7% 8.3% 2.8% 5.6%
Average for all companies 17.1% 21.1% 16.7% 8.9% 10.6% 5.8% 8.9% 5.4% 5.4%
How to read these tables?

Some examples:

  • 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:

One more conclusion that we can draw here is that the de facto cheapest hosts out there are Bluehost and GoDaddy, since those companies have the most users in their sub $5 tiers. In comparison, even though there are cheap plans at HostGator as well, only 14.6% of their customers end up selecting them, compared to 26.8% opting for the $5-$10 tier.
We also asked our respondents how happy they were with the value they’re getting for their money. Here’s what they said:
Cloudways 4.5
SiteGround 4.3
Kinsta 4.3
Flywheel 4.0
DreamHost 3.8
WPEngine 3.7
HostGator 3.5
GoDaddy 3.2
Bluehost 3.1
Average 4.0
Cloudways is the leader, with SiteGround and Kinsta close behind.

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?

The story is very similar here. The average difference in reported reliability is -0.9 in rating points.

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
GoDaddy 53.57% 39.29% 10
HostGator 39.02% 60.98% 14
Bluehost 27.78% 72.22% 7
SiteGround 62.22% 37.04% 13
WPEngine 66.67% 31.37% 18
Cloudways 56.60% 43.40% 12

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:

How many hosting companies have you used prior to this one?
Currently using 1-2 3-5 6-10 It’s my first host More than 10
GoDaddy 35.7% 35.7% 5.4% 19.6%
HostGator 34.1% 29.3% 2.4% 31.7% 2.4%
Bluehost 41.7% 36.1% 11.1% 8.3%
SiteGround 36.3% 47.4% 8.1% 3.7% 3.7%
WPEngine 25.5% 41.2% 21.6% 3.9% 3.9%
Cloudways 39.6% 39.6% 11.3% 7.5%
How to read this table? Example: 41.2% of WPEngine users have tested 3-5 hosts before that.

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
Bluehost 3.3 3.3
DreamHost 4.1 3.1
SiteGround 4.6 3.9
Avg. for all companies Rating WP optimization rating
4.3 3.7
Company Rating WP optimization rating
GoDaddy 3.5 3.2
Cloudways 4.5 4.2
WPEngine 4.4 4.9
HostGator 3.7 3.1
Kinsta 4.8 4.8
Flywheel 4.6 4.9
Those results are kind of surprising, if I’m honest. The average WordPress optimization rating is at 3.7, which means that of the WordPress-approved companies, only SiteGround manages to beat it, and even that by only a small margin (+0.2).
Maybe it’s time for WordPress.org to start recommending companies that actual real users report to be better suited to handle the WordPress platform, who knows… What do you think?

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
Here’s how things shook out between hosts that:
  • 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)
Not all sites I run are WordPress and I like to keep everything together, so that leaves out companies like WPEngine, Pagely, Pantheon, etc.User
This table shows the average of each host’s overall score – it is not weighted by the number of responses for each individual host:
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.

HostWordPress Optimization ScoreHow WordPress Proficient Is Support?Has WordPress Plan?Uses "Managed" Verbiage*?Only Hosts WordPress Sites?
WPEngine4.924.69YesYesYes
Flywheel4.884.76YesYesYes
Kinsta4.774.86YesYesYes
Cloudways4.244.00YesYesNo
SiteGround3.924.45YesYesNo
A2 Hosting3.363.54YesNo*No
Bluehost3.263.42YesNo*No
GoDaddy3.173.25YesYesNo
HostGator3.153.32YesNo*No
DreamHost3.113.86YesNo*No
InMotion3.003.78YesNo*No
* Some hosts have both “regular” WordPress plans and higher-tier managed WordPress plans. When that happened, we chose to mark the category as “No” but with an asterisk. That is, to get a “Yes,” a host must use “managed” verbiage on its most popular WordPress plan.

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.

Most of my experience comes from a shared hosting plan. I have worked with clients on dedicated WordPress hosting and it is SO much friendlier than the standard shared hosting. Usually in-between the cost of a shared plan and a VPS plan. Totally worth it to spring for that upgrade if you are managing only one website.InMotion User
Support is the weakest link of all good hosts. And the ones with good support don’t offer the most optimized hosting. Pick your poison.User

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
SiteGround 9.6% 51.8%
GoDaddy 10.7% 48.2%
Cloudways 13.2% 60.4%
WPEngine 2% 62.7%
HostGator 26.8% 46.3%
Bluehost 13.9% 47.2%
Kinsta 2.9% 60%
DreamHost 10% 46.7%
Flywheel 0% 76%
Digital Ocean 75% 16.7%
As you can see, most hosts are rated at “no need to be a pro,” with the exception of Digital Ocean, which has traditionally remained to be the toughest host to get started with.

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.

The most interesting thing about the current host was that after I created my agency account and moved my site to paid plan, they contacted me in person on Skype and actually offered free webinars so that I can build sites faster and make them faster. I have never heard of something like that before.Pantheon User

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:

Are you happy with how your host takes care of your website security?
Company I don’t know what they do No, I am not! Yes, I’m happy!
SiteGround 13.3% 1.5% 83%
GoDaddy 37.5% 19.6% 41.1%
Cloudways 24.5% 1.9% 73.6%
WPEngine 5.9% 3.9% 90.2%
HostGator 43.9% 14.6% 41.5%
Bluehost 27.8% 30.6% 38.9%
Kinsta 5.7% 94.3%
DreamHost 30% 10% 56.7%
Flywheel 4% 8% 88%
First off, the more “specialized” the host, the more aware their users are about the host’s security features.

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.

The default security add-ins that serve as a launchpad to sell you expensive security options seem to be a new trend with many of the hosts. It is creating a lot of confusion, dissatisfaction and technical problems. Example: Many sites now go down every time the SSL certificate renews, even with default setups; the host has no solution at this time.User

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:

HostAvg. Page Load Time (s)Overall Rating
GoDaddy0.453.46
InMotion Hosting0.624.19
SiteGround0.744.56
DreamHost0.844.1
Bluehost0.933.25
WPEngine0.944.41
A2 Hosting0.963.83
HostGator1.353.66
Possible reasons for this lack of correlation could be:
  • 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.
(Hosts) should be transparent about what you provide for the cost including the tech specs of the server CPU, RAM etc. That’s how we know how better the performance will be. Just saying ‘double/faster’ performance on this expensive plan does not make sense.User
I wish there was more information available on how to evaluate the technical specs in terms a non-expert cold understand. It’s hard to know what I need and what I don’t.User

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:

Company2016 reliability rating2018 reliability ratingDifference
SiteGround4.74.6-0.1
GoDaddy3.83.7-0.1
WPEngine4.54.80.3
HostGator4.14-0.1
Bluehost3.43.50.1
Kinsta4.94.8-0.1
DreamHost4.34.1-0.2
Flywheel4.84.7-0.1
WPEngine and Kinsta take the win here, with WPEngine improving by 0.3 ratings points compared to two years ago. However, you might want to read this or that about our own experience with Kinsta’s reliability.

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.

HostUptime (last 75 days)Down hours / yearReliablity Score
WPEngine100%04.8
SiteGround99.98%1.74.6
InMotion Hosting99.55%39.44.1
HostGator100%03.9
A2 Hosting99.78%19.33.9
GoDaddy*99.93%6.13.7
Bluehost*100%03.5

* 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
Kinsta 4.9 4.9
WPEngine 4.7 4.7
SiteGround 4.7 4.5
Flywheel 4.6 4.8
InMotion 4.2 3.8
Cloudways 4.1 4.0
DreamHost 4.0 3.9
HostGator 3.7 3.3
A2 Hosting 3.7 3.6
GoDaddy 3.3 3.3
Bluehost 3.2 3.4
Digital Ocean 3.0 3.0
As a general trend, you’ll notice that many of the more premium managed WordPress hosts – like Kinsta or WPEngine – scored highly in both categories, while most budget shared hosts sit towards the bottom of the list.

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? 🙂

While features will vary, the quality of support provided by humans is the main difference I’ve found in hosts.SiteGround User
It’s good to contact support at least once to see how they respond. Don’t wait until you REALLY have a big problem. Get to know them as soon as possible.User

⏮️ “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?
GoDaddy 124 2.5
HostGator 86 2.6
Bluehost 68 2.5
SiteGround 55 3.1
WPEngine 35 3.0
DreamHost 19 2.9
A2 Hosting 18 3.1
The average rating for all changed-from companies is 2.7 / 5.

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.

CompanyChanged-from ratingCurrent ratingDifference
SiteGround3.14.6-1,5
GoDaddy2.53.5-1
WPEngine34.4-1.4
HostGator2.63.7-1.1
Bluehost2.53.3-0.8
DreamHost2.94.1-1.2
A2 Hosting3.13.8-0.7
If I were to give you my personal opinion on this, I’d say that if you’re looking for a new host, you should probably narrow it down to the companies that even their past users say are “okay.”

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:

How many hosting companies have you used prior to this one?
Company My first time 1-2 3-5 6-10 10+ Average
SiteGround 4.8 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.4 4.6
GoDaddy 3.8 3.4 3.5 2.7 3.5
Cloudways 4.7 4.6 4.3 4.0 4.5
WPEngine 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.3 5.0 4.4
Average for all companies 3.9 4.3 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.3
Interestingly, it turns out that people for whom it’s their first hosting experience rate their providers 9.3% lower than everyone else. Furthermore, the more experience you have, the higher you’ll rate your current host.
Lastly, among the users with more hosting experience, SiteGround and Cloudways received the top ratings.

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?

🎓 Conclusions?

Okay, with all this data behind us, let’s try to keep this part quick!
  • Overall, the hugest hosting companies of them all you should probably stay clear of. Bluehost, HostGator, GoDaddy – they don’t have the best ratings across all the metrics we checked.
  • If you’re going for a managed hosting solution, you’re most likely going to be the happiest with WPEngine, Kinsta, Cloudways.
  • If you’re a hosting pro and know what you’re doing (server management, shell, whatnots), Digital Ocean is still an awesome pick.

As for the top overall host, we have to give it to SiteGround. They have the highest number of survey entries, and they’re in the top 2 rating-wise. They also look really solid across all the other metrics we checked. If I haven’t missed anything crucial here, there are no significant chinks in SiteGround’s armor based on the data we have.

More?

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%:

Original text by Karol K and Colin Newcomer.
Layout and presentation by Karol K.

Written by CodeinWP Editorial