As a WordPress support and maintenance company, we see a lot of hosts. Some are OK, some are great, and then some are just terrible. We don’t just say this because we don’t like one or the other, we have speed tests, up-time reports, and support tickets to back up what we see. Since we manage a lot of WordPress blogs and websites, we know what we want in a host and what our clients should want as well.
Need help with your WordPress site? Let us help you!
Today, I figured we should provide some feedback on the hosts we recommend to our clients and why they are good. We also are going to tell you of a few that we don’t recommend and why that’s the case. Web hosting companies are a dime a dozen now. You can find one anywhere and most people have a varied opinion about the one they use. Remember, this post is our opinion of the many hosts we’ve worked with over the years.
Hosts We Recommend
As hosting companies start up, get bought out, or shut down, our recommendations will change. We’ve been doing this for over 12 years, so the hosting companies we used some time ago aren’t our recommend ones any longer. In fact, some of them have gone from the top of the list, to near the bottom. It’s just how it is in this industry. If you don’t keep up with the times, then you become irrelevant quickly.
*Note, we are affiliates with some of these companies. We only recommend companies we use, work with regularly, and like. These relationships in no way influence our recommendations as you will read below.
At the moment, SiteGround is one of our favorite shared hosts. They are the backbone of our “start a blog” guide. The reason is the have very fast servers (all running SSD), extremely fast support, and cheap promotional pricing. They have been growing steadily recently as people have really found out how good they really are.
You don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to get them either. Their base shared hosting plan starts at $3.95 per month (paid annually). This is their promotional pricing, which all hosts do for the most part.
If we need to get support from them on one of our clients’ sites, we can get someone on chat in less than a minute in most cases. We’ve never waited for more than 3 minutes to reach anyone on chat. Their technicians are fairly good when you ask them technical questions and their email/ticket support can be even better.
For WordPress, SiteGround has one of the best features starting with their GrowBig package and up. They also offer free SSL certificates through Let’s Encrypt, which can be installed with a few clicks of a mouse. The free SSL certificates are with every plan.
While we love SiteGround, there is one downside to their service. They monitor your sites very closely for server resource usage (basically if your site is taking up too much from the server). When you’re on a shared environment, everyone uses the same resources. If you use too much, they will send you an email and if you don’t take care of it, they will turn off your site. They use a measure called PHP Seconds, which run on every page load and can be multiple each load.
While we do hate this low level of seconds they count, we also know why they do it. They want your site optimized and running smoothly (who doesn’t?). They give you different ways to fix your site, but if you can’t, they will ask you to upgrade off their shared service. That will be up to you.
Oh, if you’re looking for a new host, then make sure to check them out. They offer free (and fast) site migrations for new customers.
They sure do have a funny name, but they are really good as well as the others in this list. BigScoots is US-based and smaller than the others in this list. What I like about them is they go out of their way to make sure your problem is solved. They will migrate you over for free and their support is good.
BigScoots has become very popular due to their WordPress optimized plans. They are super fast (faster than almost any host we’ve come across) and pretty cheap. For those with 100,000 visitors per month, these plans are awesome. Many of our customers have moved over to these plans and we can’t recommend them enough.
Their pricing is pretty competitive and they do offer shared hosting, managed VPS plans, dedicated, and more. They don’t have any built-in caching like Flywheel or SiteGround, but their servers run SSD. You can either get pure SSD plans or hybrids that still make the servers run fast and your site doing the same.
BigScoots is one of the few hosts that actually allow you to pay month-to-month for your hosting plans instead of yearly. This does increase your costs, but it might be worth it for you try them out.
We have been able to test WPX with quite a few of our customers and it’s been very good. Their support is stellar and they seem to respond to live chat requests very quickly (like SiteGround). For a managed WordPress host like WPEngine and Flywheel, they have much better pricing. You can get 5 sites hosted for $25/month, which is great.
They run with solid state drives, which is always a plus and really needed in this speed focused world. You get staging areas for your site and they have a fix it guarantee.
One of the things that is really cool is they have unlimited (and free) hosting migrations all the time. They don’t charge you to move you over.
Like BigScoots, they also offer free email included, so you can have your domain email setup with them. This isn’t offered by many other managed WordPress hosts.
Flywheel is becoming such a great host these days, especially for WordPress sites. Their biggest downfall are their prices. They aren’t attainable for most new bloggers. Their smallest plan starts at $15 per month and only allows for 5,000 visits each month. That’s not very much.
Having said that, their support is excellent and they have super fast servers. You’ll have excellent site speed if you host on Flywheel.
We work with many sites on Flywheel and enjoy working with their system. Their automated backups are excellent, but I do wish there was more control over certain aspects like using cPanel, but that’s more of our wish, not much for our clients.
If you don’t work with us, then they do have really good WordPress support people to help you with problems, but then again, so do SiteGround and inMotion. Along with both of the companies above, Flywheel also offers free migrations. They also don’t shut you down if you go over your monthly visitor allocation. They will reach out to you and ask you to upgrade, but don’t turn your site off like some other hosts.
Flywheel has a built-in caching system like SiteGround, which is very good, so you wouldn’t need one on your site in a form of a plugin. They also run managed WordPress updates. This only works with WordPress core updates and not themes or plugins. This is where our service comes in and we support those for clients on Flywheel.
A really cool aspect which the others don’t offer is the ability to add-on collaborators. Our clients add iMark Interactive to help with support, but you can add designers, and other people to your account to help manage it. That’s really neat and something I wish other hosts would do.
We have quite a few clients hosted on WPEngine and we find it a pleasure to work with. They are much like Flywheel where they are a managed WordPress host. To be very upfront, they only provide updates for core WordPress. They do NOT update your themes or plugins. This is a common confusion around managed WordPress hosts. You’re still responsible for a lot when on these hosts.
WPEngine doesn’t allow you to use some plugins that would break their core functionality, like backups, caching, security, and a few other things. Their plans are more expensive than basic shared hosting and they put up those plans based on your traffic. If you go over your allotted traffic, they can charge you for those overages.
This doesn’t change the fact that they are a good host, with fast speeds, automated backups, and free SSL certificates. They also have great chat and ticket support. If you’re looking for a managed WordPress host, WPEngine should be on your list.
*WPEngine Update – While we still think this host is good, please note their pricing has increased dramatically as of late. Their speeds haven’t really beaten BigScoots or Cloudways either, so unless you want to pay for all of their features, then I’d suggest looking into BigScoots, Cloudways, or WPX.
I’ve personally spoken with the guys behind TechSurgeons and they know what they’re doing. Not only have they been hosting websites for over 20 years, they know how to handle WordPress and sites that get a ton of traffic.
They even told me they love when people try to break their hosting with massive traffic surges. They are confident in their product and their service and I can agree with them.
Being able to see how some of our monthly clients are doing on TechSurgeons gives us confidence in recommending them. They don’t play the pricing game like other hosts, but you’ll get what you pay for.
They have fast servers, new software, and good hardware. If you need them, they have your back. This is why TechSurgeons is on our list.
I’ve been testing Cloudways for some time and love what I’m seeing on this platform. This is different than any other host and you’ll need to know this.
This system is for those who know how to use servers and set them up. Cloudways let’s you setup servers in a few clicks and then you can pick your hosting backbone, like Digital Ocean, Vultr, Google, Amazon, and others. This means you’re totally hosted in the cloud.
If you want to setup WordPress, it only takes a few minutes and really only about a few clicks.
Their pricing is amazing and their chat support is really good too. I keep a few development servers running on Cloudways and have been really impressed with the speeds and uptime I get. No issues to report, but only use this if you know what you’re doing or have someone helping you with the tech side of blogging (like us!).
When LiquidWeb got out of the shared hosting game, they caused some waves in the industry. The reason is they picked the wrong company to sell their shared hosting business to. This caused people to give them a bad name and they need to fix that perception.
For what it’s worth, their hosting platform is great and their support is very good. They know what they’re doing. Now, they only offer VPS, dedicated, and Cloud hosting. They even have a managed WordPress hosting plan for those who want to have the host handle much of the work, like WPEngine or Flywheel.
I’ve interacted with LiquidWeb for some time due to the amount of clients on their platform. It’s pretty good with little downtime. When you need help, they are there via live chat pretty quickly.
Despite the issues when they sold off their shared hosting division and when they bought WiredTree, I think LiquidWeb is a solid hosting company with good support people behind it.
Hosts You Should Move Away From
Remember, this article is just our opinion, but with many clients across multiple hosts and our monitoring system, we have seen quite a few hosts just turn sour over time. There are three hosts that we no longer recommend to our clients and ask them to move from when we take over their management. The reason we do this is it makes both of our lives easier when the host is of quality and have support that can actually understand you.
Without further ado, here are the hosts we don’t recommend and think you should move away from.
I’m going to pick on this host a bit here and the main reason is because they are probably one of the biggest hosts out there. They have a lot of sites on their servers and the main reason is a lot of people recommend them. They recommend them because the affiliate payout is large and they have an affiliate outreach team to sign up more affiliates every day. Heck, I’m even a part of their affiliate program, but I don’t promote them. I used to, but that was until EIG bought them out (more on this later).
Bluehost used to be awesome, but just this year alone, we’ve moved over
400 550 sites off their service. Why? They really have declined and aren’t something we’d recommend to anyone, not even new bloggers.
Many will say their have excellent pricing, but if you look at it, their pricing is only good if you pre-pay for three years. That’s the only way to get their lowest pricing. SiteGround is $0.50 more per month than Bluehost’s smallest plan, but you only have to lock in for one year, not three. SiteGround’s customer service is leaps and bounds better than Bluehost.
Since we monitor sites regularly, we’ve seen Bluehost being one of the worst for server response times and uptime. They have random server errors and connection timeouts on a daily basis. You can ask them about it, but they will say they don’t see it or it’s under “maintenance.” Unfortunately, we’ve found that it’s just they have too many sites on one server. They over stuff their resources and then tell you that your site is fine.
If you’re on Bluehost, think about moving. Their service really degrades as you get more visitors to your site and they will push plans and services to you that you don’t need. You just need a better host. They even hock SiteLock, which is a joke of a service we wouldn’t use or recommend to anyone.
This is Bluehost’s sister site, also owned by EIG. They used to be excellent. When I started blogging 12 years ago, it was with HostGator. I was with them for 7 years until they were bought out by EIG. Ever since that moment, their servers have declined, their support has gotten worse, and their downtime has increased. The main problem is all of their support is in one place along with Bluehost and all the other EIG brands. They even have a huge data center together in Utah. While they do have other data centers, I just don’t support this.
The downtime with HostGator isn’t as bad as Bluehost, but their server response times need help. Sites are slow on their and their support is hard to get to when you get into an account.
Their pricing isn’t any better with being more expensive than Bluehost and SiteGround. They price near inMotion, but aren’t even close performance wise.
We’re going to leave the worst for last. Please, just please don’t use GoDaddy for hosting. By far the worst host we work with regularly. They are OK for domains and a company we actually use (along with Namecheap), but that’s what they are good at. Web hosting is not a part of that list.
GoDaddy has a very different system than many hosts, handling emails differently, not clean interface, and their support is difficult to work with.
We see the most issues on GoDaddy regarding performance and just overall issues. Their email handling causes problems with delivery rates and spam control. Many plugins don’t play nice with their system and they are known to nickel and dime you until you want to cry.
We’ve seen them use software that is no longer support (very old versions of PHP) and then tell you to pay to upgrade to a server that has better software. As a web host, it should be their responsibility to keep up with supported versions of the software powering the sites on their server. Any other host will do this, but not GoDaddy.
Their managed WordPress service is even worse and not worth anything in our opinion. They often don’t run updates like they should, their backups don’t complete often, and you can’t use a lot of plugins with their system. This is especially true with good caching plugins. They have their own caching, but it’s not good. We’ve moved every customer on their managed accounts off and they have been very pleased and so have we!
There are many other hosts we don’t recommend trying and they are all EIG brands. What is EIG you ask? It’s called Endurance International Group. This company is just a holding company that purchases web hosting companies and turns them into the ground. Those of us who’ve been around for some time have seen the after effects of their purchases. Once EIG buys a host, you can expect the service to decline rapidly.
Here is the best (and updated) list of all EIG brands. We wholeheartedly do not support EIG and what they do with hosts. If they purchase a host we recommend, we will remove them and move onto a different host that isn’t under their umbrella. It’s not about their owning so many brands, but what they do to those brands, their servers, the service, and the bottom-line. Our of all of the support tickets we get, the most issues come from the three above and mostly web hosts owned by EIG. This is why we don’t support them and think you should move away from them when you can.
Got a question about your host, need help with something, or have a host you love? Respond in the comments below or send us an email!