WordPress Hosting Review 2013: The Results

Nearly two years ago here on WPShout I published the results of the inaugural WPShout Hosting Review, a commmunity-sourced survey of WordPress hosts, with the idea being the sheer weight of numbers from the survey entrants offer a representative insight into which hosts are good — and which ones aren’t.

A couple of months back I invited readers to once again offer up their hosting experiences in order to bring the results up-to-date and 214 did so (just shy of the 290 from 2011 run). A huge thank you to everyone who took the time to report in on their hosts — these results are thanks to you.

Ready, then? Here are the results of your unbaised WordPress Hosting Review.

What’s the best WordPress host?

Rather not read the whole thing? These brief summaries will give you the results at a glance. ¬†Scroll down to see the breakdowns and results in full. For “standard” WordPress hosting:

A Small Orange: a quality host with excellent support. Shared hosting plans can manage low-medium traffic sites well, and their VPS setups are capable of handling much higher levels of traffic. A really good standard hosting option.

Fused: if oranges aren’t your thing, Fused offer a number of hosting options which should suit you well. Fused’s speedy support won particular praise, with the host offering a good compromise between “standard” and managed hosting.

See also: SiteGround. A solid host that does what it says it’ll do. Good WordPress-specific support and quality uptime. Well worth considering.

And if you’re after managed hosting, here’s your pick:

WPEngine offer the complete managed hosting package and then add a bunch of features on top. Thoroughly recommended and clear winners of the Hosting Review.

See also: Synthesis. A very close second to WPEngine, Synthesis are the right choice for those already invested in the CopyBlogger Media WordPress ecosystem. For everyone else, they’re missing that killer feature.

The results in full

Below you’ll find results from the survey aggregated into convenient summaries for each host. A bunch of hosts make it into “best of the rest” for a variety of reasons, including the quality and quantity of review of review submissions If you’re interested in seeing the raw data, head to the FAQ.

A Small Orange: perfect for small/medium sites

A Small Orange are new entrants on the Hosting Review, advertising a well-supported, fast and green flavour of hosting. From their five reviews, they live up to their claims! Survey respondents hosted a mix of low-traffic sites on their shared hosting plans and bigger sites on their VPS setups, and all rated the host good in general, good for support and there was no downtime to report.

Particular praise was given to A Small Orange’s speed and support. First contact is made after a ticket is submitted within a couple of minutes and tickets get resolved within one or two hours. “Support is the best element of A Small Orange’s hosting… their chat support, email support, and forum support are all stellar.”

None of the survey respondents had a bad word to say about A Small Orange. They’re a little more expensive, but it certainly seems to be worth it. I’m very happy to recommend A Small Orange for small-medium sized sites.

Bluehost: cheap, but you get what you pay for

Bluehost came out top of the Hosting Review last time round, offering cheap hosting that did the job, combined with good support. It’s clear from the survey responses this time round Bluehost remains a cheap, popular option for low-traffic sites, but sadly the quality of support has dropped and problems with downtime have crept in.

Of the nine respondents covering BlueHost, four described their experience as “average” and two described their experience as “poor”. Only two respondents said they had had no issues with downtime.

Support was a mixed bag; Bluehost seem happy to be happy and prompt helping with some issues (including basic WordPress issues), but incapable of helping with others — particularly more complex ones. Bluehost are cheap, but you get what you pay for. If price is your only concern, they make an okay choice, but you can do better elsewhere.

Dreamhost: generally good, but with compromises

Dreamhost are another popular option, clocking in with 12 reviews. Feedback is mixed, but on-the-whole positive. Five of the twelve survey respondents described their experience as “average” or “poor”. Eight of the twelve also said they had had some problems with downtime.

Feedback on support was mixed, too. Dreamhost’s support seem to be able to eventually get the job done, but they can be slow. They do, however, appear to be friendly and for the most part know what they’re doing, although WordPress-specific support appears to be thin. “I have no complaints about the quality of support, but it can take a while to get a response. I do frequently get “install a caching plugin” (I have a caching plugin) as the only advice to a WP-related problem”.

Dreamhost are a big, popular host, and you can’t really go too far wrong with them, especially if you’re hosting a high-traffic site on one of their VPN plans. Their mid-level shared plan is popular with medium traffic sites (20,000-100,000/month), too, so is worth considering. Downtime and support times remain a concern however. Dreamhost may be suitable for higher-traffic sites, but their basic shared hosting can be beaten.

GoDaddy: still best avoided

GoDaddy performed spectacularly poorly in the last Hosting Review, and it seems customers who weren’t happy last time have switched their hosting this time round; there were only three reviews for GoDaddy, down from twenty one last time round.

I won’t spend too long dwelling on GoDaddy: two of the three respondents said their experience was poor and all three rated support as either “poor” or “average”. They have improved, but it’s not enough: “Go daddy upgraded their control panel last year which was an improvement. But the same lame all about selling you unwanted products is prevalent.”

Another respondent commented: “You get what you pay for. GoDaddy didn’t work with me at all and their servers are locked down and outdated. You can get WordPress to run on them, but don’t expect to do anything beyond FTP uploads and a standard WordPress install.” That sums it up nicely.

Fused: “fast and trouble free” hosting that’s fast and trouble free

Fused claim to offer “fast and trouble-free” hosting and at least according to their four reviews, that claim is spot on. There was a big mix in the volume of traffic from the survey respondents, but Fused handled them all well: “Typically outages are very rare, and Fused’s support is very quick to address [any outages].”

There was particular praise for Fused’s support, which is what many viewed as what justified the higher price tag; responses to tickets were typically coming through in a couple of minutes. One survey respondent described them as: “Fantastic, attentive all around great host”.

Fused offer a good compromise between very expensive managed hosting and slightly-more-expensive well supported hosting. If support and all-round quality are a major concern, Fused look like an excellent option.

FlyWheel: new guy in managed hosting does good

The recently-launched FlyWheel are the newest entrant in a string of exciting new managed WordPress hosting options. They’ve got underway quickly, and four customers all had good things to say about the host. There were no problems with downtime and support was all rated “good”.

One survey respondent did raise a concern about whether the high monthly fee was worth it, given the lack of email hosting, but with managed hosting you know it’s going to be more expensive — and what you’re getting. The concern I have here is all the sites were in the lowest-traffic plan and hadn’t been with FlyWheel very long, given they’ve only launched recently. Whether they can scale their infrastructure and support is going to be a key issue going forwards.

FlyWheel are certainly an interesting option, and if you fit their target market of being a designer and looking for a managed WordPress host, they seem worth giving a try. Just make sure you know what you’re paying for and look out for any problems they have scaling their service.

HostGator: solid, provided you don’t have much traffic

HostGator‘s customers seem generally happy. There were no complaints of downtime on low traffic sites, but into the 20,000+ visits/month, downtime, server errors and even account suspension in one case were all reported.

Reports on customer support were generally very positive, with the live chat being a notable highlight. However, there were a number of complaints about long waiting times on getting support tickets resolved, and WordPress-specific support was described “hit and miss”. Another comment summed up the HostGator support experience: “I do feel like all of my requests are met but depending on who I talk to depends on how painful the experience is.”

HostGator’s generous affiliate program means they’re oft touted as the best option for bog-standard shared hosting. The results from the survey suggest that that’s kinda true: HostGator are absolutely fine provided your traffic isn’t growing at any significant rate. Once that happens, the tren d seems to clearly show server errors, downtime and a bunch of problems. HostGator are okay, but there are better options elsewhere.

MediaTemple: might work for the right people

The thirteen reviews for MediaTemple delivered a very mixed bag of results and were also accompanied by the most comprehensive comments. I’ll show you the data and let you met you own mind up on this one. There’s widespread acknowledgement that MediaTemple do a decent job; 12 of the 13 reviews said the overall experience was “good”. The same went for downtime; no major problems there.

The disagreements come from the question of whether MediaTemple are great, rather than just good. The main sticking point here is speed: are MediaTemple fast. ~half the respondents said MediaTemple’s (gs) setup was “broken” and “slow”, and the other half said it worked well provided you took the time to set-up and optimise yourself. There was widespread agreement that WordPress-speciic support is poor.

Either way, it’s clear MediaTemple is not a set-up-and-go solution. You will probably get good speed out of your site provided you take the time to set it up and optimise the hell out of it, but you’re not going to get help doing so. MediaTemple are one to consider for low-medium traffic sites, but make sure you know what you’re getting in to. They’re not an option for everyone.

Synthesis: managed hosting done well

Synthesis, from CopyBlogger Media are another rapidly growing managed WordPress hosting provider with — as usual — a focus on support, speed and uptime. Synthesis also throw in a bunch of content marketing/SEO optimisation features, although they’re going to be more helpful for some than others.

All but one of the five survey responses classes Synthesis as “good”, with the same for support and no downtime issues. Synthesis’ support wins particular praise: “Response to support tickets have always been super fast. I’ve never waited more than 10 minutes”. The things you’d expect for a managed host as expensive as Synthesis — fast loading times, automatic backups and solid security — are all present and working well.

Synthesis is a good managed hosting provider that’s capable of handling both low and high traffic sites. They basically do everything you’d expect them to do, and they do it well. I’m very happy to recommend Synthesis, but definitely check out WPEngine if you’re considering Synthesis.

WPEngine: managed hosting done best

From having no reviews two years ago, WPEngine clocked a staggering sixty three¬†this time round. That’s ~double what any other host has got. Furthermore, every single one of those reviews ranked the overall experience as “good”. That across-the-board level of satisfaction is never something I’ve seen before on such a scale.

Only four of the fifty-two mentioned any problems with downtime, and all but three of the survey respondents ranked support as “good”. There’s particular love for the crazy-good uptime, staging tool and speed of WPEngine-powered sites (plus there’s the usual managed host stuff – auto backups, CDN, dealing with traffic spikes). A couple of comments noted support has been slow at times, but it’s also noted they flat-out support pretty much everything WordPress-related and prioritise tickets well.

WPEngine are essentially the ultimate managed WordPress host. Like Synthesis, they do everything you’d expect them to do, but the kicker is they then do a bunch of genuinely useful stuff on top of that. This guy said it nicely: “Best WordPress hosting around. Their security guarantee is worth the money alone. Much less full GIT integration, a staging environment, automatic updates, and great support.”

Best of the rest:

  • 1&1: five reviews, but making it into “best of the rest” as they can’t be recommended. Problems with downtime, scripted support and generally unhappy customers. There are much better options elsewhere.
  • KnownHost: there was praise for managed VPS host KnownHost in the two reviews that came in. Both reviews highlighted the quality of support, which was described as “better than average support for a managed VPS host.” Certainly one to consider if you’re looking for a VPS.
  • LiquidWeb: two high-traffic reviews for LiquidWeb were both very positive. Whilst there’s no WordPress-specific support,”they do work with you to make your http.conf settings better, as well as help adjust min/max servers.” From the two reviews, at least, LiquidWeb look very good for high-traffic sites. More data is needed to say that with certainty, however.
  • Pagely: only two reviews for Pagely, so not enough data to get a representative result. The reviews rated Pagley “poor” and “average” respectively, but provided little information to expand on those ratings. Pagely may/may not be a good option; there’s not enough info for me to say.
  • Site5: three low-traffic reviews for Site5 all had largely good things to say about the host: good overall experience and WordPress-specific support. Should be a decent low-traffic, shared hosting option.
  • SiteGround: another popular low-traffic shared host, SiteGround had five reviews which were again positive. There was a lot of praise for the speed of SiteGround’s support, and the survey respondents had all been with SiteGround a good number of years. For low traffic sites, they do the job.
  • ZippyKid: a managed WordPress host “for businesses and developers”, ZippyKid rocked in with three reviews. Those reviews were mixed; it’s not enough data to draw a conclusion from.

Data don’t lie

It’s very clear that even in the last two years competition between hosts — and especially WordPress-specialist hosts — has hotted up immensely. This is great for consumers as both quality and choice have shot up. It’s now no longer simple to recommend one or two hosts as “the best”; there are two or three hosts which would all be excellent choices for each use-case scenario.

You can see the result summaries back at the top of the page, but if I had to pick two “winners” to recommend, it would be A Small Orange and WPEngine. Fused, SiteGround and Synthesis all make good options too; you can’t go too far wrong with any of those options.

Thanks again to everyone who took the time to send in thoughts on hosts. If you’ve got any queries, the FAQ below should answer a bunch of those, else head to the comments!

FAQ

“But you didn’t include host x! The whole survey is invalid!”

If a host isn’t included in the results, that means there wasn’t enough data to reliably publish a representative verdict. This does mean the results may be “incomplete”, but publishing a verdict based off none, one or two reviews would defeat the point of the results being representative.

If you’ve used a host that’s not listed, it’s not too late to submit a survey entry — see below.

Is it too late to submit a survey entry?

Feel free to add your thoughts here. No promises about when the results will be updated, however.

“I had a good/bad experience with a host you rated good/badly. What’s up with that?”

This is inevitably going to be the case, but I’d just stress again that the survey aims to be representative of how a host performs as a whole, rather than focussing on individual experiences.

The questions you asked are pretty simplistic. How are you able to confidently publish the results based on multiple-choice answers?

This is an excellent point. There are limitations in the survey questions, but that’s necessary in order to make sure it’s (relatively) quick and easy for one to submit results.

The basic multiple choice questions aren’t worth too much on their own, but there’s space to expand on those thoughts, something many survey-ees take advantage of. Those additional comments, combined with the quantity of results are able to produce a representative overview of how good a host is.

Isn’t your hosting sponsored by WPEngine? How can you say this isn’t bias?

Yes, WPEngine sponsor WPShout’s hosting. I can assure you on two fronts this has not affected the results: by being open and saying so here, and by offering the raw data (below) for anyone to look at and/or scrutinise.

“I’d be interested to see the raw data to do my own analysis/audit your results. Can I have the raw data?”

Yes! You can get a slightly simplified (and thus completely anonymised) version of the raw data on Google Drive. If you want to discuss anything, feel free to drop me an email.

That’s your lot. Thanks again to everyone who took the time to send in their thoughts; any comments, hit the comments!

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About the author

Hello, I'm Alex! I started WPShout in 2009, just before my 16th birthday. Get in touch with me, I'd love to chat. You should also follow me on Twitter :)

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