WordPress Hosting Review 2017: The Results

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We’re super-excited to present the results of the 2017 WPShout Hosting Review!

The Hosting Review is an annual survey we conduct that gathers honest, unbiased thoughts from hundreds of real WordPress site owners about the hosting they’re using for their WordPress sites. We’ve collected this year’s results and analyzed them, and the results are below.

Last year’s hosting review gave a picture of a very competitive market where the highest quality often came from a small clique of independent, medium-sized players. This article gives the picture a year later.

P.S. This post is now out-of-date, although we still use and recommend SiteGround for most WordPress sites. For more detail please see our always-up-to-date SiteGround review.

Methodology

This year’s survey collects data in eight areas:

  1. Average satisfaction
  2. Value
  3. Reliability
  4. Speed
  5. Support
  6. Median site count
  7. Usability
  8. WordPress compatibility

In each area, we asked for an overall 1-10 impression, as well as text comments. We also collected information on each plan’s monthly cost, the number of sites being hosted on the plan, and monthly traffic to the hosted sites.

We put out the survey in November of 2016, and promoted it on our social media channels and through WordPress friends who were generous enough to share the survey. Results were collected until the end of 2016.

Methodology Concerns

As in previous years, some of the difficulties of doing this survey have given us pause. The biggest two issues are coverage and quality.

Coverage

Since WordPress hosting has so many players, it’s hard to get enough responses to give full coverage of the hosting space. Our 157 responses this year are about average for our hosting reviews, and the full dataset shows an immense wealth of thoughtful and honest information from real people on dozens of hosts.

Still, some giant hosts were only reviewed a few times (like GoDaddy, 3 reviews), and the small sample size makes the picture much less precise than it would be with more responses.

Quality

In our years doing the review, most of the data we get has felt good-faith, accurate, and exceptionally informative. However, there’s been one consistent issue that there seems to be no actual “cure” for: hosts (particularly smaller ones) encouraging their more loyal customers to fill out the survey as a marketing exercise.

This isn’t a problem, exactly, but it does have the effect of making very small hosts appear both giant and universally loved in our survey—particularly when overall respondents are low enough that some actually giant hosts, like GoDaddy or Bluehost, have only a few reviews.

There are also, very occasionally, indications of hosts “gaming the system” for coverage. This year, for example, two supposedly different people shared the same thought about the same host: “There are cheaper managed hosting providers, but they don’t have as good support as [host] has”; “There are cheaper managed VPS providers, but their support is not as good as it is at [host].” (This host’s reviews had other odd similarities, as well.)

(Thoughts?)

We want to continue offering the hosting review every year, but the coverage and quality concerns we raised are definitely going to continue being a question mark when it’s time to collect information for 2018. If you’ve got any suggestions on either front, we’d love to hear them.

It All Still Lines Up

Despite the methodlogical issues above, this year’s overall conclusions remain straight in line with last year’s results, with a very similar survey with around 500 respondents conducted last September by CodeinWP, and with the general results of other hosting review sites like Review Signal. We sketch out those conclusions in “Concluding Thoughts and Recommendations,” below.

General Satisfaction

The table below presents summary statistics on all 157 responses.

CostSatisfactionValueReliabilitySpeedSupportUsabilityWP Compatibility
Median:
1910101010101010
Average (Mean):
248.69.18.99.59.19.19.19.5

Most survey respondents were quite satisfied with their hosting overall.

As in our previous hosting survey, most survey respondents were quite satisfied with their hosting overall. Average satisfaction across all measures hovered around 9, with 9 or 10 median scores for each.

Hosting’s Giant Problem

CostSatisfactionValueReliabilitySpeedSupportUsabilityWP Compatibility
Median:
$67696699
Average (Mean):
$6.506.46.68.36.15.68.18.4

The hosting industry’s largest participants—especially EIG—deliver the worst results for WordPress hosting.

The clearest trend in this year’s data is as follows: the hosting industry’s largest participants deliver the worst results for WordPress hosting.

By “largest participants,” we mean two billion-dollar behemoths: GoDaddy and (especially) Endurance International Group, or EIG.

EIG: Avoid.

EIG acquires existing hosting companies voraciously, and manages popular brands such as Bluehost, HostGator, and A Small Orange. Their results are very poor almost across the board:

NameA Small OrangeBluehostHostGatorEIG Overall
Count2327
Mean cost$4.50$6.67$6.00$5.90
Satisfaction8.06.35.06.4
Value7.06.05.56.1
Reliability9.59.06.08.3
Speed7.04.76.05.7
Support7.06.04.55.9
How many sites?4.57.6766.3
Usability7.58.78.58.3
WP compatibility9.08.09.58.7

User Comments:

Bluehost:

The good…

Inexpensive, with adequate support.

The bad…

Even the most simple one-page site is irritatingly slow. Bluehost is not adequate for anything but personal sites or for learning and testing.

They merged with another company and Bluehost took on their client support without adding techs, according to one harried tech who I spoke with. They are nice people, based in America, helpful, friendly, but slow.

HostGator:

The good…

One of the cheapest around. Great value for hosting multiple sites.

The bad…

Bit of down time but can’t complain for the price.

Worst, slowest, most unhelpful support ever.

GoDaddy: Subpar

GoDaddy
Responses3
Median cost$8
Median traffic10K visits per month
Satisfaction6.3
Value8.0
Reliability8.5
Speed7.5
Support4.5
Median site count6
Usability7.5
WordPress compatibility7.5

GoDaddy has long been the Walmart of web hosting: huge, with a (perhaps improving but) ugly corporate image, known more for sheer economies of scale and black-hole-style marketing inevitability than for quality. Our sample is too small to paint a full picture, but GoDaddy is clearly among of the lowest-performing hosts in our survey for client satisfaction.

In our very small sample, GoDaddy won praise for continuing to develop its managed hosting offering, which offers generally similar services as other managed WordPress hosts but at a fraction of the price.

User Comments:

The good…

New managed hosting dashboard is good.

Most other managed WordPress is too expensive.

This Year’s Cool Hosts

This year sees a number of established hosts that score very highly (9.5 and above) son overall satisfaction ratings:

NameA2 HostingFlywheelKinstaPantheonWP Engine
Count21312124
Median cost$10$100$200$100$174
Median traffic<10K<10K20K-1M10K-20K50K-1M
Satisfaction9.79.79.59.79.8
Value9.39.79.28.89.5
Reliability9.89.79.59.99.8
Speed9.69.79.89.99.8
Support9.89.79.89.09.5
How many sites?4111111
Usability9.6109.69.39.8
WordPress compatibility9.89.79.99.310

Most of these best-reviewed these hosts tend to operate at higher pricing tiers; however, many do also carry lower-price (below $20 per month) options that come highly rated.

User Comments:

A2 Hosting:

The good…

Availability and performance are great.

Rock solid shared hosting, consistently good service, proactive with respect to security. I recommend A2 hosting to my small business clients.

Compared to other shared web hosting providers, A2 Hosting has been the most reliable.

Everyone I refer to A2 Hosting loves it.

The bad…

Price was high for the level of traffic.

Customer service isn’t great when you do the chat, calling on the phone is fine.

Features and software are better than average, but lag behind other vendors.

Flywheel:

The good…

Most sites improve page load speed by 1-2 seconds when I migrate them to Flywheel.

One of the most simple easy to use dashboards I’ve ever used. After years of cPanel, I didn’t think web host backends could be simple and beautiful!

The team at Flywheel are a complete joy to work with.

Kinsta:

The good…

Have been with Kinsta since the very beginning. Have never been so happy with a host.

Their support is first rate. Every response has been within minutes, and every response has been clear and constructive. Support is the number one reason I love Kinsta.

Great uptime. Because of their New Relic monitoring whenever there was an issue their support team was already on it.

They recently migrated to Google Cloud Platform and ever since then the speed has been incredible.

The servers themselves are very fast. Over and above that, they have a very solid page cache, so repeated visits are served super fast as well.

The bad…

Expensive.

Pantheon:

The good…

It seemed like the best option when I chose them, and it’s only gotten better.

Great performance, and the workflow makes managing updates and changes with my client really easy.

Some of the best developer tools I’ve seen.

[Hosting interface is] totally different from any other host, so took a while to learn at first. Now I cringe every time I have to go back to another setup.

Their workflow is best of breed for agencies, especially when you compare their workflow to other hosts.

Since they added live chat support their support has been excellent.

Pantheon is not a good host for end-users. You need a professional WordPress shop so they are better with agencies and larger organizations. And for those shops, I have found them to be the best.

The bad…

Need pricing plans between Business and Elite to allow us to scale predictably.

The dashboard isn’t as simple as I’d like (switching between git and sftp mode can be a pain)

While every “site” gets at least three web servers labeled “dev”, “test” and “live” we would really like to be able to change those to be “test”, “stage” and “live.” (We want this very much.)

They have “git push for deploy” but their repository tools are far less than what GitHub provides. I wish they would just let us use GitHub and Bitbucket and then use web hooks to trigger deployments.

WP Engine

The good…

Great features for developers including new install deployment, staging areas, git integration, install cloning, transferrable installs, etc.

Ultimately their support is very good. Sometimes, however, you need to push a bit to get past initial responses.

The bad…

As WPE has grown their support quality has slipped a little bit. Also their sales team often over-sells what they recommend you need, in my opinion.

Had a few issues with deployment and some minor caching issues

Individual Host Profiles

SiteGround: Well-Liked and Affordable

After A2, SiteGround was our most reviewed and best liked sub-$20 host, with 16 submissions and a median cost of $15.

SiteGround
Responses16
Median cost$15
Median traffic<10K visits per month
Satisfaction9.1
Value8.3
Reliability9.5
Speed8.4
Support9.4
Median site count4.5
Usability9.0
WordPress compatibility9.6

Selected Comments

The good…

Five-star service and support at a VERY cost-effective price.

They keep getting better in terms of their offerings and their infrastructure. They rolled out Git deployment early, and were one of the first managed-and-shared hosting companies to offer Let’s Encrypt.

Never have any downtime.

Support is amazing. They solve every problem within minutes. Intelligent, knowledgeable and efficient. Unmatched by any other company.

The SiteGround support team not only knows WordPress well but takes time to hunt down the source of problems and helps customers to locate and address issues. Their English is not perfect, but always intelligible. And their response times are very good.

The bad…

You have to pay GoGeek plan to get staging sites. Should be available in a less expensive package.

No separate cPanel for each site. I came from another host which has this for a similar plan.

Current value for money is great ($7.95 per month). After that it will go up to $14.95 per month, which I find a bit steep for simple shared hosting.

Smaller Well-Liked Hosts

A number of significantly smaller hosts had outsized and very happy presences in this year’s survey. They may be worth checking out if you like a smaller feel—with, for example, techs or founders you come to know directly.

RoseHosting: 6 reviews, $55 median cost per month, 10 average satisfaction.

The good…

Great provider. The support team has helped me a thousand times.

The bad…

Nothing special about the UI.

TVCNet: 4 reviews, $28 per month, 9.8 average satisfaction.

The good…

Nice people who always answer my questions in minutes.

Phenomenal uptime.

The bad…

It has been awhile since I shopped for VPS and I might be paying more than others

WPX: 7 reviews, $25 per month, 9.7 average satisfaction.

The good…

Speed and support are top-notch.

My site loading speed has increased significantly since I moved to WPX.

Excellent service. They respond fast and are always available. I have never waited more than few minutes to get a reply. The migrations went especially fast comparing to what I expected.

The bad…

There was some minor downtime in the last month.

Concluding Thoughts and Recommendations

Don’t Go Giant

Stay away from giant companies for hosting: EIG and GoDaddy. Survey respondents were happy with almost every hosting decision they made, as long as it wasn’t with the giants. So “Stay away from giants” is a simple rule.

Most other hosting companies are doing great work, so do a bit of research, find someone who looks like a fit, and you’ll likely be happy with the result.

You Often Get What You Pay For

Many of our very best-reviewed hosts are relatively expensive: more than $20 a month on average, and up to hundreds of dollars a month. The highest-paying customers often feel not only happiest with their hosting in general, but that they’re actually getting a good value for the money they do spend. (Of course, people with larger sites are more likely to be getting actual money back when their host performs well and doesn’t cause them headaches.)

Shared hosting that’s cheap but doesn’t sacrifice too much in terms of results is a bit of a unicorn, and this year’s best- and most-reviewed sub-$20 hosting plans were from A2 Hosting, and from perennial favorite SiteGround. For smaller sites with simpler needs, those may be worth checking out.

Triangulate and Use Common Sense

Most unbiased hosting sources end up telling a similar story about WordPress hosting, with the same few names floating to the top. Those names also tend to come up quite often in the WordPress community itself, such as at WordCamps.

So to make a good hosting decision, be sure to check out a few sources. And for a good general intuition about who does WordPress hosting right, go to a couple of WordCamps, and just start to put together a mental a list of who you think the “cool kids” are. Chances are, you’re generally right.

Spread the Word!

Thanks so much for reading! If we’ve helped you, please share on social media, so that other people can make good WordPress hosting decisions too!

Please also join our mailing list for more WordPress thoughtfulness. And if you have any thoughts or questions about the survey, we’d love to hear them in the comments below!

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed!

Want the Raw Data?

We’re thrilled to make the raw survey data available if you’d like to run your own analyses. Please request it at contact@wpshout.com.

Spread the Word!

Thanks so much for reading! If we’ve helped you, please share on social media, so that other people can make good WordPress hosting decisions too!

Please also join our mailing list for more WordPress thoughtfulness. And if you have any thoughts or questions about the survey, we’d love to hear them in the comments below!

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed!

Image credit: Torkild Retvedt


5 Responses

Comments

  • I’m not sure what made you compare hosts based on size, but feature set would have made a lot more sense. Kinsta should never be compared with A2. As a Kinsta user, we pay $100/mo for the quality we would get for a $400-600/mo solution on a standard VPS host. Trust me, I shopped around. If we had multiple sites, we could get a much better price, but I get such great service and quality hosting that I’d pay 2-3x what I do. I just can’t rave enough about this company. I understand that most individuals can’t justify the cost, but for a business who needs constant uptime and great support, Kinsta is the way to go instead of buying your own box or spinning up a VPS on a machine with a couple cores and waiting for it to slow down. In your next review, I think you need to rethink the way you compare hosts to be more apples to apples.

  • One issue I have with the survey is that it doesn’t give you the opportunity to review multiple hosts in one session. I have not yet been willing to attempt to review every single host that my clients use, even though I have opinions about them all.

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