As a Website Specialist, I spend a lot of time working inside hosting dashboards as I make sure everything is in working order as well as troubleshooting issues as they arise. At the agency I work for clients use a variety of different hosting companies, so I learn which ones are better than others pretty quickly. Here I will share a few of my favorites and my least favorites. The main distinguishing factors in my option are the user interface, support, cost, and performance.
What Factors to Consider When Picking a Web Hosting Company
Many hosting companies are very similar, so here is what I am basing my comparison on. If you are picking a hosting company, these are the main areas you should compare. Overall, you get what you pay for as you would expect.
- Hosting User Interface – Is it easy to navigate and find what you are looking for?
- Technical Support – Are they fast, efficient, easy to get a hold of, and helpful?
- Cost – Is it cost effective?
- Site Performance – Is the website fast and do they provide the tools needed to speed it up?
- Backups – Are they included in the base price and are they reliable?
- Site Security – Is a firewall and SSL included?
- How Much Server Space Do You Need? – Many WordPress sites are no more than a few GB, but just make sure to get enough for your needs.
Hosting Companies In The Running
I am only comparing the main hosting companies I have experience with. This is not an exhaustive list of the ones I have worked with, just the ones I have the most experience with.
SiteGround is my all-time favorite. This is what my site is hosted on and the hosting I recommend for anyone I work with to build on. They have the best hosting dashboard and support, especially if you are not super technical. Most hosting companies use the basic cPanel which works if you know what you are looking for, but SiteGround redesigned this dashboard from the ground up to make it the most user-friendly interface I have seen.
The support is unmatched — when issues happen, they get right into it and help resolve the issue and are willing to teach you things along the way. Some other support tend to act like the problem isn’t really a problem and you have to convince them it is an issue before they will actually help you.
As for cost, they are relatively more expensive, but as with anything you get what you pay for. SiteGround includes many features that other hosts change extra for. If you were to add up all the extra charges, other hosts change you for things like backups, SiteGround would probably be cheaper. They have great deals for the first 12 months that are 80% off, but after that you have to pay the full price. As of February 2023, the plans are $14.99, $24.99, and $39.99 after the first year. See their pricing for WordPress Web Hosting here.
Site performance is another area they do well. They are always looking for ways to speed up their servers and you unlock every aspect of their speed optimization plugin when you host with SiteGround. In my testing, this plugin is almost as good as the number one speed plugin WP Rocket, and you get it included in your hosting. You also have access to a free CDN which is helpful for sites that get visitors around the world.
In my option, automatic backups should always be included, but that is not the case. Most hosts charge extra and significantly more at that. SiteGround backups are included in your monthly fee and run daily automatically on the server. In the event you need a backup, then it is easy to revert to the backup. Similarly, you have access to staging sites if you want to test things before you implement on your live site — again at no extra cost.
Site security is great as well. I have never experienced any site securities issues on SiteGround sites I have worked on. That isn’t to say it isn’t possible, but with every SiteGround plan you get a firewall and their security plugin. For most other hosts, that is a large upgrade. And if you have issues, support will help you get everything cleaned up. In addition, auto renewing SSL is also included.
If you work on multiple sites, the “Collaborator” access works really well and allows you to contact support as the client without having to have anything from the client like a support pin. On the GrowBig and GoGeek plans, you can also have unlimited sites as space on your server allows.
There are countless other reasons I recommend SiteGround, but there are too many to list. If you would like to purchase hosting from SiteGround, you can do that here. This will give you whatever the best rate is at the moment.
- Great Support
- Great Hosting Dashboard
- Good Site Performance
- Site Security
- Backups are included
- Email included
- Relatively more experience of a host after the first year
WP Engine Hosting
To be honest, I have less experience with WP Engine, but they are another top hosting company with great options and performance. They have a similar but not as good interface as SiteGround and many of the same features but more expensive and more of an add on model for extra features. I do find it hard to know where things are within the WP Engine dashboard, but that is likely due to not spending enough time in it. WP Engine is great for more complicated setups like multi-sites. I won’t talk as much about WP Engine since I have less experience with them, but here are my thoughts.
Their support is helpful when I need to contact them. They get right to helping you solve the issue at hand.
Sites on WP Engine perform well on site speed in my experience and they also have some site speed optimization included, but not as much as SiteGround.
Backups and auto renewing SSLs are included, but you have to pay extra for their firewall.
WP Engine Pros
- Great Support
- Good Hosting Dashboard
- Good Site Performance
- Site Security – Firewall at an extra fee
- Backups are included
- More customized pricing
WP Engine Cons
- Most expensive
GoDaddy is the big dog in the hosting world but I don’t see why. They are my least favorite host to work with primarily due to the poor support. They are less expensive but you get what you pay for in poor server resources, poor user interface, poor support, and requiring add-ons for many basic features.
To be fair, they can be an okay host but requires you to have more website experience to get the site set up optimally.
Most things require an add on that should be included in the base price. Things like backups and a firewall are extra fees. You can work around these with plugins like Updraft (for backups) and Wordfence (for site security), but these are not as reliable as ones on the server and every time you add a plugin to your site, you slow down the site.
Support will take you about 10 minutes to fill out all the pre-agent questions, then they often will try to convince you there isn’t an actual issue, then finally they might help you but it will take a few hours in most cases of them transferring you around. If you are contacting support on behalf of a client via delegate access, you can expect even more delays and less helpfulness. I have often heard people say it is better to just figure it out on your own than to have to fight with GoDaddy to solve the issue. Working with support should be just that support — not a fight.
Site security is another area they don’t perform well, but that is probably because most people elect not to get the firewall since it is an upgrade and then pay the price for it. I have seen many GoDaddy sites hacked and needing clean up work that could have been prevented with a firewall. Most GoDaddy plans do include AutoSSL, but there is much more to site security than SSLs and the basic plan’s security options leave off after SSL.
So if you don’t mind poor support and lack of important features, you might consider GoDaddy for your hosting.
- Lower cost
- Okay delegate access
- Allows you to pick and choose what services you need
- Very poor support
- Forced into upgrades often to get better performance
- Confusing hosting dashboard if not experienced
- So many plans it can be hard to find the right one
Other Hosts to Consider
A few other hosts to consider that I have had good experience with are Inmotion hosting and Bluehost. They have similar price points and features, but Bluehost has a more updated user interface. Also check out the official WordPress recommendations.
Other Hosts to Stay Away From
There are too many great web hosts that are cost effective out there to settle for a poor host. Some host still use old technology and have very poor features.
Host to Stay Away From
What Hosting Do You Prefer?
I would love to hear what hosting company you prefer and why in the comments. Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts above? Or think there are other important distinguishing factors. I’d love to hear those too.