We started the year running several tests on the hosting providers we’ve listed on our directory. In addition to the six companies – WPEngine, Bluehost, Page.ly, SiteGround, Dreamhost, InmotionHosting, we tested Mediatemple as they have a long-term relationship with WordPress and GoDaddy that launched a new WP solution in January this year. The tests were designed to measure the performance of the hosts based on speed and availability or how they handle server load, technical support, security parameters and how all that correlates with the price they charge. It is a well known fact that the more you pay, the better service you get, but sometimes that’s just a marketing bubble. So, here is what our tests showed about the performance of these hosts and how we ranked them based on the performance-price correlation.
Speed & Availability Test
To measure the speed of a hosting provider and how they handle load, we have used the slashdot effect – we sent a large number of requests to a WordPress site hosted on their servers in a short period of time, which are meant to create stress and load on the machine. This test is a good measure for speed as the loading time of your site greatly depends on the actual shared server load in a particular moment. In addition to that, we’ve measured how many of the requests during the tests were served, which is a good indicator for your site’s availability in real situations.
|Company||Number of Hits per 2 min||Availability|
We tested the security of the providers based on two criteria – software used to protect the machine and account isolation. All hosts on the list claim to have account isolation. We received details on how they do that from Inmotionhosting and Bluehost that said they are using BetterLinux, Page.ly that mentioned Juniper/Incapsula firewalls, and Siteground that is using 1H software to isolate in chroot. You may not be familiar with account isolation, but in shared hosting environment it’s crucial – all account must be isolated, otherwise if someone gets hacked (through an old plugin, for example) all other accounts on the server may be affected. Another interesting fact is that all hosts write their own firewall rules and the majority rely on mod_sec apache module to protect from server attacks. Based on that and the additional research I made, we could safely assume that all hosts have made more than basic efforts in protecting their accounts.
To test the level of support each company provides, first, we have asked 1 very basic and then 1 more advanced WordPress-related question in the available ticketing systems and measured how much time it took them to answer and resolve the problems. For my basic inquiry, I deliberately disabled the Visual Editor for my admin and complained in ticket that I cannot see the normal editor. For my advanced test, I manually edited the database via phpMyAdmin and I removed the site’s home/siteurl values. Usually, this is done when a site is reconfigured to use a new domain name. However, by deleting these variables I made the site to display a totally different error message – “Cannot connect to MySQL database”. This is a very tricky issue because the error message has nothing to do with the actual problem and can only confuse the support members.
For Page.ly in particular, I had to modify my tests as they do not offer database access on their cheapest plan. I simply disabled the Visual Editor to see if they will be able to resolve the issue and could not really break the site for a more complicated inquiry. Here it is how hosts handled these 2 support inquiries for me:
|Hosting Company||Basic questions response time||Advanced questions response time|
|SiteGround||First reply: 11min, Resolved||First reply: 15min, Resolved: 55min|
|BlueHost||First reply:15min, Resolved: 25min||First reply: on chat, Resolved: 1h|
|WPEngine||First reply: 30min, Resolved||First reply: 5h 15min, Resolved: 24h|
|Page.ly||First reply: 1h 30min, Resolved||N/A|
|Inmotion||NO resolution after 30min chat||First reply: 5h 30min Resolved: 12h|
|Mediatemple||NO resolution after 1h chat||First reply: 40min Resolved: no|
PS. During the time we performed the tests, DreamHost were experiencing issues with their service so we couldn’t test their level of support correctly. GoDaddy’s new WordPress solution on the other hand, was still in Beta when I tested so they could not be tested fully in terms of support.
We have listed the cheapest price the hosts might charge you and we have tested the corresponding cheapest plans. The rank is per promotional price of the plan.
In concusion, we’ve combined all the factors that we tested to provide you with a list of what we believe are the best WordPress hosting companies. In order to rank them, I applied a fourth criterion which was price. I placed SiteGround on top as they offered fastest support and resolution, while their speed is only slightly slower than that of WPEngine, but they are doing all that for just $9.95/month regular price while WPEngine does it for $29.95. I was doubting a lot whether to put Bluehost second or third, because their support was really great and faster than WPEngine, but I decided that after all the speed gap is too big and left them third. I left GoDaddy and Dreamhost out of the final ranking as the test remained incomplete.