Getting started with WordPress doesn't have to be expensive. Even the cheapest shared hosting plan usually comes with a one-click WordPress installer, allowing the greenest of blogging newbies to have their first post ready in a few minutes.
Managing a blog over time is much more challenging, though. You'll need to find your own themes and plugins. And also keep them, and WordPress itself, up-to-date. Blogs are often targeted by malware, so it's important you have some way to detect and remove any threats, and you'll want regular backups to help get a broken blog working again.
If you don't have the time or technical experience for all that, you might prefer to buy a managed WordPress plan, and have the hosting company handle all the technical bits for you.
The host will often import your previous WordPress blog, if you have one. Usually you'll get some preinstalled themes and plugins to simplify customization. There should at least be an option to automatically update the site, a security service like SiteLock will be on hand to keep your blog malware-free, and we would expect 24/7 support from a team with real WordPress knowledge.
The best hosts go even further, optimizing their servers to boost WordPress performance, and sometimes throwing in extras like a content delivery network (CDN) to deliver great speeds worldwide (hopefully).
There's a long list of hosting companies offering managed WordPress plans, but we've picked out five of the best to point you in the right direction. Whether you're a first-time user or a big business, there's something for you here, and with prices starting at around a pound per month, it's well worth taking the time to find out more.
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Managed WordPress packages can often feel overpriced. Many hosts charge significant premiums for impressive sounding claims – optimized servers, malware scanning – that are difficult to evaluate or confirm.
The UK-based Tsohost isn't interested in any of that, instead focusing on providing the core WordPress essentials at a very fair price.
The baseline Personal plan gives you a free domain name, will migrate your existing site, includes Let's Encrypt SSL support and has no limits on bandwidth. You get daily backups and can restore any of the last 30 days with a click. There's 24/7 support via ticket and email, and phone and live chat is available from 7am to midnight.
There are some limits. You only get five 200MB mailboxes, and the plan restricts you to 500MB storage and 25,000 page views a month. But it's hard to complain about a plan which costs only £1.79 ($2.50) a month paid annually, or £1.61 ($2.25) if you pay for two years upfront.
If that's just too underpowered, opting for the Startup plan gets you 15GB of storage, 100 mailboxes, and up to 100,000 page views over a maximum of three websites. That's significantly more capable, yet still very reasonably priced at £3.79 ($5.30) a month.
The £8.79 ($12.30) a month Business plan supports 50GB storage, 500,000 page views and a hundred 1GB mailboxes, and the eCommerce plan (£23.99, $33.60) lifts the limits to 100GB, 1,000,000 page views and unlimited 10GB mailboxes.
Tsohost doesn't offer all the frills and extras you'll get with some products. There's no talk of SiteLock malware protection, optimized WordPress add-ons or a custom CDN. But it's hard to complain at this price, and Tsohost is still delivering a capable service with more than enough power for smaller sites.
Most web hosts offer only a few WordPress plans, and even these might be set up to point you in a particular direction. You'll often see an underpowered plan, an overpriced one, and a special deal on the mid-range plan they really want you to buy. That makes it easy to decide, but it also limits your upgrade options if your site grows over time.
Inmotion Hosting is unusual in offering six WordPress plans, covering everything from small personal blogs to resellers and big business. Figuring out which is the best product for you will take a little more thought, but at least there's room to upgrade – or downgrade – if your circumstances change.
Better still, Inmotion hasn't artificially limited the low-end plans by removing key features. Even the baseline WP-1000S plan – which costs $6.99 (£5) a month initially, $8.99 ($6.40) on renewal – gives you 40GB storage, unlimited bandwidth and email addresses, preinstalled WordPress, SSL, backups, automatic updates, SiteLock security, cPanel site management, and extras like BoldGrid and WP-CLI. The only significant issue is Inmotion's suggestion that the plan works best for blogs with up to 20,000 monthly visits, and even that won't be a problem for many smaller sites.
Upgrading your plan gets you some extras – premium themes and plugin subscriptions, a dedicated IP address, support for hosting more sites – but it's mostly about giving you more resources. For example, the top-of-the-range WP-6000S plan supports 1,200,000 monthly visitors across up to 20 sites for $114.99 (£82) a month initially, $142.99 (£102) on renewal.
There are cheaper deals around, but in previous reviews we've found Inmotion to be reliable, professional and honest, and any price premium is likely to be worth paying. You don't have to take our word for it, though – an exceptional 90-day money-back guarantee gives you plenty of opportunity to find out for yourself.
Web giant 1&1 seems to have a hosting product for every possible need, and WordPress is no exception. Novice users can try out its service for a nominal £0.99 (£1.40) a month over the first year (£4.99 or $7 afterwards), yet the plan still outperforms many competitors.
The bundled 50GB of storage means you won't be running out of space in a hurry, for example. There are no bandwidth or visitor limits, and you can set up as many email accounts as you need.
1&1 offers the core WordPress management functions that you would expect: a setup wizard, preinstalled plugins, automatic updates and 24/7 support (including by telephone).
All this is built on a capable platform – NGINX, PHP 7.2, OPcache, up to 2GB RAM guaranteed – to enhance your blog's performance.
There's SSL included and even a free domain thrown in, which is ridiculously good value at this price.
If you're a WordPress novice, it might be worth taking out the plan for an initial year, claiming your free domain and taking the time to learn how the blog works. When you time is up, renew if you're happy, or if you're not, use your knowledge and experience to find a better plan.
1&1 isn't just about newbies, though: there's value for more demanding users, too. In particular, the Unlimited plan has no limits on websites, storage space, the number of databases (1GB max), visitors, email or SFTP accounts. Bonus features include a CDN and SiteLock malware scanning, and the price looks good at £6.99 ($9.80) a month for the first year, £9.99 ($14) on renewal.
Choosing the best WordPress hosting package can seem like a complicated business, with a stack of low-level details and issues to consider. But it doesn't have to be that way. If you don't have special requirements then opting for a reliable web hosting company will get you capable mid-range products that can handle everything most users need.
HostGator generally delivers powerful hosting plans for a fair price, and its managed WordPress range is no exception. Its Starter product may only cost $5.95 (£4.25) for year one, $9.95 (£7.10) afterwards, but you still get a free site migration, an SSL certificate, automatic malware detection and removal, unlimited email addresses and unmetered storage and bandwidth, and it can handle up to 100,000 visits a month.
Ramping up to the high-end Business plan gets you more CPU power, support for up to three sites and 500,000 visits a month, yet still costs only $9.95 (£7.10) a month initially, $22.95 (£16.40) a month afterwards.
Smart caching and a CDN are on hand to enhance your website's performance, 24/7 support helps keep your site up and running, and surprise bonus features include free domain privacy to protect from identity theft and reduce annoying spam.
We've had good experiences with HostGator's service, but if you're not so lucky, there's a generous 45-day money-back guarantee. As with other hosting companies, this won't cover any domain registration fees, but it's still a better deal than you'll often find elsewhere.
Budget WordPress hosting can have a lot of appeal, but it usually won't deliver the features, performance or reliability that high traffic sites need. If you're the demanding type, opting for a premium hosting plan will give you much better results.
Bluehost has created its own VPS-based architecture to deliver optimum WordPress performance via NGINX, a custom PHP-FPM setup and intelligently allocated resources through KVM hypervisor. (If you're not a hosting geek, this just means Bluehost has taken the time to optimize the low-level setup of its platform for WordPress, rather than simply making do with a standard configuration.)
The company doesn't waste time by pretending to offer ‘unlimited’ resources, and instead tells you exactly what you're going to get. For the WP Standard plan, this means 30GB storage, 1TB bandwidth, and key resources – 2GB RAM, two CPU cores – which are allocated to you, and not shared with anyone else.
Premium features include SiteLock Pro to keep your website malware-free, SiteLock CDN to optimize performance, a dedicated IP, and the ability to manage multiple sites with the excellent ManageWP.
This isn't cheap, with even the baseline Standard plan costing $19.99 (£14.30) a month for the initial term, rising to $39.99 (£28.60) afterwards. But you are getting a lot for your money, and if you're more interested in power than price, Bluehost has even more available.
The top-of-the-range Ultimate plan, for instance, gives you four CPU cores, 8GB RAM, 240GB storage and a monster 4TB bandwidth. SiteLock Enterprise handles all your security and CDN needs, and there's a wildcard SSL thrown in. Ultimate costs $49.99 (£35.70) a month initially, $129.99 (£93) after that, but that's a fair price for this spec, and Bluehost offers a 30-day money-back guarantee if you feel the service doesn't deliver.