Performance of the Best WordPress Hosting Companies Compared

When it comes to choosing the best WordPress Hosting, I’m bound and determined to find out which company is providing the most value. There are three major components that make up a great host in my opinion, and those are 1) Performance, 2) Knowledge, Speed, and Reliability of Support, and 3) Pricing and the overall product offering.

For this initial run, I compared several shared WordPress hosting companies. I plan to continue to add to this list and update it in 2014 as well so that people have a goto resource for choosing the best WordPress hosting company. Here are the hosts I’ve tested in no particular order:

Name Account Type Cost Per Month
Siteground SiteGround Startup $3.95
Bluehost Bluehost Standard Shared $4.95
Inmotion Hosting Inmotion Hosting Power Plan $4.89
A2 Hosting Logo A2 Hosting Premier $3.99
Site5 Site5 HostPro $8.95
Media Temple MediaTemple Grid Server $20.00
Dreamhost Dreamhost Standard Shared $8.95
Eleven2 Eleven2 S-200 $8.00
green-geeks-logo GreenGeeks Standard $3.96
Arvixe Hosting Arvixe Hosting Personal Class $4.00
Hostgator HostGator* Hatchling $7.16
GoDaddy GoDaddy Deluxe $8.99

Today I want to take a look at how many of the top WordPress hosting companies measure up from purely a performance standpoint.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that having the fastest servers doesn’t make a host the best WordPress hosting company, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. If you’re looking for the best WordPress host for your website, the data here’s a great place to start your research.

The Performance Testing Experiment

Testing speed and performance of servers in remote locations introduces some fun and interesting challenges. When I first set out to run these tests, I thought I’d run benchmarks for an hour or two and then be done and would be totally ready to crown the fastest performing WordPress host.

That wasn’t the case at all.

Eliminating as many variables as possible from the test ended up being a lot more work than I anticipated, but the end result is some seriously concrete data.

To run the tests I used a load testing service called Load Impact. Load Impact fires up an Amazon server that you choose, and begins to send traffic to the site, increasing slowly over a certain amount of time.

For this particular test I sent 50 users to a testing site, increasing from one user to 50 concurrent users, over the span of 10 minutes. 50 concurrent users is a nice baseline test for a shared host. Once you hit that benchmark on a fairly consistent basis, it’s probably time to start exploring VPS and Managed WordPress hosting options. Traffic increases steadily throughout the timeframe until 50 users are visiting the site all at the same time.

Here are some of the precautions I took to keep the tests as fair as possible, even though each of these sites are spread out all over the United States:

  • Each WordPress site is an identical install of WordPress 3.6 with the TwentyThirteen theme installed and a number of posts and pages (same number of posts and pages on every site). For example, here’s the site I used to test Dreamhost:  http://dh.wpsc.me. All other testing sites were exact clones of that site.
  • I used the same domain name for every testing site with a different subdomain. I didn’t want the chance of any latency showing up in results because each testing site had a separate domain with a potentially separate registrar.
  • For all hosting accounts located on servers on the West Coast, I used a testing server located in Ashburn, VA. And for all hosting accounts living on servers on the East Coast, I used a testing server located in Portland, Oregon.
  • I did everything possible to make the physical distance traveled the same across all tests.
  • All caching and plugins were disabled on each site
  • Each test was run 5 times with the best result of each posted here.

Overall I ended up with a really nice set of data that gives some very good insight into which hosts make performance a priority, and which hosts have some work to do.

So Which Is the Best WordPress Hosting Company?

Without further ado, here’s what I found from each host. The green line represents the increase in traffic, and the blue line represents the response time of the site as traffic increases.

SiteGround

SiteGround was one of our top performers, and is especially impressive considering the $3.95 price point for their StartUp hosting tier. It does have a limitation of one website at that price point, but considering the average response time was ~700ms all the way to 50 concurrent users with no real hiccups, SiteGround offers a great value.

Testing Server Location: Dallas, TX
SiteGround Server Location: Chicago, IL
Max Response Time: 1.79 seconds
Minimum Response Time: 669.9 milliseconds

SiteGround Hosting Performance Score

Click here to see the full report from Load Impact

Bluehost

Bluehost’s performance was lackluster. As traffic increased so did response time, almost following the same steep climb. Even at lower user counts the response time jumped around quite a bit, ranging anywhere from 1 to 3.5 seconds with only 10 active users. As Bluehost approached the 20 user mark load times skyrocketed to over 10 seconds. They did come back down, but performance was still highly inconsistent with huge variances from one second to the next.

Testing Server Location: Ashburn, VA
Bluehost Server Location: Provo, UT
Max Response Time: 10.64 seconds
Minimum Response Time: 915.53 milliseconds

Bluehost Hosting Performance Score

Click here to see the full Bluehost report from Load Impact

Eleven2

Eleven2 is likely the smallest hosting company that we tested on this list, although I don’t have the date to confirm that. That said, performance-wise they do pretty well as a shared hosting provider. With site load times of just under a second throughout the entire test, Eleven2 isn’t a leader, but they’re definitely no slouch. The $8 per month price is only available when you pre-pay for a year.

Testing Server Location: Dallas, TX
SiteGround Server Location: Wichita, KS
Max Response Time: 2.01 seconds
Minimum Response Time: 898.61 milliseconds

Eleven2 Hosting Performance Report

Click here to see the full report from Load Impact

Site5

As noted above, because of a DNS propagation issue we actually made a mistake with one of our tests so we ran Site5 through the gamut again, and again they did very well. While their minimum response time was higher than initially reported, their max response time was lower than we initially reported. Throughout the majority of the ten minute load testing, Site5’s server response time stayed steady at 750ms to 1 second with only a handful of deviations.

Testing Server Location: Portland, OR
Site5 Server Location: Atlanta, GA
Max Response Time: 1.95 seconds
Minimum Response Time: 704.41 milliseconds

Site5 Hosting Performance Score

Click here to see the full Site5 report from Load Impact (Updated)

Inmotion Hosting

Inmotion Hosting’s scores really took me by surprise. With one of the fastest minimum response times, and by far the fastest max response time, InMotion stayed right around 600ms for the entire test, which is really impressive. The graph looks to have more hills and valleys than most, but that’s because it stayed so close to the median response time for the entire test. The variance from highest response time to lowest response time is roughly 388ms, which is the best in the group.

Testing Server Location: Portland, OR
InMotion Hosting Server Location: Washington DC
Max Response Time: 836.78ms
Minimum Response Time: 478.42ms

Inmotion Hosting Performance Chart

Click here to see the full Inmotion Hosting report from Load Impact

MediaTemple

MediaTemple Grid Server is a bit pricier at $20 per month than the other hosts featured in this post, but technically it’s still considered a shared host which is why we included it. While not boasting the fastest load times, aside from a strange hiccup at the very beginning of the test, MediaTemple was rock solid all the way to scale. Variances were 2-300 milliseconds but load times generally stayed at almost exactly 1 second, regardless of the number of users.

Testing Server Location: Ashburn, VA
Media Temple Server Location: Los Angeles, CA
Max Response Time: 4.54 seconds
Minimum Response Time: 934.07 milliseconds

MediaTemple Hosting Performance Score

Click here to see the full MediaTemple report from Load Impact 

A2 Hosting

A2 Hosting makes some pretty bold claims on their website, claiming 300% faster load times with WordPress. So do the results match the claim? A2 did pretty well overall, but definitely not 300% faster than the competition. Many of the hosts listed here which don’t even make claims to be WordPress hosts performed better. Their minimum load time of 455ms is definitely impressive, and it was only slightly higher than that when the test ended. Overall they had a strong showing.

Testing Server Location: Ashburn, VA
A2 Server Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Max Response Time: 1.12 seconds
Minimum Response Time: 455.17ms

A2 Hosting Performance Chart

Click here to see the full A2 Hosting report from Load Impact

HostGator

HostGator’s server performance looked a lot like a pattern you’d see from a healthy EKG, until it completely flatlined. The only problem is that for web performance, we don’t want to see a line with a a lot of ups and downs, flat lines are great unless they fall off the grid completely a la GoDaddy. While HostGator returned the fastest response time of any host, it’s a little misleading because the server had essentially quit at that point and then stopped responding completely. Basically it was one last hurrah before it called it a day.

*I was happy to see that my HostGator account was housed outside of the Provo, UT datacenter where Bluehost resides so we could get a more true host to host comparison.

Testing Server Location: Portland, OR
HostGator Server Location: Charlotte, NC
Max Response Time: 10.16 seconds
Minimum Response Time: 258.07 milliseconds

HostGator Performance Score

Click here to see the full HostGator report from Load Impact

Arvixe

Arvixe has been in the hosting business for quite a while servicing other open source communities like Joomla and Drupal, and have just started shifting their efforts to the WordPress space in the last year or so. Their results here are respectable. They aren’t blow your mind fast, but they do seem solid all the way up to the 50 concurrent user mark. They had one small spike, but it recovered very quickly and the server finished the test in heroic fashion.

Testing Server Location: Palo Alto, CA
Arvixe Server Location: Santa Rosa, CA
Max Response Time 2.93 seconds
Minimum Response Time 1.06 seconds

arvixe-hosting-web

Click here to see the full Arvixe report from Load Impact

Dreamhost

While at a first Glance Dreamhost’s results may seem inconsistent, you’ll notice that there are more bumps in the road because the extremes are much more controlled. So variances in a handful of milliseconds show up as jumps in the graph. Overall Dreamhost was solid from beginning to end. It didn’t report the lowest lows, but it also kept things in check as traffic increased, without having massive jumps in response times. Dreamhost had a strong showing.

Testing Server Location: Ashburn, VA
Dreamhost Server Location: Los Angeles, CA
Max Response Time: 3.74 seconds
Minimum Response Time: 621.87 milliseconds

dreamhost-hosting-web

Click here to see the full Dreamhost report from Load Impact

GreenGeeks Hosting

GreenGeeks didn’t do badly at all in the performance testing. After a big initial spike in response time, the server settled down and returned the sub one second response times that we like to see. There was a bit more variance throughout the test than we normally like to see, but nothing that would indicate any type of major issue. For the most part things were pretty solid.

Testing Sever Location: Chicago, IL
Green Geeks Server Location: Dallas, TX
Max Response Time: 4.7 seconds
Minimum Response Time: 571.33 ms

Green Geeks Hosting Web

Click here to see the full Green Geeks report from Load Impact

GoDaddy

GoDaddy surprised me in more ways than one. GoDaddy started at a blazing 483 ms response time, but once traffic hit 25 users, it essentially fell off the face of the earth. The report lists times of above 4 minutes, and that may be true, but it almost looks like the server became completely unresponsive or started rejecting connections. The load test reported a number of failed attempts to connect to the server. While GoDaddy shined at lower traffic levels, it fell apart completely as traffic passed the 25 user mark.

Godaddy reached out and ask that I clarify the results of their test. This is what they had to say:”We use a software security layer called Sentinel. Because of it’s conservative settings, the software detected the load test as a DoS attack since all the LoadImpact traffic was coming from one IP, and banned it for 5 minutes.”I believe they have thresholds set at a painfully low level if they consider 25 users a DDOS attack. That means one small business sharing an article internally could take down a site.

Testing Server Location: Ashburn, VA
GoDaddy Server Location: Phoenix, AZ
Max Response Time: 4.1 minutes
Minimum Response Time: 483.08 milliseconds

GoDaddy Hosting Performance Score

Click here to see the full GoDaddy report from Load Impact

So which shared WordPress hosting company performed the fastest?

Based strictly on the performance data from each webhost, there were three hosts that really stood out in the group. Each of the following hosts had an average page load time of below one second throughout the entire course of the test, all the way to 50 concurrent users. Stay tuned for the next update in early 2014 where we re-evaluate all of these options.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the data you see here. Anything that stands out to you? Anything that surprised you?

Let’s talk it out :)

Disclaimer: All hosting accounts are owned and paid for by us.

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363 Comments

  1. Worst hosting i will never suggest to go for blue host i transfer my websites to blue host and then their server start giving lode error even i had a business hosting with clued and their customer care give me the same bull set that it is because of your website then i remove my all data from server and only one website i run and problem was same then they said that it is because server had some problem so finally in the very first month after paying for all year i have to look for new web hosting in my life i will never look for this blue host and i dont understand why word press recommend blue host
    50488086087

  2. This is a pretty smart WordPress hosting companies comparison. GoDaddy is the best domain provider but their hosting service is the worst. Stats show Siteground and Bluehost are slow. For moving a WordPress blog to another web hosting provider I would suggest Cloudways managed wordpress hosting. Its fast and reliable, offering a free trial to explore its amazing feautes.

  3. Hi there! I just wanted to know, what web-hosting site should i get for a website that i developed using WordPress localhost (xampp). I’m thinking of taking up bluehost but then again, what would you recommend?

    thanks! more power!

    **btw, the site i created is for a school. so updates may be needed every now and then. thanks!

  4. Does anyone have experience with WPengine? They claim to be highly secure and scalable.

  5. Never use arvixe Its Just waste of money and time the never solve any of your single query. Worst service I ever get is from arvixe…

  6. Hi, my site is on GoDaddy. It’s a new site and I am on Level 3 hosting. This package allows what they call ‘150 processes’. My site probably sees 10/20 visitors a day. But it keeps throwing up 503 error now and then. I read some of the comments here but it seems there is no definitive answer on a better hosting service or the best hosting service. Any suggestions?

  7. So if I had to choose between InMotion and SiteGround for a recipe blog and an accountant site (both WordPress), which would you go with?

    Also, for $5-10 a month you can get a cloud server on https://www.digitalocean.com/pricing/
    How would this compare to InMotion or SiteGround?

    Thanks!
    Dave

    1. Hey David, Digital Ocean is great. The one drawback is that they don’t really offer any support, so if you aren’t comfortable managing your own servers, you’d probably be better off going with a full service provider like InMotion or SiteGround. Of the two, I’d probably recommend the SiteGround GoGeek plan due to support and some of their developer tools. You can read more about them here as well: http://www.wpsitecare.com/siteground-hosting-review/

  8. Hi Ryan, All,
    my site is currently at hostgator and it’s slow. Somebody recommended WPengine, but its not in your list. Where would that fit in the rankings??
    Thanks
    Geoffrey

    1. Hey Geoffrey, in terms of performance WP Engine would probably be near the best performers of this list, as all of these are shared hosting accounts and WP Engine is a managed WordPress hosting provider. Along with that will come a price tag of 5-10x the cost of the providers here, so it mainly becomes a matter of weighing pros and cons at that point.

    1. If you are planning to move from blogger to WordPress the best Webhosting which I will chose should be Dreamhost for starting up because of their great support in Moving the Website or else you can also try Bluehost. Siteground can help you in future if you build a Good Traffic

  9. Ryan, WHAT A MAN! Thanks for the best hosting performance testing to date. I’ve been reading so many biased articles with no facts, just wanting you to buy, buy, buy. I hope this comment generates even more traffic to your site 😉
    #bestwordpresshosting #performancetest

  10. Ok – I am still a little bit confused as to which host I should go with. All I want to do is host a personal blog. I don’t expect many visitors and will not be making any money off the blog (and don’t plan to) so it can’t be expensive. The most important questions for me are backups, not getting hacked and load time. Any chance you could recommend one? Inmotion is cheaper then SiteGround with more storage so its tempting to go Inmotion but I don’t know about the backup/site security side of things? Having read your free blog setup page I am guessing you are going to recommend SiteGround, my only concern is that the price goes up to $10 a month in the second year. Hmmmmm I just can’t seem to make a decision.

  11. I currently am with bluehost and I thought that my WP site loads incredibly slow. But I wasn’t sure if it was just my themes/plugins. So I went to a free hosting place and install an identical setup, themes and all, and it’s way faster. So I am currently looking at moving. Hence me being here. This just further solidifies what I was thinking. I am also looking at starting a 2nd page, and with it being an actual business page, I wanted something better.

    Bluehost is good for what you pay for in terms of space, and bandwidth usage. But for speed, definitely not.

    Inmotion is looking decent in terms of reviews so far for what I need vs total cost. Siteground doesnt offer enough disk space for my needs. And site5 is more expensive for the same thing at InMotion. Time shall tell.

    Thanks for your review!

  12. I personally found that xeliux.com is great, they have a bunch of recomendations everywhere and I am very pleased with the wordpress hosting services.

  13. Godaddy is terrible. They know that they are. My WP site from them was at times PAINFULLY slow…..my business model at the time was to direct one unique visitor at a time to my site, albeit a high value visitor…when a single user click my site link, go daddy would take upwards of 20 seconds to load the page. After having “awakened” the server I might get 10 or 20 loads very fast but that is AFTER my high value visitor has come and gone. They offer TERRIBLE serivce.. just because they answer the phone fast and have cute catchy slogans don’t expect them to be anything more than a high margin seller to those of us ignorant enough to use them.

  14. Hi Ryan,
    Moved my company site to BlueHost – seriously disappointed; but angry would be a better description. Migration had issues, every customer service rep had a different way of doing things – all which were wrong, and site is down at least 2 times a week. They are losing this business. I don’t recommend them to anyone.

  15. Siteground has been the BEST. The extra malware check they do has been great since we had to move a ton of sites that got hacked on Bluehost along with Hostgator and others got attached by the SEA. Huge lesson learned and I will never use them. GoDaddy I used to be a HUGE fan of, swore by it. But even with their managed wordpress hosting, they are so slow. Sites appear to go down at such random intervals which stinks if you have paid search. So I’m greatly disappointed there because I love their cpanel and some of their features. Huge let down. Siteground has been awesome and for those with a bigger budget, WP Engine which is for WordPress sites is pretty amazing too. I’d like to have an alternative host in my pocket and the rest of these above don’t seem very appealing. Any others that are WordPress focused would be great.

    1. Thanks Patsy. My site was hacked on BlueHost/Host Monster as well. They shut down my site and made me go to SiteLock which is charging me $200/month to protect my site. I can’t afford it. I was looking at Siteground and you just confirmed my hunch. Have you hd any problems? How about migrating?

      1. SiteGround will do the migration for free and you don’t need SiteLock. I’ve fixed a number of sites who had SiteLock and they were hacked and had malware. Their service is overall a joke and just an up-sell for Bluehost/HostGator and all other EIG-owned companies.

    2. Good to know about siteground. I’ve been happy with site5 as well if you are looking for a backup. Also I use Wordfence to help protect the site from hackers. Been pretty successful so far.

  16. Has anyone tried StackPress? I was wondering how it compares to the hosts listed above.

  17. Hi, I was with Inmotion Hosting and my wordpress website kept getting hacked. This company is theeee worst company ever in terms of security and customer service. Stay far away…
    On the other hand I have been with Site Ground for 2 years now and have never had my wordpress site hacked. They have excellent customer service and are fantastic in this regard. In terms of pricing, they are very competitive the first year you are a client but once you enter your second year there is a drastic increase in price.

  18. If you’re recommending bluehost to anyone, you shouldn’t be in the job of recommending hosting companies. Hostgator/bluehost/justhost is the absolute worst hosting company on the planet… Don’t believe me though – just type the hashtag #bluehostdown in twitter. If you’ve ever hosted with them, you’ll know this tag quite well. Hands down the WORST hosting company on the planet.

  19. Why do we need to go for a hosting company and not signup at wordpress own website and use their hosting? Will it not be the best option?

  20. So we chose hosting, but are currently deciding for our customer to use CDN which I find best option due to multiple countries/datacentres. Which one do you prefer and why? Are there any free?

  21. Looks like a great comparison of different hosting providers, can you make a post like this by comparing the uptime as it is important for business WordPress websites.

  22. Appreciate your analysis. We left the horrible Hostgator and, Luckily, went thru PayPal and got our refund immediately–even tho it was past the period. A few minutes after crappy Tech “Support” asked for our LogIn info/pw we could no longer access our WebMail, cPanel nor Billing and spent hours and hours with these idiots, to no avail.

    We also copied all the online chats and relayed this.

    Without Paypal, we believe we would have been ripped off, too. Our websites will Only take Paypal. We have no wish to have/hold people’s private Debit/Credit Cards or to be like these Neon hosts and businesses.

    Unfortunately, we did go to InMotion, Site5, & Siteground and found all 3 do NOT take Paypal.

    Here’s a very Creepy Notice after our testing site5:

    If you choose the PayPal payment option, you will need to login to our customer portal (“Backstage”) and use the PayPal Payment option under the Account section. You will receive an email with your Backstage login information shortly after your order is submitted. Once you receive this email, you will need to login and make a payment (through our Backstage interface) for the amount of your first invoice.
    ~~~
    Thanks again!

  23. I’ve been using Dreamhost and I must say it sacks, big time! It has very poor server response time on there monthly $15 vps plan. I’m thinking of joining siteground, would you recommend? Thanks btw this is probably the best and most honest comparison I’ve come across.

  24. Thanks for the advice. We’re just in the process of moving our website to SiteGround from another website host (not listed here). Will let you know how we get on.

  25. Thanks for the data … though your comments were confusing. For example without the data, based on your comments I’d have pegged A2 hosting as lackluster, and siteground as awesome. Siteground is at least 30% slower than a2. A2 is the 2nd fastest and is half the speed of Siteground (aggregate). What gives?

  26. FWIW – Site5 has been down for about ten minutes now – and when I checked it on isitdownrightnowDOTcom I also see a LOT of people complaining about numerous outages.

  27. STAY AWAY FROM GODADDY WordPress hosting. I purchased their pro platform around the 10th of August and migrated 4 or 5 sites over. Every single sight tanked with Google bot activity being killed. They did this by adding a line of code in my robot text and did not even know that it had occurred. The customer service people were nice but kept blaming me then I found the extra line of code. I called Host Gator and they were super nice but didn’t fit what I wanted. The problem appears to be Godaddy blocks Google bot for some reason allowing it to a caching area only but they don’t cache the site on a regular basis. Meaning, Google never sees changes as it should because the site never gets updated in the cache. My suggestion is stay away from them all together. I have been fighting about 3 weeks trying to find an answer and they just pretty much gave up and said “it’s a new system.” If I could leave, I would but I’m too far in at this point.

    1. what was this line of code? and where did you find it? I’ve been seeing similar drops after migrating to GoDaddy WP hosting as well. Thanks!

    2. @BrentDillon – Brent – you’re never in too deep. I would move from GoDaddy regardless of my investment. Down the road you’ll be really glad you did.

      Just my 2cents –

  28. Hey Thanks for responding to my earlier post. In reference to inmotion’s power plan (its like 7 dollars a month), you mentioned that it should be ok. Is this from experience? I want to create viral site so I wasn’t too sure if it would be sufficient since they don’t really layout what bandwidth you will be receiving since its a shared host plan.

  29. BlueHost doesn’t even deserve to be tested. It has become a most irritating hosting company who does not bother the client reactions. Calling their customer care for help is another big mistake. They keep your phone on hold for long and long and eventafter that the problem does not get resolved.

    1. Agree completely. I’ve been with them for a decade and they used to be terrific. The past 6-9 months, it is exactly as you say. I’ve been on hold now for an hour and a half. And they never fix the problem — they just upsell you to more services.

  30. GoDaddy is an absolute joke when it comes to their shared hosting. I’ve had client websites completely crash for no reason at least once a week so their results don’t surprise me at all. One observation about your results is that it seems like a majority of the hosting providers you tested had an initial load time much higher than the rest of the visits. I know for a fact that MediaTemple uses caching on their WP sites and I’m sure a lot of the others do as well. Did you have something setup to completely wipe the cache with each visit?

  31. Have you done any analysis/comparisons on WP dedicated/optimized hosting?

    For example, DreamHost’s DreamPress2 or HostGator’s OWP?

    Thanks

  32. Hi,

    Are these companies ok for hosting social media websites? I was thinking of the business hosting (power) bundle at inmotion. It doesent really list the specifications for bandwidth or memory.

    1. Hi Tony,

      For a social media website InMotion should do just fine for what you need. Let us know if you have any specific questions!

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