WordPress Hosting vs Web Hosting: Key Differences Explained

Navigating the world of web hosting can feel a bit like trying to choose the perfect pair of running shoes. At first glance, they all seem to serve the same purpose, but delve a little deeper, and you discover a multitude of features, fits, and specializations that can dramatically impact your running performance. 

In the same way, not all web hosting is created equal. Particularly when we talk about hosting a WordPress website, there are significant differences between WordPress hosting and standard web hosting. 

Both come with their own unique benefits and drawbacks, and the best choice really comes down to your individual needs, your goals, and the level of control and maintenance you’re comfortable with.

Server Room

What is WordPress hosting?

Just like a bespoke pair of running shoes that are designed to fit your feet perfectly, WordPress hosting is a type of web hosting that’s specifically designed and optimized to meet the performance and security needs of WordPress websites.

You may have heard of “managed WordPress hosting”, which typically includes tools like automatic updates and advanced security and performance measures. WordPress hosting can be managed, but it doesn’t have to be. Managed WordPress hosting is typically more comprehensive and takes care of website management tasks for you.

Why would someone choose WordPress hosting over traditional hosting? Well, imagine those running shoes again. Sure, you could run in your regular sneakers, but you’ll likely perform better with the ones specifically designed for the task. WordPress hosting brings a similar level of optimization to your website, with features and tools built specifically for WordPress.

pink sparkly running shoes

What is standard web hosting?

Standard web hosting is like a good pair of everyday sneakers. It’s versatile, capable of hosting a variety of websites — whether they’re built on WordPress, use another platform like Joomla or Drupal, or are a custom-built HTML site. Standard hosting offers a more general environment, suitable for different web development technologies and database types. 

If WordPress hosting is a specialist, standard web hosting is a jack-of-all-trades. It’s a suitable option if you’re looking for more flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and control over your server configurations.

Pros of WordPress hosting

1. Easy WordPress setup or migration

WordPress hosting often comes with WordPress pre-installed or available as a one-click installation, making setup a breeze. For those migrating an existing WordPress website, many recommended WordPress hosts offer easy-to-use migration tools that don’t require you to manually migrate your files and database.

2. A WordPress-friendly interface

WordPress hosting provides an interface that’s tailor-made for WordPress, simplifying site management. For example, it might automatically log you into your WordPress site, or allow you to update plugins and themes directly from your hosting dashboard.

3. Specialized customer support

WordPress hosting generally comes with customer support that’s well-versed in WordPress-specific issues. While standard web hosting plans often include support, customer service reps usually know a little bit about a wide variety of topics. WordPress hosting support teams, however, typically know all the details and specifics about working with WordPress.

Customer Support team working in an office

4. Security measures tailored to WordPress

WordPress hosting provides security measures specifically designed to protect WordPress sites. For example, it might include tools like malware scanning or a firewall that focuses on WordPress requirements.

5. Automatic backups 

WordPress hosting often includes regular, automatic backups of your site data, with easy-to-use restore options in case of data loss.

6. Optimized for WordPress speed and performance

With server-level adjustments and optimizations specifically for WordPress, these hosts ensure top-tier performance for your site. Some also include premium WordPress plugins for speed optimization tasks like caching.

7. Built-in staging environments

These allow you to test changes and updates in a risk-free way before pushing them live on your site. Many, though not all, WordPress hosts include staging environments in their packages.

8. Automatic software updates

Keeping your WordPress core, themes, and plugins updated is crucial for security and performance. WordPress hosting often includes automatic updates, so you don’t have to give this process a second thought.

9. Hands-off server management

WordPress hosting usually takes care of all server management tasks, leaving you free to focus on your website content and design.

Cons of WordPress hosting

While there are many benefits to WordPress hosting, it’s not without its downsides.

1. Higher costs compared to traditional hosting

Because of its specialized nature, WordPress hosting can be more expensive than standard web hosting. However, in many cases, the included benefits are well worth the extra expense.

2. Limited flexibility 

WordPress hosting is specifically designed for WordPress, so it’s not the best choice if you’re planning to use a different CMS or build a custom site. In some cases, since server setup and other elements are optimized for WordPress, you may have less control. Some managed WordPress hosts even prevent sites from installing certain plugins for performance or security.

Pros of standard web hosting

1. Lower cost compared to specialized WordPress hosting

Because it isn’t specialized, standard hosting is generally cheaper than WordPress hosting. But again, remember that you’re paying for the tools and benefits that are (or are not) included.

two people comparing pricing on a piece of paper

2. Flexibility to host different platforms or custom sites

If you have multiple websites on different platforms, it’s probably easiest to use the same hosting provider for all of them. Standard web hosting will give you the flexibility and support to do so.

3. More control over server configurations and settings

Standard hosting usually gives you more leeway to tweak server configurations to your liking, especially if you opt for a VPS or dedicated hosting plan. While they won’t be automatically configured to the needs of a WordPress site, if you have experience with development or have specific requirements, this may be a better option.

4. The ability to choose preferred caching and optimization mechanisms

While WordPress hosting often includes built-in caching and speed optimization, standard hosting lets you choose and configure your solutions for a custom performance setup.

Cons of standard web hosting

However, standard web hosting has its own set of drawbacks:

1. Manual WordPress installation

Some, though not all, standard web hosts require you to install WordPress manually. WordPress hosting providers, however, typically have the software pre-installed or available as a one-click installation.

2. Lack of specialized support

Standard hosting support may not be as well-versed in WordPress-specific issues compared to WordPress hosting.

3. Manual management of backups and security

With standard hosting, you’re typically responsible for managing backups and implementing security measures, while some WordPress hosts take care of these tasks for you. However, a plugin like Jetpack Security can simplify this process considerably, offering top-tier, WordPress-specific security and backup measures.

4. Performance variations depending on server architecture

Standard hosting performance can vary greatly depending on your server configurations and the resources allocated to your site. And those resources and performance tools are typically not optimized to meet the needs of WordPress websites specifically.

Key differences between standard and WordPress hosting

Now, let’s circle back to our initial question: What’s the difference between WordPress and standard web hosting? To summarize:

WordPress hosting is specialized hosting tailored to WordPress websites, providing an environment that’s optimized for performance, with WordPress-specific features and tools. It’s ideal if you’re running a WordPress website and want to maximize its performance and security without getting into the weeds of server setup and management.

Standard web hosting, on the other hand, offers a general hosting environment suitable for different CMS platforms or custom-built sites. It provides more control and flexibility, and is typically cheaper than WordPress hosting. It’s a good choice if you’re on a tight budget, want to host non-WordPress sites, or prefer to have more control over your server configurations.

1. Infrastructure and server environment

Diving a bit deeper into the technical side, let’s examine how the server environments differ between the two hosting types.

WordPress hosting

  • Has server architecture that’s optimized for WordPress: WordPress hosting servers are configured to offer the best performance for WordPress sites, taking into account-specific needs.
  • Includes pre-configured settings for better performance and compatibility: WordPress hosting comes with pre-configured PHP versions, database software, and caching settings that are optimized for WordPress, reducing the need for manual tuning.

Standard hosting

  • Uses a general-purpose server environment: Standard hosting provides a more general server environment suitable for various applications and databases.
  • Flexible server configurations: With standard hosting, you generally have more freedom to modify server configurations, allowing for a more customized setup.

2. Performance and optimization

The way each hosting type handles performance and optimization also varies:

WordPress hosting

  • Has built-in caching for improved performance: WordPress hosting often includes built-in caching solutions that improve site speed and responsiveness.
  • Includes server-side optimizations specifically tailored for WordPress: The server settings on WordPress hosting are adjusted to offer the best performance for WordPress sites.
  • Has enhanced speed for WordPress websites: Thanks to the optimizations and specialized server configurations, WordPress sites typically load faster and run more reliably on WordPress hosting.
Development Team

Standard hosting

  • Performance is dependent on server setup and configurations: The performance of your site on standard hosting depends heavily on how your server is set up and configured.
  • Users are responsible for caching and optimization: On standard hosting, you’re responsible for setting up your own caching and optimization strategies. This can offer greater control, but requires more technical know-how.

3. Managed services and support

When it comes to the management of your site and the support you can expect, there are also differences. As we mentioned earlier, this will vary based on the type of WordPress hosting plan you choose.

WordPress hosting

  • Managed WordPress hosts offer a fully managed environment: Managed hosts typically take care of many aspects of running your site, including backups, caching and other performance optimizations, software updates, and more.
  • Get automatic updates for WordPress core, themes, and plugins: With WordPress hosting, you often get automatic updates for WordPress core, as well as your themes and plugins. This is a critical part of managing your site for both security and functionality purposes.
  • Gain specialized support from experts familiar with WordPress: When you need help, you can expect to get it from customer support teams that specialize in WordPress and are familiar with common WordPress issues.
A support team working on laptops

Standard hosting

  • It includes limited managed services: Standard hosting typically comes with fewer managed services. You’re often responsible for updates, backups, and security. However, using a plugin like Jetpack Security can make these tasks a lot easier.
  • They utilize general customer support for technical issues: Support from standard hosting providers typically covers a wider range of general hosting issues and may not be as specialized in WordPress problems.

4. Security and backup management

When it comes to keeping your site secure and your data safe, there are again differences to note:

WordPress hosting

  • Gain enhanced security measures designed for WordPress: WordPress hosting typically includes security measures designed to protect against vulnerabilities that may be specific to WordPress.
  • Get automatic WordPress backups: WordPress hosting can include automatic backups of your WordPress site that you can restore from your host’s control panel if something goes wrong.

Standard hosting

  • Users are responsible for implementing security measures: On standard hosting, you’re typically responsible for your site’s security, though some hosts may offer basic, generalized measures.
  • Users are responsible for managing backups: Unless your hosting package includes backups, you’ll also need to manage these yourself on standard hosting. However, a backup plugin like Jetpack VaultPress Backup can take care of this task for you.

5. Ease of use and interface

When it comes to accessing and managing your hosting plan, ease of use and the dashboard included are very important. Here’s how they differ between hosting types:

WordPress hosting

  • It includes a user-friendly interface designed for managing WordPress: WordPress hosting often comes with interfaces and dashboards designed specifically for managing a WordPress site. For example, you may be able to update software or automatically log in to your site from your host’s dashboard.
  • Install WordPress quickly and easily: Most WordPress hosts pre-install WordPress, so you don’t even have to worry about that part of the process. At the very least, they include one-click WordPress setup and installation. 

Standard hosting

  • Interfaces vary depending on the hosting provider: The quality and user-friendliness of the hosting dashboard can vary a lot with standard hosting plans.
  • You may need to manually install WordPress: Unless your standard hosting provider offers a one-click installer, setting up WordPress might require a bit more work.

Which hosting type is best for your WordPress site?

Ultimately, the decision is completely up to you, your needs, and your budget. However, here are some scenarios when each type may be the right fit.

When to choose WordPress hosting

Choose WordPress hosting if you’re sure you’ll be using WordPress, want a hands-off hosting experience, and can afford to pay a little extra for better performance, security, and support. 

When to choose standard hosting

Choose standard hosting if you need to host non-WordPress sites, want more control over your server configurations, or are on a budget.

Essential plugins to install regardless of your hosting

No matter which hosting option you choose, there are several essential plugins we recommend for every WordPress site:

  1. A WordPress security plugin like Jetpack Security: This tool offers comprehensive security for your WordPress site, including malware scanning, spam protection, and downtime monitoring.
  2. A real-time backup plugin like Jetpack VaultPress Backup: This plugin provides real-time backups and one-click restores for your WordPress site, ensuring your data is always safe. This is also included in the Jetpack Security plan.
  3. An anti-spam plugin like Akismet: This plugin helps protect your WordPress site from spam in your comment and contact forms.
  4. A WordPress speed optimization plugin like Jetpack Boost: This tool offers instant performance optimization features to make your WordPress site load faster.
Jetpack Speed Optimization

Frequently asked questions about WordPress hosting and web hosting

In this section, we’ll answer some common questions about WordPress and standard hosting:

What is WordPress hosting?

WordPress hosting is a type of web hosting specifically optimized for WordPress websites. It usually includes features like one-click WordPress installations, automatic updates, and specialized support.

What is managed WordPress hosting?

Managed WordPress hosting is a subcategory of WordPress hosting where the hosting provider handles all the technical aspects of running your site, allowing you to focus solely on creating content.

Can WordPress host my site?

WordPress.com, a blogging platform powered by WordPress, can host your site. However, if you’re using the open-source WordPress.org software, you’ll need a separate web host.

What is the main difference between standard and WordPress hosting?

The main difference lies in the level of optimization for WordPress websites. WordPress hosting is specifically optimized for WordPress, offering better performance, security, and ease of use for WordPress sites, while standard hosting provides a more general environment suitable for various types of websites.

Can I host a non-WordPress website on WordPress hosting?

Generally, WordPress hosting is optimized for WordPress, and while it might technically be possible to host a non-WordPress site, it’s not recommended due to compatibility and performance issues.

Is WordPress hosting more expensive than standard hosting?

Typically, because of the specialized nature of the service, WordPress hosting is more expensive than standard hosting. However, the exact cost depends on the hosting provider and the specific package you choose.

Final thoughts on choosing between WordPress hosting and standard hosting

In conclusion, both WordPress and standard hosting have their place. If you’re a WordPress user and want the best performance and security for your site with little need for technical intervention, WordPress hosting is a great option.

But if you need the flexibility to host other types of websites, want more control over your server environment, or are budget-conscious, standard hosting might be the better choice. Ultimately, the right hosting for you depends on your specific needs and priorities.

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Rob Pugh profile
Rob Pugh

Rob is the Marketing Lead for Jetpack. He has worked in marketing and product development for more than 15 years, primarily at Automattic, Mailchimp, and UPS. Since studying marketing at Penn State and Johns Hopkins University, he’s focused on delivering products that delight people and solve real problems.

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