best wordpress hosting 2020

Update 1/24/20: I recently found this How to Choose the Best WordPress Hosting in 2020 (Compared) article by wpbeginner. They have more time, experience and resources than I do to spend researching this subject. It’s a great article with excellent information and suggestions.

Update 2021: After a bad experience at my longtime hosting company Dreamhost, I’m updating this post to reflect my new and unfortunate complete lack of confidence with them. I will no longer be hosting there and will not be promoting them as an affiliate. In the process of choosing a new hosting company, I did learn a lot about new hosting company options though, so I’ll be better prepared if anyone needs suggestions.

My clients understandably often ask me to recommend a hosting company or domain registrar. I used to have a few companies that I suggested and I even had affiliate accounts with the same few so I made a little money and was able to get discounts for my clients when they purchased new hosting. Then I started noticing that some of the companies I liked were not so likable anymore for one reason or another. So… for a while now I’ve been avoiding suggesting companies nor promoting any affiliate links because I didn’t want my clients to hold me responsible when the hosting company I suggested became less trustworthy or reliable and quite frankly there were just not any hosting companies or domain registrars who I was in love with.

Recently when one of my clients asked me to suggest a domain registrar, I reluctantly tried to help him by telling him first who not to use. There are a couple of popular companies who I do not like for various reasons who I will not name here because I have several clients who still use them.

My complaints about Dreamhost:

  1. Their tech support is very slow to respond, it’s email and/or chat only unless you pay $10/call for phone support. During my recent and final problem with Dreamhost, they did not have chat support and it took them a few days to email me back about things that I considered urgent. I never felt like they were paying attention to my complaints and explanations about the damage they had done to my websites during a recent MySQL upgrade. It was a strange and disturbing experience.
  2. They don’t use cPanel (they have their own dashboard system) and some of their dashboard features are a bit confusing until you get used to it.
  3. In late 2021 Dreamhost upgraded to MySQL 8. My 2 main websites were totally messed up by this. Dreamhost pretended to try to help me for weeks, but every time they did something, it just made the problem worse. It felt like they were deliberately trying to destroy my websites and my sanity. Their tech support is either terrible or sadistic, maybe both.
  4. Dreamhost’s shared hosting has a manual user backup system, although it is possible to backup through FTP and with phpMyAdmin or by using a WordPress plugin, it’s not very convenient. They do regular backups but I don’t think that includes databases or if it does, they don’t keep them for very long.

I recently had the opportunity to try which is another highly rated and environmentally conscious company. I found them easy to use, they have the familiar cPanel with Softaculous for easy WordPress management, free chat and phone support. I did have to ask for full resource support for the Divi theme and their Softaculous automated backups appear to be limited to one rotating backup, but they say they offer a total of three backups. The tech support person I spoke to said the company does monthly backups which isn’t very often but it’s certainly better than nothing which is what you might get at a cheaper hosting company. Update: I recently asked about this again and was told they do nightly backups, but only keep them for 7 days.

I don’t guarantee backups for my clients and apparently neither do most of the hosting companies but the hosting company you choose should at least provide regular backups. I’ve never had a site fail unless my clients forget to pay hosting or registrar fees. I sometimes download backups but this is strictly as a backup to the hosting company’s backups, I can’t guarantee the backups will work, there are so many variables such as changes in technology, hackers, viruses, user error, digital corruption etc… WordPress websites require regular maintenance to keep them running smoothly and to protect against hackers. My website creation fees don’t include maintenance or backups. I can either teach my clients (for a fee) how to do their own maintenance or they can hire me to update the website software on occasion.

I found this article listing and reviewing the companies they consider to be “green”: The best green web hosting of 2019. Dreamhost and GreenGeeks are on the list as well as some other interesting hosting companies. The author of the linked article (not me) does appear to have an affiliate relationship with at least some of the companies on the list, so you need to take that into consideration if you use the article to choose your hosting.

Another resource I use when researching hosting companies is this list of companies who support the free Let’s Encrypt SSL: Web Hosting who support Let’s Encrypt. It’s very important that your website is protected by an SSL these days, not only for security, but also for SEO. Dreamhost and GreenGeeks support the free Let’s Encrypt SSL and some others on the previously mentioned green hosting article list support it also. Update: Most companies these days offer free SSLs, the only company who doesn’t is GoDaddy, who even charges to install SSLs. Avoid them if at all possible. Let’s Encrypt is no longer the only free SSl, there’s also one offerred by Sectigo.

I wish I could be more help to my clients in their search for the perfect hosting company, but technology changes so rapidly and the features the hosting companies offer change constantly as well. I can’t be responsible for what the hosting companies do. I think choosing a company based on their ethics and how much you feel you can trust them is the most important criteria. Inexpensive hosting is sometimes cheap for a reason. When choosing your hosting make sure to look at their backup policy, look for potential hidden fees, and compare the policies, resources and services provided by the different hosting companies.

Hosting companies often charge lower prices during the initial signup period which will increase drastically once the initial period expires. Keep in mind that if you pay for 3 years of reduced price hosting to begin with, when it comes time to renew it will renew at their regular price for another 3 years which can be quite expensive. So, after you’ve signed up, you need to change the renewal term in your account preferences or usually I think you have to call them to change it for you, they don’t make it easy.

Update 2021: I have a new list of hosting companies and domain registrars that I found recommendations for during my search for new hosting and domain registration, if you’d like to discuss my web design services I’ll be happy to share that list with you.