Kevin Ohashi has published his annual Managed WordPress hosting performance benchmarks on Review Signal, an independent consumer review site. In past years (2014, 2015), Ohashi had every company and plan competing against each other, but the WordPress hosting market has rapidly evolved to serve more enterprise level clients.
“When I started the price gap was from $5/month to $29/month,” Ohashi said. “Last year the gap was $5.95 to $299. I was only testing entry level plans but the market has dramatically changed since I first got started. Today, there is demand at many different price points and lots of companies have gone upscale with WordPress.com VIP at the top of the price bracket starting at $5,000/month.”
Ohashi found that it made more sense to break up the participants into different pricing brackets. The comparisons do not rank the companies in any particular order but rather group them by how well they perform. Ohashi measured each host’s peak performance and consistency for the specified pricing plan. He ran load tests, tested the static caching of the homepage, and recorded uptime and benchmarks for CPU, MySQL and WordPress database performance.
Testing all of these companies in such a thorough manner was a colossal undertaking, and the data is quite lengthy to read. Here’s a quick summary of the top tier performers at every pricing level:
<$25/month: DreamHost, LightningBase, and SiteGround
$25-50/month: LightningBase, Pantheon, Pressable, SiteGround, and WPOven.com
$51-100/month: Kinsta, LightningBase, LiquidWeb, Pressable, Pressidium, and SiteGround
$101-200/month: Kinsta, LiquidWeb, Pressable, and Pressidium
$201-$500/month: Kinsta and Pressidium
$500+ Enterprise level: Kinsta, Pagely, Pantheon, Pressable, Pressidium, and WordPress.com VIP
The WordPress.org recommended hosting page was updated earlier this year and currently includes Bluehost, DreamHost, Flywheel, and SiteGround. At that time Ohashi criticized the lack of transparency in the selection of the four hosts, contending that the list includes hosts that are consistently poorly reviewed.
The page clearly states that listings are “completely arbitrary” and the criteria includes: contributions to WordPress.org, size of customer base, ease of WP auto-install and auto-upgrades, avoiding GPL violations, design, tone, historical perception, using the correct logo, capitalizing WordPress correctly, not blaming us if you have a security issue, and up-to-date system software.
Performance is not listed among the criteria. Although many people select hosts for reasons other than performance, such as quality customer service and a customer-friendly UI, performance is the most important factor for businesses, e-commerce sites, and enterprise level customers that stand to lose hundreds to millions of dollars per day when a site struggles with performance. The next time this list is updated, it would be beneficial for businesses to see performance listed among the criteria (in addition to all the WordPress-friendly criteria), as measured by Ohashi or some other independent third-party.
Only two out of the four hosts recommended by WordPress.org score well in Ohashi’s performance benchmarks. DreamHost was in the top tier of the <$25 economy hosting bracket and SiteGround was among the top hosts in three different pricing levels. Neither Flywheel nor Bluehost scored well enough to be listed in the top tier at any pricing level.
Developers and companies in charge of selecting hosting for enterprise-level WordPress clients are probably not heavily influenced by WordPress.org’s recommended hosting page. However, it’s worth pointing out that none of the hosts that scored well for enterprise hosting are listed among these recommendations. When comparing WordPress.org’s recommendations to the Review Signal performance benchmarks, it appears that these recommendations were selected to primarily serve small websites and hobbyists.