Data Driven Guide To The Best WordPress Hosting

We tested the load time, Speed Index and Time to First Byte of several popular hosting companies to find the best WordPress hosting service.

Last updated: 30th April 2016: Finding the best WordPress hosting service can be a hassle. If you’re new to web hosting, it can sound confusing, overwhelming and no one has time for that. This is why we have taken the time to test several popular WordPress hosting providers to find who truly is the best WordPress hosting company.

Our tests took about 5 months to complete with many technical issues along the way. We paid for all the hosting accounts and development setup.

Our initial tests included 6 popular hosting companies. We plan on expanding into more tests and we will also include results for managed WordPress hosting.

For those who just want the winners, here are the results.

1st Place

SiteGround is our Winner!

SiteGround performed excellently in our tests, but it was the ‘will it scale’ test that confirmed it. Save 60% on your SiteGround plan

2nd Place

A2 Hosting Comes in Second Place!

A2 Hosting performed very well with excellent TTFB and load time scores. Save 51% off your first month

Our Testing

For these tests, we thought about the average customer and not the tech geeks that want an extra 0.2 seconds in speed. This is why we tested with an active website that mimics a real-life situation. It is reported that the average size of a web is now just shy of 2MB.
With the average user in mind, we made the websites we made our tests 1.6MB; just short of the average web size. Average-Web-Size These tests will then give you more of an idea of the results you’d expect if you signed up for them.

Consistency

We didn’t realise how tricky this would be when we started. We had many, many issues and it took us about 5 months to finally get the test sorted.

  1. Each website we tested used the same WordPress version (latest)
  2. All websites used the same PHP version (5.6)
  3. All websites used the same WordPress theme -Thrive Themes using the Squared theme
  4. All websites had the exact same content
  5. All websites used caching – W3 Total Cache with the exact same settings
  6. All websites were tested from the same location – Dulles, VA – USA

We used caching since we wanted to give the average user an idea of the expected performance when using it. We have plans to repeat this test without caching.

What We Tested

We used a web performance tool called WebPageTest and tested the following metrics. Each website was tested a total of 5 times over a 20 day period and the fastest results are shown in the charts below.

Speed Index 

The Speed Index is perhaps one of the most important aspects to consider when thinking how fast apps/websites load. A Speed Index is not the same a load time instead, it looks at how quickly the majority of the page gets painted to the browser. Because of this it’s a better metric than load time for how a user perceives how fast a web page is loading.  The lower the score, the better.

Time to First Byte

The Time to First Byte (TTFB) is an important metric and measures how long it takes your browser to receive the first byte of a response from a web server when you request it. There have been studies and tests showing a correlation between a faster TTFB and higher rankings in Google. TTFB-RANKINGS View the study here. So using a web host with a fast TTFB may help increase your rankings.

Load Time

The load time of a webpage is simply when a user visits a web page and the time it takes for all of the content to fully download when a user visits a webpage. However, as discussed above the Speed Index is a much better metric of perceived user experience.

So Who Is The Best WordPress Hosting Company?

Finally, here are the results from our tests. The graphs below show our data. Please note that you can click on the data points to verify the tests on Webpagetest.org.

Speed Index Test Results 

As you can see from our tests, SiteGround have the fastest speed index with Web Hosting Hub coming a close second, followed by A2 Hosting and Inmotion. After Inmotion the gap starts to increase with Bluehost and then there is a big drop for Hostgator.

While the top four results are pretty tight, SiteGround has the fastest speed index over the 21 day time period.

HostGator performed the worst by quite some way with a Speed Index score of 2371.53.

From these tests, we can see that with a web page size of 1.6MB, SiteGround has produced the best results for how the user perceives how fast a web page is loading. This may result in a lower bounce rates, more time spent on your website, more pageviews and more. 

Note: You can click on each of the results. This will take you to the results from the WebPageTest.

Time to First Byte Results 

A2 Hosting  are the fastest hosting company for the Time to First Byte metric with an impressive score of 0.14 seconds. SiteGround are a close second with a score of 0.17 seconds.

There is a big drop off for third place with Inmotion and Web Hosting Hub having a joint score of 0.23 seconds, with Bluehost coming a close fifth with 0.24 seconds. Hostgator came last with a score of 0.83 seconds.

As discussed above, TTFB may lead to higher rankings in Google so A2 Hosting and SiteGround would be your best bet in this case.

Load Time Test Results

A2 Hosting have the fastest results for load time. Remember that the load time is for when all of the page has downloaded for a 1.6MB sized web page. So if you have a similar sized web page, these are the speeds you would expect to get. 

The load time is not an accurate measure of a user’s perception but it’s interesting to see how they perform. 

SiteGround came a close second with 4.38 seconds with Web Hosting Hub and then Inmotion getting third and fourth, respectively. 

Bluehost follow with a big drop for Hostgator. 

Will it scale? 

While it’s important to understand these results we have a problem. The sites I tested them on have no traffic. Will they perform as well if we had 20 visitors on our website at all times?

Ever wonder what would happen if an influencer tweets one of your blog posts? Will your hosting company be able to handle the extra traffic? Which hosting provider will provide the best experience for your users?

This is what we will test now. We will use a tool called loadimpact.com which measures how your server handles a rush of traffic.

Due to the tests already completed, we will test only 3 of the top WordPress hosting companies for this.

They are – A2 Hosting, SiteGround and Web Hosting Hub.

We tested 75 consecutive users over a time period of 10 minutes. We tested each site 3 times and the fastest results are shown.

Web Hosting Hub

Web Hosting Hub had a great performance and held steady during the test. However, the response time never dipped under 1 second. But overall they did pretty well with the test. 

Web-hosting-hub-load

Link to the test here

A2 Hosting

Another strong performance was seen with A2 Hosting. They held together well right until the end of the test. Performance-wise, they had response times of  around 750ms which is excellent. 

A2-Hosting-Load

Link to the test here

SiteGround 

SiteGround did well in our tests, while not as steady as A2 Hosting, they did perform the best with response time about over 200ms less than A2 Hosting. 

siteground-load-time

Link to the test here

UpTime 

So now that we understand the sort of speeds we will get for each hosting company for an average sized web page, lets look at the uptime for each site. The uptime simply measures if your website was down. While we have good data of the performance of each hosting company that is useless if they are constantly down all the time. 

Hostgator

We tested Hostgator and their last downtime was over 1123 hours ago which lasted for only one minute. Results over the last 30 days have been 100%.  Overall the results were excellent with only a 1-minute downtime recorded. However, even with the good uptime results, they performed the worst in our tests. 

Hostgator-uptime

 

BlueHost

Bluehost has a 99.87% uptime score over the last 30 days. It has been up consistently for 113 hours. Most WordPress hosting companies have a 99% uptime guarantee so this is still a good result for Bluehost. 

Bluehost-uptime

 

Inmotion

Another good performance from Inmotion with 100% uptime recorded in the last 30 days. The last downtime was 280 hours ago but only lasted 2 minutes. 

Inmotion-uptime

Web Hosting Hub

Another pretty good performance with 99.96% uptime in the last 30 days but the last recorded downtime was 620 hours with a time of 17 minutes. This was the largest downtime we found. 

Web-Hosting-Hub-uptime

SiteGround

Unfortunately, we reset the test by mistake while writing this and lost the time it last went down. However, we can see that SiteGround has 100% uptime over the last 30 days with a 5-minute downtime on the 26th Feb 2016 making over 800 hours uptime which is excellent.  

SiteGround-Uptime

A2 Hosting 

Another excellent result from A2 Hosting with 100% uptime over the last 30 days with only a 1-minute downtime which was 558 hours ago. 

A2-hosting-uptime

Which shared WordPress hosting company was the best? 

Our top two WordPress hosting companies have been SiteGround and A2 Hosting, both have performed excellently. 

While A2 Hosting had slightly faster TTFB and load times by 0.02 seconds than SiteGround it was the ‘will it scale’ test where SiteGround showed a much better performance. 

As discussed above the load time is not as important as the speed index which SiteGround won so this makes SiteGround the winner of the best WordPress hosting company in our tests with A2 Hosting coming a close second. 

1st

SiteGround is our Winner!

SiteGround performed excellently in our tests but it was the ‘will it scale’ test that confirmed it. Save 60% on your SiteGround plan

2nd

A2 Hosting Comes in Second Place!

Although A2 Hosting performed very well SiteGround they were only a fraction faster than SiteGround. Save 51% off your first month