This year we have dropped Dreamhost and EvoHost from our top five and replaced them with more specialised offerings. See our 2014 top WordPress hosts for comparison.
When it came to the top spot, we were torn between two very different but both excellent WordPress hosts and, in the end, had to call it a tie.
= #1 WP Engine
In 2014 we gave the top spot to WP Engine and they have made it for the second year in a row, even though they are sharing the title with Flywheel this time around.
The WP Engine platform is still really solid and there are many great features that we love, such as the staging environment and instant backups.
Since they opened their London office about a year ago, we have developed a great relationship with the team and they have been able to offer our clients a much more personal and consultative service.
One of the fruits of this relationship has been the launch of their site migration plugin and subsequent feed migration service, which came about after we introduced WP Engine CEO Heather Brunner to BlogVault founder Akshat Choudry. This is without doubt the best improvement for us this year as it brings down the barrier to getting onto the WP Engine platform and saves us and our clients a lot of time and hassle. Other new features like transferable installs and site cloning have also been really useful and we know that more great features are in the pipeline such as PHP7.
Service is good and generally pretty fast but it could definitely be improved by being more proactive and a bit more humble when things don’t go exactly to plan. WP Engine is one of the best established WordPress hosting companies and has a really solid team including over 50 people working in engineering alone, meaning that they are constantly pushing the capabilities of their platform and keeping on top of the latest security threats. Some of our developers find the platform restrictive compared to other hosts, although they say this of all WordPress specific hosts.
Overall, WP Engine is a best in class host with a great team of people behind it and we think it is set to keep getting better and better over the next year.
= #1 Flywheel
Congratulations to Flywheel for bumping up into joint first place in this years list!
We love the small but friendly team at Flywheel, who are consistently helpful and importantly, they always put their hands up and apologise on the rare occasions that they do screw something up. It is just a shame that their support hours are still limited.
Uptime has been excellent and all of our client sites on Flywheel have achieved a long term 99.99% uptime in our Pingdom account compared to an average of 99.98% for WP Engine.
Finally, their ‘Tiny’ plan still offers incredible value and a great entry point to managed WordPress hosting for many companies. They might not quite be ready for our enterprise level clients but they going from strength to strength and already offer a fantastic solution for the majority of WordPress sites.
#3 Site Ground
We were intending to test Site Ground last year and didn’t have the time, but we have finally done it and it has been a very good experience.
Site Ground are not exclusively focused on WordPress but do offer a solid WordPress specific service, have really great support and have proven to be very reliable.
They also offer really great value considering the quality of service and so they are definitely with a look, especially if you need to host some other non-WordPress elements in the same account, which is not possible with dedicated platforms like WP Engine and Flywheel.
#4 TSO Host
Our favourite “steady Eddy” hosting company, TSO is incredible value, very reliable and have one of the best support teams that we have experienced from a budget hosting provider.
They won’t set your world on fire with exciting WordPress specific features, but we have found that WordPress always works perfectly, saving us a lot of time and hassle compared to other hosts. In fact, when we think we are facing a hosting specific issue on another host, we use TSO as a benchmark. We know that if it works at all, it will work on TSO.
Pressidium have only recently come onto our radar but have made an impression on us in a very short space of time. They have a passionate team, truly scalable architecture and a true dev ops support service.
There are undoubtedly some basic issues that they need to iron out such as improving their support portal (multiple users is really essential) and enabling multi-sites to be configured as sub-directories, but we have been promised that this is all coming soon.
Apart from the multi-site issue, we love their approach to keeping their offering as open and flexible as possible, and taking a proactive and consultative approach to meeting clients needs.
We think that Pressidium are the ones to watch in 2016 as they are bringing something genuinely different to the marketplace and presenting some solid competition to other specialist WordPress hosts, which is great for customers.
A lack of green hosts
One of our frustrations as a WordPress agency is the lack of specialist hosts offering any sort of real green credentials. In reality, the biggest part of any website’s environmental impact is the energy used in hosting, so we would really love to see hosts making commitments to improving energy efficiency and utilising clean energy. This is partly because none of them actually run their own data centres and so don’t control the technology at this level, but nevertheless we would love to see some hosts taking positive steps. Speaking of which, we know that Amazon AWS have made a commitment to move to 100% renewable energy and have started making some big steps towards it (even if they do currently use a lot of coal), so this could open up some better options in the near future. Fabio Torlini, UK MD for WP Engine talked about the environmental issues relating to web hosting in our Wholesome Business podcast a few months ago.
Who are your favourite WordPress hosts?
We would love to hear your opinions and experiences with our top 5 hosts and any other hosts that you think we should test for next year’s list. Please do share your thoughts in the comments below!