Our top 5 WordPress hosts for 2018

For the past few years we’ve been publishing our annual list of our favorite WordPress hosts, and more recently, our favorite green WordPress hosts. This year is the same, but different.

For the first time, we are merging our overall top 5 list with our green hosting list, because we believe that sustainability should be a primary consideration when choosing a hosting provider.  With the internet producing 2% of global carbon emissions and being one of the fastest growing sources of emissions, we really need to take leadership as an industry to turn the dial the other way, and green hosting is one of the easiest ways to reduce the emissions of any website.

The following list is based on our independent experience using a wide range of specialist WordPress hosts in the real world, for our own web properties and for our clients. The main factors that we consider are speed, security, sustainability, user experience, customer service, reliability and value.

So here’s this years top five WordPress hosts

#1 Kinsta

Kinsta is a new entry to our list this year and has gone straight in at number one. We found that the Kinsta team have been extremely friendly and helpful, and the overall experience excellent. The hosting panel is beautifully designed and easy to use for all levels, and includes some handy tools for developers. It’s been fast and stable and so far no one in our team has said anything but positive things about it.  It’s rare that a hosting provider receives such overwhelmingly positive feedback.

On top of that, they run entirely on Google Cloud platform. This means that they benefit from Google’s leadership on energy efficiency and renewable energy as discussed in a recent article about Greening the Web. It’s therefore difficult not to conclude that from those that we’ve tested in the past year, Kinsta is the best overall WordPress host and the best green hosting provider for WordPress.

I know that Kinsta have worked incredibly hard on the development of their platform and it is clear that their hard work and vision is paying off.

  • Speed – 5/5
  • Security – 5/5
  • Sustainability – 4/5
  • User experience – 5/5
  • Customer service – 5/5
  • Reliability – 5/5
  • Value – 3/5

TOTAL: 32/35

#2 WP Engine

We have a lot of experience working with WP Engine over the years and they’ve consistently been a solid option for WordPress sites, large and small. They generally offer great performance and security, and a good range of useful tools for developers and non-technical users. They also have a really lovely team, so they’re all around a fantastic option and are used by many of our clients.

They also use some Google data centers and so you can request to be hosted in order to benefit from Google’s green credentials, but this should not be taken for granted as it is not officially part of the service offering.

It was a close call with Kinsta, but overall, the Kinsta control panel is preferred by our team and their green credentials are stronger.

  • Speed – 5/5
  • Security – 5/5
  • Sustainability – 2/5
  • User experience – 4/5
  • Customer service – 4/5
  • Reliability – 5/5
  • Value – 3/5

TOTAL: 28/35

#3 Flywheel

I personally love Flywheel. When they started up a few years ago they challenged the market with higher standards of user experience by designing their service for non-technical users. Many of our clients use them and love them for small to medium sized websites, and they’re great value. They have a fantastic team, culture, and overall their service is fairly solid, but there are some limitations that prevent if from going to the top of this years list.

They unfortunately don’t use green energy in their data centers. They have been really helpful in researching the issue, but currently are not in a position to do much about it. You can read about this is last years green hosting list.

We have had some issues with Multisite, particularly with the lack of Let’s Encrypt SSL and frustrations with the staging environment. Developers tools are more limited than with Kinsta or WP Engine. Support is limited outside of Omaha working hours and they have limited security monitoring.

  • Speed – 4/5
  • Security – 3/5
  • Sustainability – 1/5
  • User experience – 5/5
  • Customer service – 4/5
  • Reliability – 5/5
  • Value – 5/5

TOTAL: 27/35

#4 Timpani

Timpani is a specialist WordPress service launched by some of the same faces behind the veteran Linux managed hosts, Positive Internet. An entirely separate company, Timpani is aimed at consumers and SMEs alike; for bigger projects, it’s worth considering a tailored service from Positive Internet, which we have found to be first class.

Timpani are really great people with strong values and take data security, privacy, and sustainability extremely seriously. Probably more so than most other hosts. Timpani is principally based out of a secure data centre in Cambridgeshire that runs on a 100% renewable energy; and all of its additional network locations are in the UK. Websites seem to run pretty quickly on their platform. We would love to place them higher on the list, but like Flywheel who we scored equally overall, there are some niggles that we’ve experienced.

We’ve experienced a few down time events this year. Hopefully this was a blip, but we’ve seen an average of 99.90% compared between 99.95% and 99.99% for all other hosts in this list. And they don’t currently allow WordPress Multisite, which makes is frustrating if you have a genuine use case for multisite but not a problem for the majority of people who use WordPress as a single site.

  • Speed – 5/5
  • Security – 5/5
  • Sustainability – 5/5
  • User experience – 2/5
  • Customer service – 3/5
  • Reliability – 3/5
  • Value – 4/5

TOTAL: 27/35

#5 Raidboxes

Raidboxes is one of my personal favourites.  Based in Germany and running on 100% renewable energy, they offer a great balance of simple user experience and solid performance, although the platform is not as fully featured as rivals such as Kinsta and WP Engine…yet.

Support has always been fairly fast and friendly, although not always as helpful as it could have been, requiring more technical knowledge and investigation from the customer than with some other WordPress hosts.  One of the other downsides is that the pricing plan is somewhat more complex than other competitors and there are some notable exclusions such as Malware cleanup, which as charged at an hourly rate.

  • Speed – 4/5
  • Security – 3/5
  • Sustainability – 4/5
  • User experience – 3/5
  • Customer service – 3/5
  • Reliability – 5/5
  • Value – 3/5

TOTAL: 25/35

There’s no perfect WordPress host but the all of the services that we have tested continue to get better year on year and competition in the market is growing, including an increase in the availability of greener hosting services. It’s very much a case of horses for courses, which is why we always review the needs of specific projects to find the best host each time.

As mentioned, this list is based on our experiences in the past year and not by any means a scientific comparison.  It is also worth noting that there are other excellent hosts such as Siteground that have not been included in this list due to their lack of a tailored, WordPress specific control panel, but are still well worth a look.

It should also be noted that the grading on sustainability may appear a bit harsh, but we have reserved the 5/5 rating for hosts that not only use 100% renewable energy and have energy efficient data centres, but also have a commitment to sustainability at an organisational level, which currently is not clear from any of the listed hosts other than Timpani.

I hope this years list is helpful and encourages a few people to choose better WordPress hosting services.  If you have any questions about our experiences, feel free to contact us and we’ll be happy to share.

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