Unless you’ve used WordPress in the past, you might be surprised to learn that it’s available in two versions. The acclaimed content management system (CMS) is available in a hosted version and a self-hosted version. While they offer a similar interface that revolves around a block-based editor, though, their features vary. If you’re going to build a website with WordPress, you should use the self-hosted version for the following reasons.
Self-hosted WordPress is free to download and use. You can download it from wordpress.org, after which you can install it on your website’s domain. If you use hosted WordPress, on the other hand, you’ll have to pay a monthly fee.
Hosted WordPress is a commercial service offered by Automattic. Available at wordpress.com, it consists of a modified version of WordPress that’s hosted by Automattic. You can sign up for a free trial of hosted WordPress, but after the trial period has expired, you’ll have to upgrade to a paid subscription. Subscription plans for hosted WordPress cost $4 to $45 per month. As a result, only self-hosted WordPress is truly free.
File Transfer Protocol (FTP) access is available with self-hosted WordPress. FTP access means you connect to your website’s server over this communication protocol to download and upload files. There are FTP clients, such as FileZilla, that support FTP connections. With self-hosted WordPress, you can use an FTP client to access all of your website’s files.
Only self-hosted WordPress offers FTP access. You can’t use an FTP client or any other tool to connect to your website’s server if you build your site with hosted WordPress. The only way to download and upload files with hosted WordPress is through the dashboard. You can only access certain files, such as images and videos, through the dashboard, making it more restrictive than self-hosted WordPress.
Themes and Plugins
There are themes and plugins for both versions of WordPress. Themes, of course, are templates that govern the layout and appearance of your website, whereas plugins are software packages that introduce new features or modify existing features.
While both versions support themes and plugins, there’s a wider selection available for self-hosted WordPress. Self-hosted WordPress is more popular than hosted WordPress. Therefore, more developers release themes and plugins for self-hosted WordPress. Many themes and plugins are only available for self-hosted WordPress; they aren’t available for hosted WordPress. For the largest section of themes and plugins, you should use self-hosted WordPress.
To build landing pages, you should use self-hosted WordPress. Landing pages are typically small websites — some of them are just a single page — that are designed to promote a specific product or service. By using self-hosted WordPress, you can build landing pages without worrying about restrictive guidelines.
Automattic doesn’t explicitly prohibit the use of hosted WordPress for landing pages. Nonetheless, it has monetization guidelines with which users must comply. You can’t promote multi-level marketing (MLM) programs on hosted WordPress, for instance, and the majority of your website’s content must be nonpromotional. Failure to follow these guidelines could result in the suspension of your website.
Migrating your website to a new server is easy with self-hosted WordPress. You just need to copy your website’s static files and database, after which you can upload them to the new server. Self-hosted WordPress makes server migration a breeze.
Server migration is possible with hosted WordPress as well, but it’s more difficult. When you perform a server migration with hosted WordPress, you’ll essentially transition your website to self-hosted WordPress. It involves moving your website from one of Automattic’s servers to a separate web hosting server.
Hosted WordPress is only available with Automattic’s servers, so you’ll have to install a fresh copy of self-hosted WordPress to perform the migration. After installing self-hosted WordPress, you can then transfer over the necessary files and the database.
If you use hosted WordPress, you may notice a “Powered by WordPress.com” message in your website’s footer. All hosted WordPress websites have this branding. And because of the closed and restrictive nature of hosted WordPress, you can’t easily remove it. The only way to remove the “Powered by WordPress.com” message is to spend $25 per month on a Business plan.
There’s no forced branding with self-hosted WordPress. Some themes may feature the WordPress name or logo, but you can easily remove these brand elements. Just open the theme file that features the branding and delete the code for it. Self-hosted WordPress gives you complete control over your website. You can add and remove branding at no cost.
Self-hosted WordPress isn’t inherently faster than hosted WordPress. Nonetheless, using it may result in faster page load times for your websites. Visitors may experience shorter load times if you build your website with self-hosted WordPress.
As its name suggests, self-hosted WordPress requires third-party web hosting. There are dozens of third-party web hosting providers, many of which offer multiple plans. You can choose a high-end plan from a reliable web hosting provider to ensure that your website loads fast. Hosted WordPress, conversely, doesn’t give you the freedom to choose a web hosting plan. You’ll have to host your website on one of Automattic’s servers, which will likely be slower than third-party web hosting.
Because of its ability to promote faster page load times, self-hosted WordPress is search engine friendly. Page load times affect search rankings. If you use self-hosted WordPress, you can choose a fast web hosting service that helps your website climb the search results. Using hosted WordPress may result in a slower website that doesn’t rank as high.
On the surface, hosted WordPress may look the same as its self-hosted counterpart. They both consist of a content management system (CMS) that’s accessible with any major web browser, and they both feature the same block-based editor. Self-hosted WordPress, however, outperforms hosted WordPress. It’s free, offers FTP access, has a wider selection of themes and plugins, supports landing pages, doesn’t force branding, makes server migration a breeze and allows you to choose a fast WordPress Hosting service.