WordPress: Host it Yourself or Host on WordPress.com

I sent someone some advice on WordPress hosting and made the mistake of posting about it on Twitter, which resulted in a couple of requests to blog about it.

I started this blog as the Open Source Culture blog (later renamed the Open Culture blog) on Blogspot.com. Last April, I rebranded the blog as Fast Wonder and moved it to WordPress.com. After a few months, I grew increasingly frustrated with the limitations of WordPress.com, and I moved it to my own hosting provider. Based on this experience, I tend to recommend that most (but not all) people host their own WordPress installations, instead of using WordPress.com.

There are a number of benefits of hosting WordPress on your own domain.

  • You can use a custom feed and have it auto-discovered (I highly recommend the free FeedBurner service). The benefit of a custom feed is that you can move your blog around, rename it, etc. and keep the same FeedBurner feed forever to avoid losing subscribers.
  • You can have a custom favicon on your own host, but on WordPress.com, you are stuck with the WordPress favicon.
  • You can get better analytics (Google analytics are also free) if you host it yourself.
  • You have more control over the theme, since you can hack on the templates files, while you are more limited to just css changes on WordPress.com
  • It also seems like some countries may be blocking all of WordPress.com, so if you do business globally in certain countries this may or may not be important depending on how you use your blog. Thanks to Aaron Hockley for reminding me of this issue.

For people already on WordPress.com, it is pretty easy to migrate to your own host without losing comments, posts, etc. with the WordPress export / import.

There are some potential disadvantages to hosting your own WordPress installation:

  • Hosting it yourself requires a fair amount of technical knowledge to install.
  • You have to keep up with installing the WordPress security updates, which can be a lot more work to maintain.

Yes, I am a big fan of hosting my own WordPress installs; however it really isn’t for everyone. If you aren’t at least roughly familiar with databases and installing PHP applications, I wouldn’t try it yourself. Also, if you have a very small blog and really don’t want to do much customization or spend much time on it, then I would go with WordPress.com and not host it yourself.

There are probably some other advantages and disadvantages, so drop them in the comments if I missed anything.

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts:

12 Responses to “WordPress: Host it Yourself or Host on WordPress.com”

  • Excellent advice Dawn but you did leave out a few things:

    It’s actually quite easy to get started without knowing a bit of php, mysql or even anything about installation. Dreamhost.com and many other hosts now offer one-click installs of wordpress (and many other applications too) that have the ability to one-click update as new versions are released. That way you don’t have to worry about updates and patching.
    Plus with the plugin repository you can easily add plugins to extend the usefulness and usability of your blog without having to upload them more than once now that it has automatic plugin updating tools built in.
    When it comes to stats management for those that are either a little bit more comfortable with php and mysql the best stats app you can get is Mint by webdesign superstar Shaun Inman over at http:/haveamint.com

    All around great reasons to switch though and once people do switch from having wordpress.com host their blog they’ll not only have their own easy to maintain beautiful blog but the ability to tell people they have their own website without knowing anything about webdesign or coding at all :D

  • The WordPress Automatic Upgrade plug-in is a great way to automatically update when there are security updates and such. :-)

  • Chris and Chris,

    Excellent points! I knew if I got the conversation started that I would learn a few new tips, too :-)

  • Another issue (again, depending on the purpose of your blog) is you can’t currently run any sort of advertising on a wordpress.com hosted blog.

  • good article …
    would have been nice if you could have included some web host you suggest we check out …
    but i guess that would be a whole new post … eh ?
    thanks for sharing …

  • Thanks Dawn, you convinced me to stick with WordPress hosting a little longer. There’s lots of advantages to self-hosting, but I like the idea of sticking to my business right and letting someone else take care of the rest.

  • Nowadays the web hosts have WordPress built in and its super easy to setup a new blog. My Hostgator account sets up the database for me with a couple clicks of the mouse my entire blog is ready to go.

  • Aaron, good point about the advertising limitations on WordPress.

    subcorpus, I am the wrong one to ask about hosting. I’m using GoDaddy now, and I’m not all that thrilled with them. However, I also can’t find one I like better. I’m starting to think that they all suck :-)

    Mike, hosted WordPress is perfect for people who just don’t want to hassle with anything and who just want it to work without any extra effort. Todd & I talked about this quite a bit when he was moving to WordPress a few weeks ago. He went with hosted WordPress for exactly those reasons.

    Jarrod, I forget how easy some of the hosting providers make it to install WordPress with one-click installs and other help. I tend to just do it myself, but I’m starting to very seriously look at some plugins and hosting providers that make using WordPress a little easier to install, upgrade, and manage.

  • Can you provide your goods and services into the educational sector in your area. if you can and you are willing to offer the schools a discount, you could find your business in front of all the educational establishments in the uk. you also get direct communication with headteachers to update them with your special offers etc

  • Hosting is fairly simple and relatively cheap these days. It does require a certain commitment and a willingness to learn. Security is the big thing. Some of this is difficult to comprehend and figure out if you are used to those free hosts that do most of this for you. But when everything is all your own it does have its rewards.

  • My first blog was at wordpress.com. With time, I start to make a wish list of thing that I could not do: I wanted to do some quick templates modifications, put my own fav icon . Also I wanted have more controls about my ads. (among other control and monitoring stuff)

    So, one day, I decided to start a new test blog on a free web host. I tried severals Free web hosting provider, some of then put ads on my site, other just dont support WP and other have really poor performance or the site become offline too often.

    As you can see, This is not an easy task…I spent almost a month looking for a webspace for my own webblog for free.

    Until now, the best option I found was at http://www.230mb.com Since this seems to be a new free hosting provider, their servers are not that crowded and my site perform ok.
    The front end of the site has no forced ads. (Although, they put some ads on the administrative vista panel, but I can live with that.)

    The installation of WP was easier than I could imagine. I use one of the tutorials published by them and in less than 15 minutes I had my plain WP installation running. I’ve been testing it and I love to have a file manager to edit configuration files online.

    I’ll start to migrate my site in xmas vacations.

    This is my experience, I hope that my words help one of you to take the jump to own hosted wp blog.

    Great blog, and thanks for allow me to post on it.

  • I think the blog is very nice about to the Word press: Host it Yourself or Host on Word press.com.The list above given is very useful and informative for the users,In this way the peoples can gets a lot of benefits about hosting,Especially for the web hosts.

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