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Web Hosting vs. WordPress Hosting: The Differences Explained

Web Hosting vs. WordPress Hosting: The Differences Explained

Vallery Henings

January 28, 2021 (modified on February 8, 2021)


Most business owners at least accept that a website is a part of doing business in the modern world. Yet, despite this understanding, more than a third of small businesses lack a website of any kind.

For example, hosting companies often offer confusing hosting plans, such as web hosting vs. WordPress hosting.

While either option can get your business website online, you must understand the differences to pick the right option for you. Need some help in this area? Keep reading for our overview of the difference between web hosting and WordPress hosting.

What Is Web Hosting?

Man using laptop in server room

Before digging into WordPress vs. web hosting, it helps if you possess a basic working knowledge of how websites function and the role hosting plays.

How Websites Work

When you visit a website, you see everything from graphics to text and even product listings. It looks complex, and, in some respects, it is complex. A good website includes a lot of parts that must work together correctly to display correctly on a computer.

In other respects, though, a website isn’t very complicated. A website is nothing more than some computer files that include carefully written code in some common programming languages, such as:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript
  • Python
  • Ruby on Rails
  • PHP

It’s this code that makes websites operate correctly. When you access a website, all of that code tells your web browser and computer what to do so you can interact with the site.

Code inspector

Hosting and Websites

So, where does hosting enter the picture? In simplest terms, web host companies store all of those files and make it possible for web browsers to reach them.

Web hosting companies run huge collections of specialized computers called servers. These servers are where your website files live. When a web browser goes looking for a particular website address, it gets directed to these servers.

The servers then send some information to your web browser, such as graphics for display, and do some work themselves, such as accessing databases. The code in your files helps define what happens on the server and what happens locally on your computer.

Hosting Services

Of course, hosting companies do more than just give you a place to store your website files. Most of them offer a range of additional services.

For example, a standard web hosting plan will typically include access to a control panel.

cPanel dashboard

A control panel lets you do administrative tasks, such as setting passwords or installing add-ons like a forum for your site. Control panels typically give you access to databases and all of your files. Depending on your setup, they may also give analytics data like total visitors or average visit duration.

Some hosting services let you run a domain-specific email system. Let’s say you own a business called Bob’s Tacos, and your website is You might set up an email system for employees with email addresses like

WordPress Hosting

One of the most common hosting plan options is a WordPress hosting plan. Before jumping into WordPress hosting, let’s do a brief overview of WordPress.

What Is WordPress?

WordPress landing page

WordPress is a specific kind of software called a content management system or CMS. You can think of it as a simplified system for building and managing a website. WordPress comes with features like a page builder, blog, and themes for different kinds of websites.

For example, a photographer wants their images front and center. So, they’ll want a theme that comes with a built-in portfolio page and possibly a slider for the home page. A slider literally slides images across the screen.

You can get thousands of free and custom themes that let change the look and feel of your site. A stunning number of free and paid plugins let you add functions and features to your site, such as extra security and e-commerce options.

WordPress Hosting Services

A WordPress hosting plan sets up the server hardware and software specifically for WordPress. For example, WordPress relies on PHP. So, the hosting company will make sure you get access to a PHP application server.

These hosting services may also offer WordPress-specific bells-and-whistles, such as including premium themes or plugins as part of the package.

WordPress plugins

By focusing server setup on WordPress, the host provides you with a more efficient setup. The servers don’t worry about anything that WordPress doesn’t do. That means it carries out operations faster, and you get a faster website.

Web Hosting vs. WordPress Hosting

At first blush, it’s easy to think there is a massive difference between web hosting and WordPress hosting. In practical terms, though, WordPress hosting is just a specific kind of web hosting.

A general web hosting service must accommodate any kind of website that you want to launch for your business. That means it must support most or all of the major programming languages and frameworks for those languages.

While this approach helps hosting companies capture the biggest numbers of customers, it also means they can only offer so much support.

Since the company can’t keep experts in every web programming language on staff, its support will prove to be more general for most problems.

Since WordPress only relies on a few programming languages and database types, a company can keep experts on staff who can offer very specific support for that plan.

WordPress and Web Hosting for Your Business

In the web hosting vs. WordPress hosting debate, no one answer serves all businesses. For new businesses with limited tech talent on board, WordPress hosting often makes the most sense. It’s simpler in terms of maintenance, and you can learn the essentials fairly quickly.

For businesses with specific technical needs, though, a regular web hosting service often makes more sense. The regular hosting service can support the wider range of software or programming languages you may use on your site.

Looking for more guidance on hosting and website building? Check out some of the other posts on our blog.