WordPress has become the world’s most popular and widely used content management system (CMS), powering tens of millions of websites and blogs. It’s fast, efficient, versatile, and loaded with features. If you’re thinking about using WordPress, however, you’ll need to choose between the hosted and self-hosted version.
Many people are surprised to learn that there are actually two different versions of WordPress available, the hosted version, which is found at WordPress.com, and the self-hosted version, which is found at WordPress.org. The term “hosted” simply refers to the way in which the WordPress files are stored. With the hosted version, all files are stored on remote servers operated by WordPress, whereas self-hosted sites are hosted by the webmaster or a service of his or her choosing.
In terms of installation, hosted WordPress is easier and more beginner-friendly. You can set up a hosted WordPress site in just minutes, without having to create a database or mess with the HTML. Granted, self-hosted WordPress is also fairly easy to set up, with installation taking just five minutes on average – but you will need to create a database, which is something that often confuses first-time webmasters.
Both hosted and self-hosted WordPress are free to use (with the exception of premium themes, plugins and services), but there are generally greater costs associated with maintaining a self-hosted site. With self-hosted WordPress, you must register a domain name and purchase a web hosting service, both of which costs money. Hosted WordPress, on the other hand, allows you to use their domain and web hosting at no additional charge.
Because hosted WordPress allows webmasters to use its domain name, your website/blog will actually be created as a subdomain under WordPress.com (e.g. yourwebsite.wordpress.com). Why is this a problem? Well, many people have a hard time remembering complex domain names such as this, meaning it could hurt your traffic in the long run. Subdomains may also create issues in terms of search engine optimization, making it difficult to rank for your target keywords. More importantly, if you plan on using the website to build your business, having a sub-domained website makes it harder to build a credible brand. (Click Here for tips on creating a search engine friendly WordPress site).
One of the perks of choosing WordPress as your CMS is the ability to change your design on the fly with interchangeable themes, and to add new features/functions with plugins. The self-hosted version of WordPress, allows you to make full use of theme customization and plugins than the hosted version.
So to recap, the hosted version of WordPress is generally tailored to newcomers. You can have a website up and running in just minutes using this route, without having to mess with a third-party web host, domain names, databases, or code. But if you want to take full advantage of the WordPress platform and everything it has to offer, you really need to stick with the self-hosted version.