Powering over 75 million blogs and websites, WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) on the planet. It features interchangeable templates (known as themes), as well as plugins, an active community of developers, and a boat load of features. If this is your first time launching a WordPress blog, however, you’ll need to choose between the hosted and self-hosted version.
The hosted version of WordPress can be found at WordPress.com, whereas the self-hosted version is available for download at WordPress.org. The main difference between the two is the way in which they are hosted. Self-hosted versions of WordPress require the user to download the core files, upload them to their web host, and perform the manual installation. Hosted versions of WordPress eliminate the need for manual installations, as the files are set up and hosted on WordPress’ servers.
If you’re going to use the self-hosted version of WordPress, you’ll need to register a domain name and sign up for a web hosting service. Domain registration typically costs about $12/year for a dot com, while web hosting services run about $10/month for low-end shared accounts. The hosted version of WordPress offers free hosting for up to 3GB of data, at which point you’ll have to pay for additional storage. You can also choose to set up your hosted WordPress site as a free sub-domain (e.g. yoursite.wordpress.com) instead of buying a domain name.
The thought of receiving free web hosting services at no cost may sound enticing, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that hosted WordPress is the right choice. For starters, websites and blogs hosted on WordPress.com are riddled with advertisements — advertisements that you don’t get paid for displaying on your site. You can remove ads on your site by coughing up $29.97/year, but it seems a bit ridiculous to pay to remove ads.
Of course, the real deal-breaker with hosted WordPress is its lack of plugin support. One of the great things about WordPress is its massive library of plugins, ranging from basic sitemap creators to all-in-one SEO plugins. Unfortunately, webmasters and bloggers using the hosted version won’t have the option to use plugins, nor can they use custom themes.
To recap, hosted WordPress is a great way for new bloggers to get their feet wet without investing a ton of money. If you’re serious about blogging, however, you’ll want to stick with the self-hosted version. It requires a bit more time, money and work to set up, but the end result is well worth it.
Do you prefer hosted or self-hosted WordPress? Let us know in the comments section below!