Site owners have a wealth of software platforms to choose from. You want to be sure that the platform you choose has all the options you’re looking for. WordPress is unique in that it offers two versions of its software. Each version is designed to meet the various needs of site owners.
One version is a hosted platform available at WordPress.com that meets the needs of people who do not want to worry about installing or dealing with software; the other is the self-hosted version of the WordPress software available at WordPress.org, which offers users a bit more freedom and flexibility.
This post will introduce you to both versions of the WordPress platform and compare their similarities and differences in hopes of helping you choose the right one to suit your particular needs.
WordPress.com is a commercial site allowing you to host your own website or blog for free, but with some limitations. Running on the open source WordPress platform, WordPress.com is welcomed by millions of webmasters due to its user-friendliness and low cost.
Hosting with WordPress.com means you can create unlimited pages and blog posts and get your site optimized for SEO with no charge for forever. For specific needs, you can also select some paid service to upgrade your site. More than that, it means your site will be well-protected with automatic security updates as well as the best spam-fighting power.
However, WordPress.com is not perfect. The main drawback of using WordPress.com is you are not allowed to modify the PHP source code. You will find that you cannot upload some themes and install any outside plugins you eagerly need. Another weakness is you are unable to use a custom domain name but a WordPress.com address before you upgrade to its Premium plan with at least $99 per year.
WordPress.org is where the WordPress blogging or CMS software is freely available to the public. The same goes for thousands of thems and plugins, in addition to some paid ones that can be purchased separately.
With the software comes the need of finding a best web hosting solution to host your WordPress site along with your own domain name so that visitors can easily point to it. Also, you can fully control over the software and your site, including modifying your files as needed, make money from it, and use third-party analytics and tracking tools. More than that, WordPress.org Support Forums covers tons of tutorials available for helping you extend you site’s functionality and change designs. And the WordPress Codex offers you all the basic information and documentation of WordPress.
With WordPress.org, the only thing you need to consider is how much money you can sacrifice for a web host. There are many best WordPress hosting with affordable price you can trust, such as InMotion Hosting and Arvixe.
WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org
Certain features are available to you in every WordPress site setup, whether you’re using the hosted version at WordPress.com or the self-hosted software from WordPress.org. These features include (but aren’t limited to)
- Quick-and-easy installation and setup
- Full-featured blogging capability, letting you publish content to the Web through an easy-to-use Web-based interface
- Topical archiving of your posts, using categories
- Monthly archiving of your posts, with the ability to provide a listing of those archives for easy navigation through your site
- Comment and trackback tools
- Automatic spam protection
- Built-in gallery integration for photos and images
- Media Manager for video and audio files
- Unlimited number of static pages, letting you step out of the box and into the sphere of running a fully functional Web site
When it comes to cost of hosting a website with WordPress.com and WordPress.org, the comparison should be based on four aspects: domain name, ads removal, website space, and web hosting.
The basic WordPress.com package is free with 3GB of space, a custom WordPress.com address, and hundreds of free themes with no modifications. If you want to build a site using your own domain name, unlimited space, no ads, Google Analytics, and other advanced features, the hosted version at WordPress.com can be as high as $299 per year.
Compared to that, downloading a copy of the WordPress software for free and purchasing a hosting solution to house your own site is a better option. For saving your money, some web hosts will also give you a free domain name in addition to abundant storage space upon sign-up. As far as I know, most shared hosting solutions for WordPress cost less than $5/mo after discounting. If you need a more reliable VPS or dedicated server platform to host with your WordPress site, the cost would be much more.
No matter which web host or domain registrar you choose, you will have access to completely control over you site, database, domain, and files at any time. Also, you are ensured to not be disturbed by any advertising.
If just from the cost factor, WordPress.com can be a good choice if you don’t have nor plan to spend any money on a simple personal blog or website. On the flip side, if you are going to monetize your site, choosing self-hosted software from WordPress.org is more cost-effective.
Freedoms and Limitations
The type of site you are going to create determines where to host your site. Based on your goals, you will know how much freedom and wiggle room you need.
WordPress.com provides you with a free site hosting, but there is some restrictions. For example, if you are looking to build an eCommerce or membership site, you have to upgrade to its premium plans. Contrary to it, hosting with WordPress.org comes with lots of freedom allowing you to build any WordPress site, and you are also allowed to scale your hosting plan or upgrade to a higher-end platform on demand.
As a result, if you take freedom and control of your WordPress site into serious consideration, setting up it with software from WordPress.org is a wiser option.
Maintenance and Development
Hosting your site with WordPress.com, you don’t have to worry anything about maintenance. The engineers behind the WordPress.com will do it for you. But with a self-hosted site, you are on your own unless you purchase a managed hosting solution to replace with you.
As to development, both platforms will regularly and automatically update the WordPress core to the latest version so that your site can have a solid foundation.
Consequently, WordPress.com would be a perfect choice if you don’t have the time nor have the basic technical knowledge on ongoing maintenance and development.
Which is Better for You?
It is the truth that both WordPress.com and WordPress.org are great options for you to build an ideal WordPress site. The final decision relies on the type of site you are going to build, how much money you are willing to invest in, you skill level as well as how much time you can spend on managing your site. In a word, the better option is the one fits your needs best.