The 5 Best eCommerce Website Builders For 2020
Starting an ecommerce website in 2020 is no big deal. There is a multitude of tools and services that let you set up a web page and go online in a matter of minutes
Are you looking for the best managed WordPress host?
We test all top WP hosts to give you a list of 19 best WordPress hosting providers based on a data-driven methodology.
When you buy services via links here we might get some affiliate commission. Read more.
Hostinger managed WordPress hosting ticks all boxes: fast, reliable, affordable, scalable.
Ideal for entry-level site owners, the packages are tailored to meet the needs of a growing website by putting more server but also marketing resources into your hands.Read Full Review
Scala Hosting provides versatile WordPress hosting packages that are suitable for bloggers and small businesses but also to real power users thanks to the managed VPS plan.Read Full Review
Jump in the driving seat with Cloudways by setting up your own server and controlling every aspect of your WordPress hosting.
Need more resources? Scale up or down with a click.
Need the best performance? Varnish, Memcached, Apache, and Nginx are behind the scenes to make WordPress fly. SSD across the board, MariaDB, and PHP-FPM ensure everything is clicking and clicking quickly.
Staging, Git-integration, automated backups, WP-CLI provide complete control, while nearly 60 server locations with powerful hardware deliver the umpf!
Friendly, geeky, reliable, A2 is a very sympathetic web hosting provider. A relatively small company with disproportionately large portfolio of services, it offers a robust managed package that holds its ground among the best WordPress web hosting providers.Read Full Review
AccuWebHosting relies on Cloud Linux virtualization running on LiteSpeed web servers to marry top-notch performance to extreme security. Multilayered DDoS protection (including a hardware firewall) and remote daily backups add value to the mix, while a powerful caching plugin, the excellent support and rick knowledge base ensure that your WordPress site will work as desired at all times.
Pressable is a great choice for a handful of demanding WordPress sites.
The plans are feature-rich, highly-optimized, and outright impressive when it comes to performance.
Jetpack Premium, daily backups, free SSL, and heavy focus on WooCommerce are but a few of the many merits this WordPress platform has.
Great knowledge base and very helpful support (plus great onboarding team) make for an excellent WordPress hosting experience.
Yes, free + plugin
A cheap WordPress hosting solution that delivers the goods. Very friendly, quick, and knowledgeable support make hosting with this relatively small company a real pleasure. It is ideal for people who start from scratch as the hosting plans scale up very well.Read Full Review
Affordable, quick, and with great interface, HostGator is a company with certain merits. However, its backend struggles with many visitors and the support could be better. The price and the general performance are not to be underestimated though.Read Full Review
WordPress is a stunning platform. There is no denying that.
But how do you make the most out of it? A good theme and powerful plugins are nice to have, but it is the quality of the host that makes the real difference.
That’s why I paid for, tested and re-tested the best WordPress hosting providers, and created this list of the top managed WP services you can find in 2020.
Here, at a glance you can see:
As is customary on Hosting Tribunal, I purchased (managed and unmanaged) WordPress packages from the best hosting companies and hooked them up to extensive monitoring to deliver the most representable and objective results possible.
The hard data collected through four separate performance tests and an additional uptime monitor will help you navigate among the multitude of WP hosts and choose the fastest and most reliable option.
Hostinger managed WordPress hosting ticks all boxes: fast, reliable, affordable, scalable.
Ideal for entry-level site owners, the packages are tailored to meet the needs of a growing website by putting more server but also marketing resources into your hands.
Hostinger adds quite a few WordPress-specific features on top of its versatile shared plans to craft a well-rounded product.
Hostinger WPplatform runs on LiteSpeed servers, which are known for their fast speed and advanced caching.
Accordingly, all WordPress users benefit by default from the powerful LS Cache Plugin. This server-level cacher is built specifically for WP running on LiteSpeed and its output is noticeable.
That’s not all because all Hostinger servers rely on SSD to deliver maximum performance.
JetPack is one of the most popular WordPress suites because it is such a great all-rounder.
The smallest Hostinger plan provides only the free version of the plugin, but should you decide to upgrade it can grow to Personal or Premium subscription.
Hostinger provides a rather nice collection of WP themes to choose from. Thanks to the company’s growing connections you can get yourself a premium theme for free.
Hostinger is working actively on improving its WordPress hosting solution. It already includes things like SSH access, Git, WP-CLI, SFTP, phpMyAdmin, and multiple PHP versions, while a staging environment is in the works.
The entry plan has only weekly backups but the other two copy your data every single day.
Hostinger clocks in some irresistible times. It is the second fastest host on the list, lagging only behind Kinsta.
The time-to-first-byte is only 0.24 seconds on average and the site loads fully in 0.86 seconds.
On the backend things look impressive as well, with an average response time of only 0.91 seconds. Even when bombarded with over 300 simultaneous queries the LiteSpeed servers responded well within norm.
Add to the mix the impressive 99.97% of uptime over the span of 19 months of monitoring and you get yourself a highly reliable and quick WordPress hosting that remains extremely affordable.
Hostinger relies on Imunify360 to secure its WordPress environment. This is a robust tool for proactive server monitoring that delivers six layers of protection. It includes WAF, reputation management, patching, IDS / IPS, and real-time malware detection.
The entire defence constantly evolves thanks to its advanced machine learning.
Support at Hostinger is weird.
Overall, it is quite good – the agents are quick to reply, they are friendly and knowledgeable.
The company even has a dedicated WordPress support team.
No complaints there.
However, the only way to reach them is via email. There is no phone line. There is no chat either.
The chat button you may find while browsing Hostinger.com leads to a contact form.
It is true, your query would be addressed within minutes but over email.
Not the greatest, but for what it is worth it, the agents are quite good.
The knowledge base is not bad either, with plenty of tutorials and help for beginners easily accessible throughout the site.
Hostinger has three plans: WordPress Starter ($2.15/mo), WordPress Premium ($7.45/mo), and WordPress Business ($14.95/mo).
The beauty of it is that each plan can host as many domains as you can fit there. The Starter comes with 20GB of SSD space, the Premium with 100GB, while the Business plan has the lofty 140GB.
The larger plans include a JetPack subscription as well.
Scala Hosting takes WordPress hosting to the next level: custom build, tight security, stellar performance, and an entire virtual server at your disposal.
Thanks to its heavy R&D investment the host provides a versatile control panel and many unique technologies that comprise a reliable, isolated, and swift WordPress environment.
Scala Hosting mixes things up in a very interesting way. It offers four WordPress plans and the biggest is powered by a VPS.
As such, it is considerably more versatile and secure than the other three, even though it costs the same as the largest among them.
This being said, Scala Hosting develops a handful of proprietary WordPress-oriented solutions that improve the management and security of the CMS. Most of them are available to all users but those who go for the VPS solution will benefit from the SWordPress manager.
All Scala Hosting WordPress users enjoy the benefits of servers set up to make the popular CMS shine.
It is easy to scale up or down with Scala Hosting. All plans grant a certain amount of computational power that helps monitor your site needs and plan accordingly.
7 daily backups kept for 7 days?
Scala is doing a great job at keeping things secure and running by providing multiple snapshots of your hosting account on a remote server.
All Scala WordPress plans include staging environment, Git, Ruby, CLI, custom PHP.ini, advanced DNS manager, cron jobs, access to raw logs, and more tools that help developers work freely.
When you consider the white labeling across the board, you can see how the company caters after agencies and designers.
Those who opt for the managed VPS WordPress solution will get even greater control and any custom technology they desire.
SWordPress Manager is available only for VPS users as it comes with the proprietary control panel called SPanel (Scala Panel).
It makes WP management a breeze by putting all frequently used controls in one place: passwords, WP installations, updates, and more.
One of the coolest features is the possibility to lock your site files. That makes it practically unhackable.
SWordPress Manager is under constant development and new features appear all the time.
Free SSL, free CDN, and the free domain name will get you going in minutes.
Scala Hosting promises that you can pay the same price for the rest of your life. Whatever the initial agreement is, it will remain unchanged for as long as you are a customer of the company.
Not bad, eh?
Scala Hosting scored some of the fastest results in the frontend and backend tests we carried out.
We ran our simple WordPress installation (without any optimizations enabled) through several benchmark testers and it took only:
– 0.29 seconds to respond to the first byte (TTFB)
– 0.76 seconds to load the site fully
On average, that makes a loading time of 0.55 seconds, which is blazing fast!
The backend handled more than 300 simultaneous queries in about 30 seconds on average.
On top of the generous backups, Scala Hosting deploys the powerful SShield Cyber-security suite to monitor and terminate in real time any threats.
Custom mod_security rules, automatic updates, and a web-application firewall contribute to the overall safety of the Scala hosting environment.
Even without the file lock option SWordPress provides, users can rest assured that their sites are safe.
Scala Hosting is a relatively small, independent hosting provider who caters after its customers.
The support is available 24/7, mostly via email, and responds quickly.
They are knowledgeable and even when confronted with unknown issues are eager to investigate and help. You can smell their technical curiosity.
Scala Hosting offers four generous. The first three are as follows:
– WP Mini – $3.95/mo – suitable for one site that will benefit from no storage and bandwidth limitations.
– WP Start – $5.95/mo – unlimited sites and more computational power builds up on the Mini plan.
– WP Advanced – $9.95/mo – even more resources allocated to advanced users, who will enjoy priority support and a free SEO analysis of their site!
And here’s the kicker:
– Managed VPS – $9.95 – Get your own powerful VPS and get advanced OneSpeed/LiteSpeed support, special control panel and SWordPress Manager.
Scala Hosting mixes things nicely with the traditional cPanel and proprietary technologies that elevate its WordPress hosting package to the next level.
Take full control over your WordPress site!
Cloudways manages Google Cloud, AWS, Digital Ocean, Vultr, and Linode servers to craft a truly powerful WordPress hosting solution.
More akin to having a dedicated server, the Cloudways managed WordPress offer is stable, quick, and feature-rich.
It can be deployed anywhere in the world, scales up and down with the click of a button, and grants very strong control.
Cloudways WP hosting includes powerful developer tools and smart resource management.
All Cloudways clients benefit from potent server-side caching in the form of Varnish and Memcached.
But that’s not all.
Breeze is a proprietary WordPress caching plugin that enhances content caching further. It reduces server resources and speeds page performance dramatically.
CDNs are awesome for obvious reasons – they boost speed and security.
Cloudways deploys its own content delivery network to make WordPress faster and more stable all around the world.
Cloudways is all about accessibility.
It allows webmasters to ascribe access levels to team members in accordance with their respective roles and responsibilities.
Through the collaboration feature you can easily track changes and coordinate team efforts remotely.
Site staging and site cloning are there for developers and agencies. SSH and SFTP access add a necessary level of security, while the pre-configured Git integration helps with version control and collaboration.
The developer and collaboration tools make Cloudways an ideal host for developers and agencies.
I checked eight fully-developed sites hosted with Cloudways.
Their performance fluctuated slightly, but that was hardly a surprise. A couple of them were monstrous sites, four were blogs, and the last two were online stores.
Cloudways advertises itself as ideal for ecommerce and the results confirm as much because the shops I tested loaded very quickly.
Impressive stuff, however you look at it.
The uptime after six months of monitoring stays firmly at 99.9%
Regular automated backups, SFTP, SSH, and SSL certificates are the most visible part of the Cloudways defenses.
The company regularly updates and patches users’ WordPress sites that sit behind dedicated firewalls and enjoy strong account isolation.
Cloudways doesn’t provide phone support to basic users, but it has a very competent and quick live chat that is available 24/7.
The company promises quick resolution times as part of its end-user agreement.
I got in touch with them on a couple of occasions and received polite replies within the promised timeframe.
In terms of knowledge, I got the gut feeling they are slightly less knowledgeable than the support of dedicated WordPress hosts like Kinsta or WP Engine, but I must admit that this is a fully subjective feeling on my part. The first agent I spoke to had to research what I consider a couple of straightforward answers.
He got them right and found the info fairly rapidly so my issue was resolved quickly and efficiently.
Cloudways works with five premium cloud hosting providers.
Depending who you wish to manage your server, the prices and plans vary.
The smallest comes from Digital Ocean, costs $10 per month when paid for one year in advance. It comes with 1GB of RAM, 25GB of SSD space, a single CPU core, and a hefty 1TB bandwidth.
Cloudways is a hosting service that delivers unique WordPress solutions.
Through its numerous locations around the world, built-in CDN and powerful caching, intuitive control panel, scalability, and optimized stack it is flexible, fast, and stable.
It fully deserves its place among the best WordPress hosts.
Friendly and geeky, A2 offers a well-crafted managed package that deserves a rightful place among the leading WordPress web hosting providers.
Its WordPress solutions perform very well and are amongst the most affordable managed plans.
You will find a wide array of features, including perks like lazy loading images, built-in caching, and a money-back guarantee that never ends. The latter, in particular, is rarely seen today, regardless of the size of the host.
A2 Hosting actively improves its WordPress offering by constantly adding new, WP-oriented features.
All managed WordPress plans reside on the impressive A2 Turbo servers. In a nutshell, this custom configuration guarantees greater server resources, fewer users per server, and faster response time.
Speaking plainly, these servers grant better stability and speed, which boost customer satisfaction and SEO.
A2 Hosting partners with e-onlinedata to make credit card payment and processing a smoother, faster process while boosting the security of transactions and sensitive data.
Jetpack helps with security and analytics. It is a powerful suite that makes WordPress site management much more of a scientifically structured strategic effort and is well-worth its salt.
A2 Hosting includes it for free in all its WP plans.
CloudFlare ServerShield improves the performance of your site, increases its accessibility, and boosts its security.
It’s quite awesome.
And it’s free.
Backups are life-savers. Regardless of what kind of data you are dealing with, backing it up is a no-brainer.
SSD hosting is a term that is often thrown around but rarely matches reality.
A2 Hosting deploys solid-state drives throughout: files, operating system, and database all take advantage of the speed boost that this better, faster, and more reliable memory-storage technology grants.
A2 Hosting is among the fastest and most reliable WordPress providers. Both frontend and backend handle requests well under a second, despite traffic spikes.
The uptime is nigh perfect as well, sitting at 99.98% after more than 30 months of non-stop monitoring.
A2 has a well-designed package that is set up for optimal performance with minimum fuss.
Powerful infrastructure and attention to the detail make A2 Hosting an extremely secure place to host your site. Quadruple network redundancy, dual web firewall, proactive monitoring, server hardening, and more ensure that hacking attempts are thwarted efficiently.
A2 Hosting has awesome support throughout!
While not the narrow specialists other premium WordPress hosts deploy, the A2 crew is friendly, quick, and very honest. When they aren’t sure about something they say as much but that doesn’t discourage them to try and figure it out for you.
How many site will you host?
1, 3, or more?
The managed WordPress plans of the company are named aptly. 1 site would cost you $12?/mo, 3 would be 18 for as many years, while the Unlimited plan starts at 35?/mo.
Storage is capped as well. The 3-sites allows 25GB of storage, while the Unlimited package is limited to 40GB.
Other than that, the plans are largely identical.
A2 Hosting has a surprisingly robust offer! It is easily the cheapest WordPress hosting you can find without compromising the quality of the service in the slightest. The featured-rich managed service of A2 packs a Turbo-charged punch!
AccuWebHosting provides a WordPress hosting solution for developers and beginners alike.
Robust server architecture delivers flexibility and control without sacrificing automation and ease of use.
True SSD hosting set up on Cloud Linux and Litespeed servers guarantee redundancy, speed, and top-notch security across the board.
AccuWeb makes WordPress management easy by installing a powerful SEO plugin, a caching beast, and by updating everything for you.
AccuWeb allows users to run any plugin they deem fit, but each WordPress installation comes with a hyper caching plugin enabled.
When web hosting providers recommend plugins that work well in their environment, they know what they are talking about.
Yoast is one of the most powerful SEO suites there is. Even its free version puts plenty of tools to help you optimize your WP site and reach page 1.
True SSD hosting means that everything runs on solid-state drives: web servers, OS, and databases.
Many among the best WordPress hosts advertise SSD hosting but only a handful actually have their entire infrastructure running on SSDs.
AccuWebHosting is a true SSD host.
Staging, GIT, SSH, and CLI are available for AccuWebHosting WP developers and designers.
AccuWeb has built this impressive infrastructure – true SSD running on LiteSpeed web servers with Cloud Linux virtualization, redundant SAN storage nodes, multilayered DDoS protection – and it delivers.
I tested a few sites hosted with the company and the results were expectedly stunning:
I know, right?
And if this wasn’t enough, the uptime is firmly within 99.9%, which makes AccuWeb one of the fastest and most reliable WordPress hosting providers.
AccuWeb takes all precautions to keep its customers safe. The following measures are put in place:
Additionally, the AccuWeb support audits sites and checks for plugin and theme vulnerabilities.
Available 24/7, the AccuWeb support promises ticket resolution within the hour.
My tests delivered quick responses from technical support agents who knew well what they were talking about.
The numerous WordPress tutorials in the AccuWeb knowledge base are helpful for beginners but even experienced users can learn a trick or two.
The combo of good support agents and a rich knowledge base is a powerful one.
AccuWeb supports three WordPress hosting plans:
– WordPress Personal – $3.49/mo – Despite its name, the Personal plan allows for unlimited domain names, as far as you can fit them in 10GB of hosting space. Should work well for up to 30,000 visitors, even though the 500GB of bandwidth should be able to handle more.
– WordPress Business – $5.58/mo – The storage grows to 30GB of SSD space and 750GB of bandwidth and the Hyper Caching Plugin is preinstalled.
– WordPress Enterprise – $9.99/mo – You get 50GB of SSD storage and 1TB bandwidth.
Despite the fact that the AccuWeb plans limit the bandwidth, the allowance is significant.
All plans include a free domain name, free SSL, free migration, and free CDN.
AccuWebHosting might specialize in Windows VPS hosting services, but its managed WordPress offer is impressive.
It may lack certain advanced WordPress features – Jetpack Premium comes to mind – but it provides developer tools, strong security, and the performance everyone hopes for.
It is definitely one of the best WordPress hosting providers around!
Yes, free + plugin
Pressable is a premium WordPress hosting service.
It marries highly specialized support, WordPress-centered infrastructure, Jetpack Premium throughout, and excellent performance.
Pressable includes WordPress features that are seen nowhere else besides… WordPress.com.
Automattic is the company that initially developed and maintained WordPress (prior to handing it over to the WordPress Foundation). It also runs WordPress.com.
It acquired Pressable a few years ago and rebuilt the service completely and markedly boosted its performance.
Who is better equipped to create the most optimal WordPress hosting environment than its creators?
All Pressable plans include Jetpack Premium – a comprehensive suite that allows you to monitor site performance and security from a single dashboard.
The Jetpack Premium subscription doesn’t come cheap so having it at your disposal for free adds a tremendous value.
Jetpack is developed by Automattic as well.
WooCommerce is the most popular ecommerce plugin for WordPress. Another Automattic product, Pressable takes special provisions to deliver a powerful ecommerce solution by crafting WooCommerce-focused plans.
New Pressable customers are entitled to a personal onboarding call that will show them the secrets of the platform and reveal the limitless potential of the content management system.
By all accounts – my tests included – Pressable delivers high uptime and very fast speeds.
The uptime stays within the SLA guarantee of 99.9%
Pressable makes regular backups, provides free SSL and Jetpack Premium (which has many security features), deploys real-time monitoring, and extends help whenever security issues arise.
LXC compartmentalization is paired with power redundancy and hardware redundancy to ensure uninterruptible service around the clock.
Pressable doesn’t provide phone support, but that’s the only bad thing I can state.
The agents are quick, super knowledgeable, and eager to help. They are WordPress specialists through and through.
The self-help center is also an extremely valuable resource.
Pressable has four pre-made plans.
– Personal – $20.83/mo – Get 20GB of SSD space that can host a single WordPress site that can handle around 30,000 visitors per month. Rather generous for an entry plan.
– Starter – $37.50/mo – 20GB of space again, but you can host three sites that can see around 50,000 visitors each month.
– Pro – $75/mo – You get 30GB of space for up to 10 WordPress installations that can greet over 150,000 visitors each month.
Premium – $129.17/mo – You can fit 20 WordPress sites in 50GB of space and entertain 400,000 visitors.
If none of the above suits your needs, the WordPress host is eager to discuss your needs and tailor a suitable solution.
Other than growing in space, hosted domains, and visitors, the pre-made Pressable plans are largely the same. The smallest one lacks personal onboarding, but that’s practically the only missing feature when compared to the most expensive options.
FastComet has good speed paired with excellent uptime and a very strong support team that creates a rather pleasant hosting experience.
The FastComet plans include countless features while maintaining one of the lowest prices in the industry.
FastComet has some unique WP perks that make site management and optimization seamless.
Without delving into technicalities, the RocketBooster WordPress Optimization combines fast, SSD server technology, advanced caching, and in-depth WordPress resource monitoring to improve site loading speed and end-user experience.
See what resources you use at any time. Scale up or down your site and see how to optimize its performance through insightful reporting.
The complete account isolation FastComet WordPress plans provide results in dedicated server resources too.
Every user receives a certain amount of computational power that leads to stable, dependable performance.
FastComet includes a content delivery network in all its plans but having eight different data centers is no mean feat.
Choose the location that is the closest to your potential site users and let your site fly.
FastComet has a proactive security team that monitors all server activity and patches vulnerabilities before they are exploited.
In case a site hosted with the company is compromised, this team of experts will lend a helpful hand to recover it fully and safely.
FastGuard isolates completely all WordPress sites preventing any malware spillovers. Bruteforce attacks stand no chance to break in and the 30 days of backup history ensures a robust safety net.
Powerful network security protects from DDoS attacks and other botnet activity.
The FastComet support team is always a pleasure to deal with!
I probed the dedicated WordPress support team several times and they were always quick to answer and willing to help. More importantly, they were honest, admitting when they were uncertain of the answer. This happened on two occasions and both times the support agents verified the information in less than two minutes.
The FastComet hosting plans begin at the incredulous $1 per month!
Indeed, it is a limited discount but what an offer it is!
Currently, the initial fee for FastCloud is $1/mo, for FastCloud Plus is $4.45 and for FastCloud Extra the price grows to $5.95. The largest plan grants 35GB of SSD storage and far greater resource quota than the other two.
On top of that, it comes with additional speed optimizations by default.
It must be said that FastComet doesn’t offer a truly managed WordPress solution. Instead, it adds WP optimizations to the shared plans so that WP users can benefit from advanced security, constant monitoring, and dedicated WordPress hosting support team too.
Throw in the insanely low price – the lowest on the list – and you can get yourself a very decent service with minimal expenses.
FastComet is a cheap WordPress hosting provider that delivers a lot of value and hides some unexpected perks.
Well-known, massive, and reliable, HostGator is a house-hold name that provides WordPress hosting on its cloud servers.
The packages are scalable and powerful and have some spectacular add-ons.
HostGator offers robust plans that cover all basics.
HostGator Cloud operates in an environment optimized for optimal performance thanks to allocated server resources.
You can check how your plan performs through the control panel where all activity is monitored and logged.
It is always nice to have a domain name for free. All HostGator plans include this perk.
All HostGator WordPress plans include $100 worth of advertising credits.
Make sure to use them wisely to promote your fledging WP site. This means to keep them for times when the site is already built and has some meaningful content so that the ad money can have the greatest impact in driving traffic over.
You can boost the security and privacy of your HostGator site by purchasing (they are quite affordable) tools like CodeGuard and SiteLock. The former backs up your site more frequently, while the latter scans for malware and removes it.
HostGator clocks in decent times and maintains a very high uptime too, which is always nice to see. My test site was available for 99.99% of the time over the last 37 months.
Still, the backend remains questionable.
I’ve tested the standard plans and the HostGator Cloud (which is what the HostGator WordPress hosting is), in both instances the backend struggles with more than 30 concurrent users.
Between the flexible Cloud redundancy, regular backups, and automatic malware removal HostGator makes more than enough to keep your online operation from harm’s way.
Years ago, the HostGator support was the company hallmark. While it has improved of late, the support agents are a bit hit and miss. The hosting provider is massive and its technical and customer support departments are equally huge.
This brings about the somewhat inevitable fluctuation in the quality of service.
HostGator Cloud comes in three sizes: Starter ($5.95/mo), Standard ($7.95), and Business ($9.95).
Respectively, they are suitable for one, two, or three WordPress installations. The plans scale up with the number of visitors they can handle, the dedicated computational resources, and the space for backups.
The greatest advantage is that if you want to host 3 WP sites you could do so for only $9.95/mo if you prepay.
Were it not for the mediocre support HostGator could have a real chance to qualify among the best WordPress hosts.
Linux, definitely. Linux is the natural environment of WP. Just a few years ago WordPress on Windows was not even a remote possibility. Today, Windows servers have come a long way and can handle PHP and MySQL remarkably well. Still, as far as WordPress is concerned, they are not Linux.
Consider your needs and choose accordingly. That’s the best answer I can give you as it depends largely on your personal and/or business needs. Of course, read reviews such as ours, sign up for a bit if you have the time (most host give generous money back guarantees), test for yourself, and see what you like and what not. But, first of all, consider what you are looking for and how much you are willing to pay in the long run. Website hosting, WordPress or not, is not a short-term game.
It is generally better to pay for hosting, but you don’t if you don’t want to. See, WordPress comes in two flavors: the hosted WordPress.com and the self-hosted WordPress CMS that can be downloaded from WordPress.org. (It’s confusing, I know.) In both cases, you can go for free hosting but free hosting solutions, whatever they may be, are limited and limiting. Usually, very much so. The WordPress.com hosting platform allows you to have a site without paying a dime, but the functionality is restricted and so are the monetization options. You can also install the WordPress CMS on a free web hosting provider but you are likely to get no real-time technical support and relatively poor uptime and loading speed.
You can host WordPress for free because the CMS is free and there are many free web hosting services. Whether this is something you should do is the real question.
Yes. The WordPress hosting requirements are so basic that you can set up WordPress without a host or internet connection, for that matter. Setting up the CMS on your local machine is a thing, indeed. It can serve several purposes, one of which is learning the basics without paying for hosting (even though free hosting for WordPress could do the same). Depending on the OS you are using, you might need these instructions for Mac or these guidelines if you are running Windows 10. Ubuntu users will find these commands helpful.
WP Engine is the fastest and most secure managed WordPress hosting provider but Kinsta comes very, very close. But that’s almost like saying the Lamborghini is the fastest and most comfortable car. It probably is but it is an unrealistic choice for the majority of people. WP Engine and Kinstra perform stunningly well, but they cost accordingly. That’s why I put InMotion Hosting on the top of my list as it combines speed, reliability, and price in a more reasonable bundle. Otherwise, if money is not an issue (and won’t be several years down the road), WP Engine is a prime choice that outperforms any other entry in my list of the best WordPress hosting providers.