Which church web hosting providers are the best?
We surveyed customers using our church WordPress themes to ask them to rate and provide feedback on different aspects of the web hosting company they use. 200 churches responded, giving us plenty of data to rank web hosting providers with. This list of hosting companies will help your church make the best choice and avoid getting stuck with a bad host.
We are including web hosts that received at least three responses for in our survey. Most of the churches are using providers that are not specifically church web hosting. By that, I mean they are hosting providers in general. There are very view church web hosts. What a church needs is good hosting, so let’s take a look at who does and doesn’t meet that need.
Shady Web Hosting Reviews
Before we dig in, I want to tell you one reason we did this survey. Maybe you searched for “best web hosting” or “web host reviews”. That’s a good thing except that much of what you will read is manipulated. The hosts are typically paying affiliate marketers $50 – $200 per referral which tempts people do crazy things like create fake ratings, write fake reviews, etc. It seems to me (generally speaking) that web hosts turn a blind eye since it is to their benefit.
If you think used car salesmen are bad, try web hosting marketers. I’m speaking generally. There are some good folks in this industry. Just be aware.
Best & Worst Church Web Hosting
We have a lot of information to share further down but let’s not beat around the bush. Here are the best church web hosting providers according to the churches we surveyed. One of the questions we asked was, “Overall, how satisfied are you with your church’s web hosting provider?”
Above Average — Recommended
These four hosts came out on the top half. I was pleased to see that SiteGround and DreamHost were reported to be better than average since we have been recommending both to the users of our church WordPress themes. I have personally used SiteGround and they are a good choice, with very fast support response time (usually just a few minutes).
1. SiteGround (9.6)
Churches gave SiteGround’s hosting an average rating of 9.6. While InMotion Hosting leads in most categories, SiteGround has a huge advantage in the category of WordPress Support. The churches we surveyed use WordPress so it’s clear they appreciate support with WordPress issues, something most hosts will not lend a hand with unless they are a pricier “managed” WordPress host like WP Engine ($29/month). SiteGround starts at only $9.95/month (regular price).
Customer of 2 years paying $13.50/month
I have sought help from their tech support staff 5 or 6 times and they have always been polite and efficient. Most of the time, the issue was resolved during a webchat with them. I chose siteground.com because it was recommended by churchthemes.com and am absolutely satisfied with the quality of service and cost.
Customer of 2 years paying $9.95/month
I have not had a problem, they have worked to resolve any issue that came up. I found them especially helpful when I was first starting out with WordPress.
2. InMotion Hosting (8.8)
If we had not been surveying churches using WordPress, InMotion Hosting may have received an overall ratings closer or even better than SiteGround. InMotion Hosting dominated every category except help with WordPress issues (scoring only an average of 7.9 there). They averaged a 9.8 for general support and beat out all other hosts, including SiteGround in Speed, Uptime, Features, Ease of Use and Value. We’re impressed.
Customer of more than 5 years paying $12/month
They are always up, never experienced any slow downs. They communicate well for maintenance outages and security threats. WordPress is preinstalled and easy to use / upgrade. Email is secure and easy to use.
Customer of more than 5 years paying $10/month
Our web hosting service has been extremely reliable. In the past 5-6 years, we have only experienced one outage when a hacker gained access to the server and uploaded a page to our website. The access was the fault of our web hosting provider, not ours. It was fixed in very short order.
Customer of 2 years paying $11/month
…good provider. They provide quick and efficient service. It is priced right for us.
3. Namecheap (8.7)
Namecheap did surprisingly well. I say it was a surprise because they are known more for domain name registration than web hosting. We use them for managing our own domains so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that they also excel at web hosting. Churches rate them above average in 5 of 7 categories. Their strong point is speed while their weakest category of performance is uptime (last place, although an 8.0 is not terrible).
There were no written comments left for Namecheap, just ratings.
4. DreamHost (8.4)
DreamHost has been one of our recommended church web hosting providers. We had not been recommending them because we feel they are the best but because they offer free hosting to non-profits who qualify, and that is useful to churches on a budget. With that said, they are an above average host and were second only to SiteGround in the category of WordPress support. All other hosts lagged far behind these two in that category.
Customer of more than 5 years paying $0
We love that non profits get free shared hosting and it meets all of our needs.
Customer less than 1 year paying $30/month for DreamPress plan
Monthly emails can be crude and ungodly – but then these guys are not Christians.
Customer of more than 5 years paying $12/month
You can’t beat the unlimited storage and bandwidth offered. WordPress can get slow due to the shared hosting model.
Below Average — Take Caution
Careful with the bottom half of this list which churches rate below average. All four hosts are owned either by GoDaddy or EIG. These are not companies with sterling reputations, although some would say GoDaddy is slowly moving in the right direction now. EIG owns more than 50 web hosting brands so check that list and avoid them. I have personally found GoDaddy and Media Temple to be poor (Media Temple was better before GoDaddy bought them).
5. Bluehost (8.1)
Bluehost might be the most popular shared hosting provider. They are an EIG brand and WordPress.org recommended host, something that has generated some controversy. I assume many churches sign up for them simply because WordPress.org recommends them. Not everyone has problems with them but there are other hosts that get more love from their customers so it’s not a worthy recommendation in my opinion (the three other recommended hosts are better).
Customer of 2 years paying $6.99/month
Dashboard gets kind of complicated for non tech people. I’m not on it much, but when I need to be, it takes awhile to find what I need.
Customer of 3 years paying $7/month
I like the access I have to make changes, the usability of the hosting user interface, and the cost effectiveness and variety of hosting plans. I dislike that the bigger it gets, the worse the support in terms of knowledge of initial support technicians. Also, support response time gets slower. (i.e. longer waits)
Customer of less than 1 year paying $6.99/month
Our host is low cost and provides value for the dollar. We have very little technical knowledge, but manage to get by.
6. GoDaddy (7.8)
GoDaddy isn’t the worst but they are below average. I had a good experience with them many years ago but then it was one issue after another. The straw that broke my camel’s back was their sleazy marketing. That, from what I understand, has been cleaned up. We’ve seen too many issues with churches using our themes on GoDaddy hosting, in particular having to do with outdated software.
Customer of 2 years paying $12.50/month
Our web host is nothing exciting – it keeps our website up and available. One thing that kind of irritates me though – they come out with new services or offers for new customers but they never seem to throw a bone to the loyal and faithful ones they already have.
Customer of 4 years paying $3.99/month
They have ad campaigns that we do not always agree with.
Customer of more than 5 years paying $4.99/month
Our church made the decision to use GoDaddy before I came on board. Although I would have chosen a different web host due to GoDaddy’s somewhat negative reputation, the service has been satisfactory enough that it hasn’t been worth moving to another web host…
7. HostGator (7.7)
HostGator is a very popular web host, purchased by EIG in 2012. I’ve been told they were a very good host before that. Unfortunately, they are no longer providing the best web hosting for churches. I observed them to be in the bottom 20% of web hosts when I ran HostingReviews.io. Your church will probably be better off avoiding this host.
Customer of 2 years paying $10/month
Pro: Relatively inexpensive for unlimited bandwidth and storage. Con: Our page goes down for a few minutes about once a month
Customer of 2 years paying $20/month
Sometimes it takes a few days for them to investigate an issue
Customer of more than 5 years paying $6.50/month
Overall I like Hostgator, but I get really tired of the cPanel ads, and clutter. Support is kind of hit or miss, you can get a great tech or a not so great.
8. Media Temple (7.3)
Media Temple began in the late 1990’s and enjoyed a good reputation until recent years. The change may have to do with their being acquired by GoDaddy in 2013. They’re the most expensive web host churches reported using, starting at $20/month. Our company decided not to host churchthemes.com with Media Temple several years ago after noticing their service degrade.
Customer of 3 years paying $55/month for managed WordPress plan
I love the support they provide and the ease of use of their WordPress hosting. The downside that it has nothing to do with churches and the loading isn’t completely optimal.
Customer of more than 5 years paying $17/month
Their help files for WordPress related issues are very technical and require a person to understand how to code.
Ratings by Category
In addition to asking churches how they rate their web host overall, we asked how they rate them in different categories such as support, speed, value and so on. Here’s how the hosts stack up in each category.
Isn’t it interesting that the support ratings and overall ratings are virtually identical? That’s probably because support is the most important aspect of web hosting for churches. InMotion Hosting edged out SiteGround in this category while GoDaddy did a one-up on Bluehost, though remains in the bottom half.
Best Support: InMotion Hosting takes the lead over SiteGround
Keep reading for a related category – “WordPress Support”. Some hosts go the extra mile in helping you with WordPress-related issues while others will tell you it’s outside their scope of support.
Church website hosting needs to be fast. For one, Google uses speed as a ranking factor. Second, it’s helpful to users (presumably why Google considers it). While speed has a lot to do with the website itself, it can’t load any faster than your web hosting provider serves it. DreamHost, an above average host, unfortunately falls behind in the speed category.
Fastest Host: InMotion Hosting earns victory in the speed category too
|6.||Media Temple||7.3 (tie)|
InMotion Hosting shines again, this time with how churches rate their uptime. Media Temple scores a surprising second with Namecheap dropping to last place. SiteGround, as usual, is above average.
Most Reliable: InMotion Hosting scores a perfect ten on uptime rating. Impressive.
Now onto features… Which hosts provide church websites with the best tools?
Best Features: InMotion Hosting leads the pack with best features
Ease of Use Ratings
It’s nice to have features, but are they easy to use? Churches say not only does InMotion Hosting have great features but they are easy to use. Media Temple tanks in terms of ease of use. They have their own proprietary control panel while others are using cPanel. Perhaps that has something to do it.
Easiest to Use: InMotion Hosting offers the easiest to use web hosting for churches
We know that cost is an important factor for churches. We refer churches to SiteGround and WP Engine. Not surprisingly, churches choose SiteGround over WP Engine almost every time. The reason for that is value. SiteGround offers better value. Even so, look at how churches feel about InMotion Hosting’s value.
Best Value: InMotion Hosting offers the best value in web hosting for churches
Of special concern to us as makers of church WordPress themes is how well a web hosting providers deals with WordPress support. By that I don’t mean does WordPress work on it. WordPress runs on pretty much every host and many have automatic installers. I’m talking about how well the host helps with issues relating to WordPress. Some hosts will help with WordPress issues and others will not (or at least not officially).
If you’re using WordPress, it’s ideal to go with a host that will lend an extra hand when there is a WordPress-specific issue on your website.
Best for WordPress: SiteGround is the best at helping with WordPress issues
SiteGround and DreamHost crush the others in this category. This might explain why SiteGround comes out as overall best host according to our church customers even while InMotion Hosting wins the other categories. Our customers use WordPress. If your church is not using WordPress, then InMotion Hosting looks like a great choice. If you are using WordPress, SiteGround offers more.
A note on DreamHost: Their shared hosting does not officially include support with WordPress issues. Their DreamPress plan does, but it costs quite a bit more. Don’t sign up for their standard shared hosting assuming you will get a “9.2” on WordPress support. If that’s critical for you, go for the DreamPress plan, SiteGround or consider a host like WP Engine. We only had two churches hosted with WP Engine but both gave them a perfect 10 in every category except cost.
Cost of Church Web Hosting
Another question we asked was how much a church pays for their web hosting. We tossed the outliers (e.g. churches paying $100/mo or nothing at all) to get a more realistic idea of what church web hosting costs. Basically, your average church pays about $10 per month for shared hosting.
Price Hike Warning
The actually average cost might be a little higher. I say this because I noticed in our survey that many churches put down the first year price of hosting.
It is common practice for web hosts to offer a drastically discounted rate for the first year only. For example, SiteGround usually gives you a 60% discount on year number one. After that, your hosting bill more than doubles. If you don’t read carefully, you might think you’ve locked in $4/month hosting indefinitely when in reality the price is more like $10/month. As you can see, that’s a typical price. It’s not a bad price, but do be aware of this marketing tactic.
Billing Period Warning
Many hosts initially present a price that assumes you will sign up for a one, two or even three year term. I recommend monthly billing when you’re trying a host for the first time. Your church can always switch the billing period to get a lower price after you feel confident that they will provide your church with good service.
Let me show you this sort of thing using HostGator as an example. Do you see that to pay HostGator monthly costs $10.95, not $3.95 as it may seem at first?
And see that little note? What it’s saying is that you’ll pay almost twice as much when you renew for another three year term. It’s very easy to miss things like this and be surprised when it happens (which is usually when nobody at your church has time to go through the hassle of switching hosts).
If you will be signing up for an annual term, make sure beforehand that they will prorate early cancelations. It’s no fun losing money. Neither is it fun being stuck with a bad host in order not to lose money.
Free Web Hosting for Churches
The reason we have been recommending DreamHost in addition to SiteGround is that they offer free web hosting for US-based churches. Our primary recommendation is SiteGround because they provide support for WordPress issues but if your church is in a pinch and can provide a 501(c)(3) determination letter then DreamHost can save you some money.
Update: A commenter recommended Flock Hosting, a Christian-owned business offering free hosting to churches.
Previewing WP Church Host
Update: We have launched our WP Church Host service. Several of our theme users are already using it and we’re confident recommending it to all users. We’ll move your website to WP Church Host for free. Take advantage of the trial period to see how you like it.
We conducted this survey for two reasons. One was to find out from our customers which church web hosting they like best so we could confirm or adjust our own recommendations. The second reason was to determine if it would be useful for us to launch our own brand of church hosting.
We will be moving forward with WP Church Host by partnering with a team of web hosting industry veterans to bring managed WordPress hosting to churches at a price churches can afford. Churches rated their hosts worse on how well they assisted with WordPress issues than any other category. We want to help churches with that and with general church website advice.
Hassle-free WordPress hosting for churches.
Simply put, go with SiteGround if you use WordPress. Otherwise, give InMotion Hosting a very serious look. Both hosts will move your church’s website for you (at no cost) so don’t let the hassle of switching hosts stop you from ditching a poor provider. This survey confirmed our recommendations of SiteGround first then DreamHost second for churches needing free hosting. And soon we’ll be recommending WP Church Host too.
We want to say thank you to the 200 churches that participated in this survey.
Which host does your church use and how do you like them? Leave a comment.