WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com – What’s the Difference?
That dilemma has been out there, present at the beginning of each WordPress based website and a lot of us have been through it at some point. Actually, it is not surprising at all, given the fact that more than 25% of the websites worldwide are based on WordPress. For that reason, we will try to explain it to its very basics here, so you don’t have to go through the hard times and learn from our experience!
We understand that if you are reading this, you are probably just starting to wander off into the hosting world, so we shall start with a short preview or explanation.
The Difference in a Sentence
WordPress.com – It is a browser-based, thus no downloads are involved, (Software As A Service) which offers you after creating an account, to create and host a blog on the WordPress site at zero cost, but it comes with many drawbacks and lack of flexibility, which we will explain below.
WordPress.org (Also can be seen as self-hosted WordPress) – It’s open-source software, which can be downloaded and used as a frame to your website. WordPress.org is the most commonly used option. It is free to use and gives you the freedom to make it special according to your taste. However, a price is involved, since you will be needing a domain and hosting provider, a service that provides the needed space on servers that would host your website.
WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com – a More In-depth Take
Here is a more detailed argumentation for both, which will, of course, include their drawbacks. We will break them into important categories and feature lists for each, so we can outline the pros and cons with better contrasts.
WordPress.com – a for-profit business, a property of Automattic. It uses the WordPress.org open-source software.
WordPress.org is open-source software. It is being managed by the non-profit WordPress Foundation.
Interestingly enough, Matt Mullenweg is the founder of both Automattic and the WordPress Foundation.
The main difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is the host of the website. A web host is needed when using WordPres.org. It’s a third-party vendor to provide space on a server and store your site there. This vendor offers the means for the site to be accessed on the web. With WordPress.com, your hosting would be provided by WordPress itself. From website backups to security and performance updates, all website maintenance is handled for you in-house.
On the other side of the picture, the WordPress.org software first needs to be downloaded and then self-hosted on a server. Nowadays, most hosts make this whole process as easy as possible – only clicking some buttons without any codes required. Setup is in your hands, however, most hosting companies (such as FastComet) offer a 1-click installation, so this really is not such a big deal unless you are using a custom VPS or Dedicated Server that you need to manage on your own.
WordPress.com – The guys from WordPress.com do provide you with free storage here, but it is only 3GB for the free plan. That does not mean you will run out of it immediately, but eventually, that day will come and you will be needing more, especially if you plan to have some HD videos or photos.
WordPress.org – Since this is only a platform (framework) for your website, there is no space that comes with it. However, if your focus is more space, you can search for a plan that provides more. There are various hosting solutions available at different prices, based on the resources you need: Shared Hosting plans, VPS Cloud and Dedicated Servers. Some of the companies out there even have all SSD based solutions, which is better than the traditional HDD.
WordPress.com – There isn’t any custom domain choice available with a free plan. You will have to use a subdomain with WordPress.com. For example, if you want your website to be BlueShinyShoes.com, you will have to name it BlueShinyShoes.WordPress.com, which some clients find not that good for their branding purposes. Adding a domain name to your website (either registering a new one or pointing one that you already have) requires a paid plan when it comes to WordPress.com. It is better if your goal is to have better SEO results.
Additionally, there are no domain emails available — a thing that your fast-growing business undoubtedly will need in the future.
WordPress.org – Domains are generally not expensive purchases. Without having “WordPress” in your site’s URL, going with WordPress.org is the obvious choice for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Most of the companies provide an option for a free domain with their plans and as long as it is available and not registered by someone else, you can take it. FastComet offers some extra perks through all of our service plans, one of which is extremely affordable domain registration pricing. Not only that, if you already have a domain you can get a free transfer to FastComet.
Security and Backups
WordPress.com – This is a feature included in the free plan, which is one of the major pros here. You will not have to worry about security since they take care of their servers and a free backup is available upon request. While WordPress takes good care of security, you would still need to take certain security precautions, such as having a strong password, using Two-Factor Authentication, as well as being aware of all the user roles you’re assigning.
WordPress.org – Your chosen hosting provider can vastly improve the performance and security of your site with managed updates that contain all of the latest security patches, in addition to conducting daily backups and doing security monitoring. Despite the fact that there’s some level of security that comes from your web host, you would also need to secure your website yourself (through third-party WordPress plugins). For example, we provide free daily, weekly, and monthly backups with each of our Shared Hosting Plans and Tech support on the line 24/7.
WordPress.com – Having tech support to assist you is essential. The process of website setup here is as easy as it gets, but if something goes wrong afterward, you will have to depend on the community support with the free plan, which is not necessarily bad, since this is the largest CMS community on the internet.
WordPress.org – This is the section where WordPress.org shines. Most of the companies out there have online support 24/7, which is a really valuable thing. Imagine having a promotion on your eCommerce website and it suddenly there is a problem. It is really important to have support 24/7 for that reason.
Themes, Plugins, Metrics
WordPress.com – These features on the WordPress.com free plan are somewhat limited, which means you probably won’t have the opportunity to customize your website exactly to your liking and this is important for most of the people. Everyone has a beautiful idea for their website before starting, not to mention that this is crucial for branding. You can get some design and utility freedom with WordPress.com but have to pay for larger plans. There are more than 165 themes available to choose from when you are using the free plan; the Business plan offers you the option of paying for premium themes. However, tailoring those themes to your personal preferences would be limited in functionality.
WordPress.org – with it you are free to install all the themes and plugins you want. Sky is the limit when it comes to all the things you can do with your website. This is the major pro of WordPress.com. There are basically hundreds of thousands of ways to make your website unique and most of them are free. Since you are only using the framework, you are free to customize your website as you see it in your mind. Most of the companies provide you with a wide range of themes and tools and some of them will install them for you.
Advertisement / Monetization
WordPress.com – With their free plan, you have no power over the monetization of your website. Even if you have thousands of visitors, the guys from WordPress.com can choose the ads for your website’s banners. This gets quite annoying at some point. Of course, you are free to pay for the right to do it yourself.
Ads on .com are limited to WordAds, the official WordPress.com advertising program for all Premium and Business plans. Note that only sites with a mapped/pointed custom domain can apply. If you are on a free or a personal plan, you need to have high traffic and the right content to apply.
WordPress.org – There is an unlimited number of ways to monetize your website via WordPress.org. Since the hosting plan will be yours and the domain will be yours, you are free to add whatever commercials you want on your website. Not to mention that there are tools to help you with it. However, that is a feature for websites with a substantial amount of visitors, which you probably will not have from the very beginning.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: Which one Should it be?
You’ll most likely find out that with WordPress.org, you have much greater control and flexibility over your site’s design and functionality. It gives you lots of options starting from highly customized website to monetizing your user flow by placing advertisements. And on top of that, you can choose a domain that corresponds to your business directly (for example, BlueShinyShoes.com).
If you are just starting, WordPress.com would probably be the best option for your case, but in the foreseeable future, the need to switch will get stronger as you get more advanced user. The guys from Automattic have developed an application which lets you access your blog or website on the go. While customization and monetizing are limited, you will be able to relax knowing all you have to do is create content while WordPress.com takes care of site maintenance for you.
In the end, it is up to the preferences and needs of the user. If you need a serious website with the option to deal with it as per your liking, WordPress.org is for you. You will have to take care of a bit more things, but most of the hosting companies have 24/7 tech support on the line to assist you, just like us. The best way to truly understand the differences is to try them both out for yourself but hopefully, this article has cleared up any confusion you might have had regarding the two flavors of WordPress.
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