WordPress.com vs. Self-Hosting

WordPress is software that you use to build a Web site.  To use it, WordPress must be  installed and running on a “hosting” computer (one that’s set up to “serve” web pages on the internet).

You can set up a hosting account and install WordPress yourself.  Or you can open an account at WordPress.com, where WordPress is already installed, and create your site on their computers.

The first kind of WordPress site, called  “self-hosted,” allows you maximum flexibility, since it’s your copy of the software to do with as you like.  On a WordPress.com site you’re using a copy of the software installed and run by WordPress.com, so you don’t have as much flexibility — you can only use themes they provide, and you can’t install plugins — but for many people, it offers all the functionality they need.  It’s not hard to move from WordPress.com to a self-hosted WordPress installation, so it can be a great place to start.

To learn more, see WordPress.com, WordPress, and WordPress.org

To learn how to install WordPress yourself, see Installing WordPress (featuring the “Famous 5 Minute Installation” ) or the Beginner’s Guide: How to install WordPress manually.

For a detailed comparison, see below.

Feature Free WordPress.com Paid Upgrades – WordPress.com Self-Hosted
Cost $0 $12 – $100/year, depending ~$120/year
Use Own Domain Name (mydomain.com) No Yes ($12 to map; $17 for registering and mapping) Yes
Shows WordPress Ads to Visitors Occasional No ($30) No
Email No Yes, through Google Apps for My Domain if you’ve mapped your own domain name Yes
Theme Customization (edit CSS) No Some Yes
Premium Themes No Some, no child themes Yes
Plugins (such as BuddyPress, ad management, SEO, e-commerce, etc.) No, but a few plugin-like features provided by WordPress.com (e.g.Polls, Ratings, and Sharing) No, but a few plugin-like features provided by WordPress.com (e.g.Polls, Ratings, and Sharing) Yes
Track visitor stats WordPress custom WordPress custom Any, including Google Analytics
Custom PHP coding No No Yes
WordPress Updates Automatic Automatic Your responsibility
Backup Automatic Automatic Your responsibility