The Differences Between and

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For people who are interested in getting a blog started up, many choose WordPress over the competition for a variety of reasons. But once that decision is made, people often get confused on the differences between and (otherwise known as self-hosted WordPress). Well, here’s the main differences:


Hosting is a service that allows you to place your files and databases on servers so that they can be accessed on the internet. With, they provide the hosting free of charge. If you choose, you have to provide the hosting yourself, which is the only downside to choosing self-hosted, in my opinion. It typically costs about $5/month. If you’re looking for a host, I personally recommend HostGator (use coupon DIWW25PCOFF to save 25%).

Domain name

With, you automatically are responsible for your own domain, which you will need to purchase. This gives your site a very unique and professional appearance. On, your blog will be a subdomain of (e.g., unless you pay a premium fee to use a custom domain with your site (on top of the cost of the domain). So unless you’re happy having a URL, then you’ll want to go self-hosted.

Installing plugins

On, you can’t install plugins. Plugins are the way in which you can unleash the true power of WordPress, so it’s a real setback if you can’t use them. You can use plugins to place ads on your site, add social sharing buttons, improve the search function, or set up custom redirections. With your self-hosted site, you are free to install plugins from the thousands in the official WordPress directory, and even plugins that aren’t in the directory. The ways in which you can extend WordPress truly are limitless, so long as you can install plugins.

Modifying themes

Another limitation of is that you can’t modify the themes. You can select from about 170 themes, but you must take them as they are. With self-hosted, not only can you choose from thousands of themes (either from the WordPress directory, or from marketplaces like ThemeForest), but you are free to edit them if you want to tweak them. You can change the fonts, colors and styles using CSS, or the layout by editing the PHP files.

So, which one?

For me, there’s only one option: The only setback to choosing is that you have to pay for hosting (at about $5/month). Other than that, wins out in every category and all of the advantages are well worth the small cost assocaited with hosting the site.

If you just can’t afford, you can still start on and then move to later, by exporting your site from and importing it straight into your new site.

So, now that you know the difference, you’ll either want to sign up on, or arrange hosting and install WordPress on your own server.

11 thoughts on “The Differences Between and”

  1. Beau says:

    Dave, I totally agree with you. is the only way to go. The upside is tremendous compared to the small investment!

    1. Agreed. There’s a small cost, but the benefit is hayooooooge

  2. Richard says:

    It’s funny. It took me a while to figure out the difference between the two as well. I agree that by far it’s better to self host so that you have complete control over your blog. But I wouldn’t necessarily feel compelled to stay with wordpress as a hosting provider if I decided to self host. There are a ton of good hosting providers such as hostgator that provide a great service.

    1. Well, by definition, if you’re self-hosting, WordPress isn’t hosting you any more and you need to find your own host, such as HostGator.

  3. Total Bounty says:

    GREAT post, we talk about this time and time again. Out of the 70+ million WordPress websites online most people don’t understand that about half are hosted at and the other half are self-hosted (or the differences). It’s great to see it all laid out in one blog post – thx for that!

  4. Dave, thanks for making the distinction. Self hosting is the only way to go. As I read about improving sites, I see that they are often called “properties.” If you are going to do the work to improve a property, you might as well own it.

  5. Brian says:

    It has been years since I used but I loved it then. Now, I would be totally lost without the ability to edit the themes I use. That goes along with progressing in anything. The more I learn about themes, the more I want to change them (at least a little) to the way that will help me show off my content in a way I prefer.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. I started out on and it fit the bill, but once I started tinkering with themes and layouts, I could never go back. There’s just too much that you can do with them

  6. Graham says:

    I’d previously used Joomla for my site and moved to WordPress a while ago. I didn’t realise there was a until recently, as I’d always self hosted. Good explanation, as you say small outlay on domain name and hosting, giving you a great deal of flexibility..

  7. Jimmy says:

    There is a consideration that you don’t mention here. One very big advantage to choosing (the free option) is that it is becoming a community. Bloggers using can connect with other bloggers on the site by using the subscription reader and surfing through ‘tags’ on posts the other “.com”‘ers have made.

    If you move to a “.org” self-hosted WordPress install, you’re like an island out there and you really have to promote yourself before people will find you.

    True, there is freedom in the self-hosted version. But the freedom brings isolation.

    1. You make a really good point there actually. It takes a while to keep writing the content and build up relationships with people through social media and organic followers from Google, whereas that is much easier on WordPress, I’ll grant you that. Thanks for your input.

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