Who Has The Best Web Hosting Support? We Put Them To The Test

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In all the noise on the web around web hosting and web hosting reviews, something that often gets overlooked is the quality of support that web hosting companies offer.

That’s probably why web hosting review websites (that have a dubious reputation) get so much traffic – curiosity!

While there is understandably a lot of focus on the fastest WordPress hosting now, there is not that much discussion about how good the support is for X or Y hosting companies.

What makes a great customer support?

So I decided to fix that with an anonymous survey of the 16 biggest names in WordPress hosting.

Why only WordPress hosting, you might wonder?

Well, simply because general web hosting would need to cover hundreds of companies.

Support may not be as sexy a topic as speed but when you run into technical issues with your website, quality support really matters.

Plus, customer support isn’t that easy so I respect any hosting company that can maintain good customer support over a long period of time, more on that later.

How Was The Experiment Conducted?

Without becoming an actual customer, I anonymously approached each company’s customer support on live chat and asked a bunch of (pre-sale) questions.

livechat with web hosts

I pretended to be a “non-techie” potential customer who might need support help if I became their customer and I wanted 10 websites moved over from another host.

This is what I wanted to know:

  • Average time to first response on live chat
  • Was malware removal offered?
  • How much do site migrations costs & how long do they take?
  • Would they optimize my site for speed?
  • Were they willing to create specific redirects for me?
  • Were they willing to place hotlinking protection on images for me?
  • How much does it cost to host each site?
  • Was email hosting included with their hosting?
  • Did they offer phone support?

NOTE: Videos and screenshots of live chat conversations are included below, but feel free to test yourself to verify it’s current:

I also looked at:

  • How many Trustpilot.com reviews they had accumulated?
  • What their Trustpilot score was, at the time of testing?
  • What percentage of negative reviews they responded to on Trustpilot
  • How quickly they answered negative reviews

The 16 companies (all based on their Managed WordPress Hosting service, not generic Web hosting) tested were:

Hosts tested

NOTE #1: I wanted to include Pagely, Dreamhost and Hostinger in this test but they did not seem to offer live chat to non-customers, a mistake I believe.

NOTE #2: Liquid Web and Nexcess share the same chat system and agents.

Their support confirmed (in the chat with Nexcess) that they also share the same resources, so everything that we gathered as information from Liquid Web is also applied to Nexcess.

#1: Who Owns The Hosting Company?

Web hosting is a big business, a multi-billion dollar industry.

Like any big industry, there are a few ‘whale’ corporations and some independent players.

The problem with big players in a big industry is that they often care more about cost-cutting and their share price than customer experience.

This can also be the case when a whale acquires a smaller independent host who previously delivered high-quality support.

In web hosting, there are two main whales:

Silver Lake
A private equity firm that owns several tech-related companies:

Silver Lake

Newfold Digital
Previously called Endurance International Group (EIG):

Newfold digital

On top of that, Automattic, the owners of WordPress, also own Pressable who we also tested in this post.

I say all this because you should ALWAYS know:

  • Which parent company you are dealing with.
  • The potential impact on support quality when one of these whales gobbles up an independent host.

If you do some searching in Google for problems with EIG owned hosts you’ll see it for yourself.

Winners…

Based on past experience, anyone that is still independent!

#2: How Quickly Do They Respond?

You know by now that I am fanatical about website speed and its impact on sales conversions.

In the same way, I regard how quickly a web host responds to support inquiries as a measure of their overall quality.

As phone support is a dying thing in web hosting and most companies now use live chat as their main support channel, I wanted to see:

  • How quickly they responded
  • The quality of that conversation

Here is how the tested companies performed, average of 3 chats with a real person, not a chatbot (surprisingly good results here): 

WordPress-Hosting-Support-Test-Speed

See Speed Test Results

In the table below, you’ll see the response time (in s) we recorded for each host during 3x separated tests.

Host Test 1 Test 2 Full Video Average Time Response
Bluehost 15 51 26.00
(Watch Video)
30.67
Hostgator 26 10 16.00
(Watch Video)
17.33
Flywheel 14 30 64.00
(Watch Video)
36
Servebolt 252 114 55.00
(Watch Video)
140.33
Liquid Web 14 46 14.00
(Watch Video)
24.67
GoDaddy 66 871 426.00
(Watch Video)
454.33
Siteground 14 16 16.00
(Watch Video)
15.33
Kinsta 40 20 29.00
(Watch Video)
29.67
WP Engine 15 41 143.00
(Watch Video)
66.33
A2 Hosting 49 13 35.00
(Watch Video)
32.33
Namecheap 17 23 45.00
(Watch Video)
28.33
GreenGeeks 8 100 60.00
(Watch Video)
56
Pressable 47 17 22.00
(Watch Video)
28.67
Nexcess 17 24 13.00
(Watch Video)
18
Elementor 133 25 28.00
(Watch Video)
62
WPX 13 04 21.00
(Watch Video)
12.67


Winners…

1st WPX, 2nd Siteground, 3rd Hostgator, though most times were respectable and I would be happy waiting for a minute to get a response from a real person.

#3: Do They Remove Malware For Free?

Malware is a big problem these days and even up-to-date WP plugins can be vulnerable if the flaw hasn’t yet been discovered or fixed by the developers.

Malware

While most hosts will detect malware for you, very few will actually remove it for you.

Why?

Well, because it’s an added labour cost for them – and most expect you to use a 3rd party service like Sucuri, where plans start at $200 per year per website!

That can add huge costs to your hosting, especially if you have more than one site needing protection.

If a host does provide malware removal for free, that is a huge value add when you need it most:

WordPress Hosting Quality Support Free Malware Removal

See Answers & Screenshots

Host Free Malware Removal? Screenshot
WPX Yes See Screenshot
WP Engine Yes See Screenshot
Kinsta Yes See Screenshot
Flywheel Yes See Screenshot
GreenGeeks 1st cleanup only See Screenshot
GoDaddy No – $300 annually See Screenshot
Pressable No See Screenshot
SiteGround No See Screenshot
A2 No See Screenshot
Liquid Web Yes See Screenshot
Namecheap Yes See Screenshot
Bluehost No See Screenshot
Nexcess Yes Same as Liquid Web
Hostgator No See Screenshot
Servebolt No See Screenshot
Elementor No See Screenshot

Winners…

Kinsta, WPX, WP Engine, Namecheap, Liquid Web, Nexcess and Flywheel offer free malware removal while at GreenGeeks only the first cleanup is free.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have GoDaddy which wants $300 a year per site for unlimited cleanups. Crazy, right?

#4: Do They Offer Free Site Migrations?

Moving a WordPress site from one host to another can be tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing, especially if it’s a bigger, more complex site.

Some hosts will take full control of this, while others offer a free migration plugin so you can do it yourself.

So you need to choose the service that best aligns with:

  • Your level of expertise
  • Your threshold for risk

Here is how our test group answered the migration question:

WordPress Hosting Support Test: Site Migration

See Answers & Screenshots

Host How Much? How Long? Screenshot
Flywheel Free 1-3 days See Screenshot
WPX Free Within 24 hours See Screenshot
Kinsta Free Time unclear for 10 websites See Screenshot
Hostgator Free 48-72 hours See Screenshot
Namecheap Free No timeframe offered See Screenshot
Servebolt Free 1-2 days See Screenshot
Liquid Web Free 2-5 days See Screenshot
GreenGeeks Free – if old host uses cPanel, $15 per site otherwise 24-48 hours See Screenshot
A2 Free – if old host uses cPanel, $25 per site otherwise Up to 48 hours See Screenshot
Nexcess Free 2-5days Same as Liquid Web
SiteGround DIY – If done by an expert: 1st free only, after $30 per site “Below 24 hours” See Screenshot
WP Engine Plugin only DIY See Screenshot
Pressable Free No ETA but 5GB/hour transfer speed See Screenshot
Bluehost $149 for up to 5 sites
$298 for 10 websites
2-4 days See Screenshot
GoDaddy Free – DIY “May take up to 24 hours” See Screenshot
Elementor Hosting No N/A See Screenshot

Winners…

Kinsta, Siteground, WPX, and GoDaddy offer free migrations within a reasonable amount of time. I was surprised to see Bluehost charging $298 for the migrations of 10 Websites!

#5: Do They Optimize For Core Web Vitals?

As I wrote earlier, site speed is critical now.

In recent years, Google has been getting louder about site speed and claims that it is a ranking factor:

site speed confirmed google ranking factor

Google says that its Core Web Vitals tool is their gauge for site speed so I wanted to know if our 16 tested WP hosts would help a non-tech customer with that.

Page Experience & Core Web Vitals

Here’s how that went:

WordPress Hosting Support Test: Core Web Vitals Optimization

See Answers & Screenshots

Host Free Core Web Vitals Optimization? Screenshot
WPX Yes – Offer 1 free optimization per website See Screenshot
Flywheel Partly yes – Provide free recommendations See Screenshot
WP Engine Yes See Screenshot
SiteGround No – but offer an optimization plugin See Screenshot
Pressable Partly yes – Offer free guidance See Screenshot
Nexcess No Same as Liquid Web
Bluehost No See Screenshot
A2 Only on the Turbo Server plan See Screenshot
Hostgator Yes – Offer paid services See Screenshot
GoDaddy Depends on the plan See Screenshot
Kinsta No See Screenshot
Namecheap No See Screenshot
Liquid Web No See Screenshot
Servebolt No See Screenshot
Elementor No See Screenshot
GreenGeeks No – but have a backend tool See Screenshot


Winners…

WPX does offer one free manual site speed optimizations for Core Web Vitals while Flywheel and Pressable will give you some help if needed.

#6: Do They Offer Help With Simple Tasks?

To test each hosts technical support response, I asked them to help me setup some image hotlinking protection along with some simple redirects.

Here is what they told me on live chat:

WordPress Hosting Quality Support Redirects Hotlinking

See Answers & Screenshots

Host Hotlinking Redirect Screenshot
A2 Hosting Yes No See Screenshot
Bluehost Yes Yes See Screenshot
Elementor No No See Screenshot
Flywheel Yes No See Screenshot
GoDaddy No No See Screenshot
GreenGeek Yes Yes See Screenshot
Hostgator Yes Yes See Screenshot
Kinsta No Yes See Screenshot
Liquid Web No Yes See Screenshot
Namecheap Yes Yes See Screenshot
Nexcess No Yes Same as Liquid Web
Presssable No Yes See Screenshot
Servebolt Yes Yes See Screenshot
Siteground No Yes See Screenshot
WP Engine No “My knowledge of that is unsure” See Screenshot
WPX Yes Yes See Screenshot


Winners…

Most companies did OK here but Elementor wouldn’t offer any help here whereas most others managed to do at least one of those tasks.

#7: Cost Per Website

This was a tricky one because the competitive nature of web hosting and the challenges of delivering high-quality support don’t go together easily.

Also, what appears like an “attractive price” is often only on a very long, multi-year subscription.

For example…

Hostgator’s $2.75 per month price changes to $10.95 monthly if you only go for 1 month, to test out the service.

Same for Bluehost, which went from $2.95 to $9.95.

So be aware!

Hostgator pricing

At the more expensive end of our group, you can be getting a VPS with dedicated resources whereas the cheaper end is where shared hosting services are offered.

VPSs versus shared hosting is a whole other topic for a separate discussion.

Price alone is not necessarily a fair comparison here but I wanted to see how more expensive services did in terms of support quality, not just hardware.

You should also beware of any “unlimited” or “unmetered” offers as these accounts (like Bluehost and SiteGround) can be automatically shut down if you accidentally go over their normal website use limits.

Always check their TOS on those unlimited deals.

Here is how our test group compared on price, per site slot, monthly only, base plan, without any special discounts (correct at time of writing):

Wordpress Support Quality Test - Price

Check Prices

Host $ Price Per Site Slot Check Pricing
Namecheap 4.88 Check Price
WPX 4.99 Check Price
Elementor 8.25 (only offers $99 per year per website) Check Price
Bluehost 9.95 (*unlimited sites – beware!) Check Price
GreenGeeks 10.95 Check Price
Hostgator 10.95 Check Price
GoDaddy 11.99 Check Price
Flywheel 13.50 Check Price
Pressable 15 Check Price
Liquid Web 19 Check Price
Nexcess 19 Check Price
SiteGround 19.99 Check Price
A2 Hosting 23.99 Check Price
Kinsta 30 Check Price
WP Engine 30 Check Price
Servebolt 33 Check Price

Winners…

Under $10 per site slot is great value in my view if the host delivers so Namecheap, WPX, Elementor hosting & BlueHost are the winners here.

#8: Do They Offer Free Email Hosting?

If you are a heavy email user, you should probably be using a separate email service such as Google Workspace.

But if you’re a light user, a hosting accounts email is OK and can help you save a little money.

Here is how our test group went:

WordPress Hosting Quality Support Test - Do they offer email

See Answers & Screenshots

Host Free Email? Screenshot
A2 Yes See Screenshot
Bluehost Yes See Screenshot
Elementor No See Screenshot
Flywheel No See Screenshot
GoDaddy Yes See Screenshot
GreenGeeks Yes See Screenshot
Hostgator Yes See Screenshot
Kinsta No See Screenshot
Liquid Web Yes See Screenshot
Nexcess Yes Same as Liquid Web
Namecheap Yes See Screenshot
Servebolt No See Screenshot
Siteground Yes See Screenshot
WP Engine No See Screenshot
WPX Yes See Screenshot
Pressable No See Screenshot

Winners…

Whether you care about email or phone support with your hosting is up to your own case and needs so I won’t declare any winners in this section.

#9: Do They Offer Phone Support?

For some people live chat and email support isn’t enough.

So I wanted to see which of the hosts offered dedicated phone support if there are any problems:

WordPress Hosting Quality Support - Do they offer phone chat

See Answers & Screenshots

Host Phone Support? Screenshot
A2 Yes See Screenshot
Bluehost Yes See Screenshot
Elementor No See Screenshot
Flywheel Depends on your plan See Screenshot
GoDaddy Yes See Screenshot
GreenGeeks Yes See Screenshot
Hostgator Yes See Screenshot
Kinsta No See Screenshot
Liquid Web Yes See Screenshot
Namecheap No See Screenshot
Servebolt No See Screenshot
Siteground Yes See Screenshot
WP Engine Yes See Screenshot
WPX No See Screenshot
Pressable No See Screenshot
Nexcess Yes Same as Liquid Web

Winners…

A2, Bluehost, GoDaddy, GreenGeeks, Hostgator, Liquid Web, SiteGround and WP Engine do all offer phone support whereas Flywheel only offered it on higher plans.

Strangely, Servebolt only offered phone support between 8 am and 10 pm, in their time zone I assume.

#10: What Does TrustPilot Say?

Trustpilot is the biggest customer review platform in the world, by a very big margin.

Some companies don’t care about their Trustpilot ratings or negative reviews and their focus is elsewhere, that’s why they have low review or interaction counts here.

There were some surprises though, such as:

  • 2 of our 16 test companies tied for equal 1st highest Trustscore with 4.9: WPX (2,410 reviews), Pressable (137 reviews)
  • WP Engine, Serverbolt and Flywheel don’t bother ever replying to negative reviews
  • Of the companies replying to negative reviews within 24 hours on Trustpilot, WPX had replied to 100% of those, Hostgator 100%, Bluehost 97%, Nexcess 95% and Namecheap 87%.

Sorted by most-to-least Trustpilot.com reviews:

WordPress Support Quality Test - Reviews

Consult Trustpilot Scores & Reviews

HOST # REVIEWS TRUST SCORE (OUT OF 5) NEGATIVE REVIEW REPLIES CHECK TRUSTPILOT SCORE
Godaddy 50,717 4.7 92% within 2 days Check Trustpilot Score
Namecheap – (Includes domain registrar reviews) 12,855 4.4 87% within 24 hours Check Trustpilot Score
SiteGround 10,428 4.6 27% within 7 days Check Trustpilot Score
Bluehost 4,386 4.2 97% within 24 hours Check Trustpilot Score
WPX 2,410 4.9 100% within 24 hours Check Trustpilot Score
Hostgator 2,626 4.2 100% within 24 hours Check Trustpilot Score
A2 1,706 4.5 70% in over a month Check Trustpilot Score
Liquid Web 823 4.6 100% less than 24 hours Check Trustpilot Score
GreenGeeks 823 4.3 7/34 within a month Check Trustpilot Score
Kinsta 516 4.4 100% within 1 week Check Trustpilot Score
Nexcess 387 4.5 95% within 24 hours Check Trustpilot Score
WP Engine 204 3 Never Replied Check Trustpilot Score
Pressable 137 4.9 N/A Check Trustpilot Score
Flywheel 35 2.4 Never replied Check Trustpilot Score
Servebolt 8 4 Never replied Check Trustpilot Score
Elementor N/A – (New service) N/A N/A X

Note: The number of reviews are last updated on September 8th 2022.

Winners…

Purely based on the highest Trustscore, WPX comes out on top with 4.9 out of 5 from 2000+ reviews.

Siteground, Namecheap and GoDaddy have averaged over 4 out of 5 from more than 10k Trustpilot reviews which is surprising!

Wrapping It Up

This test surprised me quite a lot.

Even though I expected mediocrity from the big legacy players, they actually performed very well!

Overall though it seems like WPX are raising the bar on customer service with their:

  • Free malware removal
  • Speed optimizations
  • Heavy focus on customer experience

And who can ignore public feedback like this:

wpx hosting feedback from other people

So with that said:

I think the best overall web hosting support trophy goes to WPX

WPX offers the best support

Not only do they offer great support but they also did very well during my fastest Wordpress hosting case study!

An honourable mention also goes to Kinsta who ran WPX close across several categories here as they have done in previous test, but not on price (which they just increased).

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

What Are Your Thoughts?

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