Self Hosted vs Free

Self Hosted vs Free

Learning anything new is always challenging. It doesn’t matter if you are learning WordPress or any other CMS. It just looks extremely hard even for intelligence users.

WordPress is the number one choice for the beginner. It is simple, easy to learn and easy to maintain.

But, there are few fundamental questions that need to be answered before you start your journey. That’s why we will go through one big question asked by almost every WordPress Beginner — which platform to use? Self Hosted or Free Basically, the question is clear doubts about self-hosted vs Free

Today, we will go through the difference between them and try to understand what really makes them worth your money and attention.

Let’s go through the basics first. It is a good idea to deal with them head-on and then build on the basics.

What is is the home of self-hosted WordPress. In simple terms, it is the place where you can get a free copy of WordPress Content Management System(CMS). It is generally small in size and ranges anywhere from 6 MB to 10 MB. Currently, the file size is only 7.4 MB in size.

The software is available under the open source license and can be downloaded and used by anyone. For you, it means a lot. It means that you can download the CMS, get a hosting and use the power of the most used CMS in the world. WordPress is currently powering only 25% of the world’s website and that a lot!

The community surrounding WordPress is also positive. The documentation is great and you will find almost everything on any WordPress terms. In the end, you are the only beneficiary of the platform. But, don’t think this is completely free. We will talk on this a little bit later.

What is is a business website. In other terms, it is a commercial approach by Automattic, the creators of WordPress. Using the portal, you can create your website using their hosting and WordPress CMS. The free service is run to bring more audience towards blogging experience.

Although it is free, it does carry a limitation. To remove the limitation, you need to buy a premium service from the same website. But, the scope of the comparison is limited to the self-hosted vs the Free website.

If you create your blog using, you don’t have to worry about hosting or files or settings in any way or another. Everything is managed by WordPress team. This means no maintenance or upgrades.

Comparing and

The real comparison starts with the real functionality and the ease of use.

But before we dive in too deep, take a look at a head-to-head video comparison from our friends over at firstsiteguide. These guys do a great job of breaking everything down and presenting the material in a way that makes sense to a novice, or expert alike. Check out their take on the debate:

Ease of Use is an excellent place for a beginner. You don’t have to know how hosting works, how to install WordPress or even not understand the basic terminology to get started. offers a perfect platform for creating your first website by taking all the complexity out of the way.

To add to the above proposition, there is no maintenance cost or any worries about being hacked. Everything is maintained by WordPress developers and engineers. has a different story altogether. By using, you need to be very sure what you are doing. This includes installing WordPress on the hosting, understanding hosting limitation, buying hosting in the first place and much more. Not to add, you need to update WordPress core regularly. Updates need to be carried out for themes and plugins. As everything is maintained by the user, security is a big concern. Security and backup plugins need to be installed by the user themselves. In short, maintenance needs to be done by the user or he/she can hire someone else to do so.


There is an inherent limitation associated with Free account. On the other hand, comes with full control.

The freedom associated with is self-explanatory. You need to get hosting and then load the website and its content.

Free users are not so fortunate. The hosting, files, and configuration are free of cost, but the limitations are too much for hosting a fully functional website. If you are aiming to open an eCommerce website using free account, you will be disappointed. offers better flexibility and freedom by giving you a complete control over the assets. Limitation Free account comes with a limitation. And, it is not bad. It is the business. The people at WordPress wants you to get the premium package. Even though there is nothing wrong in it, the serious limitation can easily make anyone either choose or go for the premium service of

Using have its own advantages as well. As you can see, there is no need to maintain the website or worry about its security. All is done and checked by the guys themselves.

The limitation to Free Accounts includes limited storage, cannot use custom plugins, limited choice of themes, no ownership of the actual files and hence no FTP access to them. And the most important is the fact that you cannot control your own content due to the adverts that are shown on the website. Limitation

There is no limitation to The only limitation that you can count is the hosting service that you choose, and that too is completely dependable on the user itself.

You can use any theme or plugin with your WordPress installation. There is no need to pay anyone for using free plugins or themes and nothing is locked in any way or another.


How much do each platform cost you? Is really free? Does it mean that I don’t have to pay a single penny while using

The truth is different that it seems in the first place. In this comparison, I will take the paid services into account as it will be more on the line with expenditures.

Comparing the two side of a single coin is not easy. We need to break it into 2 fundamental costs. They are the domain and hosting.

When it comes to, the costs associated with it might not be as clear as with

Even though is not completely free(when you take the domain, hosting, premium themes/plugins), it is still a better option than

The answer lies in how charges for its different services. To understand more, let’s dive deep into the costing. free version lets you create a website with limited functionality. No doubt about that. But, what happens when you need more storage? Or the ability to install plugins to the website?

You need to do some upgrades that cost anywhere from $5 to $290. For example, you can get your domain registered for just $5. Another expensive upgrade would be unlimited premium themes for $120.

Apart for individual upgrades, there are three basic packages for They are as follows.

  • Free — Costs nothing, 3 GB of space.
  • Premium — Cost $8 per month, 13 GB of space and other features.
  • Business — Cost $25 per month with unlimited space, 150+ premium themes, and other features.

For more information on different pricing policies, visit here.

Getting the Open Source WordPress CMS is just the start. To use it properly, you need to get hold of hosting and domain. The requirement doesn’t end here. If you are serious about your blog/website, you might want to get a premium theme or plugin.

The range of the themes cost anywhere from $20 to $60. Also, plugin costs depend a lot on what you are choosing.

Hosting can cost anywhere between $5 to $50 per month(depends on the features of hosting). If you plan to get shared hosting, $5 per month will suffice, but if you want VPS(Virtual Private Server), the cost can easily go above $50 per month.

For starters, it is always a good idea to get a shared hosting. Once the audience starts building, it is a good idea to move the website to VPS. Most migrations are free of cost or self-doable.

Domain charges range from $5 to $15. You can get them cheaper if you use coupon codes around the internet. Premium domain names can cost more and go up to $120 easily.

In contrast, cost is less compared to the And, you get full control over your website. No limitation what so ever.

Maintenance and Development

The biggest mistake that beginners make is not understanding the importance of WordPress maintenance and development. Any Website needs care just like any living being would need.

To make WordPress a secure place, constant updates are released over time. Similarly, themes and plugins need to be updated regularly. Most of the updates are done automatically, but it require supervision of some sort. You don’t want to install a plugin update that can make your website break.

One more thing that needs to be monitored is development over time. WordPress is great as it comes with an ecosystem, offering tons of plugins and themes to choose from(both free and paid). Even with such an impressive ecosystem, you will be left with some requirements that can only be meet with custom development. is a great place. It will take care of all your maintenance. You don’t have to do anything. All the updates are periodically implemented on the website. Moreover, you don’t have to worry about development as well. Everything is maintained by team.

This time, doesn’t look bright. Full control over the website easily adds maintenance and development overhead. Using will lead you to the plethora of responsibilities.

The responsibilities include the following:

  • Website installation, hosting needs to be done by you.
  • Updates need to be done by you. Security critical updates are automatic. The update can include WordPress core, plugins, and themes.
  • Create a regular backup of your website.
  • Use security plugins and other
  • Solve issues of website or the server. do provide an edge over in this aspect. If you don’t want to go through all the responsibilities, choosing is a good idea.

Wrapping Up — or

Concluding which one is better is not a hard decision to make. is superior in all way as it comes with full control. The only downside of using is the responsibilities that come along.

To make proper use of the, you need to grab the best hosting according to your requirements. Check out the top 5 managed WordPress hosting for your next blog.

85Ideas recommend

A great way to explore the world of WordPress and its abilities. The current web is full of WordPress tutorials and you can get most of the tutorials from 85Ideas tutorial point. You can also check out the resource page for starting with WordPress.

So, which platform are you going to choose for your first project? Let us know using the comment section below.

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at 85ideas is a team of WordPress experts led by Brian Harris. Here to share amazing tuts, guides and collections.

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