WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

The question about the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is a common one, but the question itself is incorrect. It’s sort of like comparing apples to oranges, they’re actually two very different things.

Think of it like this – WordPress.com is a hosting service, while WordPress.org is a repository for the WordPress software itself. They’re not equivalent, and can’t be compared.

The real question should be – what’s the difference between WordPress.com and self-hosted WordPress?

To understand the answer, you need to know what’s required to have a live, working WordPress site or blog. You need three basic things:

  1. Some software – this is the WordPress software itself – stored and maintained through WordPress.org.
  2. A special computer to run the WordPress software and store all or your site’s files and database – known as a server or web host.
  3. And an address – this is your domain name. Just like goselfhosted.com is our address on the world wide web.

Traditionally, to setup a WordPress site or blog, you would need to setup a server or rent server space from a hosting company, install the WordPress software, register your web address from a registrar, like NameCheap for example, and point that domain name to your server so that it loads your WordPress site or blog.

This is still the basic process, but most hosting companies have now made this process much easier by also letting you register a domain name with them, and including easy WordPress (one-click install) installation tools.

WordPress.com takes all of those steps away and does all this for you so you don’t have to worry about installing software and pointing domains, etc. Think of WordPress.com as a web hosting service, except they take care of all the installation details behind the scenes, they provide a free sub-domain you can use for your site, and setting it all up so you don’t have to worry about the details. This is also typically know as Managed WordPress hosting. Essentially, WordPress.com makes starting a blog or site super easy, and you can be up and running within a few minutes with zero technical knowledge.

With that ease of getting started though comes some restrictions and a slightly higher cost. For example plugins can only be installed on the Business plan, and some plugins are even restricted. There are other differences as well, and these relate mostly to security and backups of you site. On WordPress.com these are handled for you, on self-hosted WordPress, you need to manage this yourself. It’s not difficult, but could take some time to learn and figure out what needs to be done. Some hosts, like SiteGround for example, already handle the backups for you, so you only need to focus on your site security.

In summary, if your WordPress site is not hosted through WordPress.com, then its considered self-hosted WordPress.

Without getting into too much detail, that in a nutshell is the difference between the two WordPress flavors. Drop us a line if you have any additional questions!

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