The distinction and differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org can cause some confusion for a lot of people. Let’s clear some of this mis-communication up and attempt to explain the differences. There are many differences between the two versions of WordPress – and we will try to help to illustrate the differences for you below.

WordPress.com is brought to you by some of the same folks who have created and developed WordPress, the open source content management software.

WordPress.com utilizes most of the same WordPress software which you can download at WordPress.org, but it is more limited in what you can do.  With WordPress.com the hosting and managing of the software is taken care of by the team at Automattic.  With WordPress.org you need to install and setup the software on your own server and manage the backups.  314media provides WordPress installation services as well as WordPress hosting services for clients looking to make the jump to self hosted.  We can also help you install WordPress on your current hosting account or you can get started with a new hosting account running the WordPress.org software.  WordPress.com is a service, while WordPress.org is software.

WordPress.com Benefits

  • It’s free and much easier to setup
  • Everything is taken care of: setup, upgrades, spam, backups, security, etc
  • Your blog is on hundreds of servers, so it’s highly unlikely it will go down due to traffic
  • Your posts are backed up automatically
  • You get extra traffic from blogs of the day and tags
  • You can find like-minded bloggers using tag and friend surfer
  • Your login is secure (SSL) so no one can get into your account if you use wifi

WordPress.com Cons

  • We provide 70+ themes (and adding more every day) which you can modify and edit the CSS, but you cannot run a custom theme*
  • You can’t hack or modify the PHP code behind your blog*
  • You can’t upload plugins

* The VIP program on WordPress.com for high-traffic and high-profile sites allows you to run custom themes, custom PHP code, ad code, and WordPress plugins – it’s current cost levels are around 1-2k per month for hosting and support.

WordPress.org Benefits

  • Ability to upload themes
  • Ability to upload plugins
  • Great community
  • Complete control to change code if you’re technically minded or need something more advanced than a standard WordPress installation.

WordPress.org Cons

  • You need a web hosting account.  314media can provide web hosting for as low as $5 per month.
  • Requires more technical knowledge to setup, but is as easy as WordPress.com once it’s going.
  • You’re responsible for stopping spam.
  • You have to handle backups, or pay someone to do this.
  • You must upgrade the software manually when a new version comes out
  • If you get a huge spike in traffic (like Digg or Slashdot) your site will probably go down unless you have a robust hosting account! (like hosting with 314media!)

What is WordPress.org?

WordPress.org is free, open-source website and blogging software. With WordPress.org, you can freely install themes and plugins, run advertisements, edit the database and even modify the PHP source code. WordPress.org is the home of this software. Anyone can download the software for free but it must be installed on a web server before it will work. Web servers that can support WordPress are generally not free. Hosting your own WordPress software can be fun and rewarding; but it also places full responsibility on the blogger. If you mismanage your web server, you can lose your entire blog. 314media provides WordPress hosting, WordPress support, and WP backup plans as well as custom plugin and theme design and development. Contact us for more information about our services or to get started using WordPress.org today.

For no charge, WordPress.org provides downloadable blog software, community mailing lists, community support forums, documentation, and free themes and plugins.  Getting it running and looking exactly like you want to can sometimes be a challenge – and that’s where we come in!

What is WordPress.com?

WordPress.com is different. You do not have to download software, pay for hosting or manage a web server. When you sign up for a WordPress.com blog, you will get a URL like “andy.wordpress.com” or you can map a domain so your blog is available at “example.com” without the “.wordpress.com” portion.  You do not control the software or the database; FTP and shell access are not included. WordPress.com is based on a multi-user version of the WordPress software which does not permit uploading of PHP themes or plugins (although many popular plugins are built into WordPress.com).  Popular JavaScript embeds such as YouTube are supported, but for security reasons some of the lesser known embed codes will be stripped out.  CSS is also restricted by default for security reasons, but you can purchase a paid upgrade to gain the ability for full CSS editing.  What you can do on WordPress.com is blog for free.

Also free of charge, WordPress.com provides web hosting, unlimited database storage with redundancy and backups, automatic software upgrades, community support forums, multi-lingual administration and themes, real-time traffic stats, comment tracking, blog and post rankings and other features not available anywhere else.

WordPress.com is a commercial enterprise owned by Automattic, the company started by the founding developer of WordPress and staffed by full-time developers, designers and support agents. It runs almost the same code as the WordPress.org release; but I’m sure they have a few custom plugins that keep things under control over there.

WordPress.com offers paid upgrades as a way to provide premium features without forcing bloggers to host their blogs elsewhere. These upgrades are optional. Basic blogs will always be free on WordPress.com and the basic services will continue to be upgraded with better features.

So what version of WordPress should I choose?

As you can see, the advantages to WordPress.org vastly out weigh the free-hosted solution.  By building a WordPress website on your own hosting account, you are  ultimately creating a platform that you can change and modify as your website grows and changes.  Using the hosted solution; you’re not getting the full plugin support and customization that your growing WordPress website will require.

314media offers WordPress.com to WordPress.org conversion and migration services for those who have outgrown the free hosted solution or just need more control over their current WordPress installation.  Contact us for more information about how 314media can help with your WordPress website today.