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If you’re new to blogging or WordPress in general, the question about the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org and which one to choose is a common one, but the question itself is incorrect. It’s sort of like comparing apples to fruit baskets, they’re actually two very different things.

The difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org Explained

Think of it like this – WordPress.com is a hosting service, while WordPress.org is a repository for the WordPress software itself – which is actually what it is. They’re not equivalent, and can’t be compared. Having said that, it’s typical to equate WordPress.org with what is known as self-hosted WordPress – an inaccurate synonym that usually causes confusion for the new blogger or WordPress user.

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 for a WordPress blog (or site):

  1. 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 blogger2wp.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, and most hosting companies have now made this process much easier by also letting you register a domain name with them, and including easy(er) WordPress (one-click install) installation tools.

WordPress.com takes all of those steps away and does all of this for you so you don’t have to worry about installing software and pointing domains, etc. WordPress.com is 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. We’ve already posted about the many reasons you may want to start your WordPress blog on WordPress.com.

However, that ease of setting up your new blog or site through WordPress.com comes at a price, figuratively and literally. 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 backup for your site. On WordPress.com these are handled for you, but 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, and hopefully before you break your site or it gets hacked. Some hosts, like SiteGround for example, already handle the backups for you, so you only need to focus on your site security.

Simply speaking, if your WordPress blog or site is not hosted through WordPress.com, then its considered self-hosted WordPress.

Hopefully that helps explain the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org (self-hosted WordPress). Leave a comment if you have any additional questions, we’d be happy to answer those for you.

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