WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: What’s the Difference?

Did you know that WordPress.com and WordPress.org are two completely different platforms?

This is something that many new WordPress users don’t realize at first, and it may cause confusion if not fully understood — especially when it comes to choosing a platform that best meets your business needs.

So, what’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org? WordPress.com is a service that helps you build a website using the WordPress software, while WordPress.org is the software itself, which you can use to build and maintain a website on your own.

Let’s look at an in-depth comparison of WordPress.com vs WordPress.org to help you better understand what sets the two apart, and which platform is right for your new website.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: What sets them apart?

There are four primary areas where these platforms differ:

  1. Domain names
  2. Website hosting
  3. Website maintenance
  4. Security and backups

By looking at how each area is handled by each platform, you’ll understand the practical ways in which they’re different.


WordPress.com is a website-building, blogging, and publishing service owned by a company called Automattic. It offers both free and paid plans.

To be more specific, WordPress.com is a managed hosting platform specifically configured for the open-source CMS (Content Managment System), WordPress. WordPress.com provides strict levels of security and currently ranks as the fastest host in any tier in the Review Signal 2021 Hosting Performance test. With WordPress.com, you can rest easy, knowing that your website is managed and maintained by the world’s foremost WordPress experts.

Domain names

A domain name is the address that you type into a browser to reach a website. For example, acustomdomain.com is a domain name. If you choose the free version of WordPress.com, your website’s domain will be a WordPress.com sub-domain. This means that “WordPress” will be in your domain name. For example, example.wordpress.com.

However, opting for a paid plan allows you to use a domain name that doesn’t include “WordPress.” You won’t have to put in much effort to set up that domain name, as WordPress.com takes care of the technical stuff.

Website hosting

Website hosting, or the storage space that your website maintains, is included with all WordPress.com plans — both paid and free. It’s important to note that storage space is limited to 3GB with free plans.

With WordPress.com, there’s no need to pay for additional web hosting.

Website maintenance

Minimal website maintenance is required with a WordPress.com site. Any updates to the platform, themes, or plugins that you use are handled directly by WordPress.com. All you’re responsible for is producing new content for your website.

Website security and backups

Security services and website backups are also included with all WordPress.com accounts. You can rest assured that your website is safe without having to worry about maintaining safety measures yourself.


WordPress.org is where you’ll find the free WordPress software that you can first download, and then install onto your own web server. With WordPress.org, you handle everything yourself, from site hosting to maintenance.

Domain names

You’ll need to purchase a domain name separately if you’re using WordPress.org. The domain will be your own and will have no trace of “WordPress” in the name. A domain name typically costs around $15 per year.

Website hosting

WordPress.org users need to purchase a hosting package from a third-party web-hosting company. The hosting company of your choice will sell you space on their servers in exchange for what amounts to monthly or annual rent payments.

Website maintenance

When you host a website yourself, it means the site that that you’re 100 percent responsible for not just creating content, but also managing and maintaining your site. This includes staying informed about all updates to the WordPress.org software, as well as updates for any plugins or themes you’ve installed.

Website security and backups

This too is your responsibility when you go with WordPress.org. Security and backups will either come from you, your website hosting company, a plugin, or possibly a third-party security company.

In Summary: WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

As you’ve seen, differentiating between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is relatively simple. If the similar names confuse you, here’s a shortcut to help you remember the difference between the two:

WordPress.org helps users build a site that’s “organically yours,” as you’re creating, managing, and maintaining everything on your own.

WordPress.com helps you build a site in “combination with” the team at WordPress.com as they will support your site’s creation and will be manage and maintain the system for you.

As for which platform to pick, that depends on what you need. If you want the freedom to develop and manage a site entirely on your own, WordPress.org might be the best choice. If you want to focus your energy on creating your website and connecting with your visitors, while leaving the technical details of maintenance and management to the experts, then WordPress.com is the way to go.


Nathan Reimnitz

Nathan is a full-time freelancer working for Codeable.io, Clarity.fm, LinkedIn ProFinder & GoDaddy Pro

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