Tap is a UK-based company offering free WordPress hosting, along with cheap, $5/mo/site plans. They’ve been around since October of 2014, but have recently gained attention after receiving 150 upvotes on Product Hunt. In a WordPress hosting market saturated with competitors, you’re probably wondering what makes these guys any different. So I’ll tell you.
- Super-simple pricing
- Free SSL support via Let’s Encrypt
- Unlimited demo sites
As with any service, there are several important factors to consider before choosing the right WordPress hosting company to host your site. Let’s examine Tap’s features, pricing, support & setup. I’ll also provide some first-hand experience dealing with their team. Spoiler alert: Within 10 minutes of submitting a support request, I was live chatting with one of the co-founders. Also, setting up a new account took me less than 60 seconds. No joke.
Managed WordPress hosting, without the hassle
Hosting Features All Plans
Many of the managed WordPress hosting companies possess a similar, standard set of features. Tap includes much of the same, but they offer a few unique features that set them apart.
Most WordPress hosts offer an additional layer of security to protect your site from hackers. I don’t have specifics on the actual tools & measures they have in place (most hosts don’t publish this info because, well, bad guys can read, too), they do provide 24/7 proactive threat scanning to prevent malicious attacks.
Along the website security, Tap collects & stores a daily backup of your WordPress website, in case you need to revert back for any reason.
On-demand backups are not currently available, but are on their roadmap. You can expect to see this in Feb/Mar of this year.
All backups are on a 3-day retention. And while there is no one-click restore option, a quick message to their support team will do the trick.
Unrestricted Plugin Use
The “managed” part of “managed WordPress hosting” often means giving up the ability to install whatever plugins or themes you want to use. Some hosting providers offer competing (and sometimes conflicting) features that don’t play nice with some WordPress plugins. Therefore, they disallow plugins on their platform.
Tap won’t do that to you. You are free to use any WordPress plugin that you’d like. But please, let’s not go crazy, OK? You should still do your research before installing any new plugin.
WordPress 4.4.1 was just released, and I got a quick email from Tap letting me know that my site was updated. They will automatically update your WordPress site to the latest, secure version (minor security updates, not major releases).
Much like Tap’s pricing, their admin area is simple. Very few options. Intuitive. Fast.
They do have 2 neat features that I have not seen anywhere else:
- disable all plugins with one-click
- revert to the default WordPress theme with one-click
In most scenarios, you wouldn’t need to use either of these. However, they’re great for troubleshooting WordPress issues. Theme and plugin conflicts do happen, and this is an easy way to get to the root of the problem.
Tap’s hosting platform is powered by Google Cloud, and uses NGINX caching.
Build on the same infrastructure that allows Google to return billions of search results in milliseconds, serve 6 billion hours of YouTube video per month and provide storage for 425 million Gmail users.
I can’t speak too much on the technology behind the Google Cloud Platform… but the quote above gives you an idea of the scale. Seems like a solid platform to build upon.
Free SSL Support
For demo sites, and all sites on their free plan, you have instant access to a free, shared SSL. All you have to do is change your WordPress Address and Site Address URLs in the General Settings area of the WordPress admin. I had a small hiccup with this, but their support team got back to me within 10 minutes, and had the problem solved in 20.
For paid hosting plans, their free SSL support for your own domain name is now available. You can also email them your SSL certificate info and they will setup your custom SSL for you.
— Tap (@wearetap) January 2, 2016
Unlimited, Free Demo Sites
With Tap, you can create as many free demo sites as you’d like. They will all be hosted as sub-domains on ____.thisistap.com. It is unclear if there are any visit or bandwidth restrictions on free sites, but my understanding is that there are no hard limits, but if you reach a certain point, they will reach out to you about upgrading to Pro.
For those of you who do client work, this is a great way to spin up a quick site for a client to see. Once they approve it, simply upgrade to Pro, and make it live. Keep in mind you won’t have SFTP access on the free plan.
Hosting Features Paid Plans
Obviously, when you upgrade to their paid plan, you receive additional features. Most notably, the ability to use your own domain name.
Custom Domain Name
The free hosting plan limits you to a
mysite.thisistap.com sub-domain. Upgrade for $5/mo/site and you’ll be able to use your own domain name
For business owners & many website managers, you can do everything you need to manage your site from within the WordPress admin area. With the free plan, you cannot access the server directly.
Upgrading to pro will give you direct access to the server, and all of your WordPress files, via SFTP.
Free Site Migrations
You will need to upgrade to the Pro plan in order to get your site migrated, but there is no charge. Simply purchase the Pro plan, send Tap an email with your
/wp-content/ folder and
.sql file, and they’ll migrate your site for free. Be sure to let them know of any unique circumstances with your WordPress install.
More Local Disk Space
On all Tap Pro Sites, you’ll get 10GB of local storage. This should be ample storage for most sites, and might not even be a factor if you’re using a CDN to deliver your assets.
Visits & Bandwidth
While other WordPress hosts ask you to upgrade to a higher plan, or contact support for a custom, enterprise-level plan, Tap has no higher plans to upgrade to.
They are working on some add-ons called “Pro Tools.” This will allow them to keep their pricing super-simple for their core users, but allow larger sites & resellers to pay for exactly what they need. More disk space will also come as one of these pro tool add-ons.
Roadmap / Missing Features
You might be used to a few things that Tap doesn’t currently support. Let’s take a look at what they don’t offer, and if they have plans to introduce these features down the road.
There is currently no way to access your database directly; not even on paid plans. The good news is that they will make any requested database changes for you. And the even better news is that this feature is at the top of their list. They plan to introduce a Tap version of phpMyAdmin soon.
Several managed WordPress hosting companies have partnered with MaxCDN to offer an integrated CDN to complement their in-house server caching (WP Engine & Flywheel are two examples). You often have to upgrade to a higher plan to take advantage of this service, but they do have that option.
Tap does not currently offer a CDN.
In the meantime, there are several CDN providers that perform great, regardless of your hosting platform. My preferred CDN is KeyCDN. Super-easy to set up, lots of developer options, and their prices are the lowest in the industry.
Dedicated IP Address
Tap does not currently support setting up your own dedicated IP address. If you have specific requirements, it’s worth a quick chat with their tech team. They might be able to work something out for you.
Several hosts allow you to create an exact replica of your WordPress site with one click, and then publish your changes back to your live site, again with only one click.
While Tap does offer unlimited demo sites, they don’t currently have a way to run two versions of the same site simultaneously. Once you upgrade to the pro plan and move to your own domain, the mysite.thisistap.com site goes away.
They will be introducing a downgrade option soon. This will mean that you can remove your custom domain (and your monthly fee), and fallback to your free mysite.thisistap.com site.
- Response Time: 5-10 minutes
- Knowledgebase – This is currently a bit thin, but they’re launching a new support/resources area in the next few days. They’ll be expanding their documentation to improve upon their current knowledgebase. I’ll post an update here once it goes live.
Support should be one of the most important features when shopping for WordPress hosting. I’m happy to report that Tap’s support did not disappoint. In fact, I had multiple, delightful interactions with one of their co-founders (who also provides support).
They use Intercom to provide in-dashboard live chat support, as well as integrated email notifications. Your chat window is collapsible, and you’ll receive a notification inside the dashboard when they respond. If you don’t have the Tap admin open, you’ll receive an email with a copy of their response. It really is a beautiful way to communicate.
One thing I’d like to make clear; they include support with their free plan. OK, but to what extent will they go to help you out? Well, they helped me resolve an SSL issue (on the free plan) within a matter of minutes. I received a response within 5 minutes, and the issue was resolved in another 10.
I also pointed out a small coding bug I found in their dashboard, and they were receptive and thankful. They fixed it within 24 hours, and shot me a message to just let me know.
They also asked me to “keep the bug reports coming.” This speaks volumes to the type of people running the organization. They welcome feedback, especially the kind that can make them better.
Tap’s pricing is about as simple as it gets. They have two plans:
- Free: Create unlimited demo sites; limited features
- $5/mo/site: Custom domain, SFTP access, 10GB local storage, private SSL, no visit limit
Setting up a new account with Tap took less than 60 seconds. My site was up-and-running in no time. In this video, I walk you through the entire process, step-by-step.
About Tap WordPress Hosting
- Location: UK
- Launched: October 2014
- Founders/Makers: Joe Perkins, Pete Heslop, Matt Luke, Mitch Todd
- Twitter: @wearetap
- Instagram: @on.tap
- Email: [email protected]
- Hosting Technology: Google Cloud Platform, NGINX Caching
- Frequently Asked Questions
- See Tap users on a map
There are 4 key players on their leadership team, and it’s unclear how many employees they have. But it’s safe to say they are one of the smaller WordPress hosting companies out there. In my opinion, smaller is usually better, so long as they have a solid infrastructure in place, and can manage growth effectively. It looks like the infrastructure is there. Time will tell how they manage growth.
Other Cool Stuff
- They list their current, average support time right on their homepage
- They run a WordPress blog called ontap
- They provide a gallery of free stock images, licensed under CC0
I think Tap is a solid up-and-comer in the WordPress hosting space. They are one of the smallest players at the moment, but that allows them to provide a personal touch. Their team cares about the small details, which is too often overlooked by larger companies.
My prediction: In a world where more options seem to be thrown our way at record speeds, Tap’s simple pricing & inclusive platform will win people over… and their leadership & support will convert them into long-term customers.
Are you hosting your site with Tap? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.