The distinctions between WordPress.com, WordPress, and WordPress.org can cause some confusion. This post will help you to clear them up.
WordPress.com is brought to you by some of the same folks who work on WordPress, the open source blogging software. WordPress.com is a hosting platform that utilizes the same WordPress software that anyone can download from WordPress.org. With WordPress.com, the hosting and managing of the software is taken care of by the team here at Automattic. With the freestanding WordPress software, you need to install it on your own server or a 3rd party hosting provider.
WordPress Pros and Cons:
* It’s free and much easier to set up
* 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 content is backed up automatically
* You get extra traffic from the WordPress.com community — including blogs of the day and tags
* You can find like-minded bloggers using search and the reader
* Your dashboard is secure (SSL) making it even safer to log in on shared networks
* We provide 160+ themes (and adding more every day) which you can modify and edit the CSS, but you cannot upload a custom theme*
* You can’t 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.
* Ability to upload themes
* Ability to upload plugins
* Great community
* Complete control to change code if you’re technically minded
WordPress (self-hosted) Cons
* You need a good web host, which generally costs $7-12 a month, or thousands of dollars per month for a high traffic site
* Requires more technical knowledge to set up and run
* You’re responsible for stopping spam
* You have to handle backups
* You must upgrade the software 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 setup