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wordpress.com vs other web host

  1. What's the difference between hosting my web site on wordpress.com vs hosting it on a generic web host?
    If I host it here and pay for a custom domain name, would I be able to
    -create pop3 email accounts
    -ftp to my web space
    -use my web space for other things than wordpress
    -create subdomains (how many?)
    -what are the limits on web space, database size, etc?

    And for the wordpress site itself, does wordpress.com takes care of the updates?
    Is there a staging area? Or can I switch my domain to one of two wordpress blogs so that one site can be the active site while the other is being worked on?

    These should be in an FAQ somewhere but I can't seem to find them.

  2. -create pop3 email accounts No
    -ftp to my web space No
    -use my web space for other things than wordpress No
    -create subdomains (how many?) Not as far as I'm aware
    -what are the limits on web space, database size, etc? 3G, same as without a domain name, except if you purchase a space upgrade.
    -does wordpress.com takes care of the updates? Yes
    -Is there a staging area? No
    -Or can I switch my domain to one of two wordpress blogs so that one site can be the active site while the other is being worked on? Not without the paid upgrade

    The most important thing to remember is that each upgrade at WordPress.com gives you only exactly what it says. You get a new domain name for your blog. You do not move off WP.com, you are not except from the Terms of Service or the technological limitations.

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