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WordPress is used by an estimated 43.1% of all websites, so it’s no surprise that hackers specifically target websites that use this content management system (CMS).

What’s more, these bad actors show no sign of letting up. According to a 2022 report by SiteLock, websites see an average of 172 attacks per day

To keep your website safe, you should use all security measures at your disposal. And if you operate a WordPress website, then you should get a security plugin that’s specifically designed for WordPress. 

That’s because these plugins are designed to plug any gaps in WordPress’ security. The best WordPress security plugins, like Wordfence, are constantly updated to keep your website safe from attacks that target WordPress plugins and themes.    

This Wordfence review tells you all you need to know about the benefits of this plugin for improving your website’s security.

What is Wordfence?

Wordfence review based on key security concerns for WordPress websites.

Wordfence is a popular WordPress security plugin known for its robust website application firewall and malware scanner. This all-in-one security plugin, which is owned by Defiant, was founded in 2012 by Mark Maunder and Kerry Boyte.

Wordfence is now downloaded 30,000 times a day, and the free version has over 4 million active users. Wordfence also has Premium, Care and Response plans with different yearly pricing levels. 

Whether you choose a free or paid version, your WordPress website will benefit substantially from Wordfence’s many security features. 

Let’s look at how these features can help protect your website. 

Wordfence’s firewall

The firewall options analyzed in this Wordfence review.

A firewall uses a predetermined set of rules to monitor network traffic. These rules prevent unauthorized parties from accessing a network and performing malicious attacks. 

Although they don’t provide absolute protection, firewalls give some defense against distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Wordfence’s firewall also protects your website from cross-site scripting (XSS) and SQL injection attacks.

Wordfence’s web application firewall looks for vulnerabilities in your WordPress website, such as those in plugins and themes. This is important because even if your WordPress core files are protected, your theme and plugin files can expose your website and its visitors. 

When the Wordfence plugin finds a vulnerability in WordPress, it establishes new rules to protect your website from them. 

Through the WordPress dashboard, you can change your Wordfence firewall settings, such as IP blocking, country blocking, and allowlist and blocklist parameters.  

Malware scanner

Our Wordfence review looks at this plugin’s malware scanner.

Malware, a portmanteau of “malicious” and “software,” is any piece of software that is intended to cause damage to a computer or network. Computer viruses and keyloggers are examples of malware.  

The Wordfence security team constantly updates a large database of malware vulnerabilities, and it uses this database to create malware signatures.

With these signatures, Wordfence conducts regular malware scans to identify attacks from human hackers or bots. 

The scan looks at all your WordPress files — as well as your website’s posts, comments and pages — to determine if an attack has occurred. 

If the scan identifies malicious code or a backdoor attack, you’ll get an alert the next time you log in to your website’s dashboard. If you prefer, Wordfence can send you an email notification about any security issues it identifies during a scan. 

One criticism that has been leveled at Wordfence’s malware scan is that it can slow down websites. You can lengthen the scan time if you’re worried about it affecting your server resources. This is a useful option for websites on basic shared hosting plans.

Our Wordfence review looks at its malware security scan performance options.

If you plan to use the Wordfence security plugin just for its malware scanning capabilities, first check if your web hosting provider provides this security feature. 

For example, most of Bluehost’s shared hosting plans include malware scanning.  

Live Traffic tool

Use Wordfence Live Traffic to find out what the Wordfence firewall has blocked.

Wordfence Live Traffic is a nifty tool that lets you see all activity on your website in real time, such as logins and attack attempts. You can configure it to show you data on both malicious traffic and all website traffic.  

What’s more, Live Traffic provides information on both human and bot traffic, so you can find out if crawlers, like the Google or Bing bots, have had a peek at your website. 

Two-factor authentication

Think a strong password is enough to protect your site from bad actors? 

Think again.

Hackers use increasingly sophisticated tactics to gain access to your WordPress user dashboard, so it makes sense to protect your site from bogus logins that wreak havoc on your website. 

While it was previously a premium add-on, Wordfence now provides two-factor authentication (2FA) on both free and paid plans. In essence, anyone making a login attempt must provide two forms of identification (e.g., a password and app authentication) before they get access to your WordPress website. 

We recommend using this vital line of defense against malicious actors on all aspects of your website, such as your web hosting account. That’s why Bluehost also offers a 2FA option

Other notable features

In addition to these robust security features, Wordfence provides:

  • Centralized security configuration with Wordfence Central
  • Rate limiting
  • Brute force attack protection
  • Vulnerability alerts
  • WHOIS lookup

Why you need Wordfence security 

If you’re puzzled about what Wordfence and other high-ranking security plugins can do for your website, then pull up a chair. 

Here’s a quick rundown of the main reasons for downloading a security plugin like Wordfence to prevent any security breaches with ease.  

Technical skill gaps 

If you aren’t a WordPress pro, then you may not have the skills necessary to keep your website secure. A security plugin like Wordfence security can be a great help for beginners who just want to launch and run a simple website. 

Ease of use 

If you’re a newbie blogger or eCommerce store owner without much website security experience, you probably won’t want a plugin with a steep learning curve. 

Some of the best security plugins for WordPress have a user-friendly design that makes upholding website security a breeze. The Wordfence security menu gets top marks for its easy-to-use navigation. 

Security features 

Security plugins have high-level features, which can help with tasks like blocking IP addresses and ensuring login security. 

If a dedicated security team isn’t monitoring your website, a plugin can go a long way toward protecting against the majority of outside threats. 

Background security monitoring

Even if you’re a security expert, some things might slip through the cracks. And when you’re busy running your blog or eCommerce store on WordPress, you want a security plugin with automatic monitoring. That way, it lets you know if it identifies a vulnerability. 

Also, many security plugins will automatically notify you if there’s an update for a theme or plugin you’re using. Regardless of whether you use a security plugin, you should always make sure you’re using the latest version of WordPress and any add-ons.

Wordfence security notifications on plugin and theme updates.

The verdict: Before you install a security plugin, check out our basic site security checklist to find out what you need to keep your website safe. This checklist gives you the scoop on all the security must-haves, like Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates

If you’re a Bluehost hosting customer, you’ll get a free SSL certificate on most plans. 

Wordfence review: Free vs. Premium plans

Our Wordfence review includes a comparison of the free and paid plans.

With the free version of Wordfence, you get the majority of the features we’ve mentioned so far. Make no mistake — the free Wordfence security version provides great protection for budget-conscious owners of simple websites. 

But if you can stretch your website security budget to just under $10 a month, you can get some extra security features and added peace of mind with Wordfence Premium. The Care (around $40 per month) and Response (about $80 per month) plans offer even more features.

In terms of the features we’ve discussed so far, the major differences between the free and premium versions of Wordfence relate to time and support. 


Users of Wordfence’s free plugin get delayed access to some security updates. For their yearly outlay, Premium customers get priority here. When you’re getting a plugin for free, this is a minor gripe.  

Firewall rules

With the free version of Wordfence security, you get access to new firewall rules 30 days after their release. Premium customers get real-time access to these rules. 

If you run an online business, your reputation depends on keeping your website safe. For this reason, you may want to get any firewall updates while they’re fresh from the oven. 

Malware signatures

Similarly, Premium customers get real-time access to malware signatures, while those on the Free plan must wait 30 days.

So, if you opt for the Free plan, make sure you run a tight ship to keep malware at bay. For example, be extra cautious about any plugins or themes you add to your website. 


If you get a free plan for a WordPress theme or plugin, you generally expect that you won’t get all the bells and whistles included. 

Always-on support is generally a premium feature. And sometimes, it’s only available on the highest-tiered paid plans. 

With Wordfence Free, your support options are limited to volunteer forums. This situation isn’t ideal if you have a security emergency.

If you purchase a Premium plan, you get ticket-based customer support. Those on Care and Response plans get priority ticket-based support and a 1-hour response time, respectively. 

The importance of security for WordPress websites cannot be understated. And if you value customer support, it might be best to opt for a Premium plan or above.   

At Bluehost, you don’t have to worry about different levels of support — even our basic shared hosting plan has 24/7 support via telephone and web chat. 

Good-to-have extras

The Premium plan provides a real-time IP blocklist and country blocking. It also has unlimited scheduled security scans. On the Free plan, you’re limited to a quick daily scan and a full scan every three days.  

Wordfence competitors 

Even if you’re just after a free security plugin to do the bare essentials, shopping around is worthwhile. And while we rate Wordfence highly, it wouldn’t be fair if we didn’t give some honorable mentions to some other highly rated security plugins. 

Some of the top competitors to Wordfence are MalCare, Sucuri and iThemes Security.  


Our Wordfence review compares the plugin to MalCare.

MalCare plans are priced similarly to Wordfence’s, but MalCare focuses more on performance monitoring. It has some nice extras, too, like uptime monitoring. 

If you use MalCare’s Free plan, you’ll get uptime monitoring every hour. Paid plans will monitor your website’s uptime every 15 minutes. 


Our Wordfence review compares the plugin to Sucuri.

Sucuri’s WordPress plugin is a top competitor to Wordfence, and it has won many plaudits for its security hardening features. 

That said, Sucuri’s free version lacks a web application firewall. Instead, it recommends getting a firewall through one of its paid plans. 

Without a firewall, you could be leaving your website exposed to bad actors. For this reason, Wordfence has the edge, especially for customers with a limited security budget. 

iThemes Security

Our Wordfence review compares the plugin to iThemes Security.

iThemes Security is an up-and-coming security plugin for WordPress, and its paid plans are competitively priced. However, it lacks some of the top-drawer security features of Wordfence.

Also, we found the functionality of the free plugin from iThemes to be very limited. On the plan comparison page, you’ll find a laundry list of features not included in the free plan. 

By contrast, the free Wordfence security plugin provides plenty of important features from the get-go.

Also, if you’re on the lookout for a malware scanner or firewall, you might feel confused while browsing the iThemes Security website — these aren’t included in free or paid plans. 

Granted, iThemes does explain why it doesn’t provide them — it believes these features are unnecessary or ineffective at the plugin level. But that explanation won’t hold water for those who want an all-in-one solution to WordPress security.  

Final thoughts: Wordfence security — the best security plugin for WordPress 

That wraps up our review of Wordfence security. It’s hard to find a security plugin that strikes the perfect balance between functionality and price, but we think Wordfence leaves its competitors in the dust. 

But while WordPress security plugins are highly valuable, they aren’t a panacea. You’ll still want to bulk up your endpoint security and proactively look for any other potential security gaps in your online business.        

If you value security as much as your website visitors, make sure you choose a web host that puts website security front and center. 

If you purchase a Bluehost plan, you can reap the benefits of security protection, fast hosting and top-level support.

Whether you’re after shared WordPress hosting, a virtual private server (VPS) or a dedicated server all to yourself, Bluehost has what you need. 

Wordfence security plugin FAQs 

How do I use Wordfence?

You’ll find the free version of the Wordfence security plugin in the repository at You can get a paid plan on Wordfence’s website. Once you download the plugin on your WordPress dashboard, it’ll start working its magic on your website.

Through the user-friendly Wordfence menu, you can make additional tweaks and have a look at the security problems the plugin has identified.

Is there a free version of Wordfence?

Yes, there is — and it has some great features. However, if you have a high-traffic blog or eCommerce store, we recommend opting for the Premium plan or higher for added protection.

When you handle sensitive customer data, it’s worth investing in robust security measures. By protecting your customers’ data, you’ll maintain their trust.

Is Wordfence necessary?

The utility of Wordfence depends on your time, budget and experience level. For WordPress websites that aren’t monitored by a dedicated security team, we don’t recommend going without a WordPress security plugin.

At the very least, you should consider using a free security plugin for basic protection. And you can’t go far wrong with Wordfence Free. 

Will WordFence slow down my website?

In some cases, such as under the default settings, a Wordfence malware scan can slow down your website. However, with a bit of tweaking and a fast web host, you should be able to find the right balance between security and speed. 

Does Wordfence remove malware?

Yes. Wordfence provides high-level malware removal services, but not on Free or Premium plans. Instead, premium malware removal is available under Wordfence’s site cleaning services, which are only available for Care and Response customers. 

Before you shell out for malware removal, check if your web hosting plan includes it as standard.

Is Wordfence a firewall?

The Wordfence security plugin has a web application firewall, but it’s not just a firewall. This plugin offers many more security features, such as malware scanning and two-factor authentication (2FA). 

Is Wordfence GDPR compliant?

Defiant, the company that owns Wordfence, complies with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This regulation gives EU residents more control over how companies use their data. It also controls how data can be exported from the EU.

  • Tiffani Anderson

    Tiffani is a Content and SEO Manager for the Bluehost brand. With over 10 years experience across all facets of content and brand marketing, she strives to combine concepts from brand marketing with engaging content through the lens of SEO.

    University of North Texas
    Previous Experience
    Content Marketing, SEO, Social Media
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