Choosing the right web hosting company is frustrating. After all these years I still find the process extremely aggravating. For the past two years I have seriously been looking for a new hosting service for this website. Each time a move to a new company is either stopped by pricing or not feeling the webhost would provide me with what I’m wanting.
If I remember correctly I’m on my fourth webhosting company since 1999. Started out with Homestead, then went to a company I can’t remember the name of, when I started this “blog” in 2004 I was using Blogware ( a Tucows blog service now shutdown ) and then to GoDaddy since 2007 for hosting. Yes I was aware of the mixed reviews with GoDaddy – but I took a shot with them anyway. I had for two years previous ( 2005 ) used them to renew several domains.
I made a move to GoDaddy’s G4 hosting that was suppose to offer better performance in 2011. For the first few months after purchasing this upgrade this website actually performed close to what I expect. Then the usual problems starting to creep in. Slow page loads – WordPress admin errors etc. The G4 upgrade was suppose to be a move to the “awesome” cloud. All the usual marketing hype was behind this product. I fell for it hook line and sinker.
Why did I give the “upgrade” a spin when I figured it was marketing hype. Part of my decision was based on cost. While this website has technically been profitable since day one – meaning paying for it’s operating cost – it’s not exactly making me huge amounts of cash. So hosting price is important. Yes I’m aware of the saying – you get what you pay for.
Of course I have put several WordPress caching plugins to use. I finally settled on W3 Total Cache. Recently within that plugin I have enabled CloudFlare services. I’ll write more about my experience with that product later on. Honestly with CloudFlare and the Video.js CDN version in use – I might save myself the hassle of switching webhost. I’ve been testing that for a few weeks now – with mixed results – until I made a CloudFlare settings change.
Last nights couple hour outage with no explanation has me wanting to ditch GoDaddy for good. I don’t like the company’s politics. I’m even less thrilled with how they feel the Internet should operate in the future.
The problem always comes back to finding one of their competitors I think will give me a better customer experience. Changing hosting providers isn’t as easy as trying on a new pair of jeans. It can take days to get things moved over and it is a very painful – long process. I have never had a pleasant experience moving this site to a new host. Companies providing these services know what a pain it is to leave them. So once they have you – they normally have you for a good amount of time.
There is no easy way to take a test drive of webhosting services. If you wanted to test several – it would be at best a couple of weeks process. Unless you got lucky and picked the one that gave you the service you wanted first. During that testing your search engine ranking would almost disappear – you would be waiting for DNS servers to propagate. You could be in limbo for ages waiting for your current host to honor the release move request. Those are just a few examples of the drama of moving a website to a new host. All those issues can be encountered when things are going right. If something gets screwed up in the process even more headaches can arise.
Honestly I’m not sure there is really all that much difference between host. Most of what consumers see is just marketing hype. You can spend weeks reading reviews and forums until your head feels like it wants to explode and still not have a good idea of who you should do business with. Keep in mind that some reviews may have been paid for or seeded by someone employed to post positive comments. On the flipside there have been just as many cases of negative reviews being planted by the competition. It’s truly hard to separate reality from hype.
You see many different services online using Amazon Web Services ( AWS ) as their backend while claiming they are running their own hardware. I’ve actually considered looking into the cost of AWS and how hard it would be to get setup.
Recently when researching two well known webhost for the WordPress community I ran into issues with both. WP Engine clearly states that websites with heavy video content aren’t to welcome or they should at least have their own CDN ( Content delivery network ) – which could add extra cost on top of what you would pay for hosting. Credit should be given for them being straightforward about this. But they may not be the best fit for me – considering I have moved almost completely to video content the past year and half. Granted my current setup using CloudFlare and the Video.js CDN version – might also work smoothly with their service. But I’d be taking on a lot of aggravation to get things moved to find out.
Granted with WP Engine using CloudFlare might be pointless. Do to the fact that WP Engine claims the company does pretty much if not exactly what the CloudFlare service provides. The Video.js CDN version is hosted by Brightcove. In theory – I’d assume that should work to reduce server load.
WP Engine seems to do a better job of explaining things clearly about why they do things the way they do. Although some might argue that choosing them takes a bit of freedom away from the site owner to use plugins etc of their choosing.
Next I took a look at WPWebHost – their Rockstar WordPress VPS (Virtual Private Server) had my interest. But if you read their TOS ( Terms of Service ) they will shut you down for even linking to adult content of any type. Although I rarely if ever link adult content here – I can think of only twice since 2004 where I have done so – I’m fully against censorship. While I understand it’s their service and their rules. To me that is stepping on my freedoms and NOT COOL. One of the reasons I started this website was to be able to speak my mind in my way when I wanted. So even if this company could handle all my technical needs – it’s a no go do to their policies.
That is just one example of how customers really need to do some heavy reading when deciding who to host their content with. Granted many webhosting firms have rules against adult content. But I think WPWebHost is the first I’ve seen who directly mentions linking to adult websites.
“3. Hyperlinks to adult sites, including but not limited to sites who violate these policies.”
The process of choosing a webhosting provider doesn’t seem to have gotten any easier over the years. Processes to get moved from one host to another are still slow and aggravating. Making the difficult choice of who to run your content with is still as time consuming and frustrating as in years past.