Issue #404

Sent to members on November 7, 2022

My Direct Experiences With Web Hosting For My Clients

Being that I am now involved behind the scenes with a lot of people’s websites (through my ongoing webmaster support as well as projects), I end up dealing with a lot of different web hosts.

This gives me a bird’s eye view of things.

And yes, I have my opinions. 🙂

As with all things web hosting, everybody has opinions. And, everybody has different experiences. All I can do is say what I see as an “average”.

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Most bloggers out there unfortunately recommend hosting companies primarily based on who pays them the most commission as an affiliate. It is why you see so many bloggers who have recommended Bluehost. Bluehost is known to pay out pretty well. Thing is…

Bluehost is bulk, commodity web hosting. And I do uptime monitoring for my client websites. I had one client hosted with Bluehost and her site periodically went down – often. Sure, most of the time, the site worked fine. But, it experienced fairly regular outages to the point where I came to ignore them. I know that when her site went down, it would go back up again. It had nothing to do with any problem with her site. It was just Bluehost being Bluehost.

The interesting thing, too, is that her site wasn’t even getting much traffic. So, this was not a site load issue. She was on a shared server with a bunch of other people. The infrastructure she was hosted on was just being hammered under the load of a ton of other websites. There’s nothing she can do about it – except for move her site.

Godaddy? Crap, if you ask me. One of my clients on Godaddy was having so many security issues he had to hire a middleman company just to shield it. Was costing him a ton of money, too. Not only that, the site was slow. He was on a pretty beefy account and still, the site was slow (especially on the backend). When I moved him over to Cloudways, all the problems went away. He’s saving a ton of money, too.

A2 Hosting. Another client of mine just signed up with me. I’m going to be moving her away from A2 Hosting because they “migrated” her site (internally, I’m guessing) and caused her site to be down for about a full day. That’s just unacceptable.

Siteground. One of the better bulk hosting companies, I’ve found. But, not perfect. One of my clients just had her whole site go offline because her account went over the disk space quota. Now, that’s a pretty rare thing and I’m going to help her fix it, but still… the fact that Siteground just disabled the damn site like that without much forewarning just isn’t cool. Of course, they’d be happy to upsell her for more disk space.

Now, this isn’t just about me naming different companies.

I’d like to offer a few general observations here…

First, I just think you need to be very careful with any of these bulk, commodity hosts that try to hook you with some super cheap monthly rate if you pre-pay for a year or more. So many of them do that and generally I’ve found the hosting isn’t even that good.

I’ve moved a lot of client sites where the client was pre-paid for awhile, but they found the hosting sucked. Why get locked in? Why even feel compelled to stick with subpar hosting just because you’re pre-paid?

Plus, a lot of people end up feeling like the REAL price is too expensive. Siteground and most of them will hook you up with some cheap intro rate, but once the real price kicks in, it is actually pretty expensive.

Second, a lot of cheaper web hosts out there are just…. old-school. They offer bulk hosting, usually using old interfaces and cPanel. There’s nothing inherently wrong with cPanel, but it isn’t very user-friendly for most people. And I’ve seen most cheap, crappy web hosts just chuck their clients into cPanel rather than have modern, user-friendly ways to manage their accounts and hosting. Generally speaking, I’d avoid hosts that just throw you into cPanel. But, that’s my opinion. When a hosting company has their own, custom account portal, that shows they’ve invested more into the client experience. cPanel is just software they installed.

I use Cloudways for my own hosting. I recommend Cloudways. And I’ve moved a LOT of my clients to Cloudways.

I definitely do not require my clients use Cloudways. It is always their choice. But, I’ve lost count now of how many times they’ve eventually elected to do it due to hosting-related issues with their previous host.

I definitely don’t recommend Cloudways for the commission. Yes, I make a commission when people sign up via me, but I’d make a lot more if I recommended some consumer, bulk host. But, those companies are better at marketing than hosting. They’re counting on people to get locked in and afraid to move their hosting.

Cloudways doesn’t play pricing games, either. You just pay monthly for the kind of hosting you want. No cheap pre-paid periods only to get suckered into something much more expensive.

With Clouways, you’re on a virtual private server (or VPS). This means you get far more storage, more resources than most shared hosting. You’re not sharing those resources with others.

And being a VPS, you’re pretty much free to do what you want. They don’t ban certain plugins. They don’t inject crap into your Wordpress admin panel. It is just good, clean hosting.

Cloudways has a nice user interface to manage everything. It makes the otherwise nerdy experience of managing a VPS into a very user-friendly thing. You won’t find any cPanel crap here.

The big difference is that Cloudways is not an “all-in-one” host where you can buy domains through them, host your email, etc. They have add-ons if you want it, but they just do hosting. Which is why they’re good at it.

Anyway, that’s my overview of web hosting these days, from the perspective of a person who manages a lot of sites now across a lot of different companies.

If you are having any issues with your site, feel free to reach out and ask me.

Tech Talk

WordPress 6.1 was officially released and you can upgrade to it now (if you haven’t already been upgraded). There were also a number of incremental plugin upgrades for compatibility with 6.1. For instance, FYI FluentCRM had an incremental upgrade to fix a conflict between the email editor and WP 6.1.

In one little change for 6.1, they have finally retired the default site tagline of “Just another WordPress site“. It will now just be empty. It is such a small little thing, but it’s about damn time.

And lastly, a little reminder…

If you ever need to take payments for something on your website in a simple way, you do not need to set up a shopping cart to do it. You can use a forms plugin.

This last week, I used Fluent Forms to create a quick order form for our local homeschool center to sell tickets to their upcoming drama show next month. Fluent Forms has the ability to design an order form that will process payments through Stripe, Paypal, or a number of other payment providers. I could fully customize the order form to ask for what we need (like the showtime they plan to attend). I Can send email notifications, receipts, and even sent data to external sites (like Google Sheets) through the built-in integrations. And it is working beautifully.

There are a lot of business sites out there that need to process purchases for simple things. They don’t need all the bells and whistles of a full shopping cart like WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads. And they could really use more than a simple Paypal button could give them. Using a forms plugin can be a great way to go.

So many people get forms plugins like Fluent Forms and they just build simple contact forms. But, they’re capable of so much more.

And yes, I prefer Fluent Forms. But, other forms plugins have similar ability to do order forms. Gravity Forms, Formidable Forms, WPForms… they can all do it.

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