We purposely don’t provide hosting directly, but help others set up their own web hosting with the best performance and best value provider. This ensures you always get the most appropriate host, for the task in hand. No longer are you working in the dark or relying upon a local IT mate, a biased review site or some sales hype.
Owning your own hosting account rather than letting your web designer-developer do it for you, can avoid nasty disputes later. (And web designers know very little of hosting and just follow the crowd or latest sales pitch). Your own site under your own hosting account means you’ll retain personal control over your own property at all times. Note we can quickly help you through this process if you’re unsure how to select and set up your own hosting. It’s easy.
Save Money, Get More
Secondly, because you’re no longer going through a web designer or developer host reseller, you’ll eliminate the middle man, saving money. It’s not uncommon for web designers to run a shared hosting reseller account at say $50/mth, then place 5-20 clients on it, charging each $30-70 per month. Having your own hosting account in your name means you could now afford a more powerful private server (VPS), not be dumped on a slower, less secure and less stable shared/reseller configuration.
Website hosting 101 – Our ten minute tutorial
1. The Big Problem – Which host?
This is never a simple question with an easy answer. Like buying a car, you need to select the one with the right size and power that suits your purpose. Most host providers don’t offer just one option, but many, meaning you have two things to decide. The host package and the host company. We often discover that some host companies are great, but only some of their host options are. i.e. In some areas they are great value, in other areas will rip you off. Some have good support with knowledge staff, others outsourcing to kids out of India on $5/hr with a dubious IT degrees, having little real understanding of the net or WordPress. This is one of the ways really cheap hosts (i.e. crazydomains) can offer amazing deals, along with using outdated and grossly overloaded servers.
Certainly buying on price alone is short-sighted. And contrary to popular belief, your local IT guy is NOT the best person to ask. Host selection is not covered at web design or IT classes or course I know of.
2. Be wary of the ‘unlimited’ shared hosting scams
Most host companies offer ‘unlimited’ or similar shared hosting. These hyped up packages start from US$5/mth and bursting with features. I’ve seldom found these particularly successful or safe for any business site running WordPress. Okay for small blogs or hobby sites, but little else. Some of these host packages are bundled into various fancy ‘reseller’ options, even using nice terms like ‘cloud’ or ‘power’ added, but they’re still shared servers underneath with all the limitations that brings.
For example, all shared accounts today are in reality very ‘limited’ in several key areas. They will limit your CPU resources, RAM and I/O (input-output) speed for a start. This performance throttling is severe, causing the site to slow down, give server 500 errors or just take your site offline for hours, displaying a plain ‘resource limit is reached’ web page to visitors. Even doing your own site backups can be a problem. Having that ‘unlimited’ disk space, databases, subdomains etc won’t prevent this.
Cheap shared hosting means most WordPress sites are slow, unstable
Did you realise that WordPress websites are typically 50-70% slower than most other websites? We’re told Google ‘prefers’ WordPress over other sites due to the clean SEO structure and frequent content updates. Yet Google will NOT rank slow sites highly, be they WordPress or other technology.
Speed is often overlooked, with all investment going into the site appearance. Yet Google cares nothing for looks. But why are sites slow? An underpowered or unstable host is one reason, followed by the use of unoptimised images, badly coded themes, use of big sliders (e.g. revolution) and power-hungry add-ons like WooCommerce. Sometimes adding caching or CDN helps, but is often only a partial band-aid, hiding the real problems. I’ve even seen popular WordPress caching plugins make things worse, not better! The guaranteed fix is simply a better host + expert site optimisation work.
Here’s a talk from another developer discussing why you need speed. His talk was on Amazon EC2 hosting service which he found too slow, in the category of ‘fast enough’. Most shared hosts would fair worse. As he said, performance is not a feature, it’s an absolute requirement if you want to stand out on line…
3. The best business option – Private, not shared servers
A Virtual Private Server (VPS) and not a Shared Server should be the default choice of any business website, yet if you do a Google search on web hosting, these seldom appear. All you get are shared hosting and the main sales pitch is the low cost.
Yet, Virtual Private Server packages are considerably faster, more configurable and more secure than any shared hosting package ever could be. Comparing a private server to a popular shared server is a bit like comparing using your own private car vs an old, overloaded public transport system.
Most hosts can offer Private Servers. But they are often prohibitively expensive, often ten times the cost of shared hosting, especially here in NZ. Fortunately, Inmotion hosting in the US, specialise in affordable, managed, high performance VPS packages starting from approx NZ$60. The performance, features and support offered for the money is incredible, hence have moved many of our own clients onto their systems. Inmotion also offer cheap shared ‘business hosting’ labeled as Pro and Power. We’re not a fan of these, proving that host companies can be good at some things, but not all. Inmotion, like many, also offer an affordable ‘reseller’ package which is a compromise between a VPS and shared hosting. If you have several smaller low traffic websites, these can work out fine, but caution is needed.
The Singapore-based Siteground VPS cloud options are worth a look too if you have multiple or busy sites and can budget a bit more at around NZ$100/mth (being under half the cost of the same spec using most NZ hosts). Siteground VPS systems are well configured, fully managed, with WHM/cpanel, free SSL certificates, plus nginx software as standard, being a special web server accelerator. Start with 2CPU, 6GB RAM, 40GB disk is fine for most. Add more resources as you grow.
If you prefer local VPS hosting, a good local provider that we have used for specialist projects is VPS City. They have countless options, so you might like to talk to us first about what would suit you. They also provide reasonably affordable shared hosting plans too from $30/mth, but like most, these are resource and space-limited, but we have several small clients using them with no issues.
4. Are there any good shared hosts?
Not that many. If you’re running a higher traffic WooCommerce shopping site, cheap shared hosts are risky, regardless of what they tell you about it being eCommerce-ready, or any cloud, power, pro, business hosting labels etc… This is just sales hype. So, here’s one you could consider if you’re on a tight budget:
- Siteground (Singapore, approx NZ$220/yr*, select gogeek option, fast, SSDs, SSL certificate)
This Siteground Gogeek package is popular with junior web designers, having special features like staging, git, slick caching etc. But unlike the Inmotion/Siteground VPS or reseller accounts, it does not generate separate cpanels for each domain, hence may be limiting if you need proper reseller capabilities and cpanel account security.
But how bad is shared hosting? See our quick performance test
Speed testing alone is not enough, since the host is but one link in the chain that affects site speed. One better test we do is a simple site backup using backupbuddy, since this plugin takes a lot of server resources. Some shared hosts ban it, for obvious reasons. On Freeparking a clients big [2.7GB] community site took over an hour to backup and a database-only backup took almost 4 minutes. Yet, the exact same site when moved to our VPS system backed up in 8 minutes and database-only in just 25 seconds. The clear conclusion is the computing resources provided with most common shared plans is really quite abysmal, similar to what you’d get in say a very old PC or a $200 smartphone.
5. Any hosts should you avoid?
The general rule is to avoid anything under US$10/mth, regardless of the brand or reviews found, since these reviews only consider features and price, never ever performance, security, uptime or the processing resources allocated. If site performance, stability and search ranking is important to you then avoid the cheap shared accounts from: crazydomains, openhost, hostpapa, 1stdomains, godaddy, net24, ipage, namecheap, hostgator, bluehost, amazon and anything offered by your local telecoms provider or hosts out of Australia.
I hope all this background helps you narrow down the options. After 15 yrs in this business we’ve seem the good and the bad. For me the best value, support and performance for business websites are the Inmotion VPS or the Siteground Cloud options. But for start ups, clubs or a home businesses on a tight budget, the Siteground gogeek is amazing bang per buck, giving 3-10x more processing resources, better security and support than any popular shared offerings I’ve seen here or offshore.
Still unsure or have heard of other good host options yet need confirmed by an independent, unbiased expert? Just fill in your details below.