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. 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 This is one of the ways really cheap hosts (i.e. crazydomains) can offer amazing deals, along with using outdated and grossly overloaded servers.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. These 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 a new private car vs an overloaded, unreliable public transport system. And just like public transport, this shared service is slower, less reliable, often overloaded and less secure. Like public transport, the ONLY benefit is the low cost.
Most hosts can offer Private Servers. But they are often prohibitively expensive, often ten times the cost of shared hosting. Fortunately, in 2014 we discovered Inmotion hosting, who specialise in affordable, high performance VPS packages. The performance, features and support offered for the money is incredible, hence have moved many of our own clients onto their systems.
Configurations for a VPS is more like buying a PC than ordering web hosting. You’re buying known, dedicated, ample computing resources for you alone. (Not the slow, grossly overloaded, unknown configurations of ‘unlimited’ shared hosts). e.g. The Inmotion VPS1000 is a managed, highly-reliability (cloud) VPS with 60GB SSD disks, 4GB RAM, 4CPU, 2,000GB bandwidth allocation, dedicated IP address, plus WHM/cpanel software included, allowing you to set up multiple websites, if needed. Starting from US$29.95/mth the VPS1000 is fast, safe and incredible value for money, saving approx 40-70% over local, even offshore equivalents. Ideal for any business site, high traffic blog or eCommerce site.
Other VPS hosts are good too, but more costly
To compare, the same managed, high availability VPS1000 spec has a local cost of NZ$180-350/mth. Two local providers that we have used, worth considering for specialist projects are VPS City and Sitehost. Both these also provide reasonable shared hosting plans too, but like all others, are resource and space-limited.
Note the Inmotion VPS1000 is a bundled, managed, ready-to-go package. Yet most VPS host providers offer unbundled services. This can push entry $30/mth prices up to $200 or more. There’s the configuration setup, firewalls, software licenses and other costs to be added in before you can load up WordPress and get your site running. Bandwidth allocations are tiny here too compared with all US providers.
4. Are there any good shared hosts?
Not many. Yet we understand that spending NZ$50-100 per month for an Inmotion VPS having ample speed, resources and security sounds a lot for some, especially when starting out. But with shared or reseller hosting be well aware of the risks. You’ll have:
- more ‘out of memory’ errors
- slow or erratic site speed
- less search traffic, lower ranking
- greater chance of being hacked
If you’re running a higher traffic WooCommerce shopping site, cheap shared hosts are high risk, 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 two shared hosting providers you could consider if you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford your own Inmotion VPS (from NZ$540/yr):
- Freeparking (NZ, NZ$199/yr, 2 websites max. Average speed, small blog sites only)
- Siteground (US, approx NZ$300/yr*, select gogeek option, 10+ domains, fast, SSDs)
Freeparking is similar to most budget ‘cloud’ shared hosts common here and offshore. They still impose strict limits on computing resources, but often okay if you’re running a simple, low traffic blogsite. Freeparking is better than most locals and am told support is very good.
The Siteground Gogeek package is popular with junior web designers, having special features like staging, git, slick caching etc. But unlike the Inmotion 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 the Site5 Turbo optimised shared 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. Which 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 performance or 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. In summary, the best value and performance for most businesses are the Inmotion VPS options, saving up to 70%. A Dedicated or a Private Server is always best. But for start ups, clubs or a home businesses on a tight budget, the Siteground gogeek is the next best option, giving 3-10x more processing resources and better security than any popular shared offerings we’ve yet tested. Note both of these providers allow for either monthly or discounted annual payments, which is good. Again, checkout our preferred providers, below…
Still unsure or have heard of other good host options yet need confirmed by an independent, unbiased expert? Just fill in your details below.