Twitter seems to have lit up today with complaints of web hosting downtime. I sympathize but am happy to say that none of my sites went down today. Why? Because I migrated from BlueHost.
Is it that easy?
To be perfectly honest, switching from your cPanel host (HostGator, BlueHost, etc.) can be a real pain especially if your host is also managing email for you. The cost of migrating can also be pretty daunting and can skyrocket if you move email to a service like Google Apps (which charges $10 per account).
So you have chosen to migrate away from your cPanel host but are unsure what direction to go, let me shed some light. Hosts that offer cPanel or other all-in-one solutions to email and web-hosting (looking at you GoDaddy) can offer a great feature set at a reasonable price, a one stop shop for email, hosting, domain purchasing, certificates, you name it! The consequences, however, of these bloated systems can really have disastrous consequences as your site grows. You can experience pretty serious performance issues, and like we are seeing today, even extended downtime that not only affects your website but also your email! For the growing blog or small business, this can really be a blow to your reputation.
My solution here will probably end up costing you a little more, but will be well worth it as you start experiencing the speed and reliability.
WP Engine has been around for a while and is the go-to WordPress solution for many of the WordPress blogs and dev shops that I know. Their feature set is really very impressive including daily backups, staging sites, and optimized server stacks that really makes WordPress very fast and secure. WP Engine is not for everyone, however. The entry price point is $30 per month and you’re going to look at spending quite a bit more than that if you need features like multisite or SSL.
Flywheel is a brand new WordPress managed hosting service that has been around for only a few months. It boasts many of the same features as WP Engine but has an entry price point of $15 per month. Flywheel will also migrate your website for free, which can be a huge time saver for you.
I started working with Flywheel just after they went public and have really enjoyed the customer service and the wonderful admin panel. For developers, you will also benefit from the commission that you can receive for signing up your clients.
Both of these hosts are great options and provide wonderful service with amazing uptime. You will need to assess your own situation to determine which is the best fit for you.
What about email?
This was the question that haunted me as I prepared to migrate my numerous web hosting accounts from BlueHost. I investigated quite a lot to find an email provider with the feature set that I needed that didn’t feel like the life blood was draining out of me – $$$. I really love Google Apps and use it on a regular basis at 10up, but at $10 per account I was not ready to fork out $50 per month for email hosting, as nice as it is. (Note: For non-profits, Google does offer discount pricing.)
My solution so far has been outlook.com which is essentially hotmail resurrected and offers custom domains with the first 50 emails accounts for free! Now that’s what I’m talking about!! Setup is pretty simple and once the DNS Zone files are pointed to the outlook servers, adding accounts is a synch. Unfortunately, unless you have all your emails downloaded into a local mail app, transferring emails can be a pain. The only way I’ve been able to transfer mail is to download all the mail from the old host then connect to the outlook.com account and then copy and paste from one account to the other.
Let me know if any of you have any other ideas or opinions on web or email hosting.
As a side note, I recently set up a droplet on Digital Ocean and spun up an Nginx server that I have been using for several sites. This is a great cost effective option for anyone with System Administrator skills or interested in learning, Digital Ocean has tons of tutorials that will walk you through setting up a server from start to finish.