A Blogger’s Priority: Finding a good webhost for your blog

I’m in the process of transferring about 25 blogs away from Dreamhost. I’ve completed about 10 sites so far. Why am I transferring my blogs away from Dreamhost? Well, because they suck.

You really can’t put it any other way. I have blogs on three different Dreamhost servers. All three of those servers slow to a ridiculous crawl every day. All three of those servers go down at least once a week. All three of those servers disable vital backend WordPress functions when the servers are under stress (more often than not).

So Dreamhost sucks. That’s a fact and it’s not disputable. I wish I had known that they sucked last May when I first started using them. I wish I had taken the early warning signs more seriously. But I didn’t. I was seduced by low prices. And now you can learn from my lesson.

The fact is that crappy hosting cuts into the bottom line. I’m already seeing about an 8% jump in my AdSense earnings on the sites that I’ve moved away from Dreamhost to a fast, hoppy server. So much for all that money I saved with cheap hosting. The fact is that I’ve lost money. Now I’ve got to move on.

Ask yourself this question. Do you find yourself frustrated with your web host on a weekly basis? Do you notice slow load times on your blog at critical times of the day? Then suck it up and take on the task of migrating your blog to a quality blog host.

In the comments, let’s discuss 1) how to find a good webhost and 2) how to ensure that your webhost isn’t going to oversell their servers and 3) what are some of the consistently good webhosts out there?

17 thoughts on “A Blogger’s Priority: Finding a good webhost for your blog

  1. Reggie: That sounds like a good plan. I think Ryan said that that’s what he does: has sites spread out over 4 different hosts. I don’t have enough high-earning sites at this point, but if I ever do, that’s exactly what I plan to do. Even two hosts aren’t always enough.

    Good luck with your plan.

  2. Thanks Raj Dash!

    It’s good to know (in some ways) that all of the “affordable” hosts have their issues. I foolishly assumed because WordPress.org recommended my host that that meant, that host they recommended was good It was before I knew about affiliate marketing I gueeses). Splitting the services between two sites sounds like a great idea for server portfolio diversification.

    I’m planning to outsource all my server maintainance and installation stuff to my blog designer and personal web strategist Adii Freelancer, so I’m good on that part. Reliability is sooooo key to me. I never want to be in situation where I’m talking to a potential investor in a business idea and I go to my site to show it off and it’s down. Plus, because I’m launching blogs and depend on StumbleUpon traffic, being down an hour or two (as was the case with Mindphase/ANhosting last week in the middle of the work day) severely hurts me.

    Given my plan to eventually run a collection of smaller sites, VPS might be the way for me to go. I’m not looking for the porche of service, but I need better than Honda Civic quality, so I see VPS as my VW Jetta (BMW want-to-be — and I do own VW Jetta, and want a BMW) compromise for more piece of mind.

  3. Every host I’ve used in the past 8-9 years has had something that was annoying. I guess it’s just part of the business. I can’t say I’m happy with any one host, but I know I will never use Dreamhost again because they’re run by idiots, and their servers are often down, which will cost you money. They also stupidly blocked Googlebot from all of their clients’ sites a while back, which very well might explain why two of my very active sites dropped from PR5 to 4 and PR4 to 2.

    Right now, I’ve split my hosting between GoDaddy and Site5, but as usual, both have good and annoying characteristics.

    The problem with virtual servers is that even though I have experience installing and tweaking Apache servers, I don’t have the time to do a manual instal and configure of WordPress (or whatever) every time I want to set up a new site. Clicking a few links and typing a bit of info to get WordPress up and running, is obviously so much quicker than a manual install and configure – especially since you don’t have to go into the server by remote shell and all that jazz.

    But this leads to a conclusion that I think Ryan might have already had. If you plan to run a lot of sites, it might be worth it to you to get a VPS AND hire someone to manage it full-time. Maybe you can share one person with other blogs/ small blog networks.

  4. Thanks for the heads up on Dreamhost. I’ve been using Mindphase (via ANhosting) and have been pretty disappointed. I need readability and redundancy, and have more web ideas I want to launch that will require more network power. I’ve pretty much decided to move it up notch to getting a virtual private server that will cost as much as a cell phone bill per month ($50 and up).

    Don’t know if you’re planning it (or have done it), but an article recommendation from you about others who are fedup with affordable, unreliable hosting and wanting to turn it up a notch by upgrading to the virtual private server on which affordable, reliable VPS to do business would be great. I’ve done some research and am having a hard time figuring it out who the main players are and who will offer me the best package for hosting 3 of my blogs and other developing business ideas.

    Any direction you could provide to me and others would be great. I usually go to CNET for this, but they don’t have any helpful vendor recommendations other than outlining the basic hosting options.

  5. There’s plenty of horror stories about ANY web host. It really is just a matter of luck of who you are sharing the server with. I have only had limited (less than 6 months) experience with Dreamhost, but I have never had any problems, and I absolutely *LOVE* their control panel. Very powerful site management stuff that I’ve never seen anywhere else (for an affordable price, anyway). I *HATE* CPanel and whatever the other popular on is – slipping my mind at the moment.

  6. Oh, yeah, I’ve moved several of my sites to dedicated servers. I’m just lazy with many of the smaller sites sitting around out there… But enough is enough. Lots of small sites add up. And if my calculations are right, I’m probably losing a good $7/day by hosting with DH.

  7. Yes heard horror stories about Dreamhost. Also heard horrors stories about 1and1 which is mentioned above.

    Ryan for someone who likely is making decent bucks from your sites ($50 above per day???) a dedicated server might be the way to go.

    If not I’ve had some good luck with asmallorange.com.

  8. I’ve been happy with asmallorange.com so far. I just did a lot of research going to a web hosting forum and seeing what people were recommending. In these forums, I found that dreamhost sucked so I stayed away from them.

  9. Definitely not a fanboy – just don’t have anything bad to say. There is a difference

    I have heard of issues where people get placed on overloaded servers and although DH might not like moving you. If you show them proof that you being on that server is detrimental to your business, I just don’t see how they would leave you on that server.

    My favorite feature: hosting unlimited domains all within the same account. One FTP account, one billing, it’s all right there for me to use and abuse.

  10. I wanted to like Dreamhost so badly. The idea of an employee-owned company with a plain-English web panel and relatively low prices was extremely intriguing to me. I signed up a little over two months ago and immediately started having problems. They put me on an overloaded server and within the first week, my sites went down for about 24 hours. I repeatedly asked to be moved to a different server and was told “we don’t like to do that if we can avoid it”. Last week, my sites were either down or unbearably slow for 5 days straight.

    When I researched Dreamhost, I found an even number of good and bad experiences. I’m now in the “bad” camp. It’s unfortunate because, like I said, I wanted to like them.

    I think something that’s very important to consider when choosing a web host is where their servers are located. I’ve had problems with Dreamhost and Infinology, both located in the Los Angeles area. There’s just too much weird power/energy stuff going on in that area to maintain stability and uptime, IMHO.

    I switched all my Dreamhost sites over to 1and1.com for $3.74 a month and haven’t had a single problem. Plus, I buy all my domain names for $6 apiece from them too. I know there are a lot of bad reviews of 1and1 out there but I haven’t had any problems with them. I believe their servers are in Pennsylvania somewhere, correct me if I’m wrong.

    I also have a couple of sites with SiteGround.com and they’ve been very, very, very good. They’re about $60 a year per site but you have to pay an extra $30 a year to host multiple sites with them, unless you use a subdomain or cloak your URL. I use them for “important” sites that generate a lot of traffic. The thing that impresses me the most about them is that they’ve moved one of my sites twice because the server it was on wasn’t performing fast enough. I didn’t experience any downtime – they just sent me an e-mail saying they were going to move my site and another e-mail when it was complete. Great service. If they’d let people host multiple domains, I’d move all of my sites over to them immediately.

  11. Ryan, if you’re looking for performance, look for 2-3 more bloggers and hire a server. With a little luck you can find a managed server (I don’t speak about low-end servers/hosting) for only a few bucks more than what you pay now every year (estimated now you only have 3 plans with DH).

    (And I had a comment with lots more of details, reasons why and tips, but it got eaten)

  12. I’m not a fanboy of Dreamhost by any means, but I will say that I like hosting with them. A couple buddies and I create a podcast and blog that we host on Dreamhost. I’ve never had any complaints but I do submit questions for support that are always answered within a few hours, typically two hours.

    I agree about them being transparent with their business and I do see that they are always having problems. But isn’t that expected when you have some many servers and such a large customer base? Problems come up but they get addressed quickly. I would be interested in seeing stats from them that show what hardware didn’t go down.

    Sure, there are a couple other hosts I wouldn’t mind using but honestly, I like Dreamhost’s control panel, abundance of features and their customer service. I’ve noticed that sometimes my sites may load a little slower than I’d prefer but I’m okay with that for now.

    I would like to see a site that had trustworthy comparisons of web host providers. I have yet to find such a site that I can trust.

    One web host I like a lot is Macdock.com. They host their sites on Apple hardware which is nice for anyone that is a diehard Mac user, but the drawback is that MacDock is pricey. Nineteen dollars for hosting one domain with one MYSQL database with only 10GB of bandwidth.

    Damn if MacDock doesn’t have an awesome shopping cart though. I’ve set-up two clients with MacDock because they needed a shopping cart. Other than the price, the only other downside to MacDock is I got into a “arguement” with their support staff when I was trying to fix and create a theme I had designed for their shopping cart. We got things worked out but I didn’t feel like I was given the best customer service despite the fact that I was probably a little annoying with questions. But hey, sometimes things can get sour like that but things are fine between us now and I still like using them if my client needs a shopping cart. Don’t get me wrong, they have good customer service. They bought back my one domain name I have with them when it expired because of an error with their old control panel. I was greatful for that because it cost them $160.00 to buy back that domain after it expired. Their a great group of guys and gals that work there.

    So, as far as other Web hosts? I’ve never tried anyone else other than Dreamhost and MacDock. I’d like to hear about more like Ryan asked for.

  13. Looks like the Dreamhost fanboys have come out to play.

    Seriously. Everyone I know before encountering these comments has found Dreamhost to be a terrible hosting solution. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Most of the people I talk with on a daily basis have been in the biz for years…and without fail, they’ve all had the same experience with Dreamhost.

    Just pay closer attention to your blogs (on an hourly basis) and you’ll discover periods of time where the lag is something like 10 seconds per apge.

  14. I’ve had (and continue to have) mostly-great experiences with DreamHost. They’re not perfect, but they’re proactive and transparent about any problems. In fact, I went back to them tail-between-legs after trying another host for a year.

    I think your experience with them was unusual, and I wish you the best of luck with your new host.

  15. I’ve had pretty good success with dreamhost up until this week. I think they use a lot of old hardware b/c it seems they are changing things out a lot if you look at dreamhoststatus.com

    I had decent success with Bluehost but I just don’t like their interface menu as much as dreamhosts.

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