Over the past six months or so, very good friends of ours have struggled with their blogs. The first was Helene from MasalaHerb.com who was hosted by a company in Salzburg, Austria and could never seem to get her site to load anywhere near fast enough. The webhosting company gave all sorts of excuses and very few answers. Every request for assistance ended up with them telling her there was nothing wrong and it was all her problem with her blog.
Helene has been very kind to me and I asked John if he’d mind moving her to a new server. He did (he’s a terrific man and I’m not just saying that because he turns SIXTY today) and Helene was finally able to get into her blog and make some much needed upgrades. Her speed now is closer to what she wants. Because WordPress is written the way it is, it’s always going to be slower than other platforms or straight HTML but it’s still the best thing out there, I think.
Then we met Julie from Gourmet Getaways at a picnic who was having a real mess of a time on a blogging service where everyone shared the server and the same IP address. There was no facility for adding plugins (even though it was a WordPress platform) and her blog was suffering. She talked to John and he said he’d see what he could do. Then we had major family issues which ended up with John’s dad moving up here and John trying to sort out his mother and her ever increasing dementia.
It took way longer to get Julie moved and much back and forth with the hosting company. John was beside himself at times saying things like, “Service like this is outrageous, especially when they sell their product based upon their promise of quick service.” Finally she did get moved and her site looked just like it did before and she wrote to John and said how thrilled she was that *finally* Mister Google could find her again and her traffic was ever increasing. He felt terrific.
We all know what it’s like to wait and wait and wait for a site to load. It’s frustrating and I’ll be honest and admit that if a site doesn’t load quickly, I move to another window. If your site is slow and I leave comments, it’s because I truly love you because I can’t bear to stare at a blank screen. Sometimes it’s the webhost, sometimes it’s the software you’re running and sometimes it’s a combination of a lot of things and you have to keep tweaking your site until it runs like a top. We’re still tweaking. 🙂
This brings us to Charlie Louie of HotlySpiced.com. Several months ago, almost immediately after she’d received an invoice and paid for her next year’s webhosting, her website crashed and she was down for a day. There was a problem reinstalling her blog and finally after it was up and running, Charlie received an invoice for the webhost’s time to fix her blog. The woman said it was the fault of some American party and not her fault and she shouldn’t be out of pocket for fixing it.
Uhh, keeping backups are one of the features that she was paying the webhost for and top dollar too, I might add. Charlie refused to pay the extra and then the webhost wrote to her and told her that her site was getting too many hits for the server and she really needed to consider moving to another hosting company.
Then Charlie had to move house, she had a job, she had 3 very busy children and a husband and a house AND a very popular blog – and what to do if you are slightly technically challenged? One day we were casually chatting on the phone and I said John would be happy to help her move whenever she was ready. At the time he had no idea that by the time she was ready there would be no room at all on her server to do a backup. In fact, her webhost who was paid to keep backups hadn’t done one since last June when Charlie was asked to move. If her site had crashed again, she would have lost everything from June to November. I can’t imagine how demoralizing that would be after all the effort that goes into creating even one blog post.
To add the icing on the proverbial cake, lately her webhost has been putting this sign up frequently – which means that the machine capacity isn’t big enough for the amount of sites which are hosted on it. That’s why they wanted Charlie gone. Hotly Spiced is a great blog and I love Charlie’s writing but let’s be honest, her blog is not the size of Facebook, is it? That server shouldn’t have had problems with her blog. John rolled his eyes and mumbled something about Mickey Mouse.
So, my advice (okay John’s advice since I’m similarly technically challenged) is to go with a well respected major webhosting company. We don’t have any to recommend as we have our own dedicated servers for our online businesses so we have no personal experience. If you have a company you’d like to recommend, please let us know in the comments. Your blog is your business so look at spending at least $100 a year for your hosting. Make sure you have a backup plugin or something like blogvault or backup buddy and take regular backups.
When you take backups, consider placing a backup on a cloud server somewhere. If you keep your backups on your server and your webhost gets cranky, or your server crashes or like happened to us one year – the webhost caught fire and ALL their servers melted or burned, you’ll thank me for having a backup for your backup. (We were back up and running in 4 hours because we had reliable backups in 3 locations. Overkill? Perhaps)
While I’m on the subject, do you back up your laptop or desktop regularly? What would happen to your life if you lost your computer? We use JustCloud and back up our computers every hour – only the files that have changed in the previous hour. Now my computer isn’t that big a worry and a once a week backup would probably be fine but John’s programming is something we don’t want to lose.
One point I should make is that we do not offer a service of moving websites. These were all done for love and my sweet husband looked at me today and said, “I’m not moving another site for one of your friends file by file again, k?” Then we fell in a heap laughing. He likes Charlie Louie as much as I do.
Do you have any horror stories about webhosting?
Jan's Sushi Bar says
About 10 years ago, when I began building websites professionally, I partnered with a small hosting company located in Vermont. The guy that ran the company was great – he responded so readily and rapidly, I was convinced he never slept. It didn’t last, though, and about 3 years ago his service went into a tailspin; he wouldn’t answer emails or voice mails and when I could get hold of him, he blamed whatever problem I was having on something else. That was particularly frustrating because it wasn’t affecting just me, but my clients as well.
What really got to me was 2 things – your recipe plugin wasn’t working properly and I was maxing out my bandwidth every month. When he told me that the there was something wrong with the plugin and that he couldn’t increase my bandwidth (which left my site down for anywhere from a day to three days at the end of every month), I decided to look into hosting somewhere else.
I ended going to Bluehost, which is the preferred hosting company of WordPress.org, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Bandwidth is no longer a problem, the service is stellar, the hosting is inexpensive and wow! Your plugin works just fine. I can’t say enough good things about Bluehost.
I also pay $50 USD a year for Carbonite, which backs up all my files, if not my applications. Worth the money – when my last laptop died an alcohol-related death (translation: I tipped my martini over on it), I had to reinstall all of my applications; a bit of a pain, but I was able to reinstall of the related files with a click of a button, so I didn’t lose anything but a little time.
Yes and I do understand. You go with a friend because you are sure they’re reliable but a one-person outfit can only be remarkable until they fall over from overwork or they oversell their capacity (as in Charlie’s case).
Thanks heaps for the Bluehost recommendation!
Helene D'Souza says
ough yes I would have been lost without you guys and I did learn a bunch of things. Thank you so much again!!
I agree with everything you said Maureen, a bigger hosting company will save you in dark times and especially an active Live chat. =D
I chose first a host in my country of origin because I had the idea that if I would fall into legal trouble, i was save with a hosting company from Austria. I currently live in India, but I refused an Indian hosting company because most of my visits are from the US, so I chose a hosting on the other side of the world. =) Maybe this knowledge will be helpful to some in the future.
about backing up in general… I back everything 3 times up. website or hard drives or anything on the laptop, there will be a copy somewhere on one of the hard drives. I lost one laptop in the past because of the Indian monsoon and a hard drive with all my pictures, so I am not gambling anymore.
I’m SO glad you’re on a stable system, Helene!
Wow, you’ve scared me into backing up my posts now, and mine isn’t even a business blog. It really is the smart thing to do, though. Thanks for the reminder!
Even if it’s not a business blog, you’ve done a load of work to create each post and it would break your heart to lose it all.
That’s so true. But seeing as it’s not a business, I’m just going through all the posts and saving them as Word documents 🙂 A much cheaper solution! Hahaha.
Congratulations to John on his 60th birthday.
No blog, no plans to start one up. I’m quite happy with my LJ based glorified food diary. 🙂
I love your glorified food diary 🙂
Happy Birthday to John! He’s so nice to help your friends with their hosting problems. Before I started my blog I thought a long time about who I’d want to host it. Although I like a lot of features of WordPress, I finally decided on Blogger just because the whole technical thing isn’t too much of a concern. There are certainly downsides with Blogger – if you get in trouble there’s no easy way to get things resolved in a timely manner, and it’s not as feature-rich as WordPress. And one wonders whether Google wants to be in the blog hosting business forever. I do wonder still whether I should move to self-hosting, although I’ve heard horror stories about all the major hosting services (and there’s no assurance any of them will stay in business – web hosting is a tough business, and I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these days just a handful of companies did most of it). Anyway, really great post. And as one who’s had a hard drive fail, if you’re not backing up your computer you’re asking for trouble. BTW, I get annoyed with slow-loading websites too. Usually I’m working in several different browser windows, so while one website loads, I’m commenting on another. It makes the whole process much, much faster and easier.
Hotly Spiced says
That’s what I do, John – I have several browsers open at a time. So much productive time is lost due to the spinning wheel! xx
I know what you mean. I have two large monitors and swap windows around. I just looked and I have 14 windows open. 🙂
Andrew Graeme Gould says
It-s not the solution for every blogger, I realise, but all these frustrations are the reason why I came back to Blogger a few months ago. With Google power behind me, my site is always online with unlimited bandwidth, and is backed up automatically. In this case, free has proved to be better than paid, for my purposes, although I do pay easyDNS to keep my domain name online — which was not happening consistently with another well know domain register before I changed to easyDNS. (I get nothing for mentioning easyDNS, just to be clear, but I’m very grateful to them)
Hi Andrew, we used easyDNS for years until they got really expensive for a lot of domains but we found them totally reliable. I like the optimization possiblities with WordPress and that’s why I use it. Maybe that makes me a control freak. 🙂
Happy birthday, John! You don’t look a day over 59! 🙂
We saw Charlie last night – poor darling, she’d had a rough day. You and John are wonderful friends, Maureen, and she’s incredibly grateful to you both.
All these stories are why, from the outset, I’ve kept my blog on WordPress and let them manage it. Even with IT professionals in the house, I’m still a luddite, and I KNOW my limitations. Plus my blog isn’t a business, so I don’t need it to run adds or do anything else, so I don’t need to be self-hosted. And I have to say, WP have been fabulous (at least with their hosted blogs) – every time I’ve asked them for help, they’ve come back quickly and sorted whatever it is out.
As I said to Andrew, I like having more control over my blog and I have someone here in the house who can pick it up off the floor if I break it. (and I HAVE broken it a time or two)
I have used WP and Go Daddy since the very beginning of my blog. Have never had any problems at all. It is a little more expensive. But since I know next to nothing about computers, has always been a Godsend for me. I pay for back up. Plus I have an off site back up program just in case.
Lizzy (Good Things) says
Happy birthday John, and Maureen what a great post! Thanks!
Hotly Spiced says
Great post, Maureen and this is all such good advice and I’m happy to be the subject of your post (along with Julie and Helene) but I do feel so bad that John had to move my site file by file and be up all night. I do hope he has the energy to to be able to celebrate his 60th birthday. I know he doesn’t want any sort of financial payment from me but I’m going to have to sort something out! I’m so pleased to have moved to a host that has some SPACE. And I’m furious that after the fiasco I went through with losing my blog that my host hadn’t done a back-up since June. What a disgrace. I had no idea. I’ll will share your post on all my social media! xx
I’m thrilled you’re away from the woman who took your money and then wouldn’t provide the service. No backup was scary.
Oh, what a scary story – it made me curl my toes. Like Jan, I am with Bluehost and am mostly pretty happy with them. I’ve had almost no problems since I joined them and they’ve dealt with those I’ve had quite promptly. I back up my computer ALL the time now, although I have to admit that is a recent habit.
You’re posting frequently now, Amanda, so it’s a good thing you’re backing up. Computers watch to see whether we’re looking after things before falling over. I’m sure of it. 🙂
good info I am still with blogger ekk 🙂 it works
It does and when you want more control, you’ll move 🙂
Claire @ Claire K Creations says
I can highly recommend GoDaddy even though people bag them. They are so helpful and only every a phone call away and explain things in simple terms and don’t make me feel like an idiot.
Thanks Claire. I think every webhost has pissed someone off at one time or another but the big ones have a lot to lose if they piss people off repeatedly. 🙂
Kitchen Belleicious says
Great post for those who don’t realize the importance of a good host. I have been with bluehost for 5 years and I use them for all of my web design clients so I highly recommend them!
Thanks so much for the input!
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
You and John are so kind and sweet for helping your friends. It goes above and beyond the call of duty and I know how much they appreciate it. Charlie was just saying so today! Hubby does all of that for me and I’m so thankful because I’m no expert! 😛
I know what you mean. I wash the undies and he fixes my computer stuff. Fairsies. I suspect it’s similar at your place.
Joanne T Ferguson says
G’day! First of all, great post, informative today Maureen, true!
WISH there were more kind, caring, thoughtful people like you in the world too!
Happy Birthday John; enjoy your special day!
Great insight into getting a good webhosting company!
Oh my goodness Charlie…thankfully you did not lose of of those posts…am sure it would not be a first, nor a last example of people losing THAT much time and work…
Really enjoyed the post! Cheers Joanne
Yes, I know… imagine how upset she’d be if she’d lost that many posts. Her backups are set so she’ll be fine. 🙂
Kari @ bite-sized thoughts says
These sorts of stories, and my own low level technological abilities, are what keep me tied to Blogger despite all of its flaws! I’m just not confident enough to branch out to self-hosting. Thank goodness for John, and for his generosity to your friends. I’ll check back on your comments for other recommendations should I ever branch out too 🙂
At some point every serious blogger will want more control than they can get on a shared hosting platform. Some take years to make the switch. Honestly, it’s not that difficult to learn – and not much more difficult than blogger to learn.
Jackie@Syrup and Biscuits says
Great article! My WordPress blog is self-hosted on GoDaddy. I’m considering looking for a new host for a variety of reasons. To start, most times I seek help for technical issues, Godaddy and WordPress point their fingers at each other and I just get caught in the middle. Secondly, a lot of folks who should know, say that large hosting vendors, such as GoDaddy, negatively impact your SEO. Thirdly, I really dislike GoDaddy’s image. They’re trying to change it but it still rubs me the wrong way. At any rate, I’ve hired someone to help me make the right decisions. My expertise is in the kitchen, not dealing with computer and related technical issues.
I know the feeling.. without John I’d be hiring help. I understand your feelings about a large webhost and sometimes if you are sharing an IP address with unsavory characters on your server, you can end up with reduced SEO opportunities. We suggest a dedicated IP address regardless who you’re hosting with. You don’t really need it but all your hard work should be protected from someone else’s bad reputation.
Edward Antrobus - If You Can Read, You Can Cook says
I’m on my 6th host at this point. My two horror stories are: I was on one host and they got into a dispute with their datacenter. They refused to pay their bill until the dispute was resolved and when they didn’t post their bill/ the datacenter simply switched them off. *poof* my entire site didn’t exist any more. From there I moved to HostGator but didn’t really like them so I switched to a hosting service run by a blogging friend of mine. A week later, some Chinese hacker started DDOS’ing the server and she shut it down after a week.
Holy cow, Edward!
Great advice Maureen! I have a John in my house too and he did A LOT of research on webhosting companies and found us a good one. Nothing worse than a site crash!!!
I couldn’t agree more. I just don’t want to think about it. 🙂
This is a good post to people who are looking the best hosting for their website. I have been with iPage for 3 years and I use them for all of my web design clients so I highly recommend them!
Thanks, Stuart. Most food bloggers wouldn’t need a dedicated server. I have one but I don’t need it for my little blog.
Jack Pitter says
Such a helpful blog for food loving person . For different kind of services and different blog there are many hosting companies that providing their services but selecting appropriate one is depend on which product our blog is written . So section according our product is best way to get more traffic and value of web page .
Hi Jack and thanks for your comment. I’m not quite sure I understand the last sentence but did you mean that if we get the right mix of platform and design we have a much better chance of being successful?
Happy birthday John, you have also come to my assistance on the occasion and I thank you for that. I spend so many hours trying to figure out all of my technical bits and pieces and often wish I had some one who could help. I do have a girl back up my site onto another server though once a fortnight so, at least that is done.
Tania, we are as close as the phone anytime you need us. 🙂
Barbara | Creative Culinary says
I was SO hoping to get an amazing recommendation! I’ve had a web business for 18 years but that doesn’t mean I’ve got all the answers. I enjoyed several years with BlueHost but last year they contacted me and told me that I had to move or they would limit access to my site. Growth is great but that was not. You work SO hard to get a lot of traffic and then when you do you get bumped? Cool. NOT!
So I researched and asked for advice and switched to Liquid Web. The switch was relatively smooth (but then I agreed to do it at 1 in the morning Mountain Standard Time). Everything seemed to be going OK until a couple of months ago when I got another of those messages…we can’t handle the load on a shared server and you need to upgrade.
You know what I’ve been dealing with Maureen…kid with cancer; a move, getting a new home built; sort of an overwhelming year at best so I just let them do it. I dealt with CONSTANT problems for 2 months and though we seem to be on track now I’m paying what I think is an exorbitant fee ($60/month) for the traffic I’m getting. That’s right..per MONTH! And on top of that…site isn’t all that fast too load, people have issues with leaving comments and I get constant error messages in admin. I want to move again but can not even think about it until after the holidays since I’m moving 12/17. BAD time of year to not trust that my site will be up but hey…it’s been a crap year all the way around; what should I have expected?
I would love recommendations and can only say ‘ Here’s to 2014!’
I know what you mean. We have quite a few servers at The Planet but they only work with dedicated servers so we can’t recommend any virtual servers. Any place you move to should be scalable so if you grow, your hosting account grows with you. $60 does seem high. I pay $150 for the whole machine per month and it’s a really snappy machine. The problem is that WordPress isn’t the best written software out there and no matter how good the machine is, if the software is slow, you’re going to be slow. I stick with it for all the plugins and ease of use – probably the same reason everyone else does.
Anytime you want to talk, we’re around. 🙂
If you go to webpagetest.org and put your site in, you and I are about the same time to first byte. Then look at all the stuff on your page. It takes 14 seconds for it to be viewable (mine was 5 when I checked) so maybe you could tweak things to stagger loading.
Seana - Sydney, Kids, Food + Travel says
Hello there, I use WPEngine and it’s fast and reliable, costs $30 a mnth but I am happy to pay for reliability. BUT I never do my own backups and now I am off to work that out!!
$30 a month is high for a blog but you have a BIG blog so I don’t blame you for lashing out for the best.
I really trust Justhost because using it from last 2 years and not get a single problem in their web hosting and their services are very great to buy! Do you have any another Better then Justhost and same price?
I’m of the opinion if you have a reliable host that you can call if there’s a problem – don’t change it. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. 🙂
Thats nice advice but i want more faster then it, so decided to have moved to new hosting service provider before few days!
Claire @ Simply Sweet Justice says
I’m planning a blog overhaul (FINALLY with a new camera for Christmas) next year, so this is all helpful for me to read! Thanks, Maureen!