In this article, we talk about our issues finding a proper hosting provider for our website BeProSoftware.com. We actually purchased and used a VPS system provided by each company discussed here for a minimum of a month. I would also like to be clear that we have no affiliation with any of these companies and there are no affiliate links within this article. This is a true account of our experiences using these services at the VPS Hosting level
In this two-part series, we hope to cover a few major questions that everyone wants to know about moving to a faster server:
- Any effect on perceived website load speed
- Any changes in webpagetest speed tests
- Any changes in google speed tests
- How does the server stats change as sites are removed
- How does the new server react with new sites being loaded
- How does a cdn help or reduce performance
- Are google search rankings affected by the change?
- Experience communicating with hosting provider
- Setup process
- How server stats are advertised compared to actual stats
- Who owns these companies
- Which provider we chose and why
In this case, we are moving two sites from two different servers to a single more powerful server. Both of the sites are WordPress multisite installations. We will answer all of the questions outlined above in part 1 and 2 of this series. You can expect us to outline the issues we experienced and statistics that were gathered during the process.
SERVER COMPANY DETAILS
Not every company is made equal. Let’s start this examination with Godaddy which is arguably the most famous. It’s also potentially the wealthiest with its recent launch on the stock exchange. Most people on the street still have no clue what a server is used for, but these guys have figured out how to sell it to the few that do.
Bluehost is one of those brands that are bigger than they seem. Owned by Endurance International Group, they are backed by a massive infrastructure that includes several other server brands. It’s definitely possible that you left angrily one of their brands to end up on another. You know, it’s like saying you don’t like the chicken wrap at KFC but you love it at taco bell even though they are both owned by Yum! Brands, Inc.
That leaves Inmotion hosting which is owned by itself. Has tons of positive reviews online but those can be faked so we don’t put too much consideration on that. Since 2001 these guys have been going and very few people will name them if asked for 3 hosting providers. Much like Bluehost, they have tried to find a base with WordPress sites and proudly showcase their involvement with wordcamps.
One thing we learned the hard way about Godaddy was that there is no swap space available. So once you hit the limit that’s it. There is no optimization to do with the swap since there is none.
One thing we noticed right away with Inmotion hosting, is that they split the RAM you bought between swap and actual server memory. We were quite baffled by this coming from GoDaddy servers. In fact, we felt cheated. Yes, the number ads up to 6MB RAM but it’s not actual ram, it’s the ability to swap up to 3MB. This is a really shady tactic that explains why their prices are lower.
Much like Inmotion, the Bluehost servers offer swap space. In our case, we were expecting 4mb of ram and saw all 4 available in swap memory. In addition to this, we have 2mb of actual memory. For those following along, that means that Bluehost offers more for $30 than GoDaddy at $50
Inmotion hosting starts you off without root access. You have to explicitly request it, which requires reading through a warning. We called the Inmotion people and they confirmed there is no server management. They went on to say that most customers do not require access to advanced WHM features. I’m not sure what kind of users are buying this type of thing without needing access to control but we definitely needed access. Once you actually get root access and see the Inmotion settings, they aren’t bad. We activated one or two modules but overall they selected what we would have. With that said, when rebuilding Easyapache, we got a weird error where the MM module could not be installed with MPM Worker. Seeing that these were pre-selected values, it’s confusing how this error occurred but we resolved it
Bluehost also starts you off without root access. The process of getting it simple and just like Inmotion hosting, it prompts you that you are altering your future options by accessing this capability. In this case, they push their managed hosting options, saying that you lose out on this option by taking control. We found that ultimately, their server was setup to work for most installations with all the key modules and cpanel features already setup.
Godaddy provides root access right away. The server will need several WHM configuration tweaks to see any useful performance. This is not a great choice for beginners seeing that you must already know a lot about server management to make good use of this option. Also, since we used this hosting the longest, we can say that there were intermittent login issues with this host. The password would literally not work for up to half-hour at a time.
I’m sure most people will disagree but we found Godaddy support to be the best trained. Yes, they had to put us on hold to answer some questions but they were able to handle a lot before putting us on hold. This shows some investment on their end on this aspect of their business. They don’t always have a good answer but there is an answer
Inmotion was able to answer all of our questions. However, we found their custom server agents to be baffled by simple questions about the VPS system. Like alluded to earlier, we asked why we didn’t have access to apache and the initial answer demonstrated a complete misunderstanding of what a VPS is.
We didn’t have much interaction with the Bluehost people. What little interaction we had was atrocious. First of all, they refuse to answer the phone. Second, their online support was not educated on the capabilities or our hosting account when it came to domain control. Otherwise, the setup of our server was fairly straight forward because we purchased the domain with the hosting. Access to the server was also immediate, negating the need to engage their customer support during installation
Shopping for an adequate VPS host is difficult. Each provider advertises their capabilities differently and the only way to know exactly what the performance will be is to actually test out their hosting. Luckily, several providers offer a free first month of hosting or a free refund if you are happy. So in summary, if you are looking for a new host and you are unsure, you simply need to take a chance and see where things go. In part 2, we will focus on the statistics gathered from our experiences with these providers