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Most of you will use “Hosted” services like Wix, Squarespace, WordPress.com, Blogger, Weebly, and others. The Platforms page has info on about 3 dozen different choices.
If you’re a bit more in the Art & Technology space you might like to host your own website. Here, you provide your own Server Space, usually by renting space from someone, and then install whatever software you want there, like: WordPress.org, Joomla, Ghost, MediaWiki, Piwigo (photo albums), and so on.
A “web server” is just a computer with World Wide Web content that someone can look at. One of my students bought a $35 Raspberry Pi computer, taped it under his desk in his dorm room, installed WordPress on it, and ran his website from his dorm room.
Most people don’t run websites on Raspberry Pi computers. Although, that is pretty cool! If it’s not “Hosted”, then we usually “Self-Host” by renting space from one of the many Hosting Providers.
I’ve read a lot of articles and reviews about web hosting. And the weird thing is, every review loves every host! They’re all excellent and near flawless! I can only guess that these articles have an affiliate relationship or in some way are supported by the hosts that they’re lavishing so much praise on. They would have you believe that there is no bad hosting. In my experience, there’s plenty of bad hosting.
Here, in chronological order, are the web hosting providers I’ve personally tried. And my experiences with them. Your mileage may vary. And they may have gotten better or worse.
Bluehost was the first provider I ever rented space from. I started blogging on Blogger, then moved to WordPress.com, and finally, I installed my first “Self Hosted” WordPress.org website at BlueHost. It was very inexpensive and very slow.
From Bluehost, I moved to Media Temple. This was some time ago. Since I was there they have been acquired by GoDaddy. GoDaddy is evil, misogynistic, and works against its own customers. GoDaddy should be avoided at all costs. I’ll say more about this at the bottom of this page under Doman Name Registrars.
Since I used Media Temple before their acquisition by GoDaddy, IDK if they’ve gotten better, worse, or about the same under their new ownership. Back then I had a mixed experience with Media Temple. They had fantastic tech support. Super friendly, fast, and helpful.
Well, mostly helpful. For some reason, they couldn’t figure out why my WordPress pages were loading so slowly. Finally, one tech said, “maybe we just aren’t the best provider for you.” By “loading slow,” I don’t mean 3 or 5 or 10 seconds to load a page. I mean 30 seconds to load a page! All I had was a WP install with a few garden variety plugins so I don’t really know what the issue was. I liked them a lot at the time but had to move since no one was going to wait 30 seconds to see my pages.
WPEngine is “Managed WordPress Hosting”. They’re fast and easy to work with. If I only had one website I might go with WPEngine. However, since I make multiple “art websites” similar to the way a musician will make multiple albums across their career, or a poet might release several books of poetry, WPEngine’s higher per/website prices are kind of out of my range. All these other hosts sell you space and you can install as many instances of WordPress, Joomla, etc, as your space allows.
and then some other places
Unfortunately, I don’t remember all the other hosts I’ve tried in the past. But I’m documenting my experiences on this page going forward, so I’ll have better notes in the future. If you have experiences to share with any hosts, feel free to leave them in a comment below.
I’ve tried a lot of imperfect hosts. And then one-day WiredTree became a sponsor of WordCampLA. WiredTree looked interesting and I gave them a try. At last, the perfect host! Good performance, fair pricing, and great service. I had a 5-year run of fantastic, trouble-free hosting. And then on 19 January 2017 something terrible happened: WiredTree was acquired by LiquidWeb.
Once LiquidWeb acquired WiredTree, the prices went up and the performance went down. In 2022 I was paying triple what I paid WiredTree, for service that went down every day. Tech support at WiredTree focused on solving your problems. Often, tech support at Liquid Web focused on selling you more services. If you were running out of space they didn’t really try to find junk you could delete, they would just try to sell you more disc space. Then again, LiquidWeb tech support did solve problems I thought they would just pass on. Overall, decent support. But not proactive.
On paper, InMotion Managed VPS Service is pretty good. Impressive specs for a modest price. All your data is on fast NVMe drives! You do have to pay for 3 years upfront to get their better pricing.
in practice, their tech support is glacially slow. It was a huge red flag when they said it would take two weeks to migrate my content from my old host. Most hosts seem to do that in under 24 hours! I went ahead and waited the two weeks. But then after the migration finally happened, every other thing you need to do with them was really slow. Thankfully, their money-back guarantee was legit. It wasn’t hard to get a refund for the three-year fee I had paid.
FastComet (2022 – )
My hosting needs really aren’t fancy or complicated. I want:
- Managed VPS service
- cPanel, WHM & Softaculous
- Datacenter in California
- moderate prices
- good tech support
- reliable and convenient backups
I looked at a bunch of hosts who had most of these things but were missing one. FastComet seemed to tick all the boxes and I, along with one of my clients, have moved our content there. So far things are going great. Performance is good and tech support is excellent.
I’ve never used SiteGround. But a lot of people seem to use them and seem to be happy with them.
I’ve never used Newfold Digital/EIG. like LiquidWeb, they buy up other hosting companies. My impression is that Newfold Digital/EIG is much larger, having bought dozens of other companies. I’ve always heard that Newfold Digital/EIG runs these companies into the ground and offers terrible service to their customers. To be fair, I tend to hear that at WordCamp events from their competitors! So it’s possible that Newfold Digital/EIG is better than I’ve heard. I’ve also read online that Newfold Digital/EIG has cleaned up its act and is offering better service these days.
Domain Name Registrars
Your Domain Name or “me.com” is your “Internet Telephone Number”. You can learn about them on the Domain Names page. If you’re only making 1 website you should probably just get your domain name from the Hosting, or Self-Hosting service you sign up with. I use a lot of domain names for my various “Internet Art ‘Albums'”, so I prefer to use a separate service where I keep all of my domain names. From there it’s easy to point a domain name at whatever host you like. Or even to point parts or “subdomains” of a name to different hosts if you want to be fancy.
I’ve used a lot of domain name registrars and unlike the Web Hosts above where I’ve had so many bad experiences, all the domain name registrars I’ve tried have been fine. They all seem pretty easy to use. Prices vary somewhat.
Hover is the domain name registrar I’m currently using. I’ve migrated all my domains from the different registrars to Hover. Just using one registrar is definitely easier! Hover is not the lowest price, but they’re reasonable and work well.
Please don’t use GoDaddy for anything. They are an awful company. They have a long history of misogynistic advertising. They have a long history of supporting legislation that hurts their own customers. They’ve vowed to clean up their act on many occasions. They never seem to.
I used United Domains for some years. I liked them.
Gandi‘s control panel was more complicated than other registrars. However, they registered exotic TLDs that other registrars didn’t.