The hosting problems we’ve been having lately are finally over – I’ve moved the blog from Dreamhost to Media Temple. I don’t normally blog about bloggy stuff but I know there are a lot of bloggers who read this site who might find this interesting.
First of all I’d like to thank everyone who helped out with the blog migration and also to many others who offered to help. I really tried to do this on my own – although painful, it was a good learning experience. As a self-proclaimed “serious” blogger – I feel it is in my best interests to learn as much as I can about all the different aspects of blogging – even if I don’t want to! I’m still not sure if I would have been better off hiring someone like Blogcrafted.com (mentioned below) to do it for me given the amount of time and aggravation it was.
Two people who helped out a lot were:
- Migrating blogs from one host to another (like I just did) and from hosted platforms (blogger, wordpress.com) to self-hosted (wordpress on a host).
- Changes to your theme or setting up and modifying a new theme.
- Complete new blog setup on any platform.
Some more hosting stuff
For anyone who doesn’t know – “hosting” refers to the server where the blog material and code is kept – there are lots of different companies around that provide this service and the main differentiators are:
- Service – how quickly do they respond to help requests and how knowledgeable are they?
- Performance – is the blog slow or completely down at times?
How did I decide on the hosting company?
I narrowed down the possible hosting companies to LunarPages and Media Temple. Both companies came highly recommended and I know quite a few good sized bloggers who use either. There are many others out there which I’m sure are comparable but I tend to go with recommendations from other bloggers.
Lunar Pages has what I think is the best value anywhere with their shared server hosting – for only $4.95 per month (if you pay for a year) this is as cheap as it gets. The great thing is that they are very reliable and have good tech support. I think the shared server option is best for most blogs – you won’t have to upgrade until you get to at least 2,000 uniques per day or a lot more.
Media Temple has a dedicated virtual server option which is quite good for $50 per month. This is a lot more expensive than Lunar Pages so not only do you need significant traffic – I would suggest a minimum of 2,000 uniques per day, you also need the revenue to support the costs. One thing to note is that if you pay for a year up front – the cost is only $500 ($41/month) – not so bad.
I was on the fence for quite a while about which company I should go with but eventually I choose Media Temple because I thought I might have too much traffic for Lunar Pages shared server.
My advice for anyone looking for a host is to go cheap until you know you are ready to upgrade. Both Lunar Pages and Media Temple have cheaper shared server options all the way up to expensive private server options so you don’t necessarily have to leave the company to upgrade (or downgrade). I made the mistake of upgrading my Dreamhost account to the virtual private server a long time ago thinking that more traffic and money would be soon to follow. In the end I think I threw a couple of hundred bucks away. I should have just stuck with the shared server.
Why did I leave Dreamhost?
The reason I decided to leave Dreamhost was mainly because of an incident several weeks ago where the blog was completely down. I put in a support ticket (they don’t have phone support) and it took them 22 hours to respond. In my opinion this is unacceptable and was enough reason to start thinking about switching. The second reason was that the quality of the support was very poor – in the incident the support person didn’t have a clue what was wrong and thought it was my themes. I knew this was ridiculous because both of the themes I use are very common (Thesis and Grid Focus) and I never heard of anyone else having problems.
To be fair, I did use Dreamhost for 1.5 years without any incident so they are not bad – it was only when I needed help quickly that they failed. Dreamhost is no bargain either – I think the monthly base charge was $11 per month and I had a virtual server option which was a minimum of $15 on top of the base rate (you can set it to higher rates for more juice).
What was the problem?
In the end I believe that removing the gravatars from the comments was the biggest factor in getting the blog running properly again. I have one post that has a ton of traffic as well as comments so all those extra calls were slowing things down dramatically.