Despite many years writing about technology, I often neglect to put some of my knowledge into practice. Web hosting performance is a topic I usually cover, and moving to a new web host is a central theme.
Some of the websites I own exist mainly as a platform for experiments. For example, seeing to what extent a WordPress (or even browser) plugin may impact how a site performs. At the time, I hosted with the closest servers I could find.
That was a dreadful mistake, and one it took me many years to fix. And this was with me knowing how big an impact web hosting can make. When I finally forced myself to move to a new web host, I felt like an absolute dunce.
How Much Moving to a New Web Host Helped
From a website response time that averaged over 3,000ms regularly, I’ve come to now keeping it under 400ms. The migration process took less than a day for five relatively small websites (you can learn how here).
The sites are precisely the same as they were on the old web host – no new plugins added, no old ones removed, no tweaks made. In fact, the new web host I moved to has servers slightly further away than my previous ones used to be.
Shaving off so much loading time has changed my experience so much more than I imagined possible. Because these sites aren’t a primary concern, I had let things stagnate, not realizing I was simply sweeping problems under the carpet.
Side note: Trying to cancel my old web hosting account was an interesting experience. It was the first time a service provider repetitively asked me to provide a reason for cancellation before they would proceed.
Should You Consider Moving Web Host Too?
If you’re feeling the sick to the stomach when thinking about the state of your website performance, hope is not lost. Let’s first address the elephant in the room: Did you build a crappy site or is your web host at fault?
To get the answer to this question, make use of GTmetrix. Run a site analysis and look out for a huge result score labeled “GTmetrix Grade.” There are two grades, one for Performance and another for Structure. If you get a low score in Performance, chances are the issue lies with your hosting.
This score isn’t the perfect indicator, but it is something you can use as a quick reference guide. Don’t use it as a tool to go and lambast your web host. They can give you a million and one excuses why you got that result.
Choosing a Better Web Host
Consider a much more viable alternative – picking a good web host and getting rid of the problem altogether. I write about MANY web hosting service providers and there are a number of them that really stand out.
These guys are my top pick today but the plans at A2 Hosting can be quite expensive depending on which you choose. For most normal needs, one of their shared plans will work fine. I’ve tried a couple and the more expensive plans (marked Turbo) are really fast.
They also have a good spread of data center locations to choose from. That’s something to look out for if you’re planning on more specific targeting. Support is solid but can be slow on occasion.
What to Consider: WordPress and Shared hosting. Anything else costs a bomb.
Apart from writing about their products I also happen to contract for ScalaHosting. Because of that, I have the advantage of using one of their Virtual Private Server (VPS) plans.
Performance is pretty awesome, especially given how low their prices are. I am also in love with their customer support team. The only problem with Scala is their limited number of data centers, with none in the Asia region.
What to Consider: Their Managed Cloud VPS plans are fantastic.
This is a brand I haven’t experienced personally but a friend of mine swears by. Apparently, TMDHosting has excelled for all customers who he’s recommended them to and there are green lights across the board.
I did check up on them but my personal feeling is that they’re a bit pricey. Still, as I mentioned, price isn’t the only goal. If you’re looking for high-performance, TMD might be a good fit for you.
What to Consider: Not sure, but VPS here costs a bomb!
While this post has been rather short, I hope it helps you out a bit if you face some challenges with your web host. It isn’t meant to be comprehensive – there are a ton of excellent review sites out there for that.
In my case, today, after many years, I finally didn’t dead firing up my WordPress dashboard.
And you know what? It feels simply AWESOME.