Friday, 21 February 2014

Search for Wordpress hosting

Unless I find something better I'll be using Wordpress in future so I'm looking for hosting. Here is the list of hosts I've found so far.

I'm not totally sure what I want yet. Just seeing what's out there. I'm not set on this being my long term host. I've used hosting before but not for a while. So I know you only really know the market and what you need from it when you actually set up your site and use it. In most situations you either love what you have or get by for long enough. So I can't expect perfection in my first choice because I don't have the time to find it. Compromise is expected, I just don't know which aspects I will be compromising on yet.

Review Process

So the layout of this post is:
  • Reviews: A quick search on the current market
  • In the hunt: Hosts that fit my criteria
  • Favourite: My preferred choice
  • Failed the grade: Hosts that don't match my criteria

Related reviews and discussions

My search for "good wordpress hosting uk" returned:
I found others but I quickly found some hosts that impressed me enough and then a clear winner.

In the hunt

These hosts are currently in the hunt as part of my current search.

Detailed review: As my review progresses I've begun a spreadsheet to make a thorough review easier

tsohost (My Favourite) : We're UK WordPress Hosting Experts, Supporting Over 10,000 Installations.
  • package:
    • Standard Hosting package at £2.99 a month (paying £34.99 for the year).
    • Pro: £4.99/month (£50/year)
  • Hosted software: The list of supported software isn't obvious. I found it in web hosting under the second 1 Click Apps section. Click on the title  "1 Click Apps" to expand the list which includes:
    • Wordpress
    • Drupal
    • Moodle
    • phpBB
    • OpenCart
  • 1 free domain name: What are their terms? Is it easy to migrate the name out?
  • support: email 24hr, phone 9am - midnight
    • I asked a question through the sales query tab on their site. Got a response within a couple of minutes. It was a tough technical question "Is it possible to use git with your professional hosting package?". Not something everyone would know. The way it was handled was very professional.
  • used by: mumturnedmon
  • review rgbartlett
  • 2.5gb disk space
  • network information provides an in depth explanation of the whole technical setup from network to server and database infrastructure.
    • I like their backup statement "Unlike conventional hosting systems, we are able to take backups multiple times per day with absolutely no performance degradation. These backups are instantly browsable via our online control panel and files can be downloaded or restored at will with no need to contact support."
  • Knowledgebase is a giant forum: Checked some recently updated threads on 
    • .Net 4.5 and was impressed by the clarity of response. A lot of useful detail companies don't usually share. A good sign.
    • Domain auto renewal period again very professional. Good clear explanations. This one took 16 days to reply though so not super quick
Good UK hosting. More expensive than TSOhost. Not as much information available as TSOhost and everything EVO offers is matched or bettered by TSO.
  • price: slightly higher at £64.99/year £6.49/month
  • Faster web servers: For better performance, we use LiteSpeed, a premium web server that's up to six times faster than Apache. 
    • Interesting but could that also mean compatibility problems.
  • free domain for life: We'll keep your domain registered for you for free for as long as you host with us! Not included on monthly billing.
    • I have to check they allow you to take it with you if you leave and don't charge extra.
  • SSH Access Available (On request - Further T&Cs Apply) implies I can use git
  • lists the software actually available including Joomla, Mambo, WordPress, Coranto, ocPortal, Drupal, b2evo, WordPress MU & More!
  • Crowley said I have been using them for the last 6 months, as they are in the UK and my customers are too I get a better UK Google ranking on my affiliate blogs than if my sites were in the USA. Their support guys are great -- I can't say anything bad about them, you can install wordpress in 1 click using their Installatron and they give you a free domain.
  • Their not standard hosting options could be a blessing and a curse. Could make things faster and easier but also make it hard to find support on google. 
  • knowledgebase just a simple page with a few links. 

  • Good testimonials and sample sites: Of course these are presented by 34sp themselves. I like to see it but have to take them with a pinch of salt. Though they have got people to put their name and site to the 34sp brand and they have presented it well.
  • Features and version easy to find
  • weekly backups
  • limited one click installers: phpBB and wordpress. No Moodle
  • Data Centres and Network : sounds good but no match for TSOHost. They do everything here and more.
  • Support
    • forum though when I looked through there wasn't much recent activity. Particularly recent support activity!!!. Don't know the hours of forum support and its priority
    • knowledgebase Seems ok. Information seems accurate, useful and easy to follow. Searching seems easy
  • feature list is clear and extensive
    • .ssh access
    • moodle, drupal, phpbb
    • courtesy site backups. How often and not offsite!!
  • detailed hosting plan details including server details if you choose advanced in the feature list then advanced features in the capabilities field. Impressive to actually see the server spec you are buying. 
  • US host


Favourite

TSOHost are my favourite so far. They seem to match everyone else on price and features and then do more. The customer service seems implicit in what they do.

I didn't complete the Detailed review completely because it was hard to find all the information. That in itself helped make the decision. TSOHost has everything filled out because they made the info clear enough. In the end TSOHost beat their competitors on:
  • support, 
  • ease of use of their site: which implies ease of use of their services. What you see often reflects what you get
  • price, 
  • features
  • backups
So the choice is hands down TSO Host. To top it off I heard such good things from mumturnedmon who hosts a busy wordpress site. Independent reviews make all the difference.

Outstanding questions

  • Free Domain Names
    • Q: who owns a domain your register?
    • A: You do. We always register domains in your name not ours.
    • Q: how easy is it to transfer out? any costs and requirements
    • A: It depends on the type of domain. They don't apply restrictions and you can obtain the EPP(auth) code through their web admin panel and initiate a transfer without contacting support. Though some like uk domains require support to update the IPSTAG
    • Q: Do I get to manage the DNS?
    • A: Yes
  • Site transfers
    • Q: Does this include blogger to wordpress transfers?
    • A: Yes
  • Multihost
    • Q: Can I host multiple wordpress sites each with their own domain name?
    • A: Yes. I double checked the web hosting page and it's pretty clear. The number of sites depends on your package. Professional hosting would allow 6 separate sites.
  • Database Storage
    • Q: You can have unlimited mysql databases on a professional account but what storage limit will the DB be taking up? Is it the hosting storage or a separate one and what is the limit?
    • A: Database storage is included in hosting storage. There is no separate storage quota.
I just emailed sales@tsohost.com with these questions. I got an instant reply with a ticket number which I find a good sign. I now have a solid reference I can use any time I contact about this query.

Now I just see how long they take to respond. I'm quite excited to get started but it's a big decision so I need these questions answered.

Response

About a minute later I got the following response. It's pretty general so I feel it's ok to share.

Hi Colin,

We always register domains in your name not ours. We are your registration agent but the domains are yours. That means if you ever want to transfer them out then you can do - we won't stop you.

With Nominet (UK domains) the domain will be registered to you or your company, with us just being the TAG holder. With gtlds you have the ability to change the registrant, technical and admin contact details through the client area.

In terms of transfer outs, you can get the EPP (Auth) code through the client area, as well as unlock the domain name. That means you do not need to contact us to move the domains away. If you have a UK domain and want to change the IPSTAG away from us, just open a support ticket and we can do it right away.

On our systems, space is allocated for everything in one go. So you can use that space for website files, emails, databases, logs etc -- it all comes out of one pot. The only other limit we set space-wize is that a database should not be bigger than 1GB. If it is then it becomes inefficient on shared hosting and we'll suggest you move it to a virtual server instead.

Wordpress migrations are usually pretty straightforward. We can move the files and database, then update the wp-config.php file to get it running through us.

If you are moving from a self-hosted Wordpress (or another blogging platform like Blogger) it's slightly different. There is an import tool we can use to do it for you. However, bear in mind you may need to reupload images and so on, as our migration team usually require full access. We always try our best though!

regards

--------

I'm very impressed. A nice clear answer with plenty of advice and detail and a lightning fast response. Of course when you contact sales in any company you generally get a faster response than contacting support but it's a good sign. I'm convinced any way. 

It's a risk who ever I go with but these guys seem to be really high quality.

Failed the grade

US hosts but the exchange rate suggests I could buy more there.
http://wpbloghost.com/
  • not impressed couldn't find a list of features
  • prices are around £5/month - £8/month
  • You don't know what you get for your money
site5 Failed because they're US based and no better than UK offerings. Couldn't find enough detail

  • seems ok. US based in Texas. Provide server specs, 
  • no monthly plan for cheaper options
  • recommended by t31os who said  i also found http://www.site5.com to be very good, very fast response times to tickets etc... but this was Posted 4 years ago!!!
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