I’ve been very happy with WordPress – it’s easy to use, has a TON of support behind it and can do just about anything you need it to do. After being self-hosted for a while, I realized that it was not a very good model for keeping the site up since my ISP is not super-reliable, and as much as I’d like it to be, the home lab is not an actual datacenter. So I needed to find a solution that was flexible and pretty cheap.
Last year I purchased a simple shared hosting plan with a common provider – I’ll call them “a blue hosting company”. Initially I was happy – configuration was simple, the WordPress install had several things pre-configured which was nice, and overall performance wasn’t bad – not great, but more on that later. It ran like this for a while, giving me an opportunity to find plugins for all of the functionality that I was missing from the recent move away from BlogEngine.NET.
Then the issues started. Admittedly, the issues were very sporatic and not very long-lived, but I have never seen the variety of error codes from the same provider\product. It started with just a 404 here and there for the root of the site. Then,errors 502, 503, and 504 showed up. A lot. And “Blue Hosting company” support was only sort-of helpful on one occasion when my instance was on a “bad host and will be migrated” – all other times, and I quote, “The site appears up on our end…”
Time to find a better WordPress Hosting Provider
I asked around for some good, cheap alternatives and found DigitalOcean – for the same price, I was going to have a full instance rather than a shared site. This has several benefits:
- Much easier administration and troubleshooting since you have access to the underlying system
- Ability to add an SSL certificate
- Simplified backups
- Potential to use this instance for more than just WordPress hosting in the future
Two of the above things were possible with the previous provider (SSL and backups), just at an additional cost. Plus, I was able to get some credits for about 2 months free.
The migration was made easier thanks to having access to a full Linux system as well as the UpDraft backup plugin – it was a simple backup and restore (they also have a migration option, but that seemed like overkill for what I was doing).
My notes from the migration:
- Make sure to tell your Google tools that you’re going from HTTP > HTTPS
- PHP7 broke a few plugins that needed to be manually removed – fortunately they were either not in use, or I could live without them
- For some reason, PHP-XML didn’t get installed during initial install, so that prevented JetPack and the WP app from working (xmlrpc.php was returning error 500)
- Apache didn’t like the intermediate certificate I was using – had to go grab the .pem version
A word on Performance
The DigitalOcean instance is beyond faster than the previous shared instance ever was – hopefully it is noticeable to you! Administration of the site is also vastly improved – editing, photo management, updates – all are SOO much snappier.
I’m a happy DigitalOcean customer.