A couple of days ago we faced a hurdle. A client of ours wanted to switch their hosting from our in-house VPS solution to a 3rd party hosting provider. The issue? Their 3rd party hosting provider was running an old version of MYSQL (the database language that WordPress uses to create/store entries) that made the website migration utterly painful.
We tried every method we knew of: Manual export / import of database entries, WordPress backup plugins, WordPress migration tool, yada yada yada. Absolutely nothing worked.
In the end the final workaround was the most painful thing ever: A partial migration, then manually fixing anything that was broken, missing or unstylized.
We decided this could NEVER happen again. We HAD to find a better solution.
Our VPS solution was inadequate
In hindsight, our VPS was lacking in certain areas. Yes, we provided insanely fast load times, frequent server backups, & regular security updates but at a cost – clients didn’t have FTP access. They had to use the WordPress uploader to upload everything.
We never had a client who needed anything more. Most of them just wanted someone else to set it up, manage and update it on a regular basis. As techies we never thought about it too hard, it was another revenue stream we got while doing what we do best — providing an A – Z comprehensive solution that covered all of a client’s needs.
So we made the switch to Bluehost
We decided FTP was going to be a necessity for our bigger clients that wanted to have FTP / Dashboard access to their website. Instead of rebuilding our own infrastructure we thought “let’s try another provider”.
After spending a couple of hours researching the ins and outs of all the major web host providers we chose Bluehost. We had considered factors like sever spec & memory, downtime, reliability and most importantly, load speeds.
Bluehost: Their Sales Tactics
It all started on their sales landing page. 50% off they said. “What a bargain?!” we said. Until they asked to fill out a registration form, THEN pick our hosting plan and timeframe. Their 50% discount? It’s only for people who purchase 3 year hosting plans.
Grudgingly, we opted to try them on their 1 year plan at the no discount rate before we even considered a 3 year package. Thank god.
Bluehost : Their Hosting Service
Excited to see the performance benefits that Bluehost touted — we uploaded this site you are currently reading to their servers. We know the performance statistics of this site like the back of our hands, we wanted to see how well BlueHost perform.
God, WHAT HAPPENED?!
Loading times became insanely slow. Our website was designed to load in under a second (even with our homepage video). It took 9 seconds to load on BlueHost! Really? We thought it was a migration issue. We looked around the web to “debug” the issue.
After running multiple website analysis tools we discovered the problem. BlueHost took 7 seconds to respond to the original query for the website, then took an additional 2 seconds to serve the webpage to the viewer.
This went against everything we had promised our clients about hosting with us. This wouldn’t do, back to the drawing board.
Rebuilding our hosting infrastructure
Our team got together and decided on the feature sets we wanted our clients to have if they were to host with us. FTP was essential, how about a dashboard to view metrics? How easy would it be for them to use our new hosting service? Unlike the giant providers, we don’t have the time or the capacity to build out documentation to showcase how to use our hosting. It had to be simple and intuitive.
We went back to our old VPS provider, rebuilt our system to our new spec requirements and transferred our company website back.
Ahh. Back to less than 1 second serve times.