This is the obligatory hosting post that turns up on most small blogs! Generally, paid for hosting give out free time for referral link clicks. The writer gets free time. You get… probably nothing except a link to a hosting company that you may already be considering. The following is an honest review of three hosting companies I’ve tried out over the past two years. I promise I’ll get back to the crafting stuff next time.
Owl’s Tea Party is currently hosted by SiteGround and has been for about a year. I went through two other hosting companies before ending up here which were both so terrible I cancelled my year’s hosting, soaked up the cancellation fee, and moved on. That’s right, they were so bad I paid money to leave. Siteground on the other hand hasn’t disappointed me, has been stable and reliable for the year I’ve been here and will get my continued business.
If you haven’t bought your hosting yet I’ll assume that you were much like me when I started out. There were dozens of potential hosting companies – all seemingly identical. Similar pricing. Same hardware offerings. Mixture of reviews across the web ranging from ‘outstanding’ to ‘not only was their hosting bad but they killed my puppy. Avoid.’. It’s so difficult to choose one, trying to figure out of the ‘reviews’ online are honest or just paid for.
I started out with Bluehost. Makes sense – they’re recommended by WordPress as their host of choice. I chose their lowest package because, to be honest, very few personal blogs are going to need anything bigger than a hosting company’s smallest offering to survive on. I was with Bluehost for three months before I started having issues. It had always been a bit slow to load a page but I started getting intermittent issues where pages wouldn’t load at all. Their support department were unable (or unwilling) to help out with this, even though I gave them log messages and a Google search was enough to tell me how to fix this (PHP.ini issues or something – I forget). The site would also go down regularly for hours at a time. Eventually I got fed up and cancelled. I get the impression online that this was once a good hosting company, back in the day, but they’ve long stopped caring about the quality of their cheaper hosting service.
A2 Hosting was my next choice, and exceeded all my expectations in how terrible hosting could be. The setup was easy, all hosts have this process streamlined. I manually transferred the blog content and media assets over and it was up and running quickly. Slow page load again but this is pretty cheap hosting. I made it five months with A2. The blog was getting popular from social media but couldn’t handle more than a few concurrent users – it would just stop serving pages. I couldn’t upload more than two images in the admin area before it throttled me and stopped working. I of course checked with support. They were polite but generally unhelpful and told me to upload smaller images. 500kb is not a large image! They still throttled my site to the point that no-one could visit it – it was constantly down. They got kicked too – I’m not paying for my site to be down 90% of the time.
I left again and moved to SiteGround. I was generally fed up about the whole process and cynical that these guys would be any better than the last although their reviews were fine and they were marginally more expensive than the super cheap hosts I’d tried before. Transfer was easy again. Got set up and carried on as usual. Site speed was a bit faster – that’s a nice bonus. And then… nothing. It just worked. It just bloody worked and I didn’t have to faff with it every few days. This is all I wanted form the start. I don’t care about bells and whistles and additional helper tools because I do this stuff as a job, I know what I’m doing. I just want hosting that ticks along, is relatively fast, and can not fall over if I get a surge of traffic. I did indeed get a high volume of visitors when The Last Guardian came out and everyone was google searching for Trico plushies. Site held up fine – I didn’t have to worry at all.
If you’re looking for hosting for your craft blog, gaming blog, whatever – I currently recommend SiteGround. It’s the best I could find in this price range and seems by far better than average.