I feel a bit silly announcing that we have a new host within the time span of only a month, but well, we have a new host.
I was very happy with ASmallOrange. The speed was okay, and the price was good. However, the hosting there was unamanged, and didn’t have any control panel, which I knew going in, but it made making any changes very time consuming and complicated.
The VPS and servers at ASmallOrange were so compiled and complicated using CentOS and Nginx, that rarely would any online tutorials for the systems help due to things being in different locations and such, and if I asked their support for help they’d reply with telling me to Google it, or use a third party host’s tutorial files, which again, didn’t help due to having their own set up.
I recently learned that way back in 2012, ASmallOrange was bought buy EIG (Endurance International Group), which is a large group that goes around buying up all the webhosts that they can, such as HostGator. The problem with is this, they move all these hosts to their own datacenter, lower the quality of the hosting, and customer service and support is nonexistent. They seemed to allow ASmallOrange to stay their own company/team and do their own thing so far, but I believe its only a matter of time before the quality goes down. Even if it stays as it is, I don’t see it improving much or having much room for growth.
I debating over the EIG situation for a few days asking myself if it really made sense to leave due to that. Like i said, the hosting is still great, and still gets high ratings, but at the end of the day, I really just don’t want to support such a company (EIG, not the ASmallOrange team).
I’d much rather support a company that is growing, and has a future in front of it.
My good buddy Matt, who is a webhost himself, has told me about KnownHost, and suggested to me that I use them. I begun researching them, and all I can find are high remarks and ratings. Especially over their support. I really don’t care much about support to be honest, I presume a known host would have their crap together, and I shouldn’t have any major problems, so I rarely ever end up actually using support. The fact though that they are proactive shows though that they are a caring company who is inspired to grow and get better.
KnownHost specializes in VPS and Dedicated Servers. Which they all offer managed, so if I’d ever need help with anything at all, they’d be there to help me, and I don’t have to worry about security and all that, because they’ll be there monitoring it all for me. Managed is nice.
They do have a page labeled MANAGED WORDPRESS HOSTING, but really, this just seems to be the standard VPS hosting, just optimized for WordPress. I couldn’t get a clear answer from Sales, or Support staff as to what they do to “optimize” it though.
The sales staff told me that any VPS package could be optimized, but they suggest the SSD due to the speed, which I agreed, I don’t see the point of going with old HDD when SSD is available.
The total cost of hosting the Grunch at KnownHost would more than double, from $30 a month, to $60+a month, which is crazy considering only a few months ago we were being hosted on a shared host that cost only $53 a year (using 50.00% Recurring Discount). So, I had to sleep on it, and decide of the weirdo issue with EIG was really worth doubling the monthly cost.
I woke up and decided that it was. I know that Grunch will not get better, unless its made better (does that even make sense?), gotta put the power behind it… Like i said with ASmallOrange, everything was overly complicated and time consuming to achieve, such as restoring a backup, managed databases, etc.
I decided to go with the SSD-2 VPS package, which comes with 2.5GB of ram which should be enough for now to power the Grunch, along with cPanel. I decided to get the LiteSpeed Addon for server performance and speed, which added a $12 LiteSpeed license price to the monthly bill.
The total came out to $60.30 using the 10% lifetime coupon KNOWNSSD10.
The VPS account was set up well within 5 minutes after paying, an d before I could contact support staff about WordPress optimizations, they emailed me letting me know that they were installing LiteSpeed for me, I replied asking about the WordPress optimizations, they immediately replied saying that he was only installing this, and that another support staff member would assist me in the optimizations. The LiteSpeed addon only took a few minutes, then I got an email from another support guy saying that due to having Litespeed, The optimizations to Apache to work with WordPress weren’t needed. So that answers that question. There really aren’t any complex backbone tweaks to make wordpress run better, jsut some minor Apache tweaks.
When switching to ASmallOrange, I decided to take advantage of CloudFlare‘s DNS hosting. This is mostly because ASmallOrange didn’t have DNS on their WordPress hosting, so I had to find a third party DNS service, and CloudFlare was it. I wish I had used them sooner.
Benefits of using CloudFlare to managed your domains DNS is that you do not have to wait for the DNS to propagate around the world when you make a change. Previously I was switching hsots like crazy, and the DNS would bounce back and forth between the new and old host constantly for days, which can cause issues. Using CloudFlare I can easily change the IP (server) that the domain points to, and the changes would take affect immediately. Not only is there this benefit, but there are also other benefits such as caching, and DDOS protection, and best of all, CloudFlare offers this for free!
I updated the IP of the domain to point to the new server, and wallah. Uploaded the files, and all was done.
First thing that I noticed is that I was not at all blown away by the speeds. The site loaded just as well as it did on ASmallOrange, and WE Engine, which isn’t super super fast, but not too bad. Obviously I need to do some more optimizations on the wordpress end.
The Sites score on many site testing tools has greatly improved though.
Google PageSpeed Insight:
The ratings on the quality of customer service at KnownHost are true. Super fast response times to all of my emails. Each time the staff were super friendly, and helpful.
Hopefully, we have a decent host now, and the Grunch can stay and grow!
Edit: 10/8/15 – I got rid of some plugins, and now the pages here load super fast for me, and the pagescores have improved as well. Google is giving us a 90, and GTmetrix is now giving us a YSlow score of 92%, with a load time of less than 1second on average. Happy!