Who Should I Host My Blog With?

real-estate-blog-hostingI get this question a LOT – Who should I host my blog with?

The problem with WordPress hosting (or hosting in general) may be there are just too many options to chose from. Sometimes I wish there were just two to three web hosting companies, not 500 million. OK, there probably aren’t 500 million web hosts out there. But there are MANY and as with any service, there are great hosts and lousy hosts.

First let’s look at types of hosting.

Free Hosting: While free is always appealing, please avoid free hosting. It’s almost always supported by ads – ads that you have little to no control over. You can get good shared hosting for less than $7 per month. You don’t need free hosting.

Shared Hosting: This is just what it sounds like. You share server space with other users. I don’t know the stats, but it’s a safe assumption that the vast majority of real estate blogs are on shared hosting. It’s cheap (free to $20/month) and the hosting company takes care of the heavy lifting on the server side. Things like setup, required scripting languages, applications, control panels, etc.

Dedicated Hosting:  This is where you have a single server dedicated to you. Since the costs are incurred by you alone, dedicated hosting is significantly more expensive than shared hosting. It can run several hundred dollars a month (or more). Dedicated hosting provides the most control, but also requires you to install everything yourself and you are responsible for security and maintenance. “Managed Dedicated Hosting” is available where the host will take care of setup, security, installations and maintenance. Expect to pay high dollars for this level of service.

Virtual Private (or Dedicated) Server (VPS/VDS): This is sort of a combination of shared and dedicated hosting (and as such the pricing falls between the two). In a nutshell you get a segment of a server for your site (hosting techno-geeks don’t go throwing down on me for over-simplifying things here.)

Cloud Based Hosting:  This is “decentralized” hosting. Sites are split across multiple servers in multiple locations. Since your site isn’t sitting on one hard drive somewhere, cloud hosting tends to provide better uptime. When one piece of hardware goes do the site can be shifted to other hardware. This can also help with traffic spikes as the traffic load is “balanced” across multiple platforms. Ditto for page loading speed. It is also possible to use cloud hosting on an “as needed” basis – where you pay for only the bandwidth you use. Prices for cloud based hosting vary depending on the services you have.

Managed Hosting: Somewhat new on the scene, managed hosting can be shared, dedicated, virtual or cloud based. With managed hosting, a provider manages everything for you – all the way down to installing and updating WordPress and plugins. Users are typically granted limited access to the server itself – enough to run their applications, but not enough to break the server. The blog you’re reading right now is running on managed hosting. Costs vary wildly, but dedicated WordPress managed hosting is quite affordable – and removes a lot of the headaches involved with maintaining a WordPress site.

There are other types of hosting such as Grid / Node, clustered and co-location. It gets technical fast. For the purposes of hosting a WordPress real estate blog, the types mentioned above cover the vast majority of what’s needed.

Where to Host?

As previously mentioned, there are hundreds of hosting companies are out there. Add in hosting resellers, and that number swiftly climbs into the tens of thousands. So how do you pick a web host?

Do your research. You can read reviews of hosting providers all across the web. One caveat – you WILL run across negative reviews of ANY host. Trust me, someone out there hates their host and isn’t afraid to say so. But if you find a host where the positive reviews far outweigh the negative, you may have yourself a winner.

Hosting companies that I’ve heard good things about from people I trust include DreamHost, BlueHost, and Hostgator. This blog is running on Page.ly managed hosting , and I LOVE it. I’m not afraid to upgrade WordPress and plugins, but that doesn’t stop me from liking the fact that Page.ly does it all for me. If you’re looking to install WordPress and keep it updated with the least amount of hassle, Page.ly is a fantastic solution. If you are looking for managed hosting that includes building a semi-custom WordPress site, look into Virtual Results. They’ll build and host a site and include a home search, Altos Research statistics and more. Finally, if you are looking for a fully custom real estate blog based on WordPress, take a peak at HaMedia. They do very good work.

My primary blog, Phoenix Real Estate Guy, is hosted with Rackspace Cloud hosting. This is probably more hosting horsepower than most people need, but uptime is stellar and support is second to none.

I have used GoDaddy hosting in the past and can not recommend it. I was plagued with downtime as my traffic levels increased, and support, while there 24/7 almost always blamed WordPress on issues I had – it was NEVER their fault. Funny though, as soon as I switched off of GoDaddy those “WordPress issues” disappeared. To be completely fair to GoDaddy though, that was several years ago and their hosting products have changed significantly since then. But the buzz on the interwebs isn’t all that great for GoDaddy hosting. I’ve also hosted at MediaTemple and liked them until they ran into issues with uptime. I still host some minor sites there and uptime seems much better.

You can switch hosts if you find the one you select isn’t up to par, but trust me, switching hosts is a royal pain in the ass, especially if your site has a lot of content. It’s doable though, and necessary sometimes. I’m sure there are people out there that will switch a site over to a new host for a fee, and that would be worth exploring. Some hosts claim they will do this, though I have no direct experience with that.

One of the best ways to get info about a potential host is to ask your friends, or ask people whose sites you like that seem to preform well (with regard to page load speeds) who they host with.

Research, pick one and go with it. Just keep this in mind – the greatest host in the known universe won’t be of any help if you don’t generate the content, provide the goods, and get those goods noticed through appropriate calls to action.

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Photo Credit: ivanpw on Flickr. CC Licensed

About Jay Thompson

Jay is a Real Estate Broker (Phoenix, AZ area), father, husband, friend to many, enemy to a few. Author of the award winning blog, Phoenix Real Estate Guy, he is also a serial blog commenter and social media fan boy. Jay abhors yard work, but love kittens and driving too fast.
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41 Responses to Who Should I Host My Blog With?

  1. Thanks for the great resource Jay! You are correct there are way too many choices. I do agree with you about GoDaddy. Actually I think Tech support there is issued a list of answers. You have a probably and they pick an answer any answer (despite relevance) just to get you off the phone. 🙂
    My recent post BoardLife – A Fun New Business in NW Denver

  2. jerry reed says:

    Wow, You really laid it out there for us less knowledgeable folks. Read the whole post word for word and found it very helpful. Thank you for doing it.

  3. @techchix says:

    Great explanations, Jay! For what it's worth, I can say from personal experience that http://www.wpwebhost.com is a great service for shared hosting. For a different option, http://6sync.com/ is great for VPS solutions. I will say that cheap hosting companies often cram so many websites onto a server that your site is too slow in loading. (and we all know Google penalizes SERPs for slow loading times on your website)

    Something else worth considering, some server companies will give you a trial period for Free – especially VPS companies. If you're looking to move to a new hosting company you could consider doing a trial run for testing purposes to do speed tests and uptime testing for server response time.

    Again, great summary! 🙂

  4. Jay – thanks for the mention 🙂 One thing I'd like to add on Bluehost, if I may. We recently learned that they will throttle your site down if it's large even if you have one of their nifty unlimited account, especially if you use any JQ scrips in your site's code. We ran into this issue recently with a client who was hosting with them, and had to move their stuff elsewhere.
    Just an FIY.
    My recent post Google+ & Other Googlets – Forward Thinking, or a reaction to a definitive dip in market share & relevance?

  5. Jim Gatos says:

    I've always liked Hostgator (http://www.hostgator.com).. Good reliable hosting. No problems with tech support.

  6. Nice summary, Jay! I’m not a big fan of GoDaddy shared hosting. However, I do like their customer supports. If the first person can’t help, you can hang up and dial again – chances are you’ll talk to another one and maybe they can help…. if they’re in a good mood. 🙂 I’ve just switched to DVS and loving it. Faster and no down time. Took a while to set up, but it’s good now.

  7. Jay.. I agree… some very good helpful information that you supplied. And yes, I just learned a little more about Blue Host from Inna, since I told her that I host one of my sites there. So I was glad that she brought that up. Again, some great info… thanks
    My recent post Mortgage 101 – Getting to know the borrower

  8. Debe Maxwell says:

    I've been curious about Page.ly and glad to read your evaluation of it. I'm still with Dreamhost but, like to see what the other options are out there.
    My recent post Charlotte Luxury Living | Skyecroft Waxhaw NC

  9. Jay – I have hostgator and absolutely love, never had a problem with them and their support is awesome.
    My recent post Wellington Shores Market Report: July 2011

  10. Jay – Thanks for the "Hosting for Dummies" breakdown. I really appreciate the explanations of all the different options and value your years of "trial and error" and sharing that with the rest of us.

  11. Great article. My 2 cents when switching hosts (I switched from Godaddy to Dreamhost). I googled around and found a nice independent WP developer who did the whole transfer for me for about $100. I'm tech savvy and could've done it myself…but it was WELL worth it. Plus I got to keep whatever hair I have left on my head 😉
    My recent post 458 New Reasons To Avoid Foreclosure

  12. Pingback: 41 Must-Read Tips & Tutorials for Real Estate Bloggers | Diverse Solutions

  13. Ron Jesser says:

    Jay- thanks for the inciteful post. I use Kahuna Hosting and have been very happy thus far with their service and support. I keep tabs on their Up-Time and it is 99.9% for sure. They keep everything up to date so never any worries about updating WP. They are a the high side for the fee at $20.00 but I look at that as a + when it comes to horsepower and service.

  14. @IntownElite says:

    This is a great overview of what's available, but I still struggle with knowing what type of hosting I need based on my level of traffic. For example, it would be great to see a chart that shows when one should upgrade from shared to VPS or cloud hosting based on the number of visits or page views. And when should I consider a CDN? I've Googled around and can't really find much guidance on the subject.
    My recent post Yet another reason why neighborhoods matter

  15. michael says:

    Great article Jay!
    I have been using Hostgator for almost 5 years now for a whopping $5/month.
    The great thing I discovered – the hard way – is that they automatically do a complete back up once/week.
    So one faithful day when a friend was updating my site AND LOST EVERYTHING.
    One quick call to Hostgator tech support and $15 later I was back online.
    Their support is awesome and friendly.
    All Good Wishes,
    michael krisa
    ThatInterviewGuy.com

    My recent post What Would You Give For One More Sunset?

  16. Marty Green says:

    Great Post! Very informative. I'm heading down this road again now as I order some equipment to start a podcast. I've been told that my normal host may not be good enough if many people are downloading episodes. I really like Bluehost and Highly recommend them too. It's always hard to know ahead of time but I'd rather be safe than sorry with respect to downtime.

    Marty
    My recent post 3 Reasons Why Real Estate Agents Should Use The Pre-Listing Phone Call

  17. Great list of hosts Jay. There are too many to choose from it seems. You know I'm a dedicated Dreamhost guy, so I thought I'd throw my two cents in there for them. I've been with them in one form or another since 1997. Great uptime (and response to any outages), amazing customer support (that often goes beyond the call of duty), lots of options and easy installs (one click installs as they call them – including WordPress). I'm about to move my sites over to a VPS because of traffic and the number of sites (all WordPress) is beginning to show some signs of slow down, but for regular use, their shared hosting is cheap and reliable. And they don't use cPanel. That gives them extra points. Fully homegrown control panel that they developed. Works amazing.
    My recent post Copyrights and photos on the internet.

  18. Jay,

    There are way to many to choose from but you've really pinpointed some of the best options and different types available. Someday I hope to get my owned dedicated server that is ultra fast. One thing at at time have to build the massive amounts of traffic to make it worthwhile. As always amazing information!
    My recent post Top Ten Most Expensive Homes for Sale in Green Bay

  19. We use http://www.agentsbuddy.com/ and are very happy with the service. They have our real estate association's listings automatically come into our WordPress blog so that we can combine the benefits of using WordPress to blog and also have our listings ready for prospects to view. They also limit the people on their servers to avoid slow servers. I had goDaddy also in the past and they were HORRIBLE for WordPress hosting.
    My recent post Mastering Real Estate Marketing with Agents Buddy

  20. Hi Jay – thanks for this great information on hosting options. I appreciate the information.
    My recent post Balboa Island Market Report | January, 2012

  21. zac coplan says:

    Jay, great post, I have used godaddy before with mixed results. I currently use Inmotion Hosting and I cannot complain. They have good tech support and there uptime is pretty good. Hopefully someday I can be awesome and have dedicated hosting like you!
    My recent post Banks Are Willing To Pay Up To $20,000 For You To Do A Short Sell

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    • Patrick says:

      I use fuvohosting.com for my free sites, they are not ad sutropped so you don’t get the big ugly banner across the top of your site, they also let you install wordpress, or really anything you want. Highly recommend.

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  27. JhoPPE says:

    very nicely done!
    stay away from free to super cheap host provider like dollar2host. I had a terrible experience with this provider. My websites were defaced by some hackers. Dollar2host denied of the server attack on their end but I found out in the net when I did my research about the incident. The price was not worth the trouble of getting my websites back online, clear with google and other search engines.

    I am now with bluehost. there service is ok. but im still looking for a better uptime result. thanks for sharing this info.
    My recent post P.D. 957- Your Protection Against Real Estate Misrepresentations

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