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Why is web hosting so complicated?

Genie from Aladdin

When it comes to hosting a website, you have so many choices that it can be overwhelming. Different prices, different features, lots of headaches. Do you get more by paying more? Why are lots of hosting sites so spammy and/or confusing? Shouldn’t this be easier by now?

Chances are, you probably fall into one of two different mindsets. Either you pay top dollar for hosting and expect the best, or you wonder why it costs so much and why you can’t get good hosting at a decent price.

No, I’m not talking about business class hosting or sites with 10,000+ visitors a day, well not specifically, but more your general hosting. Do individuals, or even small businesses, need to spend $300+ a year for hosting? Can you spend less than $100 and get something good?

Hosting isn’t hard. Is it?

Hosting isn’t hard, well it shouldn’t be. You’d think companies would have it figured out by now. However, there are thousands of hosts out there with no consistency. Prices for storage and bandwidth continue to go down, yet hosting prices and quality are all over the board.

What are we paying for?

Some companies have low costs while others are expensive. Some have great support and others have support that is worse than just doing a Google search yourself.

Sadly, there isn’t a correlation. You can’t say that paying more always gives you better support. Trust me, I’ve seen all ends of things. There are some low-cost hosts with great support, and some high-priced hosts with questionable support.

Others will tell you that you’re paying for better servers, memory, bandwidth, and all that. However, with the prices of memory, bandwidth and disk space going down all the time, it’s hard to believe that you’re getting that much more.

There is no consistency.

Whenever I ask friends for hosting suggestions I almost always get one or two people telling me that Dreamhost is great. Well I was with Dreamhost once and it was horrible. Everyone seems to have different experiences with the same hosts. Ask around, or do some research on any hosting company and you’ll find good and bad reviews. This makes picking a host harder.

Finding real reviews is painful.

Have you ever tried to find reviews on a web hosting company? If you have, you know that search results are littered with shitty web review sites that provide no real value. Instead, they just offer up affiliate links and scrape the reviews off other sites. I have no idea why Google doesn’t crack down on these sites, but it makes searching for reviews extremely hard. I feel that all web hosting review sites are about as honest as politicians.

Why not host you own site?

Ok, so most of the nerds I work with host their own site and make it look easy. It’s not rocket science, but it’s not easy either. I run a server over at Digital Ocean for dirt cheap and it’s been fun. However, most of the time I’m just taking a leap of faith and following instructions I found on the internet.

After running my own hosting for a while, I realize that hosting is complicated for the average person. But it’s not so complicated that I feel like spending hundreds of dollars a year on hosting.

I’ve got a budget.

I don’t know about you, but I have a budget. Paying $300+ isn’t going to work for me. Even at $120 a year I wonder what I can do to save on hosting. Do I move to someone cheaper? Or will cheaper mean more headaches? My time is valuable too so maybe I should pay a little more to have good support. Or can my site live on a host that has good support and a lower price point? These are the kinds of things that I worry about.

No two sites are the same.

At the end of the day, no two sites are the same and no two hosts are the same. Good or bad, more and more hosts are coming online every day and it’s extremely hard to figure out which ones are good and which ones are bad. I don’t think the price point or feature set is the determining factor, reviews are always mixed, and even when you do pick one, there’s always a thought in the back of your mind wondering if you made the right choice.


Oh wait, were you looking for recommendations? I suppose I could give you my experiences.

DigitalOcean – Extremely cheap, however you have to set up everything. And then you have to maintain everything. If something goes wrong, you gotta fix it. Price is good, but it’s stressful. I do still host some sites here though.

A Small Orange – Love these guys. They have low-cost hosting and great support. When I was there I was really happy and I recommend them to others. They’re a good starter host but the price seems to go up quickly when you start to grow.

Tiger Tech – Again, lower cost hosting with great support. Recommend.

WP Engine – I’m a big fan of WP Engine if it fits into your budget. I feel they have a solid setup and good support. Things just seem to work. – I hate to admit it, but I host sites here. I got in on a dirt cheap three-year deal and put a few sites up that I didn’t care a lot about. Turns out the hosting has been stable. Support is not good, and I’d never recommend them, but they’ve surpassed my extremely low expectations.

Dreamhost – It was years ago that I tried them out and my site was offline a lot. I was so frustrated that I don’t think I lasted six months. However, I have friends that love them. So go figure.

BlueHost – Horrible. I had sites on their hosting that keep hitting some server resource limits that BlueHost has in place and their support could never tell me why. And when the site had 150 or less visitors a day, exceeding server resources should be next to impossible. Not recommended.

Rackspace – I don’t get the fascination. They are expensive and complicated. However, if you need a custom sever site up and load balancing and a bunch of complicated stuff, go there.

GoDaddy – I’ve deployed a few sites there and it’s been mixed. I wouldn’t recommend them but I also don’t think they are the worst.

Visi/OneNeck – I don’t get them and don’t recommend unless you need a Minnesota based hosting solution. Then they’re fine. They use to be super picky and made things overly complicated, but maybe they’ve fixed that now. Support was decent though.

Who do you like?

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