For awhile now I’ve intended to write a post about my experience looking for a good web hosting service. I signed up with Hawkhost back in late November of 2015. And if life had cooperated, I’m sure I would have said more about that sooner. If your life is hectic, you can appreciate that on a good day I do a third of my to-do list. And since my father’s stroke in March, that list has only grown!
For years, I limped along with shared web hosting with Dreamhost. When I originally signed up, the service was acceptable for hosting a simple WordPress blog and the price was great. As the years went by, things changed – as they do. I got the impression that shared hosting may have become a little more crowded. And undoubtedly, my needs also changed. What started out as a hobby became a small business. And yet I procrastinated as we all do. Each year when my hosing plan would come due, I’d do a brief search for good web hosting. I would get frustrated by the need to do research and I would inevitably just pay for another year. I can’t even say that’s putting a band-aid on it. As far as solutions go, I was basically just ignoring the problem! Not a good way to run a small business or, well, any business.
There’s no doubt things changed. What started as a simple blog with my random thoughts and art evolved into multiple WordPress sites. For a time, I was hosting four separate domains including my personal blog, a travel blog, an art blog, and a portfolio of my work. And on any given day, I would visit one of my sites and wait and wait for it to load. It didn’t happen continuously but it happened often enough that I began to wonder how many readers and potential customers I was losing. I feel like I had done all I could with shared hosting at my old host. No amount of caching or other tips and tricks I tried made a dent. Sometimes the speed was acceptable. Other times it was miserable. So last November, I made my search for good web hosting for my small business in earnest.
And it was still a frustrating search. First of all, there are a wealth of alternatives out there. And I’m sure plenty of them are good choices. Pick a web hosting company and you will find rave reviews and stinkers. That’s to be expected. The hard part for me wasn’t just too many companies but so many different flavors of hosting. I had felt pretty sure that shared hosting was no longer the route for me. I was leaning towards some sort of dedicated hosting but so many of them required you to be pretty technically savvy. While I’m not the slowest cog in the clock, that’s not what I want to spend my time doing. I don’t want to be re-booting servers and writing code day in and day out. There are quite a few services aimed at dedicated WordPress hosting these days and I looked seriously at those. The killer for me personally is that most of them were not competitively priced. Some were great if I wanted to host one domain with them, but there was little or no price-break for bringing multiple domains over. I have been spoiled by shared hosting where I could have multiple sites under one account. There don’t seem to be a lot of good web hosting companies aiming for people with little interest in being tech marvels but who have multiple sites.
In recent memory I have trimmed back and I suppose I could go further. Since I travel much less now I eliminated my separate travel blog and rolled it into my personal one last year. My art blog and my portfolio are only separate because my portfolio was originally hosted by Zenfolio before they upped their rates. I’ve gotten used to them being separate sites but it’s a personal choice now rather than a necessity. And there’s nothing saying I have to have this personal blog anymore except that I enjoy it. I really came close to lightening the load so that I could go with dedicated WordPress hosting. So I’m glad I spent a few more days researching good web hosting alternatives before I threw in the towel. That’s how I stumbled over Hawkhost randomly reading message boards and blogs.
And while Hawkhost does have more dedicated solutions, I ended up on shared hosting again. The incredible thing is, it’s so much faster! I had read similar reviews from others which is why I decided I would try their shared hosting first. By comparison to my last few years on Dreamhost, I feel like I have dedicated hosting now. In the past nine months, I have had only one experience where I couldn’t access my sites. In general, I hate having to write or call technical support for anything. That ranges from calling the cable company to any online service. If I do contact tech support, it’s because I have given up all hope! Ha!? Any others like me out there? Well, I didn’t have time to consider it. A half hour later when I tried again, everything was up and running. And I honestly don’t know if that was a Hawkhost problem or some glitch with my ISP. I wish I could have ever reported such a trouble free nine months with my previous provider. Even massive online sites hosted on their own servers go down from time to time. Expecting 100% up-time is unrealistic, but so far —knock wood— I have found Hawkhost to provide reliable web hosting at a good price. They host the blog you are reading as well as my art blog and my art portfolio.
So, if you’ve been searching for good web hosting service as well, I have to recommend giving Hawkhost a try. I would have said good things about my experience with them as a small business owner regardless. But I did want you to know that if you follow my link to Hawkhost, I’ll get a small referral commission. And it doesn’t affect the price you pay for whatever hosting plan you might select.
Note: In the interest of full transparency, Hawkhost is no longer hosting my sites. I’ll post about my current hosting in the future but I still recommend Hawkhost. I used them for somewhere around six years and although I went in another direction with my hosting now, I feel like I got good value for money there.