I recently switched from DreamHost’s DreamPress to GoDaddy’s managed WordPress hosting service. This article explains why, and discusses my experience so far. [Update: Since writing this article, I’ve switched away from GoDaddy, and now host my blog in a VPS at DigitalOcean. You can read about that switch, here.]
Originally, this website was served from my shared hosting account at DreamHost. With plugin-based caching—e.g. W3 Total Cache—and CloudFlare’s CDN the public side of the site was always accessible fairly quickly. The WordPress Admin, however, running on shared resources, ran painfully slow.
Later, DreamHost introduced a specialized managed WordPress service called DreamPress. For $20 per month, DreamHost would run your WordPress site in a two-VPS environment that is specially designed for WordPress.
I switched to DreamPress and was happy to find that the WordPress Admin, as expected, did run faster. Since DreamPress doesn’t included user-accessible backups, I also paid an additional $5 per month for the excellent VaultPress backup service. So in total, I was paying $25 per month to operate my website.
Over time, I began feeling a little unsatisfied with the situation:
- $25 a month felt a bit expensive to run a personal website.
- When I decided to launch a second website, Rantbox, it seemed a pity that my only economical option was to host it back in my shared DreamHost account.
- One day, a journalist linked to an article on Dafacto, the traffic spiked and the site went down. It took DreamHost a while to get the site back up, and they were never clear about exactly what happened. They claimed it was bad timing related to maintenance they were doing on the server running my database, as well as a brute-force attack that was happening on my site (which they suggested I mitigate in the future by installing a firewall plugin.)
So this past weekend, I began researching what other options exist for managed WordPress hosting and stumbled across this excellent review at ReviewSignal, in which they conduct load and other testing on about 14 different managed WordPress services.
As expected, the well-known but business-priced providers like WPEngine, SiteGround and Pagely all performed well. But one service that, surprisingly, performed nearly at the top of the list was the exceptionally affordable GoDaddy Managed WordPress. That’s right, GoDaddy. I would have never considered GoDaddy as a quality managed hosting provider, but then again, they did acquire Media Temple, and so perhaps it’s not so surprising after all! (And what was disappointing to discover in the review, was that my current DreamPress service faired quite poorly.)
For $9 per month, GoDaddy provides you with two managed WordPress installations, including SSD storage, 30 days of restorable backups, malware scan & removal, caching and security that obviates the need to run plug-ins, and capacity that they claim will scale to meet pretty much any spikes in traffic. And according to that ReviewSignal investigation, their performance really is at the top of the list!
So I signed up for the service and initiated the migration process for this Dafacto website. The automatic migration unfortunately failed, giving me my first opportunity to experience GoDaddy customer support. The introverted me would have preferred online chat, like that available at DreamHost, instead of the 24/7 telephone support at GoDaddy, but I have to say that I was really impressed with the experience. The support representative identified that the problem was with some of my plugins, and suggested that if I would temporarily disable them all, the migration should work. We did that together on the phone, and the migration completed successfully.
I then ran the same migration for my Rantbox website, updated the DNS at CloudFlare to point to the new IP addresses, and shortly thereafter both my sites were up an humming along at GoDaddy.
How has performance been? It’s been less than a day, but so far so good! The public site seems as snappy as before, and without running any caching plugins. What’s really exciting, though, is that the WordPress Admin seems to run much faster at GoDaddy than in DreamPress! I didn’t expect that.
So with GoDaddy over DreamPress+VaultPress, I’ve been able to reduce my costs from $25 per month to $9, am now running two WordPress installations instead of one, and am not running caching or firewall plug-ins. So far, I’m a happy hosting camper!
- It seems that the $9 monthly cost at GoDaddy is only for the first “period”, after which it’ll increase to $15—which is fine; I’m still saving money. GoDaddy did give me the option to lock in $9 monthly for three years, but I preferred to keep my options open.
- It’s unclear to me whether caching plugins are actually needed with DreamPress or not. I asked their customer support, and were told that given that they run Varnish, plug-in based caching was redundant, but then added the ambiguous, “unless you know what you’re doing”.
- DreamHost support used to be great; but over the past year or so, I’ve noticed the connect time in chat to have increased a lot, and the competence of the support I’ve gotten there has diminished.
- GoDaddy managed WordPress hosting is a shared architecture, and so in principle performance could get worse in the future if they start over allocating their resources. Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen!