I'll be honest that I'm incredibly disappointed right now. When managed WordPress hosting hit the market and some friends of mine launched their company, I couldn't have been happier. As an agency, I was tired of running into issue after issue with web hosts who would pass off any problem with WordPress on to us. With Managed WordPress hosting, our host supported WordPress, optimized it for speed, and had features specific to managing all of our sites and all of our clients.
We quickly signed up as affiliates and had hundreds of companies sign up, providing us with some good affiliate revenue. Our headache as an agency was gone – we finally had 24/7 support for our clients and some great hosting with all the bells and whistles. That was up until a month or so ago. Our host was hosted on a set of servers at a data center that was under an incredible series of devastating DDoS attacks. Our sites and all of our client sites were up and down every minute or so with, seemingly, no end in site.
We were holding on but I was beginning to get irritated at the lack of communication. Our clients were all hammering us, and we couldn't tell them anything because our hosting wasn't tell us anything. I eventually got to speak to one of the owners within a WordPress professional group on Facebook and he said that they had all-hands on deck and were working to get affected customers off of the targeted servers. Whew… that was great to hear and I both thanked him for his work and looked forward to the migration.
That is, until we were migrated.
Once our site was migrated, it crawled to a stop. I had problems logging in, loading, or pretty much doing anything with the site. My visitors complained and crawls from third-parties showed the site at a near stand-still. Google Search Console showed a very clear problem:
I uploaded this image and requested support look at my server for issues, letting them know that I was recently migrated. And then the blame game began.
I'm not making this up… they passed me from tech to tech who just continues to wing it at trying to find problems on my site. They're not even trying to figure out if it's their infrastructure. So, I did what any geek would do. I stopped publishing and fixed every problem as they pointed them out… and the site performance never changed. Perhaps they had even read my article on factors impacting your site speed.
Here's what they took me through:
- A PHP error with a specific plugin when it made an API call. I disabled the plugin, no change in site speed.
- The next request was asking me where I saw the site was slow. So I pointed them to the Google Webmaster's crawl data and they said that wasn't helpful. No duh… I'm starting to get a little upset.
- They then stated that I didn't have an SSL certificate on my Content Delivery Network. This was a new issue, I never even realized the CDN was actually disabled (pre and post migration). So I installed an SSL certificate and they enabled it. No change in site speed.
- They suggested that I combine JS and CSS requests. Again, this was the same configuration prior to migration but I said fine and installed a JS and CSS optimizer plugin. No change in site speed.
- They said that I should compress images. But, of course, they didn't bother to see that I was already compressing images.
- Then I got a message that they tested my site on both servers and it was my fault. To be exact, “With this information, we are able to see that its not the server or the server's load that is causing the site's lengthy load time.” So now I'm just a liar and it's my problem… I remember these days before I worked with a company that was supposed to be experts at WordPress.
- I asked them to tell me what to try next. They recommended I hire a developer (I'm not kidding), that would work on theme, plugin, and database optimization. So, the WordPress experts at this host can't tell me what's wrong, but want me to hire resources even though I'm paying 2 to 3 times what the average hosting company charges.
- The site was progressively getting worse, now producing 500 errors when I'm trying to do simple things within WordPress' administration. I report the 500 errors. The next thing I know, my site is gone, replaced by a plain theme with all plugins disabled. Now I begin to use ALL CAPS and exclamation marks in my responses. My site isn't a hobby, it's a business… so taking it down wasn't an option.
- Finally, I get a call from someone within the hosting company and we chat for a long time about the issues. Here's where I blow up… he admits that several clients have been having performance issues since migrating them away from the DDoS attacked servers. Really? I wouldn't have guessed.
- Back to troubleshooting… I'm told that I may want to try moving to a faster DNS. Another stab in the dark since I'm already hosted on a lightning fast managed DNS provider.
- Full loop… we're back to blaming plugins. The same plugins that were working before the migration. At this point I'm pretty much done. I put out some requests to some WordPress professionals and they point me to Flywheel.
- I connect with Flywheel who sign me up for a free test account, migrate the site for me, and it's up and running with blazing speed. And, another disappointment, it's doing it a fraction of the cost of what I was paying with our old host.
Why Did I Decide to Migrate?
Migrating all of our sites is not going to be fun. I didn't make this decision because of the performance issues, I made it because of trust issues. My last hosting company lost me because they lacked the integrity (and still lack the integrity) to admit that they are having some major performance issues. I could have put up with them telling me the truth and providing an expectation on when they'd get things corrected, but I couldn't put up with them just pointing fingers.
Here's the Webmaster report a few days later:
You may wonder what might happen when Flywheel gets big… will it result in a similar experience? One of the things that I found out in this migration was that our old host had no virtual capabilities to contain the performance of one account over another. As a result, the problem may not even be my installation at all, it could be someone else hogging up resources on the server bringing us all down.
With the site safely on Flywheel, we're installing our security certificates and bringing the beast back to life. I apologize for the lack of content this last week. You can bet that we'll be making up for some lost time!