On December 18th 2013 I decided to finally upgrade our hosting, going from Bluehost Shared Hosting (standard) to VPS (virtual private server). I want to take this opportunity to share with you some of the reasons why I decided to make the change instead of going with my initial strategy of finding another web host provider (moving web hosts).
Why I stuck with Bluehost?
First of all, the main reason for choosing to stick with Bluehost is because I trust them. This blog was launched in 2010 on a standard shared hosting package, and I've been using Bluehost for various other website projects ever since. I trust Bluehost because of my good experience with them over the years. I'm personally happy with the level of service they provide, I'm happy with the technical and customer support they give me, I'm happy with the quality of their service, I'm an overall happy Bluehost customer.
The other reason why I decided to stick with Bluehost is because for me, I find the back end, the cPanel and account interface really easy to use and navigate around, I love sticking with things I’m familiar with and that’s the other reason.
The Technical Reasons For Upgrading to Bluehost VPS
Now as I said I've been using the standard Bluehost shared hosting package for the last 3 years before finally upgrading to their VPS plan, here are some of the technical reasons why I chose to do this.
#1 CPU Throttling Issues - If you're a regular reader of my blog you might remember a long while back I wrote a post about how my hosting account was experiencing a lot of CPU throttling issues, and Magnet4Marketing had basically outgrown the basics of what the standard shared hosting package had to offer. The site was taking longer to load, and sometimes wouldn't load at all. I was receiving numerous emails from regular users explaining how they couldn't access my site from time to time.
Traffic was one of the reasons why I was experiencing CPU throttling, but it wasn't the only reason. I later on discovered that a number of culprit plugins, and the size of the Genesis child theme I was using at the time, (almost 3MB in file size), was also some of the reasons why my hosting account was being throttled, this combined with other elements such as having too many running scripts. Anyways you can read more about that post here.
Just to quickly mention, although I made an effort to reduce the size of my site by changing to a more optimized and smaller file size theme, and deactivating a wad of plugins, this only solved the CPU throttling issues for a short period.
#2 Outgrown Shared Plan - Asides the CPU issues, the size of my main blog had grown and was consuming more resources than ever before. Although most of the images are hosted on Flickr (now hosted on my blog server with Bluehost), the site at the time of upgrade consisted of around 600 posts all of 1,000 words plus, and just over 30 pillar pages. In addition, on the shared hosting package I was running a total of 11 other WordPress websites.
My initial strategy was when my hosting plan was up for renewal with Bluehost I would simply find a new host and move on. I had considered moving over to HostGator since I also use them for my other blog over at Online Income Journal, and I've been reasonably happy with HostGator hosting services so far. Just a few tiny things niggled me; the delayed response time from their support team on occasions, and I find the back-end NOT as simple or intuitive as Bluehost although the cPanel looks pretty much identical. I like the fact that I don't have to log into two separate accounts with Bluehost as I do with HostGator. (One for billing and one for hosting)
Bluehost VPS Hosting Package Options
Below are the VPS plans that Bluehost currently have to offer. I picked the Standard VPS Plan to suit my needs. Just to make you aware that all Bluehost VPS plans are fully managed by their own engineers, which means you can focus more on what matters the most, creating content and serving your audience!
Standard VPS Plan
Renews at $29.99 Per Month
1 CPU Core
Enhanced VPS Plan
Renews at $59.99 Per Month
2 CPU Core
Premium VPS Plan
Renews at $89.99 Per Month
3 CPU Core
Ultimate VPS Plan
Renews at $119.99 Per Month
4 CPU Core
Upgrading to Bluehost VPS
So after a great deal of thought and consideration, I finally made the decision to stick with Bluehost and start the process of upgrading to their VPS standard package.
Needless to say, I was a little sceptical about the whole process of upgrading and how long it would take, and whether my sites would be facing any downtime or not, and for how long.
But after hitting the upgrade button, I simply chose the VPS package I wanted and the rest was taken care of literally within 10 minutes of upgrading. Within 10 minutes all my sites were hosted and running on Bluehost VPS standard package! Wow that was quick and effortless was the thoughts running through my head.
So was it worth it or did I waste my time and money? Would I have been better off finding a new web host?
I was convinced I made the right decision a the time, and almost two months on, I'm more than happy with the level of service I'm receiving with my new VPS plan.
Improved Site, Hosting Performance
I noticed some big improvements in all of my sites performance, particularly for this blog Magnet4Marketing.
Sure it's now costing me $36 per month including taxes to host my blogs, as opposed to just $11.99 per month, but the improved site and hosting performance, the additional tools and features, and the ability to control a lot more such as server, IP and disk management - A worthy investment in my eyes, and guess what? No more CPU throttling issues, slow page load times and no more email complaints that parts of my site is inaccessible.
I ran Magnet4Marketing through several page speed test tools, including one of my favourite: QuickSprout - Well actually it's an SEO analysis tool really but it has a cool page speed score feature, and you can see from the result in the image above! Page load-time for the homepage is under 1 second, happy days! You can check out this tool here.
Increased Search Traffic
Additionally I've also noticed a small increase in search engine traffic, around 30% increase from Google Organic and 25% increase from Bing for December 2013 to January 2014. This trend seems to be continuing throughout February too I'm happy to report.
I've been a Bluehost customer since the start of my blogging journey, and I've simply outgrown my standard shared hosting package. I've been seeing gradual reduced performance and increased issues over the years on the shared hosting plan.
I made the decision to stick with what I know best and what I've been familiar with over the years, and upgrading to a VPS standard hosting with Bluehost was what I felt I needed to do, and as a result I've seen improvements in my sites and hosting performance.
But I can't go without saying, in addition to upgrading to a better hosting package, I've also made a lot of changes and improvements to this site including some of the following.
- Changing the Genesis Child theme to a more optimized and less frills theme (reduced file size from 3MB to 446kb)
- Removed a number of performance degrading CPU hogging plugins
- Removed all unnecessary scripts (site counters, social count buttons etc)
- Shrinking and optimizing all image files
- Removing unnecessary widgets from sidebar and cleaning up the footer section
So what can you take away from this post then?
Perhaps you're thinking about upgrading, and you're looking for some clarification and positive feedback from someone who made the choice to upgrade to Bluehost VPS, if that's the case, I hope this post has been some help to you.
I know that I'm just one Bluehost customer who's happy with the service recieved, of course there will be other users who don't speak so highly of Bluehost. I wrote and shared this post about my upgrade based on my personal experience with them.
The bottom line is if you're a Bluehost customer yourself on a shared plan and are experiencing similar issues such as slow site / page loading, performance issues, CPU throttling, and if you strongly believe that you're consuming more resources on your current plan, then you have some options to consider. Either move to a new host altogether, or if you're happy with hosting your site with Bluehost, upgrade to a VPS plan.
I'd recommend of course, upgrading :)