Choosing A Blog Host

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If you’ve been thinking of making the switch to a self hosted WordPress setup, it can be quite daunting looking for a host.

Self hosting is a good thing because it means you are in control of your content. Publishing on means you’re restricted by their terms and conditions – did you know that you can’t even include affiliate links or choose what adverts appear on your blog? – and can’t change your layout very much without upgrading your account. Publishing on Blogger is fine for most people, but you’re not in control of your content – if Google decided that you’ve violated their rules in anyway, your site could disappear – and good luck finding anyone to speak to about it! If you’re a blogger who relies on their sites for even a part of your income, it is worth considering whether to go self hosted. There are some talented web designers out there who will be able to convert your Blogger blog into a WordPress one and who could make a WordPress layout look like your Blogger one – your readers might not even know that you have switched platforms until you mention it!

Hosting is not the same as having your own domain. You can (of course!) have a domain pointing at your Blogger space (Here’s how to link a domain to your Blogger blog along with a few different domain providers) but if you are going down the self hosted route, you’ll probably want a domain to go with it. (With most hosts, you will most likely need to have your own domain – many provide this as part of the hosting package). If you already have a domain, you can have that point to the new self hosted space – you just need to tell your domain provider where you want it to go.

Some things that you may want to consider when looking at a host…

  • Do they provide automatic backups? – Trust us, this is something you don’t want to rely on, but it’s so good to know it’s being done for you. If something goes wrong with your blog, your host will be able to restore your site from a backup.
  • Do they have one click installs of popular packages? – This is so so useful when you just want to get your blog up and running. Just tell it to set up a WordPress blog, and it’s pretty much done. With the latest version of WordPress as well, you can tell it to automatically update itself. This will keep your blog secure from the bugs that pop up and get fixed in each new version.
  • How fast are they? – Who wants to sit around waiting for your blog to load?
  • How much space (diskspace and bandwidth) do you get for your money? – You’ll want to have enough space for all of your photos, etc. Bandwidth is important – if you run out (at the end of the month usually) then visitors wont be able to read your blog, and may not return.
  • What is their support like? – If you’re not totally confident with setting up your own space, you’ll want a friendly support team who will happily answer even the silliest questions.
  • How many SQL databases you will get – SQL databases are (basically) the thing you’ll need to have a WordPress blog running. The more databases that you have, the more independent blogs you can have. Most people will only need one or two (for their main blog and a test blog, perhaps)

 Bonjour, Blogger! currently runs on Dreamhost♦ – we found a coupon code which meant we paid about $50 for the year, including domain, for unlimited disk space, unlimited bandwidth and unlimited databases (so we can have a few other blogs on here). In May, the price will go up to $120 per year, which seems a little expensive, so we may need to consider whether to switch hosts. (Hayley’s personal blog) is run on 34sp, who are a Manchester based host. It costs £5/month for the hosting alone (paying for the domain name separately) but their support is amazing. (Read about when Hayley accidentally deleted her blog, and how 34sp had it back up and running in a few hours here)

Other hosts that were recommended to us (although we don’t have any experience with them, so can’t say what they’re like!) include…

  • Krystal – Recommended by Blognix, they’re UK based and super helpful
  • kNet Hosting – Recommended by MattDSGNS, he’s been with them for 2 years, so must be happy!
  • EvoHosting – Recommended by Keritweet, they have really good customer service apparently!
  • Hostgator – US based with good service, but websites can be quite slow to load
  • RaidHost♦ – Recommended by Sarah Mia, she’s just switched over but hasn’t had any problems moving a few blogs over!
  • Tsohost – Recommended by a few friends, they’re apparently fast and have great customer service

One thing to be aware of is the term unlimited. It sounds good, but it usually means within a fair usage policy. If you exceed that limit (which most bloggers won’t), you could be charged excessive amounts for the additional bandwidth/disk space.

If you use a different host, do let us know who they are and why they’re so great (or not, perhaps!)

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