Shared hosting sucks. For nearly ten years, I hosted my own sites, and some of my clients’, with a popular and well-known provider of shared hosting (who shall remain nameless). Even with all the speed bottlenecks, sludgy response times, restricted access, and security holes, shared hosting was cheap and easy. And until last year, I had no problems.
Then everything fell apart.
Completely out of the blue, all my sites slowed to an absolute crawl. Most of the time they wouldn’t load at all, but when they did, it took several minutes. I had clients emailing me, rightfully angry and worried, and I couldn’t do a thing about it. My hosting company’s customer service dropped the ball, telling me that it was a server problem and they were looking into it, but with no estimation of when the issue would be solved. I didn’t have enough control to do anything to fix what ended up being a server configuration problem.
This went on for days.
And it wasn’t the first time. I’d had sites that were hacked. I’d had days where my sites weren’t working, for reasons beyond my control. I spent a lot of time talking to customer support and getting frustrated. This wasn’t the only time I’d had a bad experience with shared hosting, but it was the one that made me realize it was time to do something different.
By the time the whole experience was finally over, my sites had been completely inaccessible for over a week. I needed a month-long vacation somewhere very warm (with very plentiful mojitos) to recover from all the stress I’d been under, and my clients weren’t happy.
So I decided to do something about it. I moved my own site to a private VPS and, with the help of my programmer boyfriend, started learning to take care of it myself. It was certainly a steep learning curve. Server administration isn’t a skill designers often possess, and it’s a lot trickier than I would have expected.
But after a few months of tweaking and configuring and sleeping next to my phone (set to go crazy if the server went down for even one second) I finally figured it out. Now the server is rock-solid: it’s fast, it’s stable, it’s secure. I’ve been hosting this site and a few clients on it, and for the past six months it hasn’t had a single issue.