By Tessa Kriesel April 25, 2017
Sometimes it seems easier to stay in a relationship that isn’t meeting your needs. Sure, you’re not happy. But you’re not miserable, either. It’s...comfortable. Better to ignore the troublesome spots and stay with what you know. There’s no guarantee that a change will be for the better, right?
Deep down, though, you know those are just excuses. There’s no denying it: It might be time for you to move your WordPress site to a new host. If your hosting relationship no longer feels like a perfect fit, keep an eye out for these undeniable signs it’s time to move on.
1. You Experience Unexpected Downtime
No host can promise 100% guaranteed uptime. Well, some hosts might make that claim, but none really should. Still, you have a right to expect close to 99.99%. Regular downtime is not normal. Especially if it’s unrelated to traffic. A live and responsive site is the baseline for a hosting company; if you’re not getting that bare minimum, it’s time to move on.
2. Lack of Customer Support
This is another “bare minimum” issue. Your host should have a system for support tickets and should resolve them quickly. Ideally, they should have some live support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you have to send an email and wait a week, or spend hours on hold every time you call, they’re just not that into you.
3. Unaccountably Slow Performance
A fast-loading site is essential for doing business in the mobile era. Poor responsiveness not only turns away customers, it can lower your Google rankings.
Some slowdowns could be due to your stack configuration or a rogue plugin. But if everything’s optimized and you’re still lagging, your host is likely to blame.
4. You’ve Outgrown Your Hardware
Experiencing more traffic than your servers can handle is the right kind of problem to have, but it’s still a problem. If you own your own servers that could mean a round of costly upgrades. With more to come the next time they start to buckle under the strain. Even if you’re on virtual machines, you could end up buying more space than you need as you estimate future demand.
It might make sense to get out of the hardware game altogether and explore elastic hosting for a future-proof solution.
5. Bad Performance During Traffic Spikes
All relationships reveal their true nature in times of stress. Your relationship with a hosting provider is no exception. When your traffic spikes, how does your host deal with the crisis? Do they expand your capacity automatically? Let the site crash until you buy an upgrade? Wait until it’s over and sell you a solution for next time?
Like I said in the first point, your site should be nearly always online. You have a right to demand that of your host. It’s understandable that a massive traffic spike might cause some downtime, but it should be brief, handled attentively by support, and shouldn’t cost you a fortune. With the right host, you should only pay for what you need—not what you anticipate you might need.
6. Doesn’t Support the Latest Version of PHP
If you’re ready to explore PHP 7, your host should be able to support you. According to our PHP 7 benchmark tests, WordPress sites can easily realize 2x performance improvements from making the switch.
WordPress core is 100% compatible with PHP 7, and most plugins can be easily updated to work with the latest build.
In short, it’s an easy performance win with minimal time invested. You should have the option to upgrade to PHP 7, and ideally your host will make this easy.
7. Lack of Security
As someone who has been there, I hope you never know the pain of having your site hacked. You go to the main page and there’s nothing, or graffiti, or a manifesto. You log into the admin screen and files are missing, corrupted, moved around… it’s an awful feeling.
If you have been hacked, that’s a giant neon warning sign that you need a host that makes security a priority. Even if you haven’t been hacked, it’s still worth asking: What is your host doing to keep you safe?
8. Inconvenient Dev Workflow
Most web developers are used to creating their own workflow, full of kludges and workarounds to be more efficient. Over time you may create a tangled monstrosity that only makes sense to you. Which is great for job security, but ultimately defeats your goal of making development easy and efficient.
Does your workflow sound like this: “Well, I create the site on my laptop, then transfer it to our test server—which always needs to be reconfigured, but I wrote a script for that—then I transfer to the live server—I use this script that fixes X, Y, and Z that always pop up on the test server--then I look to see what broke because something always breaks from test to live, so I fix that…”? If so, seek out a host that can provide a seamless workflow without the workarounds.
9. Can’t Set or Edit Roles & Permissions
Some hosting companies radically limit what developers can do with their own sites. Configurations, permissions, who can push code—everything is locked down to simplify things for inexperienced users. On the flip side, there are also ones that have all-or-nothing permissions and it's hard to control access without giving someone the keys to everything.
That’s fine when you’re just starting out. But when you’re ready to really dig in, these limitations can start to chafe. Your host should empower you, enabling you to set roles and permissions. You should determine who has access and how much access they have.
10. Overwhelming Infrastructure Overhead
If you became a web developer because you love managing infrastructure, shine on, you crazy diamond. We need people in the industry who live to configure servers. For a lot of us, though, the infrastructure management is what keeps us from doing what we love: Developing websites. If your dev/IT balance is out of whack, consider a host that can get you out of the infrastructure game altogether.
Don’t Settle for a WordPress Host You Don’t Love
Change is hard. It’s easy to stay with what’s familiar instead of venturing into the unknown. Easy to accept the imperfect solution you have than to put yourself out there and risk getting hurt again. But once you find a hosting provider you really, truly love—and one that loves you back—you will wonder why you waited for so long.
Ready to start seeing other WordPress providers? Create a free account on Pantheon and see if we click.
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