By David Sniderman April 06, 2023
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 managed 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 Don't Feel Supported
This should be your first red flag, and a deal breaker if it turns out to be a consistent problem. 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.
2. They're Down. A lot.
We all get down sometimes. But this is your site we’re talking about. Sorry if we sound cavalier, but your site doesn’t get a day off. While no host can or should promise 100% guaranteed uptime (even though some do), you have a right to expect close to 99.99% uptime. 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.
3. Your Site Has Performance Issues
A fast-loading site is essential for doing business in the mobile era. Poor responsiveness is not only a turn-off for 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.
Be aware of shared hosting. It’s cheap, fast and convenient. While you might like the cost of shared hosting, you should stay away if you care about security. (Or performance. Or uptime. Or scalability.)
Shared hosting is all about getting as many sites crammed into a single server as you possibly can. If one of the sites gets busy, it will take resources from the others and they will go down. If one of those sites is hacked, it can take over the server and/or cross-infect other sites. Typically the engineers, sysadmins and support teams for these hosts are also very understaffed. Under no circumstances should you use shared hosting if you sell products, accept donations or handle any personally identifiable information.
4. They Crumble Under Pressure (Like, Say a Traffic Spike)
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?
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.
5. Your Site Seems a Little Insecure (Or a Lot Insecure)
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 maybe instead of your site there’s digital graffiti. Or a whacked out 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 are you doing with a host that doesn’t have what it takes to keep you safe? It’s time to move on.
6. You’ve Grown, But They Haven’t
As your business or organization grows and evolves, you need to dynamically manage an increasingly large and complex portfolio of sites. If someone asked you “How fast can you launch a site?”, what would your answer be? With zero configuration needed to launch a sandbox, you can add new sites as fast as you need them, and the ability to manage your own custom upstream repos and integrate external development automation tools means that you can scale up as well.
7. The Dev Workflow Isn’t Working For You
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.
Some managed 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.
8. You’re Spending More than Your Fair Share on Housekeeping (aka Updates)
WordPress sites that fall behind on core updates are less stable, less secure, and are at risk of failure in high-stress traffic situations. How much time does it take to update and test your sites? Pantheon eases the process of keeping up-to-date with one-click Upstream Updates, and unlocks developer efficiency with Autopilot, which automates update detection, testing, and deployment, keeping you in the loop while it keeps your site up-to-date.
9. You Might Be Thinking of Decoupling, But They’re Not Into It (Awkward)
Your website needs to grow and evolve to help your business, organization, or school to meet new challenges. Increasingly, decoupled frameworks like Next.JS and ReactJS are the tool of choice due to their extensibility, developer-friendliness, and performance. Modern websites make heavy use of these technologies, and your managed hosting provider should support you when you are ready to build a headless WordPress site.
10. You’re Not Speaking the Same Language (PHP 8)
If you’re ready to explore PHP 8, your host should be able to support you. According to our PHP 8 benchmark tests, WordPress sites can easily realize considerable performance improvements from making the switch. WordPress core is 100% compatible with PHP 8, 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 8, and ideally your managed hosting provider will make this easy.
11. BONUS! It’s All Getting to be Too Much To Manage
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, 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 Managed Hosting Provider You Don’t Love
Change is hard. It’s easy to stay with what’s familiar instead of venturing into the unknown. It’s 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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