Is your host up to speed?

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Over the past couple months I’ve had a customer with on going issues.  The biggest single issue was the site was slow to respond in the afternoon. The site is built on WordPress, and this was a nationally known WordPress hosting company.

Whenever we asked them about the issue, we got the standard response that it was due to “your code”.  However, they could not point to a simple example.  We’re talking about the site taking 10-15 seconds to respond during peak business hours.  My customer wasn’t sure who to believe.

The symptom was clear: the shared server was likely overloaded.  I looked at the error logs in cPanel and I could see they were hosting a whole lot of domains on the server, and that there were a lot of scripted attacks going on across the spectrum of sites that were hosted there.  The same external script hitting site after site after site…

Honestly I did everything in my power to make the site function fast.   I cached the heck out of it, minified the css and script files, etc. using W3 Total Cache.

The hosting company continued to argue the problem was code alone.  However there was one telling fact: they refused to tell us what the Server Load Average was.  Dead give away right there.  They either weren’t even looking at the server, or they knew they had a problem.

Their entire hosting service got the blues two weeks ago when “something” happened and they were down for the better part of a day.  A major hosting company down for a the better part of a day!  So my customer decided it was time to move.

The new server, another shared box, at 1and1.com (I am not recommending them, but I do use them for many things) immediately proved my case; site response improved to  1.5 seconds per page load.  Not bad, and in that case, I had not even turned on caching!

The short version is this: hosting companies are a dime a dozen.  If you think you’ve got a slow server and the hosting company isn’t doing anything, move.  It may be the only way to prove you’re not the problem.

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