making bbPress (and WordPress) work better!

Some Tech Tips to find a better WordPress or bbPress Host

I’m going to reprint some advice here that I shared on as there is a great deal of confusion and misguided ideas over how to find a good host for WordPress or bbPress.

A quick google shows there are dozens of “Top 10” lists of hosts. Some are dubious with commission links and others that as well intentioned as they are, focus on non-technical aspects that don’t matter much in the end.

There is a MASSIVE amount of competition in the hosting world and virtually everyone offers things like “uptime guarantees” and seductive low prices to try to grab customers. In the end it doesn’t matter. You can go with a provider that’s been highly recommended and have the worst experience, or try one out that others have complained about and have a good experience.

If you go for that ultra low price or go for a provider with the word “unlimited” in any of their advertising, or gimmicks like disk space that grows each month, you are going to be disappointed. Those kinds of offerings require cutting corners by hosts and you’ll discover why only after you’ve invested too much time with them.

My best advise would be to get a host with cpanel because it far easier for the host and far easier for you and makes the account extremely portable between other cpanel hosts. I can literally move an entire account between cpanel based servers in 1 or 2 minutes flat, all settings, mysql, email, dns, structure, etc. preserved exactly (and you don’t even need to know linux). So if you find you hate your host after six months, simply find a new one with cpanel, arrange to give them your full cpanel backup and boom, you’ve switched to a new host with absolutely no hassle.

Secondly, avoid the really big hosts, avoid the really little hosts. It’s tricky to judge the size factor but check with existing customers – if they are too big, you’ll likely never deal with the same person twice on the same problem (cough, GoDaddy, cough) Your trouble ticket will get passed along to the next available tech and they’ll play ping-pong with various ideas to just to move on to the next person.

Third, if you can afford it, get a VPS so you have much more control, but don’t get a small, underpowered VPS which can be worse than decent shared hosting. Bad neighbours on shared hosting can be found quickly and removed. If you have bad neighbours on a VPS, you’ll never know exactly what’s going on, neither will your host in many cases. Oh and don’t fall for the lie that on a VPS all resources are shared equally and it will always be smooth. 100% marketing lie. No VPS software in existence today can regulate disk activity evenly and most hosts don’t have their VPS’s properly configured in the first place to distribute the load.

Important technical considerations to ask your potential host:

Ask if they use NFS. Do not get a host that uses NFS (networked file storage) like Dreamhost because that makes file intensive programs like WordPress/bbPress slow. It allows the host to boast that they will give your account a huge or unlimited or expanding amount of storage, but the “gotcha” is that it’s slow as heck compared to local storage.

Also ask if they run PHP in safemode. They may not even hide that they run PHP in safemode and say it’s “for your protection”. But the “gotcha” is that many programs and plugins will not work correctly with safe mode and there are other, better ways to protect a server.

Finally, don’t fall for the offer of “unlimited” anything. Unlimited means everyone else on your server also has “unlimited” and your all fighting for the same resources. Someone is going to lose, and it will probably be you. It’s an advertising gimmick, be smarter than that.

Quick summary:

  1. get a host with cpanel for portability and ease of use
  2. make sure the host does not use NFS for better performance
  3. make sure the host does not run PHP in safemode
  4. only get a VPS if it’s reasonable size/performance,
      as small VPS are worse than quality shared hosting
  5. if they use the word “unlimited” in any of their advertising, find another provider

There is only one host I am going to mention by name (without any kind of commission link). If you are a hosting novice and suspect you’ll need technical assistance and like to talk to human beings and can afford to pay a bit extra for your needs, try LiquidWeb. I don’t use them anymore because I outgrew them but they were a great group. They have a toll-free 800 number you can call as much as you need at no extra charge (late night is best if you know it’s going to be long request) and you can even ask for specific people by name. They have their own datacenter (instead of using space in someone else’s like many other hosts do) and the people you are talking to can literally walk over and touch your server if they needed to. They do hourly, daily and weekly backups like mad on the shared servers which is a secure feeling. But there is a catch of course, they are about twice as expensive as any other similar shared host or VPS host. Try to google for some discount coupons perhaps, I am not sure if they expect everyone to pay their retail “rack” rate.

Good luck!

(now I am bracing for all the hosting spammers to show up here to post comments advertising their offerings – if they don’t want comments deleted, they better include answers to my summary questions above)

7 responses

  1. Vadim P.

    Good stuff. Hosting business is definitely a -very- competitive place, and for a consumer, it was really hard to choose.

    Besides the technical requirements though, you really should ask others about on how well does the support work – because then that is needed, its quality is crucial, as I found out.

    December 19, 2008 at 9:08 pm

  2. Really great information here. I’m using one of those “all you can eat” hosting providers, but so far I don’t have many complaints yet. 5$ per month is all I need so far. If I’m lucky enough to outgrow my current hosting I’ll definitely remember these tips 🙂

    Luckily, my current provider uses cpanel. Didn’t know I could move so fast, lol.

    January 19, 2009 at 10:49 am

  3. I agree that the hosting business is very competitive. I have been running a web hosting business for many years and see many customers jump to those “unlimited” places like HostGator and DreamHost, only to come back a month or so later because their sites are slow. Five Buck Host, my company, uses the latest cPanel and hosts everything on local drives – no NFS mounts of any kind.

    Daily, Weekly and Monthly backups are included and you get one free restore for each 3 month period. PHP is never run in Safe Mode and we can set you up with either PHP4 or PHP5. We do offer unlimited email accounts, but find that most people don’t even use them – and we will set up your account to use gMail with your domain if you want – free of charge. Plus, if you are already on a cPanel host, we’ll move your site to our servers for a very reasonable fee – soon to be Free.

    And, if you ask, we will even get the latest SVN versions of your favorite software, including WordPress, WordPress MU and bbPress, and set up cron jobs to get the latest build on any schedule you want.

    BTW, our site is a bit out of date and some of this isn’t listed yet, but we are working on the new offerings and pages this week. We are also placing a new server optimized for WordPress/bbPress/BuddyPress online next month.

    Ok, so this is a SPAM comment right? But did I answer all your summary questions?

    January 28, 2009 at 1:50 pm

  4. I don’t consider that spam because you posted a quality reply and I indirectly solicited hosting alternatives. If you are giving people cpanel then it’s always good to try because people wouldn’t be “locked in”.

    By the way, there’s no 3rd party install script yet for bbpress (like fanastico, etc.) so it would have to be installed manually at this time.

    January 28, 2009 at 2:24 pm

  5. i agree with vps issue. most of them use virtuozzo and give you snazzy stuff like minimum ram and max ram. as a matter of fact a vps like that can be worse than a shared host if it is not a reputable provider.

    i host with gplhost, who use xen based virtualization which means that you know exactly how many people are sharing your server machine and you. they dont use the best hardware but as far as a good and cheap vps provider they have not disappointed me. they also use an opensource control panel which might take a bit to get used to at first (i have lost when i fist saw it. ) but is a dream to operate one you get used to it. i have been using WordPress MU, Wrdpress, Bbpress Vtiger-crm among other things on the server and it is working beautifully.

    you can visit them at

    disclaimer: i am not a part of gplhost, am just a customer who likes their service and the fact that they use open source stuff.

    February 13, 2009 at 5:30 am

  6. Heck, the price of a dedicated server has dropped considerably in the past few months. This includes pricing at reputable companies that offer fantastic service on a managed box. I’d got dedicated with low bandwidth and/or storage over going with any VPS, specifically for the things you mentioned.

    ManageMyBox is who I’ve used for almost 2 years and they have been great and been quick to answer and fix any of my problems. Right now they are offering their standard box for $75. IMHO, if you are running a website that makes a little money, it’s worth it to go dedicated.

    March 1, 2009 at 6:31 pm

  7. Thanks for the information,it will help me in the future. Keep up the good work.Thanks again.

    April 27, 2009 at 1:34 pm

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