For a number of years, I have always tried to manage everything for myself. I had this site, and many client sites on a custom VPS.
By custom, I mean a few modifications to unused Apache modules, running reliable backups offsite, setting up a CDN through Amazon. It was fast, and I was quite happy with the performance.
Although everything was running fine, having the responsibility of managing the server was keeping me up all night….literally sometimes. Trying to keep things updated, and keep the bad guys out just got overwhelming. I had looked into managed WordPress hosting before, but the prices just seemed unreasonable for small scale sites and to suggest to clients just getting into business.
My opinion was that “These guys are just running optimized VPS with some cool features and overcharging by calling it WordPress Hosting. I can do this.”
While this may be the case for some of the smaller names in the “WordPress Hosting” game, once I got over myself and took a look deeper into some of the offerings the big players had, it was clear that there is more to it.
After talking with a friend Thomas Zickell, I decided to look deeper into Managed WordPress Hosting.
While every host seems to now offer “WordPress Hosting”, there are some key points to those who offer ONLY WordPress Specific hosting:
- Security – lets be honest – the web is full of people doing malicious things. Someone is likely trying to hack into your website or into your server right now. You have to worry about attacks and more importantly the cost of the attacks on your site and business. I don’t know of any other hosts except for managed WordPress hosts that will give you an enterprise level firewall and if something gets past it, fix it for free.
- Backups – not just to the host but to a third-party solution of your choice like Amazons S3 or Rack Space cloud files. Without a needing a plugin.
- Ease – No cpanel – Cpanel is a memory hog and simply not necessary. When you login, you are presented with a top notch, fully configured WordPress install, all ready for you.
- Time – a Managed WordPress host gives you time to concentrate on your business regardless of what it is. When you’re running WordPress you want experts in two fields… WordPress and hosting. You need this combination in order to have a truly managed solution for your site. Too many regular hosts will simply tell you your server is up and running, that’s all we do.
- Google has confirmed that speed is part of their algorithm. Using a managed WordPress host your site is guaranteed to be faster than the plain Jane hosting you’re probably using.
- Support when needed – If you have a regular host, the majority the time they don’t know WordPress specific issues, and if you have problems they will often have to call you back or place you on hold for hours in order to fix what somebody that specializes in WordPress will know off the top of their head.
Some obvious key players in the game were Synthesis, Pagely and WPEngine…but I still had the same pricing concerns, and after reading reviews, and some other research as far as technologies used, I couldn’t make a confident decision.
Then There Was ZippyKid
Their offering was quite impressive. 5 sites for 70.00. Set on private Rackspace cloud. At the surface, ZippyKid appeared to offer the reliability of Rackspace, with an insane amount of surrounding infrastructure and add-ons that made the offer seem almost unbelievable. Believable it is.
Some points that led me to give it a try:
- The pricing was very attractive
- The Owner/CEO is no stranger to the game, Vid Luther
- Rackspace private cloud infrastructure
- ZippyKid hosts a nice lineup of large companies – trusted by more Fortune 500 companies, state governments and higher education institutions than any other WordPress host.
- Rackspace themselves referrers large scale WordPress driven sites to ZippyKid. Wow!
- Automattic (you know, the guys that MAKE WordPress) have invested in the company.
- No storage limits. You read that right.
- CDN from Net DNA included at no additional cost AND no configuration is needed. I mean none.
- Larger plans come with both Net DNA and Edge cast
- DNS hosted on DynECT – one of the fastest in the world. In order to receive the type of DNS you get for free , you would pay over $200 a month for.
- Cisco 5520 enterprise grade firewalls, F5 load balancers
- Akismet pre-installed, and activated.
- SendGrid SFTP access with the ability to simply add and remove a collaborator.
- Included malware scanning & removal by Sucuri.
- Partnered with the PageSpeed team at Google – what’s that mean for you? You’ll see significant performance gains without changing a single line of code or installing a plugin. this is in beta right now however will be baked into every part of ZippyKid.
- I like the transparency – They have an active blog to state any status issues. You can look back and see that yes, there have been issues, but they have been openly stated, and clearly learned from.
I have been told multiple times from their sales and customer support that I cannot customize my CDN extensions. For example, items served from a CDN show the url of “http://3im17hw5juixo52b.zippykid.netdna-cdn.com/…”.when i wish it would be “cdn.gregreindel” or even “gregreindel.zippykid.netdna-cdn.com/…” – something custom – like it was before. This was kinda a big deal for me, but not a decision maker. Although some sites hosted by ZippyKid do have custom CDN extensions, I don’t understand why I can’t.I stopped caring. It doesn’t matter.
- They add a tracking resource to track page-views. Perhaps I am being a complainer, and just want control over everything, but I do not like things being added to my code that do not directly benefit me. The code, influenced from guag.es is used to track page views and ultimately tell ZippyKid info on sites resource usage, allowing them to bill accordingly as they do. Yeah, its only 2kb of js, but I want it to go away, and wish this could be handled server-side, without adding tracking to my site that I don’t even have access to. It also does show slight delays when running page speed analysis. Which sucks.
They are a small company. nothing to hold against them, their infrastructure is simply amazing, but there seems to be a few people you will interact with via customer support. Not sure how well this works in case of disaster and customer support overload, but I do have confidence this company is here to stay, and will grow as with time and as needed. They are pretty well set up, and support is helpful, so I haven’t necessarily ran into any issues. Not really an “ehhh”, just a note.I’m over 6 months in, and their support is TOP-NOTCH. I’d like to take the support team out for a beer, they are extremely helpful.
So far, I am happy with ZippyKid
Yes, I do utilize the Genesis Framework, and am fairly experienced in optimizing websites for speed beyond the server level, but truth be told, WordPress specific hosting, and specifically ZippyKid can and does provide some enormous advantages.
Sorry, I love you, but bye bye W3 Total cache. You are now one less plugin that I have to care about and maintain. Caching is now not even on my mind, as the server handles it better then I could ever imagine, with no setup, maintenance or initial configuration.
I used to pay for backups, both on the VPS and via a paid plugin that backed up my files and database and sent it to an Amazon s3 bucket. This is now free. The space you use on Amazon or Rackspace may incur a charge for space used.
I have moved this website, as well as a few client sites over to ZippyKid, and have seen no negative affects. Page speed and load times are all the same if not better. The ease of use is incredible, and I look forward to not wasting my time assessing potential security threats, micromanaging software updates, and ensuring backups are done.
ZippyKid Handles it
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