Best WordPress Hosting I Have Ever Experienced

Things are changing a bit here on the site. I’ve changed the hosting of GetInTheSky.com and that have made a huge difference in how the website is performing. The speed and responsiveness of my site is just mindblowing. The website is loading 5 times faster without any changes to the code at all.

What happened?

If you are anything like me, you properly use the web host that has the best offer around. Maybe not the cheapest but then again not the most expensive either. I’ve used a fairly decent amount of hosting through the years. Some good, some very bad. In most cases the quality of hosting really follows the pricing. I do emphasize “most cases”. There are decent hosting out there. Like UnoEuro, that is really cheap but still pretty reliable – 99.83% uptime – which is not bad for a product that costs 1 Euro per month. That statistic is better than most hosting I’ve experienced, in that price range.

Responsetimes at my old webhost

Responsetimes and uptime at my old webhost

 

Choosing a new home

I used to be fairly pleased with the speed of my website. I work with and around SharePoint on a daily basis, so a response time between 2.5 and 3 seconds did not sound all that bad for the price I paid. I was and stil are very satisfied with my previous hosting at UnoEuro.com.

Then I found out that if I am to take my website serious, I need to spend a few more dollars on it. That also means I need to bump up the speed. I read somewhere that google favors sites with better response times. I don’t know if that is really the case or just some blogger ranting. Anyway. I have the Need For Speed and thus, I began hunting down where I can get some really good hosting, outstanding support and access to some WordPress experts. I did not want to go with a VPS (Virtual Private Server). That would just be overkill, and too much maintenance on my part.

For gods sake Jim, I’m a SharePoint Specialist not a WordPress Guru. We are already using 115% on the Warp-engine. She can’t take it much longer!

So the choice came down to WP Engine (Affiliate link) or Synthesis. After researching the web for some time and considering my requirements for going forward, I really like the WPEngines staging setup. So WPEngine won and I am not regretting that one bit.

When it came to support, I got a response within 10-15 minutes after submitting a ticket. The support is just lightning fast and very professional. I really only have positive things to say about my experience with WPEngine. Actually, I’m so positive, that I’ve signed up as an affiliate. Something I’ve never done before. If you use my affiliate link for purchase, you will support me in the process and it won’t cost you anything extra. If you don’t that is just fine as well. I just want to share my brilliant experience with you and hopefully that will help you in deciding on which hosting you need for your own website.

Now lets talk speed

Speed is nothing if you don’t know where you are going and when to turn left or right. So when I was done, with my migration, the support picked up on a plugin that they suggested (not demanded) that I removed, due to its buggy code. I removed the plugin instantly, as I didn’t use it anyway.

Getinthesky.com responsetimes difference

Getinthesky.com responsetimes before and after changing of webhost.

How fast WordPress can run, if the right people are behind the wheel in the server-room.

Complete Integration

As if this is not enough, Imagine my surprise when I logged in to my new WordPress home and found this extra menu option right inside my WordPress Admin menu.

WPEngine-menu

WP Engine menu is integrated in your WordPress Admin menu by default.

From here I can create my staging environments and copy that back to PROD, if I wish. I can get access to WP Engine Support or get access to my WP Engine user portal, from where I can control pretty much all aspects of my hosting. Except for the DNS-hosting. That is not included and you need to host and administer your DNS, elsewhere. Some DNS is configurable through WP Engine though. But your primary A-record and CNAME-record, needs to be located somewhere else.

Ehh what stage?

If you are serious about your website, you are always developing on it. Okay, maybe not you personally, but someone on your team is. And that someone, needs a development site that is as similar as possible to the production site. WP Engine has created a phenomenal feature, that lets you create a complete copy of your site into a staging environment. Then you can develop all you want, try new themes, play around with your site and so on. And when you are happy. Just go-live with your edits and changes, by pushing a single button. That is really a gamechanger for me. That means, no more local install of web servers and local WordPress installs. I can just keep it all, right on WP Engine.

This takes a snapshot of your blog and copies it to a "staging area" where you can test out changes without affecting your live site.

This takes a snapshot of your blog and copies it to a “staging area” where you can test out changes without affecting your live site.

Backing up WordPress

When it comes to backing up the site, I’ve previously relied on Google Drive for WordPress (https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-google-drive/). That is just one more plugin I don’t need. WPEngine does daily backups of the site and I don’t have to activate, update or in any way think about that. That just saved me some space on my Google Drive as well on my WP-Install, as the backup is still hosted on the site, and only copied to the Google Drive.

WPEngine-backup

Automatic backup of your WP Site, ready for restore at a moments notice.

Pricing

So lets get to it. The hard and unavoidable ever-present factor of any decision you make. Pricing! And while WPEngine is not one of the cheapest services in the market, considering what you get for your buck, they are still really cheap. If you pay for a full year on sign-up, you will get 2 months for free! That means that in the end I end up paying $ 290,- for one year of hosting. For a hobbyist web-site, that may sound a bit too much. But for a professional website for someone who’s dependant on the visits on that website, It’s really a cheap way to host a website. For more on pricing and features, take a look at their website and decide which WP Engine plan is right for you!

WPEngine-plans

State of the GITS – year one

Get In The Sky logo

Starting out January 1, in 2014 I made a promise to myself. This was going to be the year were I took action. It didn’t really matter what kind of action. I just needed to make a change I my life. The previous year and a half had been a difficult time in my life. Without going into too many boring details, lets just say that I fell into the classic snakepit of balancing a family with 2 small children and a pretty sick and pretty pregnant wife, while working hard at my normal job. After Vincent was born and my wife came back to the normal world of not being sick all day long, I made a decision. It was time to move forward instead of doing the same things every day. It was time for me to build my own company on my own terms. I did not knew how or when. I just knew I had to make a change in the near future. It was time to stir things up and not get too comfortable.

Leaving the old job

At February 1.st. 2014 I started my company: “Get In The Sky”, while having resigned my current job at Ravn IT the day before. That day before was one of the more difficult ones in my life. I really liked my job and I think I had some of the best colleagues I’ve ever had in my entire professional life. I worked 5 minutes from where I lived and I just got a BMW X3 as a company car. I really loved that car. Handing in my resignation to my CEO I remember as a very nerve wrecking task. Not to mention the email I had to send to my colleagues/friends afterwards. Not funny at all. At first there was a lot of emotions to handle. The people at Ravn IT is a pretty tight group and I was about to break out of that.

Creating Get In The Sky (GITS)

So I had a plan for my new company. Well sort of. I had a vague idea. Name: Get In The Sky, also called GITS. Purpose: SharePoint on-prem and 365 consulting and maybe selling some Office 365 solutions while I was at it.

I quickly found out that time for blogging was limited to writing posts in my head while being on the road – IE: nothing much ended up on the screen. Another lesson i learned was that even though I wanted to start all sorts of projects (magazine, podcast, online-courses, webinars etc.) at once, I had to respect that I did not have enough hours in the day to get very far on those projects. I still had to have time for the family. So I quickly had to shut them down, one-by-one, until I could focus on working full-time for my clients. I still have the projects lined up, archived on my SharePoint Intranet off course, ready to launch at any moment.

Proceeding from level 1

After my first year as an independent SharePoint Consultant, I only have time for my clients. I’m more or less fully booked 7 days a week. I have worked and continue to work with some incredible people and I have been very fortunate to get a great start for my small company. I have a handful of clients and I am ready to expand my activities. I am looking for ways to do that. That means talking to advisors and reading a lot of business material and blogs.

Blogging

I will keep on blogging about SharePoint and hopefully one day – this blog will turn a profit somehow. And when I look at my stats, I can see that the demand for SharePoint knowledge just keeps getting bigger. They have more than doubled this past year, even though my blogging efforts are somewhat embarrassing. I would love to be able to publish value-added content every day. I just don’t have that kind of time. The blogposts I write takes hours to create. Most of them, not all.

I truly really and honestly appreciate you, the reader of my blog. To demonstrate here a graph from analytics that show that traffic has more than doubled in that past 12 months.

 

WebStats

Looking ahead into 2015 I hope that I can launch one of my projects. Whether it will be a newsletter, Podcast, SharePoint product or a SharePoint Master Class, I still don’t know. I you have any good ideas or requests, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line, either in the comments section below or via the Contact form. But more important, I will keep spending my time kicking ass and taking numbers in the world of SharePoint. I hope I will have more time for blogging and creating SharePoint products during the next 12 months.

If you need help with your SharePoint project, feel free to contact me or leave a comment. I am trying to answer each e-mail I get even though it might take me some time to answer specific tech questions. Direct support questions that will take me several hours to answer, I do take the liberty of replying with a “hire me for more help” type of answer.

Family

Family wise, Vincent just turned two years old. He did that with some difficulties. Being sick for 3 days lead his eardrums to burst during the night. That did not go quietly. The poor thing cried for 5-6 hours in a row. A visit to the doctor in the morning and some antibiotics he is back to his usual games and tricks. Being a parent of 3 children while building a business is never boring. The “building a business” part is really not necessary for acquiring excitement in the daily routines. Three children will do that pretty easy.

My lovely wife, Katja still posts blogposts at her blog ByBojko (in danish), the kids will still get into trouble and the dog will continue to eat whatever is on the floor. such is life and it must proceed. But it is never dull and the challenges that makes us all grow as human beings keeps on coming. An I love it all.

Time for a redesign

Sometimes you need to step back and take a look at what you are doing. Sometimes it’s time for a redesign. It may be your blog that needs a redesign, it may be parts of your life. In my case it was both. I needed a redesign of my worklife and I needed a redesign of my blog. So why not coordinate the change of the two. No particular reason. Just because I can.

Redesign of the blog

It has been a few months since my last implementation of a new design. At that point I choose the free theme “Unique” from Justin Tadlock. If you don’t know Justin, you don’t know Jack in the WP community! No seriously, go check out Justin’s work. It’s quite amazing.

I have used Justin’s Unique theme for some months now. I always knew that it was a temporary solution. I needed something to come in-between the minimalist blog and the full-blown web-solution that I was planning. I needed time just to blog and get some of my notes and other stuff published.

For a Professional and complete website, I need a professional web design. I need something that is more than “just another blog”. I need a place for me to advertise my knowledge but frankly, it’s been way too long since I built my own WordPress theme. That was back in the day, where I had the time and where a WordPress theme, more or less, consisted of a few files and some CSS.

Welcome to the new and improved GITS. I hope you like it.

Redesign of my work life

The redesign of my life is a much harder process. I have no need to redesign my private life at all. I am still a very happily married man with a wonderful wife and three amazing children.

My professional life, was in need of a change. I have worked at Ravn IT for almost four years now and for me, that is a long time at the same place. I must admit, that quitting my job have been the hardest decision I have ever made. I have to say goodbye to some amazing colleagues and a great company. That is just never easy.

I have a consistent need for changes and challenges in my work life. By consistent I mean around every 3-5 years, I become restless. After a while at the same workplace, I often find that the challenges of my work, becomes more a challenge of finding time in the calendar and not working every evening. That usually mean that it is time for change. Change can be good, but most times change – scares the living hell out of me. I am really not that good at change. But I know that I have to be, in order to get what I want out of my life. So why do it at all? Why not get a good job, keep it and let the days go by, you might ask? (I know I did… many times)

Turns out – security is overrated!

In order for me to move forward in my career and in my professional life, I have to force myself to welcome change. After all, it’s only through change, anyone can alter their life. Sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. You have to be willing to risk something in order to win.

With this change, I decided to up the ante quite a bit. I am starting on my own. I am starting a company, which is based on my entire knowledge about SharePoint. I will call the company “Get In The Sky”. Because SharePoint is about getting the big picture and moving onwards and upwards. My company will focus on how you can use SharePoint to be the cornerstone of your company. I will teach, consult and develop Intranets, Extranet and Websites based on SharePoint. I know SharePoint 2007, SharePoint 2010, SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint Online very well. And I should – I have been doing nothing but for the last 6 years.

If you want to know more, take a look at “What I do” and when your done reading, feel free to drop me a comment or contact me.