Web Hosting: The Nightmare, Site5 versus BlueHost

For the longest time, I’ve spouted much love and support for my web host of over a decade, Site5.

The year was something like 2007, or even earlier. I recall they had a super sweet deal called “The Plan to End All Plans” for which they offered an unbelievable price for an unbelievable amount of web space. It was great. They even had a referral program for which I got a discount off each person I convinced to sign on with them.

I had no problem doing this, and most of my clients know that I’ve always been up front about this referral program. Their support staff were always, always, 100% helpful. I never had any issues with getting set up, and for all the dumb questions I’d throw their way, there was a patiently explained and understandable answer. To say that I was a fan of Site5 is fair. Or an understatement.

Then they switched their Backstage to a different platform. This took out the referral program, which was fine. Things seemed okay for the most part, and I didn’t think too much about it.

Fast-forward to early this year, where I had recently recommended Site5 again to a client. Perhaps I had gotten so used to living in the smaller pond, but when this client started outgrowing their hosting, I spent a bit more time talking to support.

I had also started experiencing some website downtime. It didn’t matter too much for me, because nobody visits my website. And I’m seriously okay with that. I use the space to put up baloney experiments like collecting menu preferences for my wedding and a Sausage Toss Simulator for my friends.

But this is not good for my clients. And I’m very protective of most of them. Others, not so much. But the ones I love, I really love. So I went on a bit of a journey here, and I started asking some more questions.

Then I started to notice that nobody from Site5 seemed to ever know what was going on anymore. I would ask one question and get three different answers. Gone were the support people who knew what they were doing, and each message from them now either started or ended with, “Please be on hold for 3-4 minutes while I check on this.”

Most times, they would answer my question with something completely unrelated. It was like watching a terribly-edited episode of Jeopardy! and nobody was winning.

So out of curiosity, I started searching for other options. We all know that it’s a good thing to look outside of our windows once in a while, because when we get too comfortable, we miss out on the rest of the world as it turns.

One afternoon, I ended up in a support chat with someone from BlueHost. Days of, “Sorry, let me check on this. Please hold!” from Site5 may have taken its toll on me, because as soon as I realized that I was talking to someone who actually knew what the hell was going on, it felt like waking up from a terrible never-ending nightmare.

It was all a blur at that point, but I know I entered the conversation with pre-sales questions for my clients. I came out signing up for a Prime account with them and this exciting feeling of starting something new. I still remember my support guy’s name. It was Vincente. And I told him how awesome he was. And he told me, “If you don’t need the space, don’t waste the money.”

And then I asked him to marry me.

No, I didn’t.

But I wanted to.

Full disclaimer again, but I’m not getting paid for posting this or even talking about BlueHost. Just as I was pretty jazzed about Lunapads, I gotta say that I’m equally jazzed about BlueHost. I’m using the word, “jazzed”. That means something, guys.

Their Shared Hosting Prime offering was much better and cheaper, for way more things:

  • Unlimited websites
  • SSL installation for WordPress sites
  • 1 free domain
  • Domain privacy
  • Back-up services

What the actual fuck. And while I was looking at VPS options for another project, their very similar options were at very different price points.

Site5’s VPS starts at $62/mo
BlueHost’s VPS starting at $20/mo

Friends, I can’t even.

I know I’m no expert at any of this, and cheap web hosting is hardly something worth talking about at fancy dinner parties or when you’re trying to impress colleagues. But I just felt like sharing this experience because for one thing, it kind of woke me up to how I had lulled myself into complacency with Site5.

It might still be the honeymoon stage with BlueHost at the moment, and I’m already discovering a few annoying things there and there, but at the moment, they are miles ahead and way better than what I was previously dealing with.

Maybe in another 10 years, I’ll change my mind again, but for now, my bottom line is:

Yes, I would recommend BlueHost!

Bottom Lines

Trung and I talk about our work often, as most good friends do. And what usually ends up happening is a dissection of the personalities that we both deal with in our lines of work.

Okay, it usually ends up with both of us getting drunk and then watching Midsomer Murders to yell about how much we miss Sgt. Troy, but the lead-up to that is always interesting.

One of our general themes has been to differentiate people by their bottom lines.

Despite the differences in web development and commercial plumbing, our conversations always boil down to this saying, which I think Trung really should trademark:

It’s not the job, it’s the people.

What is this person’s bottom line?

This almost always affects the outcome of the work and how many fistfights you are bound to have.

Money as Bottom Line

There are the old school folks, where the bottom line is money. There is absolutely nothing wrong with people being aware, or even prudent, about costs.

But in a sense (and based on past experiences), they are the ones who tend to reserve spending on materials or resources and almost always settle for “Good enough,” look at the end result, and however we all get there, the ends justify the means.

The bottom line is having enough resources at the very end, so that it can be spent on something else.

The tough thing, though, is when you start having awful conversations about reaching the bare minimum, and how it could also be possible to bring that standard even lower to save another $10.

I find that these people do tend to have more money, and that’s great. Because that’s their bottom line. They’re able to shell out for emergency dental work or send their kids off to boarding school. Damages that occur without home insurance could easily be paid for by the money that they saved from not getting it in the first place.

They spend more time on the same project. And maybe because they just have better focus. I really don’t know.

Convenience as Bottom Line

Then there are the Convenience as Bottom Line People, which I think I am definitely a subsect of.

I don’t think we are a particularly smart bunch, but I’ll be honest in saying that I have fewer regrets. It’s almost like I’ve spread out my stress over time, instead of collecting it all at the very end.

For this tribe, it’s more about freeing up certain resources to be able to focus on or achieve a goal. And if that means paying more for something, so be it.

And this doesn’t necessarily equate to just money or expenses. To me at least, the bottom line question is:

What is your time worth?

I would rather invest in a $1000 tool that saves me 6 hours of work than use a hand-crank or screwdriver.

I would rather pay someone to paint the apartment in a day than spending two weeks stepping in plastic dropcloths and shit, doing it on my own, and getting really shitty results. I’ve had experience with painting spaces before, and while I do consider myself capable of doing this myself, I would much rather be doing something else. Like working my actual job.

I would rather share the job, make less profit, and get it done faster and more efficiently, instead of doing everything ourselves, stretching ourselves thin to deliver a kind of passable outcome.

Not to say one is better than the other

I find that at least in my conversations with Trung, this dichotomy of people exist like people who prefer showers over baths; people who eat the soup first before noodles; or people who really like Metallica or just think that they are self-centered babies because of that documentary.

There are downsides and upsides to being either type of person. I always concede with the knowledge that I will never become rich, but also comfort myself with the idea that at least I won’t spend 90% of my life being tired or sweaty or stressed out. All of the things I hate being.

I’m pretty comfortable with where I stand on this, and I have to admit also that I kind of enjoy talking about these differences with people.

To some extent, I also see it related to the type of people who either like super focused projects or those who like various things happening at once.

I’m Renovating My Apartment

“Here’s what you should do…” is probably one of those beginnings to sentences that will set me off and land me in a fistfight. I’ve come close a few times, especially with people I love the most, and we all deal with our triggers differently.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I know it has and will be received with mixed reviews. I haven’t been very vocal about it because of this, but I’ve decided to do renovations on my apartment.

I get the impression that my friends think I’m wasting my money or that I just really hate my money or something. Why spend the money on a perfectly useable space? Your apartment isn’t leaking. It fits your things. Sure, some of that stuff is old, but it still works. Why bother?

“Here’s what you should do. Save your money for something else. Nobody cares about a new kitchen sink.”

Dudes, you know what? I care. A lot.

I work from home. It’s a happy joke that I am willing to play along with, but the truth is, I spend 23 hours a day on average in this apartment. I know every inch of this place by heart, and I do a lot to keep it well-maintained and loved.

I also come from a family and culture of people who love their homes. My family in Manila, we invest time and energy in our homes because it’s one of the most important things in our lives. It carries our memories and our eccentricities, physical manifestations of our habits and flaws. Our homes are a reflection of who we are. My family and I aren’t fucking nomads like the people who travel and find themselves and do whatever. I’m not Julia Roberts. I don’t do that Eat, Pray, Love shit.

Decorating and designing a home for me isn’t just a fun thing that lonely housewives or bored celebrities do. It reminds me of my mom a lot. She loved doing this shit as much as I do. I remember when she did a renovation on our first Manila house.

We had shirtless workers in and out of the house for weeks. Our shit was all over the place. I even remember being tasked with peeling off bits of wallpaper from the room I shared with my brother. She transformed this house that was originally a 1970s bungalow for a newlyweds into a family home for six.

And my sister, bless her, went slightly over-budget with renovating our new Manila house, but you know what? It’s fucking glorious. It’s a beautiful space that she worked hard to decorate, and when I saw it on my trip back, I was immediately comfortable. It was a decent house when we purchased it, but now it’s actually our home. And therein lies the difference.

She put in touches and details that considered my shirtless father (shutter blinds in his room and a full-wall built-in for his trinkets and collections) and my brother (large desk space for his computer work station and drawing area).

Our kitchen is now open and inviting, and makes you want to have breakfast with each other in the mornings. It overlooks the back yard where we can have our cousins over for BBQ’s and pool parties.

Now that I’m older, I feel like I’ve stepped into the same shoes, and our feet are the exact same size. Now that I’m actually able to accomplish this, I’m so excited to do it. If not just for the shirtless workers. But this is Canada. People here don’t work shirtless, unfortunately.

I’m not putting in a stripper pole in the middle of the room or adding an extension for a bowling alley. I’m just updating my apartment to how I’d like it to be. Sure, there are cheaper ways to do it, but I want to do it the proper way. You go spend time re-sanding and re-finishing that weirdo Craigslist tabletop with the gargoyle feet. I don’t give a shit.

Some people get new fancy cars or nose jobs, or they go travelling around the world to find themselves (again, Julia Roberts). Well, I don’t want a fucking Lexus, Trung thinks my nose is cute, and I hate flying.

This apartment helped me grow up and out of being a shitty baby from Emily Carr. It’s given me a wonderful place to appreciate Vancouver and all its fine points. It’s helped me host many dinner parties and family guests over the years. It’s a milestone that marks my responsibility and obligation, both financially and emotionally. It’s become mine.

This is something just for me, and I don’t think anybody has much of a right to tell me what I should do.