I’m self taught. I know little html/css coding & no php coding. Coding is a combinations of letters & symbols I don’t have the photographic memory for. So I’ve always used some type of program or software to create websites. And if I knew anything about servers I’d have my own so I wouldn’t have to share it with anybody.
Most all these hosts advertise easy to use site builders & software. Build whatever you want by simple clicks of a button. No coding knowledge required. And I suppose that’s true enough.
What they don’t tell you is too many hosts oversell space on their shared servers then cut off a lot of the things you need to make your software work right. They claim it’s to protect the resources & other people on the shared server.
So with my latest 2 website I’ve had 4 hosts in less than 2 mo’s. Started off with WordPress.com where the cheapest plan they had was about the same price as a mid-level plan elsewhere. Got a free domain name. Got a free ssl certificate. And that’s about it. Their cheapest plan wasn’t much better than their free one. I don’t think I had any better of a theme selection. I had no access to plugins. And I had no access to my server via a control panel or ftp so I could upload themes & plugins manually.
Normally email hosting is part of your hosting plan but not at WordPress.com. All you can do there is create email accounts & forward any email that comes to them to your personal email account. But when you reply you’re replying from your personal email account which defeats the purpose of having a business email account. And everybody will tell you having a business email account that matches your domain name looks more professional.
I canceled my plan & had to pay $18 for a domain name that was supposed to be free. And I moved to GoDaddy where I had to pay $80 for an SSL certificate that was free at WordPress. I wanted the SSL for my site with the shop so instead of getting the free domain name I used the domain name I already had thinking I’d get the free one later for this website. But when I tried later they told me it was too late & it was no longer free.
I did get a free Office 365 email account though. I activated it & set it up per the instructions. I changed MX records on my server per the instructions. That’s the only thing on the server I touched. And it worked fine. When I installed plugins several plugin creators got my email address & started sending me emails & I got every one in my inbox. I also sent emails from my personal email to my business email & got them. And the ones sent from my business email to my personal email were received in the inbox as well.
You can use an automatic installer to install WordPress & I did. And once you’re logged in & at WordPress’s dashboard it has an automatic installer that’ll install themes & plugins with a simple click of some buttons. And if there’s something you want that’s not in their repository you can upload it, install it & activate it with some simple clicks of a button.
Themes were buggy. Plugins were buggy. I tried 3-4 different contact form plugins yet emails coming from myself to myself were going straight into the spam folder. And clicking on “not spam” & setting up rules that anything coming from my own site should go into my inbox did no good.
When I called for help I was moved up to a higher plan & it didn’t help. I can’t tell you how many themes I tried. I can’t tell you how many plugins I tried. I can’t tell you how many times I deleted everything & started over. I can tell you that the only contact form that would work was Formidable Forms & that’s because it was the only one that would let me change the from email address.
I had to go to their forum & let a stranger into my site as an admin to figure out my emails were being sent from the server rather than the email address automatically added to the form when you activate any contact form plugin. He installed Formidable Forms & changed the from email address & it worked. But it still didn’t really solve the problem. Users shouldn’t be limited to one plugin.
Again the only thing I did on their server was tweak my MX records per their insistence & instructions. And it worked. But if something I did made it send from the server rather than my email address then they need to fix their instructions. And I no sooner posted that on their forums when GoDaddy called me & said my site was too much for their server & if they kept having problems they’d have to move me up to another plan – again. Or I could pay them to optimize my site & if that didn’t work move up again.
I paid over $275 already & could afford no more. I called them about my contact forms again & their guy claimed he put something on my server to fix the problem but when I tried the contact form again I had the same problem so I cancelled my plan.
At Hostinger I got the highest plan they had for the longest amount of time & it was 1/2 the price of GoDaddy. They were highly rated. I got another free email address & ssl certificate. What I didn’t get was free protection from the ICANN WHOIS database like I did at WordPress. So the day after I registered this domain name I got spam email & my phone ran more in one day than it did the entire time I’ve had it.
They claim they’ll install your ssl certificate for you but I had to do it myself. And they offer this thing called Cloudflare that’s supposed to be good for your site & help you out with optimization. But I no sooner clicked that button only to be sent to their site where I read that if you have an ssl certificate you was supposed to pay for their pro plan. I also saw a whole lot of complaints.
I didn’t even have to touch the MX records there. So everything at Hostinger was automatic that simply pushing a button initiated. And the first thing I did after installing WordPress & a contact form plugin was test it. It worked. Otherwise I was using the same software, theme & plugins I’d just used at GoDaddy & it was all automatic. I might’ve had bugs & I might’ve gotten some errors but my site never crashed like at Hostinger & I didn’t get any emails from Jetpack about my site being down & up at all much less when I was asleep or away like at Hostinger.
I thought it was Cloudflare’s fault & wanted it removed but at first they simply deactivated it. Then they moved me to a different server. At some point somebody reactivated it so the next time I contact them it was uninstalled. All hosts were blaming it on the lack of optimization but using optimization plugins kept making my site go down & up.
I deleted it & started over only to realize that just because you hit the delete button & that installation of WordPress disappears don’t mean it actually deletes the files from the server. I used the cpanel to check out my server & it was loaded with WordPress files. And even though I should’ve only had 2 databases for 2 WordPress sites I had 6 or 7 of them. So I deleted all but one. And I deleted everything on my server but 2 htaccess files & an error log. Why I had 2 htaccess files I don’t know. It’s entirely possible one of them was screwing up the other one.
Because I reinstalled WordPress. I added a different theme. I added very few of the most tried & trusted plugins. I hadn’t even added anything to the portfolio or shop yet. Then I tried a couple of plugins for optimization & the Jetpack emails started in again.
So now I’ve switched to SiteGround because they’re one of 3 hosts WordPress suggests. The highest WooCommerce plan is cheaper then Hostinger’s mid-sized plan but it’s not as long. I got free ssl for both my sites. And an optimization plugin came pre-installed. I haven’t crashed yet. And my contact forms work just like they’re supposed to.
I’ve got 14-15 years of experience. I know how to point DNS records to new hosts. I know how to edit or add MX records. I know how to set up email accounts that work. I know how to manually upload webpages or software programs, their themes & their plugins to a server all via ftp. But I’m on my 4th host. And it will be my last one. If this don’t work I’m going to Etsy.
The point is no matter what they say about how easy it is you’re going to have to know something about coding & servers plus databases. Because the more plugins you use to “fix” server & database problems the more problems you have.