Is it Time to Switch Web Hosts?

I first started hosting when I was 25, and I’ve learned a lot since then. I never thought I’d need to switch web hosts. But then I learned from one experience after another. I hope to spare you that pain and share the knowledge I’ve gained over the years. If it’s getting close to the renewal date, you’re probably wondering if you should move your website to a new server.

Most hosting companies offer free migrations for a single site, so it shouldn’t be too much of a hassle to make the switch. Here are signs that it’s time to move to a new web host.

My Personal Recommendation – NameHero

I promote a lot of web hosts on WP-Tweaks. But NameHero stands out with their pricing and features. They’re a relatively small company, but they take their product very seriously. Here are some of the features:

Here’s the best NameHero coupon at 76% off:

Here’s a comprehensive NameHero review, so you can get a fair idea of whether or not it’s the right choice.

You Should Switch Web Hosts IF:

Renewal Prices are Too High

I remember the first time I renewed my web hosting. My response to the price was “WHAT”? It was nowhere close to the amount I had paid the first time. Turns out, I didn’t read the fine print. Since then, I’ve found that web hosting prices are misleading. Here’s what you need to know:

Most web hosts offer a substantial discount on the first billing cycle. But when the first billing cycle ends, you experience sticker shock as the discount vanishes and you’re asked to pay the full hosting cost. This has become especially noticeable with SiteGround ever since they raised their prices by 50%.

This might be a good time to shop around and search for another hosting provider with great discounts. Here’s the list of the cheapest web hosting coupons. This list will help you switch web hosts in the most affordable manner.

504 Errors or Database Disconnections

One day while accessing my site, I encountered sudden “Database Connection” errors as shown here:

WordPress Database Errors

After my first shock at seeing my site down had passed, I realized that it couldn’t be a problem on my end. Because the error was intermittent. Sometimes the site would load perfectly, and at other times it would throw an error. So it wasn’t a configuration problem. After much headache and calls to customer service, I was told that I was getting more visitors than my plan could handle.

If your visitors start seeing random timeouts and disconnections, it’s a sign that you should transfer your website to a new host. It means that your site is getting suffocated without enough resources to handle its load. It’s time to move your website either onto a server or upgrade your existing plan.

All shared hosting providers oversell their servers. It’s only a question of how much it’s oversold. But some hosts oversell more than others.

Poor Page Load Times

Sometimes, a lack of resources will simply cause your website to slow down. It might not fail with catastrophic errors. You can track your page load speed in Google Analytics:

Track Page Load Speed - Should you Move your Website to a New Server?
It’s Time to Move to a Different Server

But before you jump to the conclusion that you need a new web host, there is a lot you can do to improve your site load speed. For example, even though it’s free, Cloudflare is still the best CDN around. This isn’t the place where I give you in-depth advice on how to improve your page load times. But if you’re using WordPress, I suggest you get started with the Autoptimize plugin and go from there.

Some web hosts have server level page caching built into their hosting service. NameHero is one such example. If you move your website to a new server on NameHero, it will dramatically speed up your page load speeds. And if you’re really serious about WordPress, then Kinsta is an excellent choice – they’re pricey, but you’re unlikely to get better WordPress hosting anywhere else.

But despite all this, your page load times might be too long. Particularly check your server response times. If it’s above 500 ms, it means that your server is taking too long to process your pages. If despite good page caching, you still can’t bring those numbers down, it’s probably time for you to change your web host.

No Free SSL

You can get cheap hosting for as low as $1/month. But that doesn’t include free SSL. In today’s world, there’s no excuse for not providing free SSL. All the major providers like Hostgator and Bluehost now have it. Others like NameHero and DreamHost have had free SSL for years.

Having SSL gives your site the “green padlock” as shown here:

SSL Gives your Site the "Green Padlock"
Are You Paying for SSL?

If your hosting provider asks you to pay for this, it means you need to move your website to a new server ASAP!

No Free Backups

It’s absolutely essential for your web hosting service to backup your site regularly and give you an easy way to restore those backups. If not, it’s time to switch web hosts. I can’t tell you how often a backup has saved my bacon after a plugin or theme update gone wrong. Or after my own stupidity in making some changes.

Unfortunately many cheap hosts don’t have decent backup systems. Hostgator for example, takes random backups once a week, and you need to open a ticket to restore them. GoDaddy is even worse – they don’t backup your site at all! Both of these offer their own paid add-ons for backups. But I think web hosting should come with this crucial service in-built. My recommendation as stated above, is NameHero. Their backups are awesome, and they even store them offsite. So if their servers crash, your data is still safe.

No Malware Scanning

In addition to backups, your web host should be scanning your site constantly for malware. For their own sake as well! You never know when malware can spread to other accounts. Of course, as with backups, cheap web hosts try and make you pay extra for malware detection. Hostgator has the paid SiteLock service, for example. But if you don’t want to pay extra, NameHero has great security features, including malware scanning, an in-built firewall, and heuristics analysis to filter out bad traffic.

So if you’re looking to switch web hosts for greater security, I suggest you choose NameHero.

Poor Customer Service

Unfortunately, one of the consequences of web hosts overselling their shared hosting servers is the decrease in the quality of customer service. Your site can run smoothly for years, and yet a single bad experience can leave you crying for something better.

This is particularly bad because you typically need customer service when your site has to be available and you’re expecting a lot of traffic. During the holidays for example, with Black Friday sales etc. If your hosting provider doesn’t step up to the plate during this critical time, they might as well not provide customer service at all.

Unfortunately, good customer service isn’t cheap. The web host needs to invest in high-quality customer reps and make them available 24 hrs a day. They need to try and source them locally and provide the infrastructure and systems to give them an efficient workflow.

Out of all the shared hosting providers, I would recommend SiteGround as the best option. I’ve often referred to them as the Apple of shared hosting. If you want to move away from shared hosting, then Liquid Web and Kinsta are excellent choices as well (see the navigation menu for their best deals).

How Do You Switch Web Hosts?

Ok, so you want to switch to a new host. How do you go about it? The good news is that almost all hosts offer free migrations. Here’s what you need to know.

Time needed: 5 minutes.

Migrating From One Web Host to Another

  1. Get the Login Details of Your Existing Web Host

    Most web hosts will perform a free migration for you. To enable them to do this, they need the following details of your existing installation. Such as:

    The domain name
    Current cPanel login URL
    cPanel username and password

    Once you have all these set up, you can proceed to the next step.

  2. Fill in the Request Form

    In order to initiate a request, most hosts will ask you to fill out a request form with the above details. For example, if you’re moving to NameHero, this is their migration request form. Fill in the details as needed, and you’re done!

  3. For non cPanel Dashboards

    While most web hosts use cPanel, there are a few that don’t. For example, SiteGround recently migrated to a new in-house interface. For these cases, your new host will try their best to migrate as many settings as possible. At the very least, they will restore your files and databases on the new server.

  4. Perform a Manual Migration – Files

    If you don’t want your web host to do the migration for you, you can also perform a manual migration. Just login to your cPanel account and take a backup of the home directory. This will download the file onto your desktop. From here, login to your new cPanel account and just upload the file that was just created.

  5. Manually Migrate the Databases

    Again, from cPanel, select the option to download a MySQL backup. Then restore those on the destination dashboard

Overall, I recommend that you let the migration team at your new web host to handle things. They’re much more experience at it than you are, and there’s less chance of something going wrong.

What if I Don’t Want to Reveal My Login Credentials?

You can always do a manual backup if you’re hesitant about sharing your existing login credentials with your new host. But considering that you’re trusting them with your entire site, I think that’s an illogical fear. They can access whatever they want anyway. Or if it really bothers you, make sure that you use a different set of credentials when you set up your new cPanel account!

Bottom Line

In this article, I’ve tried to share some of the lessons I’ve learned in my many years of web hosting. It’s not always about which hosting provider has the lowest price. You also need to look at the long-term and find one who will be there for you when the chips are down, and one who properly isolates your site from others on their server.

I hope these signs have helped you come to a decision about moving your website to a new server. Happy shopping!

About Bhagwad Park

I've been writing about web hosting and WordPress tutorials since 2008. I also create tutorials on Linux server administration, and have a ton of experience with web hosting products. Contact me via e-mail!