Have You a Great Way to House Your Blog and E-Learning Samples?

I'm in the process of making over my web approach and could use the advice of anyone who has found a set-up and host they like for both a blog (WordPress, if possible), and their e-learning examples.

My blog is currently hosted by wordpress.com and my e-learning samples are on my own hosted site. Love wordpress.com, but I'd rather self host so my blog/website is under the same domain as all of my e-learning samples. I hate the back-and forth the user experiences going between the blog and the samples.

I just installed wordpress.org and started running a parallel blog on my current host to test it, and it's both ridiculously buggy and slow as molasses - unlike all my other stuff on that site. Support can't seem to figure it out, and I find endless complaints online about self-hosted WordPress sites that are ALL slow as molasses at many different hosting companies.

Have you found a host and set-up that gives you a way to house your e-learning samples online AND gives you a great blog space that's fast and responsive? I'd really appreciate any advice you may have!

80 Replies
Michael Jones

Hi Jackie,

I actually went through a similar issue when i was originally setting up my site last month. I initially went with WordPress.com, but quickly found that the type of customization I was looking for wasn't pssible without tons of extra fees. The issue was when I set up my domain and blog through them, I had already purchased a WordPress.org template that I found I couldn't use.

Long story short, I ended up canceling the blog on WordPress.com and set up hosting with DreamHost and installed the WordPress.org template there.

I will say that the migration from WordPress.com to my WordPress.org/DreamHost server was a little rough. I quickly found that my issue was that the domain was pointing to the WordPress.com server and not the DreamHost one. Although that doesn't sound like it is the problem you're having, I'm wondering if the issue is coming from you having the WordPress.com and WordPress.org instances running on the same domain.

The way I understand it, the WordPress software is the same in that they are meant to be stand-alone environments, regardless of if you have it hosted on WordPress.com or your own hosting server. So if you have a WordPress.com and WordPress.org instance running on the same domain, that could be the cause of the bugginess that you're seeing.

Think of it this way, you can only have one theme enabled on your WordPress site at a time, so maybe having two instances of the WordPress software running is registering like 2 themes are enabled at once?

As for your quesiton about the speed of the site - I think that has to do moreso with the priority level that you set up with your hosting service. I know that my site is allotted a space on a server that is shared with other websites/companies. Therefore the bandwidth is shared between all of the occupant sites equally.  That's where the content of the website comes into play - if a website has more multimedia, or is larger than one that it shares website space with, there could be differences observed in terms of how both sites run; again, since they share the same bandwidth/connection being hosted on the same server. I did have the option to set up my hosting on servers that have less sharing, and even servers that would only house my website - of course at a much higher premium.

Whereas WordPress.com is only hosting blogs, which will be much smaller and closer in relative size to each other, you won't see much lag if the site is hosted through them. But as you've probably found, that translates into a quick website that is limited in terms of customization.

So it's really a trade-off when it comes to WordPress.com or WordPress.org, I think. On one hand you can have headache free hosting with quick performance, but restricted customization without extra $$. While on the other, you can tweak things to your hearts content, but it may run slower depending on what tier of hosting you purchase.

Hope that helps!

Michael Jones

Oh and just to clarify one point...I think that your slow performance may be caused by your dual WordPress installations and not your hosting server. I haven't had issues with my content loading on my site, and it's a WordPress.org site.

You can check it out at www.mpjoneselearning.com to see if it performs better/comprable/worse to what you're experiencing with your site.

Jerson  Campos

You'll find most hosts today have a plugin to help you install wordpress quite easily. I would suggest to shop around and see what fits your budget. I've had my site hosted by iPage and now GoDaddy.  I'm fairly happy with GoDaddy. My site is a little slow, but I think it's more of the plugins I have on there and not GoDaddy servers.  BTW,  watch out for introductory offers. That is one of the reasons I switched from iPage to GoDaddy. After the first year, iPage wanted to charge about 10X the price.

David Anderson

Dreamhost, MediaTemple, and even GoDaddy are really great because they offer one-click installation of WordPress. There's no manual install and it's a piece of pie to update or re-install.

I like WordPress.com for starting out, but the issues you're experiencing are exactly why I try to deter folks from going with WP.com. You don't get FTP access so you're always using another site to manage published projects.

I'd be willing to help you migrate from WordPress.com. I'm putting a couple mini-courses together right now on portfolios and the migration from WordPress was one of my topics. There are also a few users in the community who want to do that too, so it's something I'm interested in doing.

I migrated a few sites from GoDaddy to MediaTemple last year and overall the biggest issue was re-linking images. The post content, date, tags, etc all came over really well.

Let me know if you're interested and we can set up a time for a migration party.

Joshua Roberts

I'm in the process of going through this Jackie,

I've chosen GoDaddy with the one-click installer for WP. Although there do seem to be some great alternatives on here on offer. David, I for one would be more than happy to see the migration process, although I'm in the fortunate position of starting from scratch so I have free reign currently.

Jackie Van Nice

Thanks, Michael and Jerson!

@Michael: Could potentially be slower because the 2 sites are up, but they're only marginally connected. They're totally different installs and completely separate databases/content.

The more worrisome issue is that the simple WP plug-in provided by my host (Dotster) - which I think @Jerson is referring to and which I'm using - wouldn't install without fatal errors, so tech support had to do it manually. When I needed it uninstalled - same thing. Seems like a mess on their end. When I installed a well-known version-compatible WP plug-in to analyze the performance problem, it literally blew up the site. So my strong sense is it's set up wrong on the back end and my host isn't interested in figuring it out.

Hence my curiosity about well-performing self-hosted sites and where they're hosted and what blog software they're using.

Again, thank you so much for the info!

Jackie Van Nice

Hey David!

You must have posted while I was writing to Michael and Jerson. Migration party sounds like a great idea. I knew I couldn't be alone in dealing with this.

I'll give Dotster the heads-up that they need to fix their one-click WP installer/uninstaller (whose failures are no doubt a symptom of other issues with the install and resulting performance issues) or I need to change hosts. Now that I know that you guys are using it with no issues on other hosts, the path is clearer.

I'll keep you posted.

David Anderson

I'm not a huge fan of GoDaddy's policies and user interface, but they are reliable and they offer more one-click installs than any other company. I keep one account with them to test ideas and platforms. I personally prefer MediaTemple because they're the strongest and fastest provider I've used. That said, they're a bit pricier than other providers.

Jackie Van Nice

@David - Re: your how-to course on migration from wordpress.com - I know there are different ways to do it, but I'm glad I didn't immediately bring my content over to the new site (and start redirecting traffic) without testing it for awhile. Turned out to be a good move. So that's a tip I'd add.  

I can also attest that the simple one-click WP install that we're all familiar with on our own hosts - doesn't always work. That's what I tried from the beginning, but it failed every time, and Dotster's solution was to install it themselves. What a job they did! My new site's been down all day as they try to figure out what they've actually done, but at a minimum they told me they: 

  • Set it up wrong. (They're still trying to untangle it.)
  • Pointed it to the wrong location.
  • Need to update the php scripts, but can't because they can't get them to save, and 
  • Fried the portal where I should be able to access the WP install/uninstall on my control panel. 

MediaTemple has a nice look and feel - and their prices aren't much more than I'm paying now. (We'll see what happens!)

Jackie Van Nice

WP performance update! Supposedly WP doesn't play well with Windows servers - (per Dotster) - to the point where it was literally impossible to do an install of WP. Something about the PHP script updates just never going to happen.

So I spent today rebuilding - yet again - my WP site on a Linux server. Don't have it live yet - probably tomorrow - but the difference in performance is night and day. Doesn't feel like I"m doing mouse clicks in heavy mud anymore.  

This is WordPress site rebuild #3 in the last few days, so I feel like I could put together a nice checklist of what to do when coming over from wordpress.com now. That's always the upside of unexpected tech weeks.

Phil Mayor

Jackie Van Nice said:

WP performance update! Supposedly WP doesn't play well with Windows servers - (per Dotster) - to the point where it was literally impossible to do an install of WP. Something about the PHP script updates just never going to happen.

So I spent today rebuilding - yet again - my WP site on a Linux server. Don't have it live yet - probably tomorrow - but the difference in performance is night and day. Doesn't feel like I"m doing mouse clicks in heavy mud anymore.  

This is WordPress site rebuild #3 in the last few days, so I feel like I could put together a nice checklist of what to do when coming over from wordpress.com now. That's always the upside of unexpected tech weeks.


Hi Jacke, I know this doesn't help you now, but I would always choose a host that uses linux servers especially if I was going to run OSS on them. 

Jackie Van Nice

@Bruce: Thanks! I think it'll all work out now. Thank goodness tech issues only rear their ugly heads on rare occasions.

@Phil: Good advice! I got lucky and my host also has Linux, so I had to start a new account and I'm moving everything over to the new server, etc., but I didn't have to find a whole new service provider.

I just thought that might be a tip others might find useful - if you're going to host your blog on your own domain and use WordPress, I'd strongly recommend you start with a Linux server.

Vasily Ingogly

I haven't read all  the other posts in this thread in detail, but here's my input ... as a WordPress developer, I concur with the recommendation of a Linux server solution. If you have ironed everything out, great; hopefully the input below will be helpful to someone coming on this thread in the future.

For shared hosting (the most inexpensive), I no longer recommend BlueHost or many of the others out there to my clients because they've been purchased by Endurance International Group (EIG), a huge conglomerate and their support has suffered greatly in my opinion and that of many other developers I know. I don't recommend any of the hosting companies listed here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endurance_International_Group

I also don't recommend GoDaddy because in my experience their support is lousy and their control panel is difficult to use for non-techies. What I currently recommend is SiteGround or Site5 on the shared server side (under 10USD per month for hosting), and WPEngine for a more comprehensive WordPress solution (29USD per month, but they do all the backups and security stuff for you, as well as resulting in a site that will perform well). For domain registration, I recommend Namecheap.

If you go for a shared server solution, I recommend installing Wordfence for security, as well as investing in BackupBuddy for backups.

There is a plugin by the way for embedding Articulate content into a WordPress site, by the way (though I haven't tried it):

http://wordpress.org/plugins/insert-or-embed-articulate-content-into-wordpress/

Nancy Woinoski

Vasily Ingogly said:

I haven't read all  the other posts in this thread in detail, but here's my input ... as a WordPress developer, I concur with the recommendation of a Linux server solution. If you have ironed everything out, great; hopefully the input below will be helpful to someone coming on this thread in the future.

For shared hosting (the most inexpensive), I no longer recommend BlueHost or many of the others out there to my clients because they've been purchased by Endurance International Group (EIG), a huge conglomerate and their support has suffered greatly in my opinion and that of many other developers I know. I don't recommend any of the hosting companies listed here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endurance_International_Group

I also don't recommend GoDaddy because in my experience their support is lousy and their control panel is difficult to use for non-techies. What I currently recommend is SiteGround or Site5 on the shared server side (under 10USD per month for hosting), and WPEngine for a more comprehensive WordPress solution (29USD per month, but they do all the backups and security stuff for you, as well as resulting in a site that will perform well). For domain registration, I recommend Namecheap.

If you go for a shared server solution, I recommend installing Wordfence for security, as well as investing in BackupBuddy for backups.

There is a plugin by the way for embedding Articulate content into a WordPress site, by the way (though I haven't tried it):

http://wordpress.org/plugins/insert-or-embed-articulate-content-into-wordpress/

I have been using SiteGround for years and have been very impressed with them.
Jackie Van Nice

@Vasily @Nancy - Great scoop!!

@Vasily - All great info and I really appreciate the security and backup tips, too. There are so many plug-ins out there it's hard to know which ones are solid and worth the time and effort. Once I've got the new site fully configured and stable I'll ABSOLUTELY see if I can get the Articulate embed plug-in to work.

Has anyone else here tried it??

Nancy Woinoski

Jackie Van Nice said:

@Vasily @Nancy - Great scoop!!

@Vasily - All great info and I really appreciate the security and backup tips, too. There are so many plug-ins out there it's hard to know which ones are solid and worth the time and effort. Once I've got the new site fully configured and stable I'll ABSOLUTELY see if I can get the Articulate embed plug-in to work.

Has anyone else here tried it??

I've used it and it works great.
Todd Brison

This thread has been terribly helpful as I am currently looking into getting a self-hosted site up and running!

Didn't see this service in the comments, but I've heard very good things about BlueHost. No personal experience, but I thought I would throw it up here in case someone is looking for an alternative. 

Nancy Woinoski

Todd Brison said:

This thread has been terribly helpful as I am currently looking into getting a self-hosted site up and running!

Didn't see this service in the comments, but I've heard very good things about BlueHost. No personal experience, but I thought I would throw it up here in case someone is looking for an alternative. 

 Vasily mentioned BlueHost in his post.

David Anderson

Hey all - one thing re: Dreamhost.

When I last used them in 2011, there was one issue that caused me some concern. They have an easy fix, but unless you ask, you run the risk of exposing your directories.

Basically, Dreamhost doesn't (didn't?) autohide folder contents. So, if you have a folder structure like: /domain.com/html/images/ the contents of your image folder would be visible if someone typed in: http://domain.com/images/

That's not the default, expected behavior you want for directories. You want the contents to be blocked at the root level: 

The good news is Dreamhost has a simple solution that involves dropping a simple text file (.htaccess) into the root of each folder. There just isn't a way to change the default behavior.

And to be clear: Dreamhost's customer service was awesome. This is just something I learned after using their site for a few months.