Case Study: Best VPS For Easy WordPress Migration

Why I moved my WordPress blog off slow shared hosting…

ipage reviewLet’s start with a peek under the hood of my new VPS (all this for $5 per month/$7 per month):

Sweet, right? Now let’s get going with this case study.

** Update **

This case study has been updated with a new review and comparison of VULTR vs DigitalOcean vs Linode, click here to view this newly updated VPS review.

VPS Case Study

What you are about to see may be alarming so let me begin by saying my intentions are not to bash my former hosting provider (iPage). However, the data will show for itself it was getting pretty bad and I needed to do something before Google started to penalize my blog!

The Problem:

During this case study, I’m going to share data so you can see how my website was getting impacted by random OUTAGES.

I’ll even share the worst part, which is how the OUTAGES were stressing me out…

…and how I was losing sleep worrying Google would penalize my search ranking. 

You’ll see what I mean in a minute.

Then we’ll review some of my analysis; breakdown how I made my decision. And then we’ll conclude with a wrap-up of the action I took.

The Data:

This is an example of the alerts I was getting from Jetpack. Ugly, right? It gets much worse.

Cheap VPS hosting

Here are all the Jetpack alerts I received since June. Really Ugly, right? This is only 5 months.

top dedicated hosting

Now you see what I mean? It was time to take ACTION!

For a couple of months now I’ve been doing research on cloud providers because I knew my hosting plan was ending in December and I wanted to be prepared…

…but these problems just pushed me to take action sooner.

The Options:

Here’s some of my analysis from the cloud and hosting providers I compared:

  • Godaddy (VPS has cPanel but pricing was high and then it jumps after the Intro-rate ends)
  • iPage (VPS has cPanel but they are my current hosting and it’s too risky, the price also jumps after the Intro ends)
  • BlueHost (Another VPS with cPanel but also costly with a jump in price after the Intro-rate runs out)
  • HostGator (Same as above and I also noticed a lot of negative reviews)
  • SiteGrounds (This VPS was my 3rd choice – promising, good pricing, cPanel, good reviews)
  • Atlantic.net (Low-cost VPS but no management except the CLI)
  • Vultr (Similar to DigitalOcean, reviews are mixed. They are supported by ServerPilot but not Cloudways)
  • Google (Pricey VPS for my budget, managed directly by Google App Engine or by Cloudways)
  • AWS (Pricey VPS for my budget, managed directly by AWS or by Cloudways)
  • DigitalOcean (Best VSP I found with low entry cost, lots of options from on-site management, and the VPS can be also managed by Cloudways or ServerPilot)
  • WP Engine (Fully managed VPS for WordPress, very nice, mixed reviews and costly)
  • Rainmaker Platform (Extremely nice managed platform for WordPress, great reviews, too costly for my budget)

Now:

If you’ve been hunting for the best VPS for your website, then you can relate to what I’ve been going through – analysis paralysis, right?

Also for the record, let me just clarify my list only scratches the surface on all the options I found available for virtual private servers.

Let’s quickly recap my findings:

  1. VPS Pricing. The range was $5 to almost $40 per month for almost the same configs.
  2. VPS Management. Most cloud offerings don’t have cPanel – unless you pay extra.
  3. VPS Support. Most cloud providers offer 24/7 support. I like that Cloudways always has a chat box lurking at the bottom-right on their website.

cPanel Alternatives

After a little more digging I found a couple of cPanel alternatives that work great with the lower priced VPS.

You can read about my research in these 2 reviews and how I setup a proof of concept to test each cPanel alternative with a DigitalOcean VPS:

  • The ServerPilot Review (A complete step by step setup and installation of WordPress using DigitalOcean and ServerPilot)
  • The Cloudways Review (A complete step by step installation of WordPress using DigitalOcean and Cloudways)

More Data: Traffic Graph

best virtual dedicated hosting

The traffic graph screenshot above shows the last 3 weeks of visits to VMinstall.com.

As you can see during the week of October 14th (#1)  traffic dropped off for 2 straight days followed by more drops the next week (This all correlates with the Jetpack alerts shown above).

Things kept getting worse…

The Action:

On 10/26 after work (#2), tired from a long day, I had no choice…

I had to act so here’s what I did:

  • Created a fresh DigitalOcean VPS host on Cloudways.
  • Created a fresh WordPress instance on my new VPS host.
  • Loaded the Cloudways migration tool plugin on VMinstall.com.
  • Then did the WordPress migration to the new WP instance.

The whole process took about an hour to copy VMinstall.com to the new VPS host.

At this point, both sites were running.

I had the original site on my old hosting and the new copy on Cloudways.

The transition gave me an opportunity to freshen-up my theme (which is why my site looks a little different). I also tweaked some of my plugins before starting the real fun – updating DNS.

Overall the WordPress migration was smooth…

…but I admit I did have to work through a couple of glitches with DNS, nothing too big.

On Tuesday morning my DNS was still flip-flopping between the old and new site but by around noon it was fully moved.

Tuesday evening after work, I started tuning WordPress and my VPS for better performance.

For the record:

Let me say performance tuning WordPress on a VPS takes some trial and error until you figure out what works best. I cover WordPress Speed Optimization in part 4 of this series.

The Ah-Ah Moment: All-Time High

In the graph above I want to point out after my site was almost fully back to normal something really awesome happened, VMinstall.com had an all-time high (#3) only 3 days after the change.

This was an Ah-Ah moment after all I had been through over the last 3 weeks, hitting an all-time high was so rewarding…

Cloudways Testimonial

Wrap-up

Maybe it’s too early to beat my drum…

…but I couldn’t resist after hitting a new milestone.

Also, I can report as of 11/1/2015*  I haven’t gotten any more Jetpack alerts since the move…

ipage hosting review

*(updated on 2/14/2016 – still solid and VMinstall.com hit another new high)

The bottom-line:

I wanted to share this case study with anyone looking for a new hosting for their WordPress blog.

The fact was, I had to take action or VMinstall.com would still be sliding down and my community of readers would go somewhere else or worse, Google would take action.

I’ve put too much time and effort into my blog to let it crash day after day.

And the best part about the change is Cloudways has a plan perfect for my budget, $5 per month (increased to $7).

If you can relate to the problems I covered in this case study it’s time to change! Btw, you may also want to read about the best website platform for small business owners.

Do you have a story about your VPS or a Cloudways migration? Please share it below.

Discussion

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