I’ve been using WordPress hosting providers since 2012, and I’m happy to stick with a provider if they’re good I know reviewing my choices at least annually makes sense. Recent service outages at Tsohost (my previous hosting company) only highlighted the importance of picking the right hosting company, so I thought I’d set out how I decided where to spend my money, and how that decision has worked out for me.
Originally I was driven by a desire to find a provider which wouldn’t charge for SSL certificates (Tsohost hadn’t discovered LetsEncrypt at that point) and in 2017 I signed up for a Krystal Hosting ‘Amethyst’ package (their lowest price package) as part of a separate project.
After a couple of years of good service I decided to move everything over, which was a lucky escape for me because 4 months later Tsohost suffered a week long outage, and 2 months after that their mail hosts were blacklisted by Microsoft (so couldn’t email anyone at hotmail.com, outlook.com or anyone using Microsoft Office 365).
For those of you considering a hosting provider for the first time, or changing your existing provider, this is how I went about it. My priorities were (in order from most to least important);
- Price (I’m not made of money)
- Functionality (I have specific requirements which I want to meet)
- Customer Service and Support (this is not about how fast, but how well the provider supports me)
- Values (I only want to give my money to an organisation whose values I share)
Price and Functionality
I originally made my selection in May 2019 but it’s been a bit busy in the last 3 months (applying for a job, interviews, putting the house on the market etc.) so I’m redoing the maths so you get up to date figures.
My requirements (the functionality I needed) were WordPress and email hosting for 2 domains, with at least 1GB space and HTTPS for both sites (because you should always HTTPS).
Spot the pricing cheats
WARNING: Some provides try to obscure the real cost of their products, so look out for the following;
- Costs exclusive of VAT (normal in commercial pricing but some people will look at these as retail prices). Make sure you’re comparing like for like. All the prices below are inclusive of VAT.
- Monthly prices based on 24 months packages (as opposed to annual packages). All the costs below are the cost for a year based on the cheapest payment plan (whether that be monthly or annual payment).
- Special offers which only apply for the first year. This is why I’ve put in a Year 2 cost below.
|Company||Annual Cost||Sites||Storage||SSL Cost||Year 1||Year 2|
|Krystal Hosting Amethyst||48||2||5||0||48||48|
Customer Service and Support
Trying to compare the Customer Service and Support from three companies when you’ve only interacted with two of them is unfair, but comparing Trustpilot TrustScores they rated as follows;
- Tsohost 4.6/5
- Krystal 5/5
- Freshsites 3.8/5
This bears out my experience of Tsohost and Krystal; both were good but tKrystal were quicker to respond on more complex issues, and their reliability has been great (so I’ve not needed to call). Since the Tsohost outages this year the number of 1 star reviews they get has increased, with comments about Live Chat being disabled, and emails and phone calls going unanswered.
Market consolidation and its impact your service
Some people leaving negative reviews say the issues are related to the recent acquisition by GoDaddy. In December 2016, GoDaddy acquired Host Europe Group (HEG) which in turn had already acquired 123-Reg, Heart Internet, Webfusion, Daily, TSOHost and Vidahost (Paragon). The other heavyweight in this market (Endurance International Group or EIG) has also acquired Bluehost, HostGator, iPage and A Small Orange.
I don’t think two hosting giants controlling so much of the hosting market is good for customer choice, and I would certainly recommend independent hosting providers who have a strong customer service ethos and a focus on quality as opposed to just price (focusing just on price is a false economy).
This is not something everyone cares about, but I only want to give my money to companies who operate ethically and with consideration for the environment. Comparing the three providers and looking for some mention of their culture and values Krystal comes out in a different league to the others. Tsohost and Freshsites both talk about customer support in their ‘About Us’ pages, but only Krystal talks about using 100% renewable energy at all sites, hosting charities for free and prioritising quality of product and service over profits.
It’s been three months since I switched, and whilst I can’t compare all three companies like for like the performance of Krystal hosting is great, the security is excellent, the support has been outstanding, and I wouldn’t go anywhere else. If Krystal keep to their creed (which includes not outsourcing their customer support and not selling to a bigger provider), I won’t move my hosting, and I’d always recommend them to anyone, with 100% confidence that person or company will be happy I did.
Four years later
It’s almost four years since I switched all my email to Krystal in September 2019, and I’m very happy to say they’ve just got better. I’ve had no issues, the spam filtering remains unsurpassed (my hotmail and gmail accounts get more spam), the website hosting is easy to use, has good features, and remains competitively priced. They’ve also stepped up their creed by joining 1% for the planet, and they’re a certified B Corporation.
If you do decide to go with Krystal hosting you can use code 2b607bb3 which will give you a £10 discount and me a £10 credit. I only do this when I’m actively using the service, and would have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone.