The Blog Herald has been busy writing about WordPress hosts and we were featured yesterday!

We were pleased that they highly recommended our services, saying:

Although BlogOnCloud9 can’t cater to everyone’s needs, their platform is the perfect solution for small business and personal bloggers desiring to leave blog purgatory and experience WordPress in a whole new light.

Here are the top three takeaways from their review:

  1. One thing that impressed me about BlogOnCloud9 is that from the moment you sign up they immediately offer to help migrate your entire blog off of your host for free.  [Migrations are always free, regardless of how many blogs, their size, and/or complexity.]
  2. … BlogOnCloud9′s team will guide you through the process of setting up your new blog, and will even help you configure your DNS settings on your domain. [From the get-go, we offer assistance with setup and optimal blog configurations. Then, we’ll help our bloggers with upgrades, enhancements, and anything else they need.]
  3. As far as expense goes, BlogOnCloud9′s pricing models are more expensive than the “el cheapo” hosting sites that dot the digital world, although their plans are actually competitive considering the support that they’re giving users. [We are not competing with hosts that do little more than provide a place to host your blogs.  All our packages include WordPress support, and we encourage our clients to ask us any questions they have about their install, plugins, themes, etc. ]

We thank The Blog Herald for their awesome write-up and kind things they had to say about BlogOnCloud9.

Go see what they said about us.

How can you best minimize your feeling of pure panic if your blog goes down? The simplest thing to keep your sanity is perform regular backups of your WordPress install, content files, and database tables. Here are a few methods that BlogOnCloud9 recommends to keep your site backed up and ready for restore:

WP-DB-Backup

Backs up: WordPress database locally or via email

An oldie but a goody, this plugin just plain works. Austin Matzo does a nice job keeping this plugin updated and working with any WordPress version. From the admin panel, you can choose to backup your core WordPress tables and optionally any tables created by your plugins. Bonus tip: create a gmail account and send all your backup files to it nightly.

For more information and to download it, click here.

WordPress Backup

Backs up: WordPress user files (uploads, themes, and plugins) locally or via email

This plugin from Blog Traffic Exchange is very easy to use and is a nice addition to most WordPress blogs. With a few clicks on a few links you can easily get a snapshot of your WordPress uploads, themes, and plugins. We like to run it before we do any plugin or WordPress upgrades. Although It can be a bit flaky and you can get a “white screen” if your host is very locked down or you haven’t upped your memory allocation, we do recommend it all the same.

For more information and to download it, click here.

WP S3 Backups

Backs up: WordPress user files (uploads, themes, and plugins) and database via Amazon S3

One of the new kids on the block, this plugin is really sweet as it backs up your WordPress data to Amazon S3 (an affordable external storage service). Once you get your Amazon access key and secret key information, it easy to configure and use. Sometimes it just worth it to pay a bit knowing that your blog is backed up off-site and you are not relying on your internal network, full email box, or computer desktop.

For more information and to download it, click here.

BackupBuddy

Backs up: Entire WordPress install (uploads, themes, plugins, WordPress core files and the database) locally and via email or FTP

Backup Buddy is a premium (or paid) plugin that can back up your WordPress database or your entire WordPress install (uploads, themes, plugins, WordPress core files and the database). It also has robust scheduling and can email and upload backups to an external FTP server. We find it to be pretty reliable, mighty quick and extremely helpful for migrations on most host configurations. The iThemes team has done an admirable job in responding to issues and feature requests, making this plugin worth your investment.

For more information and to download it, click here.

VaultPress (in beta/invite only)

Backs up: Entire WordPress install (uploads, themes, plugins, WordPress core files and the database) in real time to WordPress.com’s servers.

VaultPress is premium service brought to you by Automattic (WordPress’s parent company) and is built upon the grid that serves WordPress.com blogs. Currently it’s available by invite only and we are still waiting to get our hands on it, but are intrigued because it will allow you to protect as many WordPress blogs and sites as you like and works in real time.

For more information, click here.

How does one choose a host anyway? Perhaps your criteria includes:

  • The cheapest price
  • The amount of mailboxes, storage, and bandwidth
  • If it is compatible with your current (or planned) site’s software requirements
  • What others’ have to say about their experiences with a certain host
  • etc …

We also realize that switching hosts is not something that is done lightly either. Particularly when you have an existing site that needs to be migrate and a bunch of email accounts that full of messages you just can’t afford to lose.

Whether it’s your first foray into the online realm or you are considering the “big move,” you just might have questions before you sign up your for plan.

BlogOnCloud wants to ease your mind. Go ahead and click on that “Chat with us”  button you see on the left side of the site. Not in a chatty mood? We also invite you to complete a contact form or call us toll-free at (888) WP-BLOGS.

We look forward to answering any concerns you might have. We want to be your WordPress host.

Automattic has adopted a WordPress upgrade philosophy that says (in part):

After the 2.1 release, we decided to adopt a regular release schedule every 3-4 months with the features primarily driven by ideas voted on by our users.

Since version 2.9 was released in December 2009, their roadmap projects that 3.0 will be available sometime in April 2010.  This, of course,  doesn’t account for incremental updates (the 2.8 branch, after all, had 6 in between releases). And the tireless themers and plugin authors will continue to work hard to make sure their efforts work with the latest software, so that adds complexity as well.

Unfortunately, it seems to mean that every time you launch your WordPress administrative panel, that something needs to be updated. It can be quite disconcerting to keep up and we sympathize with you. Luckily, if you are using well-coded themes and plugins, the upgrade process is quite easy and it often goes smooth.

But …

  • Developers do abandon their plugins and formerly good plugins can go “bad”
  • Some themes might be coded for older versions of WordPress, and updating the software and plugins can mess up your back-end and the way your theme functions as well
  • Some plugin updates throw a fatal error messages, potentially causing you to have to reconsider, update, and even change some functionality
  • Some plugin updates chug and churn to finally display the “white screen” of death
  • Some hosts are still not even allowing auto-update, which makes it exponentially harder to manage your WordPress installs

Ah, the fun never ends.

Good new for our BlogOnCloud9 clients, our services include daily backups and we can perform regularly updates for your sites on your behalf if you don’t want to.

Note: because our client’s sites are often heavily-customized, we do not blindly blast updates. When necessary, we’ll systemically and carefully upgrade the blog software and any plugins, which minimizes any downtime and allows us to react to any unexpected issues that arise.

Not a BlogOnCloud9 client yet? We’d be happy to help you migrate your site – or host your first WordPress blog with us. Let us know!

What is Shared Hosting?

Shared hosting means that the same server (computer) hosts more than a single website. With the powerful processors of today, it’s not at all unusual to find hundreds of websites hosted on a single server.

This means, however, that there may be dozens, even hundreds of sites running on the same CPU, RAM, and hard drive configuration – all in battle with for the very same, limited resources.

Here are some of the problems inherent with hosting on shared hosting plans:

How Low Can You Go? Or Overhyped-Benefits

Often the price for a shared hosting account however, is very low. You’ll find quickly that you “get what you pay for” when you see:

  • Pricing that seems too good to be true (sometimes too low is too low)
  • Offering hundreds of dollars worth of free add-ons (maybe you don’t need Ruby on Rails or 1000 email boxes)
  • Unlimited or an enormous amounts of disk space and bandwidth (but buried in the fine print is the resource limitation clause)
  • Not enough resources (the number of domains and databases can be important as you grow)
  • Guarantees of 100% uptime (Downtime will occur and it is a reality in the web hosting business. It’s the regular and/or extended outages to be concerned about)

Everybody’s in the Pool

What happens when a bunch of sites on the shared server starts to grow in traffic and complexity? All the other sites on the box may suffer slower response times because of it.

Who are your neighbors? They could be spammers (resource hogs) or hackers (malicious/bad coders) or snoopers (actually accessing your files!) that can easily take a site down (by mistake or on purpose).

Most of the time, one failure may bring down the entire server, causing your website to be unavailable unexpectedly. This means you would have to deal with downtime a number of times.

Bad Technical Support

  • Clueless and unable to assist with the most basic of issues
  • Unreliable and unavailable support
  • Response time is poor and many tickets are not replied to in an effective manner

Nightmare Scenarios

Some nightmare scenarios include:

  • Some hosts might cut off a blog without warning due to traffic spikes (you found limitations in their unlimited plans)
  • Some say generically “you’re taking up too many resources” (you can be if your blog is popular, but they should help you grow)
  • Email boxes full of spamming (which blacklists your site!)
  • Bad backups (you might find that the ones they have are really old, only go back for 3 days, not done at all, you are actually responsible for your own backups)
  • They are not blog-friendly (watch out for the ole “We do not provide support for third party scripts.”
  • They tell you that you are responsible for fixing most of your issues.

WordPress Bloggers Should Expect

  • A host that grows with them
  • A host that supports them
  • We want to be that host

Benefits of Cloud Hosting

Posted In Hosting

What is cloud computing? Cloud computing is simply a set of pooled resources and services that are delivered over the web. It’s called cloud computing because the technical diagram that depicts the relationships between this type of network (and its cluster of servers) often resembles a “cloud.”

Why use the cloud? No longer limited to a physical piece (or pieces) of hardware, it can virtually and easily handle security, load balancing, and server resources on-the-fly. Because the cloud shares and manages large amounts of distributed data, it can easily scale for unpredictable demands (for example, floods of blog traffic).

Who should use the cloud? Could hosting is ideal for those who don’t want to worry about their web server technology and do what they do best – manage their business.

What are the top 5 benefits?

  1. Right from the start, your blogs are hosted on advanced clustered cloud computing technology designed for high-performance.
  2. When your site outgrows what’s included, you pay inexpensive scale pricing for exactly what you use on the cloud and nothing more.
  3. Skip the need to raise the capital to purchase, manage, maintain, and scale the physical infrastructure required to handle drastic traffic fluctuations.
  4. Forget configuring new servers, reinstalling software, and moving your data as you grow.
  5. Enjoy WordPress hosting without the hassles of managing a dedicated server or forget the poor performance common (slow or crashing) with shared hosting.
Tagged

Our Story

Posted In BlogOnCloud9

BlogOnCloud9 was born out of the desire for great WordPress hosting.

Our parent company, ContentRobot, has recommended a variety of hosts since we started our full-service blogging company four years ago. We would be happy to provide our clients with a name or two that we thought were solid services at decent prices.

Unfortunately, as we (and WordPress) evolved, we found that hosts seemed to become increasingly unable to successfully serve and support the platform. As time went on, we became reticent to suggest hosting companies that we had routinely liked in the past.

During the summer of 2009, however, we started to upgrade our clients to WordPress 2.8 and found that many sites were having trouble staying up or were now extremely sluggish. Despite fiddling with plugins like WP Super Cache and applying server tweaks, we seemed to be losing a battle with site performance. The common denominator was shared hosting plans, which were failing popular sites.

Why didn’t ContentRobot offer hosting?

Clients would often ask us if we would host their blogs and blog-powered websites, but we were unsure if we wanted to take on that responsibility. We are now ready to step up and offer a WordPress hosting environment that we had only dreamed about.

We had experience with a variety of hosts and their configurations and believe that Rackspace Cloud Sites will give our clients the best environment on which to blog and get down to business.

Going beyond the technology, we had also run into the barriers of not being able to get proper WordPress support. To most hosts, it was just a piece of software and they weren’t bothering to learn how to assist with optimal configurations or even research resolutions to any problems with the software.

How about WordPress support?

Along with hosting, we are offering our years of expertise that we have garnered at ContentRobot. Not only to help clients with installing, configuring and WordPress and its related software, but to help clients with any of their blog-related issues (support, migrations, upgrades, and more).

And finally, we love WordPress because of its generous community that provides so many solutions with plugins, widgets, and third-party add-ons. Sometimes, though, too many choices lead  to problems.

ContentRobot has taken the time to find and review the best-in-class solutions. We know what works and what doesn’t work. Also, who are the key developers are and who are actively involved in updates and enhancements.

Now, BlogOnCloud9 customers can take advantage of our custom WordPress installation which will give you blogging, security, spam, SEO, and metrics tools, designed to help you manage your blog from the get-go.

We are excited to offer cloud-based WordPress hosting. Welcome to BlogOnCloud9.