WordPress hosting is in crisis. The standard of care in the hosting industry is not adequate, and every expert knows it.
IT’S NOT ME, IT’S YOU
When a site gets hacked, host companies wave their hands and point at you saying, “You’ve got to make sure your plugins and themes are up to date.”
Tsk, tsk, tsk. Blaming the victim. Unfortunately, that’s standard practice.
While hosting companies that offer low cost or even free hosting are able to attract customers with promises of saving money, they fall short when it comes to protecting your investment with them. We call them “banner ad” hosts. The existence of these kinds of hosts is driving expectations high (“wow, my site will be so safe from hackers, and it’ll be fast and never go down!”) and prices below sustainable levels (“and gee, if something does go wrong, my host will quickly fix it for free”).
These price-point providers rely almost exclusively upon the patronage of the inexperienced business person or amateur webmaster. They have mastered “churn” — the art of attracting and keeping enough customers with low traffic, low expertise, low expectations, and low standards — they do the bare minimum., and though they end up on top for it, the business is taken advantage of.
SECURITY IS A WAR OF ESCALATION
In high tech, we’re familiar with and are used to “disruptors” in the marketplace. Silicon Valley is brimming with new technologies that collapse old ways of doing business in order to establish a new norm based on better practices — ones that are more compact, more automated, and more affordable. In doing so, everyone wins.
Protecting your online assets, i.e., your website,, is an entirely different ballgame; the importance of online security is not affected by these “disruptors”.
Why? For every “disruptor” trying to “make the world a better place”, there are bad guys out there who are working just as hard to be the ones to do the disrupting. It’s all they do. Unfortunately, there are far more bad guys than good, and their aim is to disrupt your business.
And, we know it takes far more work to build than to destroy.
Security is much, much more than an old-timey business practice just waiting to be solved by a smarter startup. Even though the high tech world aims to simplify in many, many areas of our lives, security will always be more complex than anything that can be reduced to a few button pushes on an app.
We understand this, and that’s why we believe that it should be a priority for your business.
WHAT IS THE TOTAL COST?
Security breaches caused by the compact structures and lax attitudes towards security from these banner ad hosts can be professionally embarrassing, painful — and when total costs are calculated, expensive.
It’s true that Alpine will always be more expensive than all banner ad hosting companies, ever. However, it’s only because we prioritize the security of your online presence very highly, and we want to provide you with every tool we’ve got to protect your investment in us.
That’s the difference between Alpine and the “banner ad” hosts — we will always prioritize taking care of your site. That’s been a core part of our business plan for the 15+ years we’ve been in business, and will continue to be forever.
If the lower costs upfront are more desirable than the availability, performance, and security that Alpine offers, then it may make sense to roll the dice with a banner ad host. But, just like in many other areas of consumption when opting for a cheaper option with fewer features, you may find that the total cost is greater than expected.
CANNED HELP, IF THAT
Banner ad hosts will claim that they offer low prices due to automation and volume. This isn’t exactly true. Their biggest cost is selling new sites, supporting you, and “managing your expectations”.
Automation, which may seem sufficient for service on paper, is their main tool for managing these expectations. Rather than directing you to a knowledgeable support staff, you may end up chatting with a support bot. If you do call and reach a human agent, they may not have the knowledge to actually assist you with your issue. In some cases, you may be better off just Googling your issue, as their support is often a search engine that will respond to your problem with a non-specific canned answer or an article that may apply based on keywords found in your email.
These hosts get by by offering outdated technology, providing the lowest possible standards in service, holding back critical sub-services as add-ons, and routinely dumping “problem” or demanding customers when they start to ask about necessary services that the banner ad hosts decline to offer.
NO INDUSTRY STANDARDS
In the hosting industry, there are no certifications, no agreement on the meaning of uptime, load or usage standards. If comparable principles were applied to commercial building, it would be as if there were no building codes, earthquake specs, or universal standards of any kind. There is nothing holding these companies to the promises they make.
This means that hosting companies can claim anything they want — and they do.
ADD-ONS, UPGRADES, AND SHUTDOWNS, OH MY!
If you are ever the victim of a hacking attack or a bot problem, banner ad hosts will promptly tell you that a bot infestation or hacked site is your problem. And, they may have a (paid) upgrade which might help, but ultimately if your problem becomes their problem, they will simply shut your site down.
Alpine responds by restoring a perfectly timed backup, technically precise filter, caching, or with some other kind of bottleneck optimization. We have a solution for your problem in the case of a shutdown or other site issue.
Meanwhile, with the banner ad hosts, following a typical path of system upgrades, you could ultimately end up paying at least three times what we charge for the same performance level… and without most of the benefits we provide.
I WOULDN’T RISK MY BUSINESS WITH BANNER AD HOSTING
We share with you the full hosting infrastructure that we use ourselves and that we believe in.
If those other services were adequate, wouldn’t we be better off using them too? We could save a lot of money and time. We too, love reading their “promises”.
But, this is so much like everything else – there’s always a catch, especially when the product you’re buying is perceived as the “affordable” option. Upon the execution of due diligence, the shortcuts, qualifiers, and omissions are revealed.
Alpine systems have always utilized a mix of the best technology:
- high performance networking
- servers, subsystems
- modular services
- building standards
- best practices
- performance and uptime monitoring
We work with over 30 vendors of many types of hosting and specialty services (Alpine sites use 10 supplementary services at minimum). This, together with our own technology, provides you with something that does it’s very best to stay responsive to your needs.
Basically, you know that we’re doing our job right when you don’t hear from us at all.
Again, this approach will always be more expensive up front than banner ad hosts. But, far less when considering the total cost of ownership.
THE MAJORITY OF ALL WEB TRAFFIC TODAY? VIRUSES, WORMS, AND BOTS.
We’ve known for a long time that the internet is not a “safe” place, and the reality is that there are people and programs that are created to hurt websites. They are updating faster than your plugins and themes. They are poking and prodding, rattling your locks, testing your third party plugins, looking for known security holes in your themes. All on a 24 x 7 basis.
When making a decision based on price, you are simply risking that it won’t happen to you. That’s a risk many people have taken, but, like we said earlier, there’s a good chance you’ll end up paying more for that decision later.
HOSTING IS YOUR DEFENSE
If design and functionality is your offense — your method of attracting business and potential clients or customers — then hosting is your defense.
It’s something of a sports cliche that “defense wins championships”, but it’s one we’ve seen come true time and time again. Even if you have a gorgeous, well-designed site that you’re ready to roll out to the public, it won’t be worth much if they can’t use it because of a malicious virus or a bot infestation.
Don’t let your high powered, run-and-gun offense lose the title to a porous defense.
WE HAVE DONE THIS FOR 15+ YEARS — IT IS A HABIT.
Our specific mix of technology and best practices changes constantly. We are fully engaged in an ever-escalating war against hackers, worms, bots, spammers and malware. But, simultaneously we must always keep your site accessible and ever faster for search engines and visitors.
Our team at Alpine is continuously on the hunt for better, faster, stronger web services and how we might be able to scale them on your behalf. We will spend easily 40 man-hours per month dedicated to infrastructure issues and improvement. That is 40 hours a month you directly benefit from, and don’t need to hire, specify, or manage yourself.
WE ARE DEVELOPERS THAT SPECIALIZE IN WORDPRESS
When looking for an open source CMS, we picked the right horse 7 years ago when we did our first professional WordPress site for a client. WordPress is important. It now powers over half of all web pages on the Internet. All our sites run on WordPress.
Alpine provides a base set of WordPress plugins and themes which we trust and manage using our own source repositories. Many of these are licensed by us for all of our clients.
You get these managed plugins as part of your service. The benefit to you is experience gained, fixes made, adjustments or upgrades performed on behalf of one client which typically benefits everyone. I don’t know of any other hosts or developers that provide that kind of resource.
Hosting high-quality WordPress sites requires a developer’s expertise in the WordPress core code, hundreds of themes, thousands of plugins, and an extensive knowledge of the worldwide WordPress hive.
That’s a key difference between Alpine and the banner ad hosts — they are not developers, and it isn’t in their business model to have support staff who can troubleshoot a WordPress-specific site.
IT’S ALWAYS MORE THAN “HOSTING”
One client we visited with earlier this year wanted to know about possible solutions available to cut down on the load time of their home page.
Since we last saw the site, the client had added substantial amounts of content on the homepage — over 7MB of images had to be loaded by the browser before the page was visible to a visitor.
This was a great example of a page needing to go on a serious diet and exercise plan. In this case, even the page load performance had nothing to do with server performance. A site like that would perform poorly on the White House server infrastructure ($$$$!).
In other words, even with a perfectly capable server infrastructure, a site weighed down by too many large image files on a page would perform like a sports car hooked up to a fully loaded 6 horse trailer’ it’s slower than it should be.
We are always available to discuss alternatives which will let you drive your car fast again. It will involve compromises. Like a doctor concerned about our patient’s health, we will give them our best advice, and we will hope that the patient makes good choices, follows up, and implements our recommendations.
If we agree to make structural changes on your behalf, we will demonstrate the performance improvement quantitatively, and will always charge you a fair amount for that work.
We know and understand very well that like all good businesspeople, you are always looking to optimize performance and lower costs. But, while you could spend cheap on a banner ad host, Alpine offers you an extension of your own business and a team of passionate people who are acting with your business’ best interest in mind. You just won’t get that with a banner ad host.
If I were in your shoes, I would love to pay a small amount more every month to have a team working so hard on my behalf. Like you, I prefer to spend my time innovating,building real, world-class, competitive value, and never, ever reinventing the wheel.
Businesses are all aiming to change the world in some way, and we offer our services to you so that you can focus on innovating in the way that your business does. We work to create real, world-class, competitive value, and we believe that hosting with Alpine’s team allows for you to do the same.
We hope this helps you decide on the best value in WordPress Hosting, and choosing your long term partner.
Owner and Founder, Alpine Internet