How fast your server is really does make a difference

If you follow me on twitter, you may have seen me tweet this:

Here’s how that came to be.

I wrote a post last week. You may have seen it. It was about gender issues in Magic the Gathering. It was extremely geeky for a variety of reasons and I was pretty proud of it. I wanted to share it. Trouble was, every time I did — including the moment I hit post — the server locked up with a memory overload and the site went down. It was crazy. And it’s not like it was ever hitting the maximum amount of memory on the VPS, either. It would peak at about 800MB, but I was paying for 1000MB. I kept rebooting, it would be up for a while, then it would peak out and die again. And I know what support would say, because I’d gone through it all before: “you have too many plugins active, disable some of them.” I tried that.

Luckily, I have this friend Mike and he works at Bluehost. He was talking about their hosting one night at a WordPress meetup and it didn’t sound horrible. He offered to get me a trial code for a VPS so I could check it out. Migrating hosting is a pain, so after he did, I admit, I sat on it for a long time. Like 3 months long. But after last week, I decided to give it a go.

Let me tell you, the difference between the two servers is phenomenal. Nothing else changed in terms of my setup — I still have all the same plugins only now, this time, I set my site up as a WordPress multisite so all of my sites can be under one roof (I’m not quite done migrating everything yet). But the biggest difference was this blog — which was always the problem child — screamed on the new server. I couldn’t believe it. The server setups themselves were pretty comparable in terms of resources and memory, but the difference was night and day. I had just come to accept the fact that my sites would be slow and that’s the way it is, but this new server proved me dead wrong.

But the real point I want to make here has nothing to do with good hosts or bad hosts. Well, not directly. It’s that, having a fast — or fasterserver matters. Not for Google (though it does), not for your visitors (though it does for them, too) but for you. When my server died every time I hit the publish button, it made me not want to hit the publish button. So I didn’t. Having a reliable and fast box to host my site makes me much more inclined to actually use my site(s).

So thanks Mike. Thanks Bluehost. Now I can use my blog again. :D