Why the review?
For any business, being on the internet is a must. Social media, email, shares, likes and follows means that not having a website is now a huge disadvantage.
Where do you start, what do you do, who do you trust and what is the difference between all these differing ‘hosting’ sites? We know the dilemma, because about 6 years ago we started to look around ourselves. We have used a number of hosting sites, always looking and getting what we thought was a ‘good’ deal. They needed to provide a drag and drop programme to build the site, which was good but very restrictive and clearly did not it look like a professional site. By the end of the first 12 month deal, these hosting sites think they had us and so ramped up the costs. For example our first hosting site went form a £1 a month to £15 a month after the 12 month deal finished.
Ouch you may think (that is what we thought) we don’t want to pay that! Us neither so we swapped companies, a little wiser about the costs increase after 12 months. Well our thoughts are this – that any company offering an introductory offer for 12 months will get you later. We did not learn our lesson after the first year, we signed up with another host and rebuilt our website on their drag and drop builder. Quack, quack Ooops, 12 months later…
So where do you go and what do you do? Firstly our top tip is to stop looking to use the big (TV advertised) hosting solutions. Those adverts cost A LOT and their customers are paying for them.
We were very lucky, we happened to read a recommendation from a contact on Facebook by coincidence when we started looking for a new host. This person was great, they explained all this to us, why did we not know all this before or had work it out for ourselves? This same person said that we needed to find a good hosting company and we had to pull from him who he used (we have no idea why he held this info back before you ask, perhaps it is like the magic circle?).
His recommendation was a company called Vidahost. We though he had spelt it wrong, but sure enough finding the company we realised that this was the next big internet step for us. The cheap deal hosts we had used before were very easy to navigate around and suddenly appeared they were for the basic user. This new host however suddenly seemed like we were getting into the big kids playground. The site seemed more professional and if we are honest a little scarier than the last. We were about to start running with the big boys.
Then we realised, Vidahost were doing everything upfront. Looking at the costs, there was clearly no scary price hike as they offered longer packages at one cost. A reasonable and affordable price we thought (compared to others we looked at).
We signed up and immediately had access to the ‘c-panel’. Again another new experience but with a little bit of clicking along with some trial and error, we quickly realised ‘what the button said, the button meant.’ Point one, READ THE WORDING UNDERNEATH the button. This new experience we realised was not the same as the last hosting company that had lead us through the set up. This was going to be a new experience.
We very quickly had it sorted. Web names had been transferred from the old host using this c-panel thing and we had a choice of differing software to run the website on (we chose WordPress as we had heard so much about it).
Top tip – If you are a competent computer user you do not have to go on a course to use WordPress. Go on Youtube and search “how do I use WordPress.” Within a few hours you will be up and running.
Sorry, back to the review, where were we, yes Vidahost supplied and installed WordPress for us in one click and it was easier than we expected. They provided us with login details and a password along with the first steps into the web building experience.
They provide a facility to also create our own emails for the websites and provides all the information we needed to access the accounts through outlook or another email programme if we chose.
Running a WordPress site is easy, having a ‘Jetpack’ plugin is great as this plugin (image them like apps on your phone) will monitor your website to make sure that it is either ‘up’ or ‘down.’ Vidahost brag that they have a 99.9% ‘up’ time. Meaning that all their hosted sites will rarely go down (not load) and people cannot access the content (such as your visitors).
We probably get 2-3 notifications from Jetpack a week to say one of our sites are down and they also tell us for how long (usually under 3 minutes). We thought this was a lot due to amount of emails we got, until we were asked to look after another website hosted by a different company. We saw how much this other website was costing per year (£120) almost 3 times as much as these guys from Vidahost charge and there was no better service!
Their site was also up and down and if we are honest the comparison was the same as Vidahosts ‘down’ time but the extra cost that they were expected to pay did not seem to make a difference to the reliability.
This running a website thing is a little scary until we noticed in the Vidahosts main page that they have a chat button. A few weeks ago we ruined our website and had to swallow our pride and use this button. The help and support these guys gave was amazing (this is not an overstatement). They went over and above the hosting platform we paid for and even gave advice and help on how we can improve our WordPress site. We would not recommend swamping these guys with silly questions all the time but when the chips are down they are more than happy to help.
We have been a customer of Vidahost for near on 18 months, running 3 websites. The best bit is that since the installing of WordPress we have very rarely visited the c-panel thing (the scary panel of doom). Every few months we might get an email from these guys telling us some great stuff but they do not spam the inbox.
The last one we got was about how we can secure our websites (adding the ‘s’ at the end of the http://). We followed their simple instructions and now all our sites (including this one) are now secure. You just checked didn’t you? We did that techie stuff ourselves, oh yeah!
It looks more professional and gives us a little buzz that we did it and it cost us nothing, other than 20 minutes of time.
The email address, also makes things more professional, instead of a hotmail or gmail ending, we now have the name of the website at the end of the email, wow a proper looking business, right?
This can be tricky, as costs can change as soon as we hit publish. But as of today (June 2017) Vidahost are still very reasonable. They offer loads of stuff it is all on their website under plans and pricing but this next bit is probably all you need to know;
For their starter plan ‘Cloud Hosting’ things start at £3.59 per month (£43 a year). You get a free domain name registered for the first year (watchamacallit.co.uk) which needs to be renewed every year for under a tenner! If you already have a webname or have a wordpress site somewhere else, they provide a free website migration service and the ‘lets encrypt’ support for free (adding the s in http://). With 2GB of storage, which is plenty for a small website and you can add up to 6 hosted websites on this one plan with up to 25 supported email addresses (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you need more sites, emails or storage they have a medium, advanced and unlimited options at £7.19, £11.99 and £23.99 a month respectively but if you just want a ‘website’ the starter pack will be more than enough to put some sales pitches and photos on it with a contact page.
If you check hosting sites they tend to offer their customers an affiliate scheme, where if you recommend their hosting, they pay a small finder introduction.
We here at Cave HQ will only recommend services and products we like and are happy to use. On that note we have to be open and honest, the link below will take you to Vidahost through our affiliate programme with them. But we also have control over how much you can get charged if you wish to use their services through us.
We have managed to add a 10% discount code on hosting deals for all Caveman Review readers. Just using the voucher code “Caveman” with this referral link will give you the discount.
Based on our usage of the site, the costs of the package, the support of the techie lot and the monitoring of the site being up or down (I would agree and say that my sites are up 99% of the time) we have to say Vidahost is one of the best, the only thing they can do to make things better is to get the sites to run 100% of the time but I believe this is the goal of all hosting sites and the holy grail they chase.