My recommendation for best UK WordPress hosting


 

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Having your own patch of digital space is vital in the new media economy. While I have been involved in publishing web-based projects for the last 14 years, it was the discovery of WordPress in 2008, and the recognition it offered an easy way to be online, that revolutionised my work.

Your digital space needs to be stable, fast and well supported to function effectively. And that means you need good web host to provide peace of mind – especially, if like me, you don’t have sufficient technical skills to manage the hosting of your site personally. After some troubled times, I’ve finally found a web host I trust.

[For 2014/2015 updates to my recommendation see the links at the end of this post].

The dark ages

I’ve had some bad experiences with UK-based web hosts in recent years. In November 2011 this site was down for a month because of shockingly bad service from Fasthosts. A server upgrade they recommended went haywire, my site went off-line and a lot of content was lost despite having independent backups. I was left scrambling for help, but got no assistance: I couldn’t reach a live person, I was directed to online forums to see if other users had insights, and when that proved fruitless I received an email from them stating “we are unable to help any further”.

When you’ve paid for service, such a dismissive attitude does not go down well! Unsurprisingly my site was rebuilt on the server of a new host, Force 36. All seemed to go well until my site was the target of a spam attack in March this year. Security is a major issue given WordPress’s popularity – it runs 1 in 6 of all web sites on the Internet – and there are many ways to protect yours site, but you need a knowledgeable and understanding host to make that security possible. So it was very frustrating when my new host was more interested in shuttering my site and getting it off their servers than helping to defend and restore it. Another move had therefore become essential.

Finding a better home

My site is not a big operation on the web, but it is vital to me as the platform for my work. What I wanted above all else was a web host who understood that personal importance and offered timely support when problems came up. After extensive searching followed by phone calls to test customer service, I settled on Fresh Sites. I transferred my domain and took out a package costing only £40/year. The service I have received since then has been exceptional.

The transition to Fresh Sites went very well, their SEO review was helpful, and the telephone guidance on how to increase site speed by reviewing plugins was illuminating (tip: install P3 – Plugin Performance Profiler to see load times). Unlike my previous hosts, they know WordPress inside out.

Their security guidance and support has helped the most. They have ten excellent tips to make your site more robust (as well as another suggestion for their clients), and they made the suggested code and file changes quickly and for no additional cost.

Even when you have taken all precautions, it is speedy customer support that is most important, as I have twice found out, beginning in May:

Yesterday my site came under a sustained botnet attack, of the kind that has been directed globally at WordPress sites over the past few months.

When Fresh Sites couldn’t mitigate the attack by blocking the IP addresses of the hacked computers involved, they protected this site by temporarily suspending the account until the botnet had cleared. I was off-line for less than 12 hours and nothing was lost. My only reservation with this latest episode was that I would have appreciated being contacted shortly after the suspension was activated so I didn’t have to find out via a user. But once I was in touch with them I received instantaneous email and telephone support.

After four months of great service, and with my site running faster and better than ever, I’ve today joined the Fresh Sites affiliates programme. I’ve never recommended a commercial service before, but given the role Fresh Sites play in keeping my work online, they have my vote if you are looking for the best UK-based WordPress hosting.

UPDATE 14 October 2013

Happily Fresh Sites continue to offer great service. Yesterday I went online and found my site header had been hacked and the pages were full of random text. I was relieved to find all the security measures we had put in place protected the content.

You can’t want for more than speedy customer service on a Sunday morning that sorts your problems. If they let me down I would let you know, but as the brilliant work continues they definitely have my wholehearted recommendation.

UPDATE 2 JUNE 2014

The best news from the last six months is that, despite all the daily attacks on WordPress sites around the world, all the security measures recommended by Fresh Sites have meant no more downtime because of hacks. It has been a period of smooth running, and I’ve set up other sites on Fresh Sites because of their continued excellence.

UPDATE 6 MAY 2015

After two happy years, Fresh Sites remain my on-going recommendation, as detailed in this new post.

6 Responses to “My recommendation for best UK WordPress hosting”

  1. Fresh Sites

    Thanks for the great article David, as we say to you if you ever have any questions after reading this, please feel free to contact us.

    Reply
  2. Cecilia

    Thanks a lot for the post. It really helped me out!
    And congratulations for your work!
    X

    Reply
  3. duku

    are you hosting in a shared environment? can a IP and SSL be ordered from them?

    Reply
  4. Roy Chatterton

    Hi David

    Great blog on Freshsites !

    After extensive searching and researching of a reliable hosting co that I hope to look after my soon to be WP website. I unexpectedly came across Freshsites, after looking at the usual suspects of inmotion, siteground etc, who were getting great (or so it seemed ) reviews. But in reality also recieving a lot of negative, more than likely due to their success and volume.

    I felt that I could possibly take a chance on these companies, but was continually gettingf fustrated with conflicting feedback from different
    review websites. I can’t remember how I eventually stumbled upon Freshsites, but the fact that it seems like a small company with amazing reviews has impressed me, just as I was about to succumb to signing up with one of the bigger co’s.

    I would just like to ask 2 questions :

    1. Are you still with Freshsites ?
    2. Are they still as impressive since your last blog 6th May 2015 ?
    Because there does’nt seem to be many reviews of what an
    excellent hosting co this seems to be. Other than your blog and
    Serchen.

    I would also like to add that I will be totally new to Word Press, and would at some time in the future introduce a shopping cart. Can it run that facility ? As it does not mention it in FAQ section.

    Yet again great blog and many thanks

    Roy Chatterton

    Reply
    • David Campbell

      Roy, yes, the recommendation still stands – I am still with them, and I remain very happy with them and their customer service. As for your specific question, on a shopping cart you will need to ask them directly, though I imagine it would be possible.

      Reply

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