My Hosting Is Slow, I Want To Migrate To A Faster Host. Read This Before Doing It

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Having used more than 100 hosts since 2013, still using 17 different hosts and talking with my readers via email now and then I’ve got quite an experience in dealing with hosting speed issues. And there are two types of extreme reaction of hosting users when then encounter speed issues:

  1. Leaving the hosting because of a bad speed ASAP, or
  2. Tolerating the awful performance with a concern in mind that other hosts are not really better.

Fully migrating to a new host, even if the host offers free migration, is not always an option. And you would want to make sure beforehand, whether the speed of the new hosting is good enough. And only then you want to completely migrate your website to the new host and point your domain to the new hosting.

I’d like to sum up my and other people’s experience and share it with you so that you have a better understanding what to do in case you are not satisfied with your current hosting’s speed.

By the way, here’s a disclosure: There are some affiliate links on this page. In other words, I get paid if you click on the links and make a purchase. All such links open in new window/tab; no software/program will be installed to your computer. (This is a standard notice required by hosting companies.) Besides, my recommended hosts (not only because of a great speed) are here.

Slow website speed for a visitor

The slow website that your visitors experience all the time can be a pain. But you need to keep three things in mind when considering migrating to another host.

If you move to another host – determine its speed right away before migrating

Some hosts are slower than others. But some hosts are considerably slower than others. And generally you can comparatively easy determine very slow hosts.

safe long test new host before migrating

Ideally you need to clone your website to a new hosting and
run several website speed tests.

You better do it before you finally migrate to the new hosting, which also means before your current host expires. In other words, buy another host and test it before you point your domain to the new hosting. And in case you don’t like the new host you can take your money back and choose another host without any hassle with your current website. You can change the pointed domain to the new hosting anytime later.

You can clone your current website to the new hosting before pointing your domain to the new hosting. For this you will need another domain for testing. You can buy one for really cheap price like 2 dollars or even less (I buy cheap domains for testing at these companies).

So the steps of the process are the following:

  1. Buy a new domain for testing (2 dollars). No matter what name and extension it has.
  2. Buy the hosting you plan to migrate to. Specify the new test domain when you purchase the hosting.
  3. Clone your website to the new hosting.
  4. Test the speed of the new hosting
  5. If you like the new hosting speed, change the domain at your hosting (it’s called changing primary domain, request you hosting to do that) and migrate your website to the new hosting. Many hosts offer free migration of your website to them.
  6. If you don’t like your new hosting, just request money back and buy another hosting (go to step 2).

There is a nuance to keep in mind: usually changing a primary domain is a free option. On many hosts you can do it even yourself with one click. But I’ve met a host which charges 10 dollars for changing a primary domain (this host is NOT in my recommended hosts). Just in case make sure your host does not charge for that.

test host faster before migrating

Sometimes you don’t have time or don’t want to clone your real website on the hosting you have just bought. In this case you just sign up with a host and install a default WordPress site. And you can access your website using a so called shared URL. Ask your hosting how to access your website without the domain pointing to the hosting.

In this case the steps of the process to test your new hosting are the following:

  1. Buy the hosting you plan to migrate to. Specify your current domain name when you purchase the hosting (this does not affect your current website).
  2. Install a default WordPress site on the new hosting. Don’t use a caching plugin (it’s so for the correct speed comparison – see below).
  3. Test the speed of the new hosting.
  4. If you like the new hosting speed, then migrate your website to the new hosting. Many hosts offer free migration of your website to them.
  5. If you don’t like your new hosting, just request money back and buy another hosting (go to step 2).

Now let me say a couple of words about the testing process.
You can test the speed with any tool you like (here’s my article about the free website speed testing services I tested).

Don’t forget to run multiple website speed tests. The speed of the testing site without using a caching plugin should be below 2 seconds, 1.5 seconds is a great result. If the speed is slower than 2 seconds, then this is not the host that can give you a good speed.

You can compare your speed results with the results from these the speed tests I have been running since 2016 on the selected hosts. These selected hosts include some of the best shared hosts I know.

You can also find hosting reviews with the hosting speed tests. This approach does not guarantee you that if the host had okay speed at the time it was tested, then it will be fast with your theme and plugins after the months after you migrate to it (more on that see below). But your research can help you filter out the hosts which are likely to be slow.

And yes, make sure that hosting offers money back in full (most hosts offer that). You will need it if you realize that the host does not suit you during the money back period (1-2 months usually).

That’s it with the testing the host right after you bought it. Now let’s see what may happen after you use a hosting for some time.

Host may become slow after you migrate to it

It’s impossible to say whether the host which was fast or is currently fast will or will not become slower within time. But you can do your research to minimize the risks.

slow host risks migrating

If you properly analyze the hosts before migrating to a new one, then you will be luckier than the most of the website owners on the planet. Most website owners do not analyze the hosts before buying them. And since you are reading this article you have very good chances to greatly reduce the headache most hosting users have.

I share below the ways you can use to analyze the hosts to minimize the risks of choosing a not proper hosting before buying the host.

Analyzing users’ reviews can’t give you precise results because most of the reviewers have been using hosts for a very short period of time. Let alone fake reviews. And there are usually not enough long-term users with both positive and negative reviews to understand the real situation with a host.

To help people find out which hosting manages its servers well and provides a great speed in the long run, I created project ”Performance Hosting Contest”. This is a unique project that helps to only to see how the hosts perform currently, but also how the hosts have been performing long-run since 2016. It is a great help to anyone considering migrating to one of those hosts. Yes, there are only 15 hosts that I test. But this is much-much better than nothing.

Also, on my website you can find the comparative speed tests of the hosts you are interested. Yes, the hosting performance may change throughout the time. But those tests are better than nothing. In addition with the continuous monitoring of 15 hosts’ performance (Hosting Performance Contest) this makes up a good data set.

By the way, in addition to automatic monitoring of hosting performance, I’ve run manually thousands of speed tests of hosting speed and have described the results in several articles. You can use the articles like these ones for making decisions on which hosting to prefer:

If you feel like you can’t trust any hosting, the best option for you is to commit to month-to-month payment. Most hosts have significantly high monthly prices compared to the price when you pay yearly. But there are hosts which have pretty affordable monthly prices which are not very different from what you pay if you pay for the whole year or more in advance. The best shared host I know in this category is VeeroTech (also see my short review).

If migrating to another shared host does not make your heavy website faster

too heavy sites to migrate to shared hosting

This is a sad but at the same time an unambiguous situation. If you already tried one of the most powerful shared hosting plans like A2Hosting’s shared Turbo plan (you can see my tests of a heavy theme on this hosting plan here) or the similar powerful shared hosting plans on SiteGround or GeekStorage hosting (ones of my recommended hosts), and still find your website to be slow, then you need to go to VPS-grade plans or fully managed WordPress hosts which can provide enough server resources for your website to run fast.

In other words, if the most powerful shared hosting plans can’t give you a satisfactory speed, you have these options:

  • Comparatively expansive fully managed hosts with extra speed. This option not only gives you the required speed, but also more comfort and peace of mind compared to a shared hosting. For more details you can see this article where I reviewed three recommended hosts from this category. The prices start from $25/mo.
  • Managed VPS plans. My recommended VPS managed hosts are here. Also many shared hosts have managed VPS options. Consider the prices starting from about $30/mo.
  • Powerful enough unmanaged VPS or cloud based solutions e.g. DigitalOcean (this all requires Linux management skills). This is the fastest option for the least money. But it’s definitely not for everyone. It’s actually for more technical people only. Consider the costs starting from about $10/mo for the configuration you will need. ServerPilot is a great piece of software which makes it easier to manage the Linux server, but still you are basically on your own dealing with possible technical issues.

 

Slow website for a short period of time (a frequent “uncatchable” issue)

It’s a disappointing when you experience a freaking slowness of your website. But it becomes annoying when you contact a hosting support and get the reply that they can’t identify the issue. And indeed, when you check out your website speed again, it appears to be fine. Sort of uncatchable issue.

host slow frequently after migration

After multiple frequent issues like that you start to think that it’s better to change the host. Well, in many cases this is the right thing to do. But in some cases the website is actually fast, and the problem is not in the hosting. The performance problem lies on the way between you (the visitor) and your hosting server. There’s no hosting’s fault in this case. The only hosting’s fault is that it does not explain you properly what can be wrong.

So let me do it for you instead.

Between you (a visitor) and your website there are multiple intermediate points of potential failure. There are CDN (if you use it), internet service provider (ISP, it provides local connectivity), internet carrier (provides global connectivity), your browser. These middle-men can affect how you perceive your website speed.

The first step you need to do is to make sure it’s not your local problem (ISP, browser) is to test your website speed from different locations worldwide. For manual tests I prefer a free webpagetest.org service, but you can use any tool you like (by the way, I have tested several tools here).

Do multiple tests (tens of tests sounds good, the more the better). And looking at the test results you will understand whether the speed is fluctuating from all testing locations as much as you experience. Or this is just your local issue. If speed from most locations is okay and comparatively stable, then this is likely your local issue (and the hosting is not guilty). If you see that the issue takes place in different locations whereas from other locations everything looks good, then it’s probably a network issue that your hosting can’t control. Do more tests to check your assumptions.

If you find out that it’s likely hosting who is in charge of the poor speed or the speed fluctuations, then tell your hosting about your assumptions and back them up with the links to your website speed tests. The hosting has actually four options in this case:

  1. Trying to ignore your request (it’s very common with cheap hosts). The hosting support simply tells you that they can’t reproduce the issue and there are no problems on their side.
  2. Running their own speed tests and showing you that the results are fine. This is like the first option but a bit more professional-looking.
  3. Making sure that their server is fine, and from this point doing extra steps which will help you understand that the issue is not hosting-related (you understand it from the tech support explanation).
  4. Determining the floating problem on the server (e.g. hardware-related) and fixing it.

In most cases you get replies #1 and #2. This can be frustrating if you experience frequent issues and it looks like the host does not want to see what the problem is. In this case I can suggest preparing another set of multiple speed tests with the evidence that the hosting’s server does have performance issues. Depending on how hosting reacts to your requests you will see whether you want to change the host.

So, it’s interesting to notice that a great hosting support can save poorer performing host and retain the client. And vice versa – bad support can ruin loyalty of a hosting client. It sounds obvious but just keep it in mind in order to avoid making emotion-driven decisions.

 

Slowness when editing your post or working in an admin panel

This kind of issue is too annoying. And sometimes it makes it almost impossible to do anything inside your admin panel (e.g. WP dashboard). I have had the issues both in WP dashboard (navigating, managing plugins) and when editing posts and pages.

slow wp dashboard after hosting migration

Working in a dashboard is comparatively a resource intensive operation. And if your hosting over-restricts your allocated resources (RAM, CPU), then you feel it right after you log in into your admin dashboard. If you have many plugins it makes it even slower.

In this case report the issue to your hosting support. If they can’t do anything about that, then this is a clear sign that you need another hosting. Of course, if you have a bloated website theme with tons of heavy-weight plugins, then a typical shared hosting can’t provide you enough resources for that. But if your software set is reasonable, then either the hosting should fix the performance issue or you better find another host.

And how to find out if the set of the plugins is “reasonable”? This is just about testing alternative options. If you hesitate, I can suggest buying another host which offers cheap pricing for just one month, clone your website to that host, and compare how it behaves on the new host.

Another performance issue is slowness when editing a long post or a page. This is not a hosting issue, but WordPress’ issue. This was a real pain some time ago editing even for a moderate-length post. But since recently I don’t have severe problems with WP (version 5.0+). But still, if the post is quite long, e.g. several thousand words (yes I love writing long reads), then WordPress is slow when editing. I prefer editing the post text using an external HTML editor (e.g. Notepad++ which is free by the way). And then I just copy-paste the HTML code from the external editor to the WP post.

 

It’s not only the speed that matters when deciding to change the host

dont choose host because of speed

Speed is important, no doubts. It’s one of the most vital characteristics of the hosting. But apart from the technical performance there are several other factors that may make you stay with or leave the host. I will keep it short, just to outline that this is also hugely important in your hosting experience:

  • The technical support. No doubt, the most important factor, sometimes even more important than better speed.
  • Hosting transparency and communication. The hosting should keep its hands open and, for example, keep in touch with its clients explaining truthfully if something goes wrong (e.g. a severe DDoS attack).
  • Hosting ethics. Lie, taking domains hostage, unexpectedly charging you for what you are not using or not going to use, selling up security products using delusive tactics (as some EIG hosts are suspected to practice) are clear signs that it’s better to migrate to another host.

That’s why I recommend selected hosts not only because of their long-term high performance, but also because of other characteristics which make the hosts great from both users and hosting professionals’ point of view.

 

Conclusions

The conclusion is short and simple.

If your website is slow, then it may be because of slow hosting, because of your website or even because of network.

In this article I shared the practical advice based on my own practical experience and other people’s experience with slow hosts.

I wanted this article to help you feel more confidence when deciding whether you should change a host, upgrade the hosting plan or try optimizing your site.


 

You can download a PDF version of this article (568 KB):


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Comments

  1. OK. I have understood more about the hosting I am using, the article is not bad.

  2. Michael,

    Really, this piece of article will be more helpful for the hosting seekers to understand the inner things in hosting before choosing or migrating a new service. Even though we understand the importance of the site loading speed, we will get lost with the freebies and magic words by the hosts. Thanks for helping us out.

  3. Before i using bluehost now we covert to SiteGround and our salles are double.

  4. Hi Michael,
    Great article. Helpful in all the ways. I want to migrate my hosting from hostgator to some other providers. Can you suggest some good tools to check the speed before investing in any?

    • Chakrr,

      There’s no 100% reliable way to know the speed of your hosting before you sign up and try it with your software (i.e. with your own website).
      After all, there’s money-back guarantee and in terms of money your risks are minimal.

      A deeper risk is that the performance of the host can degrade (e.g. when a host continues filling in the servers with accounts). That’s why you better select a host which has a reputation of reliable and having a stable speed. I have a project which is aimed at a long-term monitoring of some of the hosts. It’s the most useful source of information that I know (although there are only 15 hosts represented which is a really limiting).

      There are also some projects in the Web which test the Server Response Time of websites hosted with some hosts and presenting it as a hosting speed. This is a misleading approach, but to a certain extent it’s better than nothing.

      Another approach is to choose a host by analyzing its strong and weak points. Any host is a balance of several factors. E.g. a host can be fast, but with less disk storage or worse support for the same price as a slower host but with more storage and better support. You will also need to analyze real users’ reviews.
      There’s also a rough rule in hosting industry – you get what you pay for. Although this is too borad and not always correct, the price is also an important factor. More expensive host has more chances to be faster than less expensive host.

      There’s no simple way to choose a faster host without trying it.

      Hope it helps.

  5. Michael,

    Great article to help people who blindly go mad with marketing gigs. Almost all the hosting companies promote their services with their freebies like free SSL, migration, etc. Thanks for helping the seekers to test the real speed of the new hosting before migrating. By the way, how friendly the tests will be for non-technical or start-up webmasters?
    And your pictures are so relevant to the message and excellent.

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