I’m Stopping Hosting Performance Reports – Some Insights

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As you might know, I’ve been monitoring performance of several hosts in a non-stop manner since 2016. I’ve issued 69 monthly reports having gathered a solid data on speed, uptime and performance index of the hosts for these almost 6 years.

And the next monthly report for November will be the 70th anniversary and the last one. Below I will share with you why I made this decision from a personal and general marketing point of view.

The below text is mostly talk to myself, but I assume you can find something useful in it too.


 

Changes in my attitude regarding hosting tests

Which hosting is blazingly faster

When I started monitoring the speed of shared hosts in a 24/7 manner, I was probably the only one dared to do so. I think I’m still the only one who has been doing so. At least I have not heard of anyone doing continues speed tests, i.e. real-life full time page load test.

I know other guys have been doing short-term speed tests on the hosts. This is fine but my way monitoring is a thorough and continuous which reveal long-term nuances of the hosting performance. I think my 6-year experiment has been truly unique.

So what has made me stop my experiment?

I guess initially I wanted to clear out the questions about shared hosting performance for myself. And I fully answered it. I think I will publish another post about the conclusions I’ve made about hosting uptime and speed based on millions of tests made since 2016. But for now, the resume is the following.

Hosting performance may differ, but once you filter out bad guys, the difference in hosting performance for entry-level plans between the hosts becomes not that significant. In other words, when we talk about shared hosting speed and uptime for your website which does not have much traffic, just don’t go with very cheap or unethical hosts, and you will be fine.

 
Apart from performance the hosts differ by technical support and other client-oriented services. This is another topic, although it’s really important too.

Thus, I de-mystified marketing mantras about being blazer-super-mega-duper-fast hosting. The point is that most hosts provide very similar performance for their entry-level plans. There’s no more intrigue for me.

My monitoring has proved it very well. The mission is accomplished.

Having said the above, I want to add that this is true for the widest segment of the shared hosting plans (with prices below $10/mo or so for the first billing period). However, if we consider more expensive, higher-performance solutions which require specifically excessive CPU load, this does not belong to a wide market. And it should be researched on a per-case basis, since each case is individual regarding the particularities and server requirements.

My monitoring was aimed to analyze decent hosts on the widest market segment empirically and phenomenologically. I.e. I’ve been looking at good and great shared hosts carefully deriving real-life data, and made general conclusions about the hosting industry in this market segment. And it’s successfully done.

A performance game which does not make sense anymore

Another disappointment which comes from the previous section is my feeling that my performance reports stopped making practical sense (at least to me).

To put it simply, if hosting speed differs by a little fraction of a second tested on real-life websites, it does not really make much sense in finding out which hosting is faster. Again, if you don’t consider bad or unethical shared hosts in the first place, the performance will be pretty much similar in the most cases.

It has been so for quite a long. Almost from the very beginning the difference between hosting speed was in most cases quite little. For a longtime it was fun to me to compare the performance, father the data together and analyze the yearly data. After some time I realized that new month reports do not bring me more information. It just confirms that I already know.

 

Marketing tectonic shifts that sink my hosting reports

Marketing in text loses efficiency

One more reason why I have been loosing interest in the monthly hosting reports is that initially I considered these reports to be selling points for best performing hosts. As it turns out, probably due to small traffic on my website, investments in the monitoring service, hosting, domains and my time do not pay out good anough.

This added to why I decided to stop publishing hosting reports.

Moreover, for the last three years the income per visitor has been declining all the way. And now it brings almost 3 times less than 3 years ago. It makes me think that marketing goes away from text-centric means to other media.

Of course, even with texts I have not made good marketing efforts to increase income from my hobby project researchasahobby.com. I just focused on what was naturally going with it. And after all this way it did not work out financially by itself for me.

Marketing favors emotions and fellowship even very shallow ones

Besides, I’ve got an assumption that more and more people make their decisions relying on simply opinions and recommendations from the fellows in the communities. This means going away more and more from analytical-based decision making to opinion-based approach. In this respect I assume my reports on hosting performance tend to play less and less role.

To a bit of my surprise I’ve found out that a shallow recommendation from a stranger but in the known community (e.g. FB group) makes much more sense for a person than his or her own research. And since the recommendations are mostly based on emotions rather than analytics, it’s a good idea to become more emotionally-driven blogger than a data prick. But this is not very natural of me. I need to learn how to be more efficient in this matter 🙂

Thus, pure data tables are not exciting for people I believe. Making it more fun with other means like video takes much more time and efforts, at least for me.

 

Conclusions

Monthly hosting performance contest series was a huge part of researchasashobby.com and unique in the entire Internet. But due to some objective and subjective factors like loss of efficiency and interest I decided to stop reporting. I know there are ways how to make the next step in hosting reporting and try something new in it. But it is not a big interest to me for now. Maybe later I’ll get back to it but for now I feel I want to make this step aside 🙂

November report (to be issued in December) will be the last report after almost six years of service. It’s time to move on.

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Comments

  1. Thank you Michael for all your analysis and performance testing!

    I followed your recommendation (and affiliate link) signing up with Site Ground. That was two and a half years ago and been extremely pleased with them. Both the support and performance have been stellar. Plus, the initial three years were at an amazing price.

    Since then, traffic continues to grow and will likely need to upgrade to a higher performance plan. Rather than listen to my “Facebook friends”, I rely and value your advice.

  2. Michael – good for you. I had a venture that I spent many more than 6 years trying to make profitable, and didn’t know when to cut loose.

    I’m happy for you – I’m sure this will open up new avenues for you!

  3. Arthur Anderson says

    Thank you for your work.
    It helped get me started.
    I wanted to do more, but I’ve been to distracted.

    I do have a couple suggestions for your research that might be more valuable.

    1) I want my own stripped down LINUX based home server to host my own websites, emails, blogs, videos, etc, so I can get away from the corporations. Something the size of a smartphone.

    2) Have you considered writing a book.
    LINUX is very frustrating to me and I have programming experience from long ago, pre-Internet. On the surface It’s a genius idea unfortunately it’s written by crack addicts.
    What I want to know is where it starts. How it proceeds through. I want to be able to read and understand the programming and be able to make changes at will.
    ALL the books I’ve looked through give you the basics, but not the details. For example one thing I’d like to do is strip out the OTA auto update. I don’t like change, especially when it’s forced on me.
    Knowledge is power.
    Good luck.

    • Arthur,
      Thank you for your suggestions.
      I’m a Linux user, but too far from being any kind of expert in this field from a technical point of view.
      I have not moved further than simple LAMP on my home machine for educational purposes. So I’m afraid I’m not the right person to suggest you anything specific here, not to mention writing a book 🙂
      Anyway, I wish you good luck with your idea.

  4. MICHAEL

    If it matters, several years ago, I knew that I needed to switch from HostMonster—which, once upon a time, had been a reasonably decent hosting service—but was clueless as to where to go. I found Research As a Hobby and through your efforts I found StableHost, which at the time you were giving glowing reviews.

    The people at StableHost went waaay out of their way to unscramble the HUGE mess that the people at HostMonster had made of my sites, never charging me a cent! I have been with them since and they continue to provide me with exemplary support.

    So, thank you for Research As a Hobby …

    NEAL

    • Neal,
      Thank you for your kind feedback and for being with me for that long! It really matters!
      I’m happy that my advice was helpful and worked well for you (and that it still works). I’ve been doing my best to give people the most appropriate piece of advice whether it was a personal recommendation or a general one in my articles.
      I am still going to continue supporting my website and updating it with new articles. Although I don’t have a clear plan about what direction it will go, to be honest. But I think I still have something to say about hosting as I have been answering different people’s emails and I see that some aspects are still not very well clear for them, although I thought I shared in my articles all necessary information of a general kind.
      Perhaps I will also cover completely new topics in my articles. But anyway, I will keep you all informed about my plans. For now, I’m in a transfer period, will see where it will go 🙂
      Thank you again for being a part of it!

  5. Hi Michael, this has been an extremely valuable service that nobody else has really offered.

    There are so many web hosting review sites recommending whatever hosts pay the best affiliate commission regardless of the quality of the product or service and most consumers starting out have no idea how bad the advice often is.

    Showing real performance results over an extended period reveals what each host is actually offering and allows consumers to work out which hosts offer good value for money and which hosts don’t.

    Thanks for all that you do.

    • Hi Neil,
      You are right. And indeed, long-term hosting performance is probably the most valuable insight that one can get from my reports. I really appreciate your support and being a part of my journey for all this time!

  6. Thanks for expressing why you are stopping the monthly reporting. I’m more analytical, so I definitely appreciated your approach. I think I first found you because I had been burned more than once by EIG buying perfectly good hosting companies & degrading them. For quite a few years I’ve been happy, first with a shared account at A2Hosing and then with a higher performance VPS account. Again, thanks for everything that you have done to help the rest of us who truly valued your service!

    • Roger,
      Thank you for your feedback. I understand there are some people who really appreciate the analytical approach like this. I appreciate you being one of us! And thank you for being my reader and your support.

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