Is WordPress VIP Beyond Reach? Let HostCo Wipe Away The Tears

Filed as Reviews on September 14, 2010 6:46 pm

Despite the glories of hosting your blog upon WordPress.com, you often have to trade in freedom (as in plugins, ads, etc.) in order to find a secure and fast host.

Of course the only exception to this rule is WordPress VIP, which Automattic (the creators of WordPress) allows a publisher to customize their WP site to their hearts content.

Unfortunately WordPress VIP is a curated service (which is geek speak for “highly selective”) which means even if one had the funds, they may not be granted a seat at the table.

However there is an alternative for WordPress fans seeking a hosting company that majors in power and minors in frills by the name of HostCo, a WordPress only hosting company (similar to Page.ly), but is geared more towards high end users.

Created by Orangecast, HostCo (also known as WP HostCo) was founded by disgruntled WordPress gurus who wanted a powerful WordPress host without sacrificing ones freedom (not to mention half your wallet!)

The folks were kind enough to let me to demo one of their lower tier plans and here are my impressions of their service.

Too Fast To Check?

It wasn’t until I was testing out the service that I realized just how fast the site was loading.

Whether it was displaying a page or working within the admin page, HostCo was surprisingly fast, to the point I questioned whether I really was on their lowest tier plan (which I purposely picked as it usually is a hosting companies weakest point).

My suspicions were relieved when I discovered that HostCo takes a different approach to shared hosting when compared against rivals.

Instead of hosting your blog with dozens (if not hundreds) of other sites, all of them competing for the same resources (RAM, bandwidth, etc.), HostCo clusters them in “bunches of 5″ or “bunches of 10.”

This ensures that there are enough resources for everyone, preventing one blog from becoming the “runt of the litter.”

Redefining Power

Instead of boasting how many visitors a blog can receive or how much data transfer each plan has, HostCo instead showcases how many users can view your blog at the exact same time before problems arise.

On their lowest tier plan (i.e. the “bunches of 10″), a blog will be able to take 150 simultaneous visitors, while their highest tier plan (aka Extremed Virtual Private Server) allows your site to be viewed by 1,500 users simultaneously.

Since there are a few data transfer freaks out there who want to know the “hard science” (I being one of them), HostCo did mention that their lowest tier plan allows 250 GB of network transfer which is probably more than most medium sized blogs need.

Note: HostCo did mention via email that these limits were “soft caps” (which means they will not shut your site down if you slightly bump above these limits), although they will ask you to upgrade if your blog outshines Justin Bieber on Twitter.

Security And Migration

Unlike many “one click install” companies, HostCo not only performs a custom install of each site uploaded to their servers, but also performs over 3,000 security checks to ensure that your blog is safe from the very beginning.

They also pride themselves on making sure that your site stays secure, especially when it comes to shared hosting plans (the oft popular choice among bloggers which hackers unfortunately love to target).

Last but not least HostCo will also help you personally migrate your WordPress blog (themes, plugins, database, images, videos, etc.) over to their servers to ensure that your entire blog is on their servers.

What HostCo Lacks

Although overall I was impressed with HostCo’s “worst” plan, there are a few features missing from their service that may convince users not to use their services.

The first is that HostCo does not provide cPanel for the shared hosting plans (aka “bunches of 5″ or “bunches of 10″) which means that you will need to upgrade to a more expensive plan in order to gain this feature. They do however provide FTP access (which isn’t as user friendly, unless you’re a geek).

HostCo also does not provide an email service as well (although truth be told Google is making hosted email services irrelevant these days).

Last but not least HostCo isn’t into the domain register business, so if you are foolish enough to place your content and domain into the hands of host, then HostCo is probably not the WP host for you.

Is HostCo Right For Me?

For those of you seeking a host whose sole purpose is to support WordPress blogs, then HostCo is the solution for you (especially if your blog is quickly skyrocketing towards WordPress VIP status).

If you are on a budget and have multiple blogs, you will probably find HostCo’s plans to be a bit pricey as their lowest tier plan starts at $20/month per blog while their highest is $300/month.

So if you owned multiple blogs (like me) you would be paying close to $100/month for hosting (and that is just on the lowest tier plan).

However if your main concern is keeping your blog (or various blogs) online as well as secure and hacks (as well as downtime) are costing you money, then HostCo is probably the right WordPress hosting company for you.

Image Credits: Norebbo

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