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Expecting Stablehost? Please Read on...

I was with Stablehost for a number of years.   But I have moved.  I will tell you why and where in this article.

I used to recommend a host called Stablehost, but I have had an increasing number of complaints from my students about their poor customer service and support.  I have also been left frustrated at times.    I had arranged an excellent discount for my students at Stablehost, but things have changed and all hosts now offer massive discounts when you first sign up, so you'll still get a great deal.  

I set out to find a new, better host.  

This article tells you who that is.

Before that, there is something important I need to tell you about web hosts and domain registrars.

For complete transparency, if you buy hosting through one of my links, I will make a commission.  
This does not affect the price you pay.

You Should Use a Separate Web Host and Domain Registrar

For extra security, I'll recommend you use a separate registrar and web host.  It's easy to do and could save you a major headache later if your host starts to cause you problems. If you get confused by the following discussion, don't panic.  I'll show you in this article how set everything up so that your domain registrar is talking to your web host servers.

Let's start off with a couple of simplified definitions.

Definition: A web host is the company that rents you server space for your website.

Definition: Domain Registrar is the company that looks after your domain name for you, making sure it is renewed and safe.  Your registrar is where you set the Domain Name Servers (DNS) for your domain.  The DNS identify which web host the domain uses.  If you decide to move host in the future, you simply change the DNS to the ones your new host gives you.  More on that in a bit..

When you sign up for web hosting, that company will try to get you to let it be your registrar as well, and it sounds like it makes sense.  I mean one company looking after both domain and web hosting.  But I recommend you keep these two important services separate and use different companies.  It won't cost you any more (and may be cheaper):

  • When your web host is your registrar, it can charge you more for your annual domain renewal than a dedicated domain registrar. 
  • If you have a dispute with your webhost and they close down your site (temporarily or permanently), it is difficult to get the site moved to a new host because they can block your access to the DNS.    If you have the domain registered with a different company (registrar), you simply get new hosting somewhere else and change the DNS at your registrar.  Your site can be back up in a few hours on the new host.  There is nothing your old web host can do to stop you.
  • If your host goes out of business, you could have trouble getting your site back if you cannot access the DNS.  With a separate registrar, you’d just get new hosting, upload your site backup and change the DNS in your registrar control panel.  You’ll be back in business in a few hours.  Of course, this point is also true if your domain registrar goes out of business, which is why you need to choose one of the high profile domain registrars who have been in business for several years.  
For a complete discussion of why you need a separate registrar and host, please read this this article (opens in a new window).

My Recommended Domain Registrar Is...

 

The main reason I recommend NameCheap as a domain registrar is that I have used them for several years and never had a problem.  I’ve moved domains in, moved them out, bought and cancelled domains.  Everything worked as it should.  In an online world where web hosts and registrars come and go, I wouldn’t trust my valuable domain names with anyone else.

Features of NameCheap:

  1. Namecheap is an ICANN-accredited domain registrar and technology company founded in 2000.
  2. It is one of the fastest-growing American companies according to the 2018 Inc. 5000.
  3. Free Whois guard protection for life.
  4. Namecheap manage over 10 million domains for its customers.
  5. Registrar lock prevents someone from stealing your domain.
  6. Intuitive control panel for managing multiple domains making it very easy to use.

You can find a full list of features on the Namecheap website.

So the first step is to go and sign up for your free account on Namecheap, and buy your domain name.  Once you have the domain name, you can go and get your web hosting.

Recommended Host

Over the years, I have used a lot of web hosts and none have been perfect.  As website owners, the holy grail is to find an affordable host that will have little or no downtime, and fast server responses.

While I could look at expensive hosting solutions, VPN servers, or reseller accounts,  I decided instead to limit this article to the type of hosting most people want when starting out.  

cPanel or not cPanel

I prefer cPanel hosting.

If you know what cPanel is, you may decide you want (or don't want) a cPanel host. 

cPanel is software that runs on a web host to give you all of the tools necessary for managing your web space.  It is by far the most common setup, and used by most web hosts, so it is also easy to get help if you ever get stuck. 

If you know you do not want cPanel hosting, that is fine as I have you covered in my recommendations.

How to decide which host is best for you?

Easy….

Most people should choose my #1 recommendation.

Only choose my #2 recommendation if you know you do not want a cPanel host.

NOTE: Before you buy hosting, make sure you read the instructions below on how to buy the hosting so that your registrar and host connect up correctly.

#1 Recommendation (cPanel)

Fast, Reliable Hosting with Great Support

A2 Hosting is one of the fastest shared hosting providers I have tested. Their support ticket feature is well-staffed by experienced and helpful people.  On the two occasions I needed them while moving sites from my old host, they responded within 30 minutes.  They do also offer live chat but I have found long wait times to get connected to that. Click here to visit A2 Hosting.

#2 Recommendation (non-cPanel)

Great Support, Popular Host

Site Ground is well-known for their great support, and I did have a good experience with them. Server response times are a little slower than my #1 recommendation, but as a non-cPanel host, this is one of the best. Click here to visit Site Ground.

How to Buy Hosting So it Connects to Your Registrar

This is very easy.  I'll show you the steps for the A2 Hosting I recommend, but if you use a different host, it will be very similar:

  1. Buy your domain name at NameCheap.
  2. Go to A2 Hosting to buy your web hosting.   Choose WordPress Hosting and select the plan you want to buy.  If you are just starting out, I'd recommend the cheapest plan as you can always upgrade later if you need more power.  You will be taken to a screen asking you to choose your domain.  Select the option “I will use my existing domain and update my nameservers“, and enter the domain name (that you bought at Namecheap) and extension in the boxes provided. 

3. Click the Use button to go to the payment page.

4. Fill in all your details and payment information.  Select the longest period you can afford as it means you will save more money.  Paying for 36 months works out cheaper per month that paying for 24 or 12 months.

5. Choose a server location depending on where you see your main traffic coming from.  For example, I choose East Coast US for my server, even though I live in the UK.  That is because most of my traffic is from the US.  Using a server in the US will make the pages load faster for US visitors. However, don't be too concerned about this.  Modern hosts can use a delivery system (called a CDN) that makes your site fast everywhere. A2 Hosting offers free Cloudflare CDN which is super easy to set up. 

6. Leave the SSL Certificates section with the default values.  

 

An SSL certificate means your site will use the secure HTTPS protocol, which is highly desirable.  You can leave the rest of the page as it is, but I want to bring your attention to one other option:

 

7. When you complete your order, WordPress will be automatically installed on your server for you.  The Additional options on the A2 Hosting order page allows you to choose what type of install you  want.  WordPress – A2 Optimized is selected by default.  This installs WordPress and a few optimization plugins that A2 have identified as important for making your sites faster.  This is the option I recommend you use.  However, if you are an advanced user, be aware of the other options in that drop down box.

8. Complete your order and wait to get your welcome email.  The email might list your DNS servers, but if it doesn't, log into your hosting account.  In the A2 Hosting, you can easily find your DNS servers by clicking the Account Details button:

 

This takes you to this screen which lists your DNS:

9. Now login to your control panel at Name Cheap.  Click on Domain List in the left menu:

10. You’ll see a list of your domains.  Click on the Manage button to the right of the domain you are setting up.

11. On the Domain Detail screen, find the Nameservers and select Custom DNS and then enter the DNS given to you by your host:

Once you’ve added these, you will need to click the check mark to save your settings.

OK, that will now take up to 24 hours (usually a lot less) to propagate, which means you have a few hours before you can work on your site.

Periodically, check your domain in a browser  and you’ll see your website when it is ready.

You can then go in and install WordPress.

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