This post covers changing web hosts and also mentions specifically what services I use (and recommend) for domain name registration, DNS, email and hosting.

Some of the services I use do require a bit of technical skills. I wouldn’t recommend them for non-technical people to try on their own but if anybody reading this wants help with switching a site reach out and let me know.

One of the first projects I decided to tackle post-bootcamp was changing hosting providers for my personal blog, Live Hoppy.

I did it in part because my existing service ticked me off. But I’m actually super happy I switched now. My setup is better and I save a ton of money.

Why I left Bluehost

I started out with Bluehost because it was recommended by some bloggers that I followed. (It turns out that they have an aggressive affiliate marketing campaign and pay people quite a bit for recommending others.)

I was unhappy with a number of things including the increasing price, the customer service, getting charged for things that other places include for free, and the lack of features I really wanted like SSH access.

The thing that really did it for me was that my site had some issues at one point and when I called them I was automatically routed to another company that sells security services. They pressured me a lot to pay for their services with some really shady tactics and the whole thing just struck me as really unethical.

I really just wanted to talk to Bluehost support and ask a few questions. In fact, since that was the number I had called I thought at first that I was talking to Bluehost support and gave out information that I definitely would not want to give to another company.

Switching to Nearly Free Speech

During the bootcamp pre-work phase, I set up with Nearly Free Speech and was extremely happy with it. So I decided to switch over.

I love it because the pricing is based on things like how much storage and bandwidth you actually use. I save a ton of money now that I’ve switched over. I also like the lack of salesiness and as I’ve grown my web development skills, the DIY setup for everything is something I’m enjoying.

It does have extensive documentation and a user forum. I trust the documentation. It actually works and I learn things from it about security and best practices. Plus it’s written with a great sense of humor.

What I Learned

This was my first time moving a WordPress site and it helped me to get a good grasp of the pieces involved. Backups for my site no longer feel confusing because I know exactly what I’d need to build the whole thing over again basically from scratch.

I also used the WP-CLI utility for everything. This is the WordPress Command Line installer. It allows more secure configuration options than the GUI options available. I really liked using it and will continue using it for managing my site.

I like having SSH access to my site because it is more secure than FTP and at this point I prefer the command line interaction over the GUI options. Plus I can use this to easily setup backups that automatically download to my computer. (I really should already have this done, but it’s still on my to-do list.) I’m loving that this is something I know how to automate now and I don’t have to rely on some WordPress plugin for it or slug through manual steps and pray that I’m actually doing it right and could restore my site if something happened.

I stuck with my previous hosting provider for a long time just because switching was intimidating and I didn’t really know what was involved. I’m happy with my new setup and don’t want to switch, but it’s empowering knowing that I could.


I also took the opportunity to change the email settings for my Live Hoppy email address.

I had been using Google’s G Suite for it. I had set it up through Bluehost and there was no way I could change it to start paying through Google. The Google help page for it said that I would have to contact my reseller for it.

As it worked out, when I told Bluehost to cancel the service, Google sent me an email to allow me to setup a payment method directly through them.

If I were to set up another G Suite account, I would make sure and do it directly through Google next time rather than through a reseller.

I was happy with Google’s product. The email aspect is basically just Gmail but with an address that’s my own domain. Plus I could use the login for all the other Google products. The downside is that it’s $5 a month and I just didn’t want to be paying that.

I switched to using ImprovMX. I use the free version. It forwards any email I get to another email address and I can also use that account to send email from my address. Then I applied a filter in my email account so that the Live Hoppy ones are automatically labeled and I can tell them apart.

Completely free and it provides all of the functionality I really care about for my site’s email.

Domain Name Registration and DNS

I switched to Cloudflare for my domain registration and DNS service. Their domain name registration is offered at cost with NO markup beyond what is required by the organizations in charge of domains.

Plus they include free privacy services (shielding my name and contact info from the WHOIS registry). This is super important for general privacy and reducing spam.

I tested the speed of their DNS service against Bluehost, 1&1, Google and I think a few others and Cloudflare was MUCH faster. Site speed is really important for user experience among other things, and this was an easy optimization there. (Their DNS service is FREE, even if you don’t have your domain registered with them.)

Price / Savings

Last month, I paid $3.67 to Nearly Free Speech for BOTH of my sites. My domain registration for Live Hoppy is $8.44 per year.

For everything, this comes out to $30.46 for one site for a year.

If I start getting lots more traffic it could start to go up a little , but I’ll only pay more if I’m using more resources. If my traffic spikes, I only pay for the actual usage. I don’t have to upgrade to a higher tier to handle occasional spikes.

Do you have questions about switching hosting providers? Let me know in the comments and I’ll try to help!

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