Where should I host my blog (WordPress or other), if I want my own server / VPS?

A friend of mine asked me the following question yesterday:

Need an advice on what is a good place to host a personal blog probably word press with custom domain.

I was very happy to see the question, but I always wanted to write a small post about my web hosting recomendations, and this is a good opportunity!

Here’s what I said to him:

The VPS Recommendations:

If you are going the VPS route, here are my personal recommendations:

Windows VPS

I always use and recommend:

SoftSys Hosting

This is THE Windows VPS hosting for me. Good performance, several locations (I host in West US as I get visitors from US and Australia), SSD VPS as an option (which I used as soon as it was announced), and great support and price.

Everyone I recommended it to thanked me afterwards.

Linux VPS

I haven’t done much in the Linux space, but these two are the big players used AND trusted by the people I follow and trust.

The both have tools to get you started and create the WordPress setup for you:

Classic VPS hosting, even shared hosting:

Blue Host
Blue Host is considered a budget hosting but some people used it for big stuff successfully.

Cloud Style Hosting, with SSD VPS:

Digital Ocean
The biggest sellers for Digital Ocean are cheap start point, SSD, and ability to resize servers.

How To Make Your First Windows Server VPS Secure In Just A Few Easy Steps

Today a friend (Amr Eldib) asked a question on Facebook that I think a few of you may have as well:


I’ve never setup a Virtual Private Server out in the open on the Internet, and I was wondering how safe it would be?

I prefer Windows, because it’s what I know.

It’s intended to run all kinds of applications, blog, CMS, Wiki, file sync, photo storage, etc.

From your experience, what safety/security steps I need to pay attention to?

Does the security of the server depend on the applications or the OS, or both?

I had a relatively short and simple answer to this question. I’m sharing it here with you pretty much as-is.

My Answer

If you are looking for affordable host, I’ve always recommended SoftSys Hosting.

For most hosts, the server is locked down by default. Any OS will be subject to vulnerabilities though, so, make sure you have latest Windows updates (it’s OK to have Windows 2008 R2 instead of 2012 R2, might be better actually due to less resources it uses, any OS that’s not out of support should be OK).

The most common attacks are usually random attacks, the attacks that go to random servers trying to open default port numbers, default usernames and weak passwords, and try to identify / guess what software is installed on the server, and use the known vulnerabilities that exist in that software, in the hope that you didn’t have these patched.

Things you can do are removing/disabling accounts with default names like Administrator, etc., changing default port numbers for things like SQL DBMS and FTP / SSH if you use any, making sure things like SQL DBMS do NOT allow remote connections in the first place.

Also the application can be a thread. For example, hMailServer uses OpenSSL, so you need the latest version to make sure you don’t have OpenSSL hole. WordPress now installs minor/security updates automatically but you always want to check, and maybe even be careful what plugins you use.

Apply same rule to similar software packages.

My Recommended Windows Server 2012 R2 Hosting (Dedicated Server Or VPS)

Windows Server 2012 R2

Soon after Windows Server 2012 has been released, I was wondering when hosting providers will start providing it, talking to the hosting provider that hosts this very blog, SoftSys Hosting, they told me that they already have Windows Server 2012 hosting plans, bother for Virtual Server (VPS) or dedicated servers.

I’ve been their happy customer since 2009 or before, so, I can confidently recommend them for anyone willing to have a Windows 2012 server soon.

They’re generally in the economical category (so, great cost), but I have tried others in this category before and the others all were useless for anything serious, with SoftSys Hosting on the other hand, their VPS performance, general network speed, and support responsiveness all are of a premium class.

Check their offers here

Should you choose a budget Windows VPS?

This is copied from one of my replies in WebHostingTalk. Thought it might be useful for GuruStop readers too.

The purpose of the reply was to provide a review to Burst.NET, my budget VPS hosting (with some references to a premium (yet premium) VPS, SoftSys Hosting), but the real value of the reply, is to help give realistic expectations about various differences when deciding to choose a "good" budget VPS Windows hosting.

The Review

Generally speaking as a "current" customer with Burst.NET. Their equation is:
Budget Price = Good Service + Enough Support + Poor SLA

So, most of the time the server is working, most of the time it’s working, it works really fast (compared to my chosen specs, 1.5GB RAM Windows), the network also is really nice especially their West Coast (LA) location.

Given that, sometimes the VPS is slow, sometimes too slow, once it was slow that was unusable.

When the server is just slow, the services hosted on it didn’t seem to be much affected, when the server is too slow or reaches the unusable state, I get between 5 minutes to 2 hours downtime (happened only once).

This draws light to support and SLA. Support is generally fine. You get a response around an hour (and some report less times), and problems usually get completely solved in less than 2-3 hours.


I have had mainly few issues in my first month:

  1. Something went wrong with installing the VPS by BurstNet. I was just signed up and confused as hell why the thing isn’t there, and suspecting my form entries, etc. Solved by getting the VPS up for me.
    Support was really fast when I indicated this was an "outage" issue (Selection in ticket, don’t use it often please as to guarantee the level of support when you really need it).
  2. The server was too slow shortly after it was up. Support solved it "somehow" (likely like the next one).
  3. The server was too slow that it took ages to boot, and didn’t feel connected even (I was checking it via VNC, as RDP was down as web as all). Solved by removing some abusing user on server.
  4. Two random reboots in two separate days. I tolerated them with plan to contact support if they happen again.


I wouldn’t tolerate such issues except from a budget provider, knowing how fast the network is, and how much service I need (Currently I only run a couple of blogs around 40K page views per month), this service was fine for me, as what mattered to me really is the high performance most of the time not the high availability most of the time (if no downtime but the server is slow for all users, that’s worse for me).

I also do not have much options to tolerate these or not if I choose Burst.NET. Their SLA clearly states those may happen. I discussed it twice with support and they said remember we are a budget provider so our SLA says that "issues" could happen because of other users on the same host server, and those are expected to happen every now and then and are not part of SLA. I was hoping that Xen virtualization prevents this, but clearly, it doesn’t.

(Note to blog reader: Xen one of the best Linux hosts virtualization options to run Linux/Windows guests)

But again, I read the SLA before joining (most people don’t, which is very wrong), and raised concerns on them, calculated the costs and was more practical than idea on my real needs and priorities, and then went with them with proper expectations, although to be honest experiencing can hurt even when expecting!


So, if I want to improve this, I won’t leave Burst.NET to another budget host (like ThrustVPS or whatever). I think Burst.NET is doing the best it can within the cost you pay for it, and any other budget host will be doing similarly.

If I want to improve this, I’d instead work on my own budget and try to improve it, then go to a more premium class hosting. I already have one VPS (I don’t own, but manage) on SoftSys Hosting, and I don’t expect this one to even reboot randomly, and know that if it does I should at least get a note or find it in their announcements page. "Realistically" I can’t ask this from any "budget" provider, not just Burst.NET).

(note to blog reader, I chose SoftSys Hosting to compare because they are the cheapest premium VPS)

Although, I’d really be happy if Burst.NET provides premium Windows VPS hosting, as they have both options for Linux, and as their "fast" reliable West Coast network is a real killer feature for me that I don’t see "many" other hosts (even premium) providing.

Are you interested in these topics?

I have been doing a lot of research recently around various premium and budget class hosting providers, especially in the VPS area, although I have been tweeting about them instead of blogging.

If you think this is an interesting topic for you, please let me know, as then I might decide to write more about it.  Actually, I’m even considering creating a dedicated website for hosting matters, as the sites out there are all so full of advertising materials and "trick the customer" words (like highlighting first-month-only prices instead of real ones, and presenting the monthly value of annual payments instead of monthly-payments price, etc..). What do you think?