Fleeing Bluehost: It’s crunch time

I have under 30 days to move from Bluehost or I’ll be locked into another year. If you don’t recall, Bluehost is infuriating. It shuts down whenever I have a traffic spike. Its SSL certificates are not automatically renewed, so every 90 days or so things fail.

My email is associated with unifiedlayer, one of the worst spam providers, which means that a lot of my outgoing email never arrives. Every time I need tech support, they try to upsell me to yet another paid service. The fees have increased and increased over time.

While I’d really love to have a statically generated site, I’m not willing to give up comments. I’m sticking with WordPress as the least turbulent solution unless someone has a better idea.

I need email. I need a wordpress site. I’d like to keep a listserv going but I can probably transfer that to slack if needed. I can’t really think of any other features that I need at this time.

  • Diogene recommended SiteGround. It offers well reviewed WordPress hosting. This sounds scary though: “For migration just use IMAP for your email and synchronize all mail locally then when you move you host sync back again with IMAP”
  • Dave DeLong says FastMail is a great solution for the mail-only axis. Hank Gay, Christopher Frederick, and Dewey concur. Christopher mentions that I can set up “SPF and DKIM records” to provide more secure ownership, whatever these things are.
  • Despite the general love for FastMail, Michael Weaver says iRedMail is a good alternative as well.
  • Matt mentioned nosupportlinuxhosting.com
  • Will suggests A2Hosting. Chris likes ASPnix.com.
  • John Woolsey pitches GreenGeeks.com.
  • Nate H suggests dreamhost (also recced by Tim as a site for “people who don’t know what they’re doing”, which is pretty much me) and siteground.
  • Mark Nichols uses WebFaction, but also supports Digital Ocean.
  • Brian Anderson suggests hostagor.com.
  • Kevin likes the roll-your own AWS solution: S3 for web, EC2 for wordpress, WorkMail for mail. Any thoughts on these?
  • Simon Davies agrees on AWS but suggests hosting email with zoho.com.
  • Dan Messing and Mark Bernstein like pair.com.

I’m looking for the simplest migration with the longest shelf life and the least worries. It should remain reasonably budget affordable as well.

I want to get this done quickly and easily and it scares me to pieces. This is, admittedly, way out of my comfort zone, which explains why I’m still with Bluehost even years after identifying the problems.

Any advice and support will be greatly appreciated.


  • If Bluehost uses cPanel to manage servers, going to another host with cPanel should make migration pretty seamless. Usually you just give your login info to the new host and they move everything for you, (most cPanel systems have an automated migration system set up). I think Hostgator uses cPanel, but I’m not sure, and I’ve heard bad things out of there as well in the Advanced WP Facebook group.

    It seems like separating E-mail and hosting is the way to go these days. We use Zoho for Mail at work, and it works pretty well. I use Google Apps for my @johnbeales.com E-mail and it works great too. I’m not sure where that leaves the listserv though.

    If you’re looking for a “set it & forget it” system with responsive support I can’t imagine a VPS provider like DigitalOcean or AWS would be great unless you’re wanting to figure out how to debug problems yourself.

    I’ve been using Lightningbase for a couple of years with a client site. It works well, focuses on WordPress hosting, and has very responsive support. It seems to be essentially a one-man shop, and 95% of the time it’s the owner responding to support requests, which means there’s none of that whole Tier 1 support “I didn’t read your E-mail but here’s this upsell” that happens at many other hosts. They also automatically set up SSL with either cPanel’s built-in authority, (which seems to be trusted), or Let’s Encrypt, (I promise I’m not a shill!). They don’t offer E-mail hosting, though, which means you’ll need to find some other place for E-mail if you go with them.

    I’ve used SuperWebHost.com for a long time, but since they rebranded to SuperWebHost their support quality has declined. They don’t seem to offer upsells that don’t fix the problem, but there’s definitely a Tier 1 support level that’s not much help for anything slightly complicated. They may also still charge for SSL certs. The reason I mention them is that they can host E-mail in your hosting account, and they use cPanel, so you could probably have your whole site moved in 24 hours if you want, (still not sure about the listserv).

  • Ghost (https://ghost.org/) has a very nice hosted option though it seems fairly expensive (at least compared to what I do which is self host on a small VPS)

    Fully agreed with the Dreamhost recommendation if you want to stick with WordPress. I’ve used them in the past and they are great, I just decided to go all self-hosted for learning purposes.

    Fastmail is great. Best email service I’ve used bar none. You can either use native clients or their web app.

  • I can second the DreamHost recommendation, I’ve been with them for over a decade and never had reason to complain.

  • Another recommendation for FastMail.

    They can connect to your previous IMAP provider and import all of your old mail for you — I did this when I moved to them, and it worked flawlessly:


    • Since I had ssh access, I zipped up my etc/mail and then my mail folder and copied them both directly and unpacked each on the far end.

      The biggest slowdown was the 7GB of mail.

  • Siteground will move your site for free. So will PeoplesHost.

    I have my server with PH, and I can’t recommend them enough. (I would have mentioned them before but I wanted to make sure their managed WP hosting was as great as my VPS hosting).

    PH comes with free email (but their SSL cert costs $30):

    • I ended up using Siteground’s migrator for the website, but it probably would have been faster since I had an ssh open anyway just zipping and ftping. It seems to have worked just fine though

      • Oh, you moved already? Sorry, I just now got this post in my feed reader.

        • Your kindness is still appreciated!