Here at wpXPRESS, hosting is an essential part of our business. We can’t provide “hassle-free” websites unless we have great hosting to keep those sites online and running at their optimum.
So we take hosting very seriously. I personally know a ton about hosting, because I’ve used a lot of different hosts and server setups (VPS, dedicated, colocation, and more) over the years. I also know what a massive undertaking it is to move all our client’s sites to new hosting. So it was no small choice to decide to switch once again.
I’ll tell you more about what convinced me to look for other options in a future post. For brevity’s sake, in this post, I’ll just say that we very much liked CloudWays that we’ve been with for the past several years. In the past, we moved from horrible to bad hosting, then from bad to passable, and finally from passable to really quite good, when we found CloudWays. So this was more of a decision to go from good to really great.
Flywheel Caught My Eye
Though I know plenty about hosting and have used many different options, at the end of the day I love design, and I love working with WordPress. I don’t like fighting with the hardware and hosting stacks to get WordPress to run right. I’d much rather spend my time actually designing, building, and maintaining the websites themselves.
I’d looked at Flywheel briefly before, and assumed they were just too expensive to have that many websites on. This was one of the really appealing features of CloudWays: it was quite inexpensive. But I was listening to a WP podcast and they had one of the founders of Flywheel on. He talked all about how they’re oriented toward designers, people who want to design and build sites on WordPress, but don’t want to bother with all the hassle that hosting often is. As I listened, I couldn’t help but feel drawn to them. He described exactly what I wanted.
So I reviewed their website again, and even got an account and tried out Flywheel for a few small side projects. It worked extremely well, and I was very impressed with both their customer support, the simplicity of their hosting dashboard (aka control panel), the cleanness of their design, and their team and collaboration tools. They’d taken all the pain out of handing over billing to single-project clients, working as a team on many sites, duplicating sites, and even smaller things that most hosts pay no attention to like SSL, backups, malware scanning, and overall security.
What Really Impressed Me About Flywheel
- Simple, easy interface.
- Locked-down, secure WordPress setup (we can’t modify core WP files if we want to).
- Included, automatic malware scanning.
- Team and organization collaboration tools.
- Easy SSL installation, backups, cloning, and other admin functionality.
- Amazing customer support (I don’t use “amazing” lightly).
- They remove all the normal hassle and problems of hosting.
- We get to just focus on your websites.
I was still hesitant because of the price, but so impressed that I couldn’t help but reach out to their sales team. Donovan was assigned to me and patiently worked with me through many questions and concerns. I was very thorough about the whole thing because of all my bad experiences with hosting in the past. He was very kind and not only worked with me through that but empathized with my past hosting woes, and even worked with me on pricing to help make it a little more manageable. In the end, we decided to make the switch, even though it would cost us nearly double what we had been paying CloudWays.
Migrating to Flywheel
So at the beginning of 2017 wpXPRESS became a client of Flywheel. It took us most of January to get all our client’s sites moved over. Flywheel does free migrations, but we have to point the domains to it once the migrations are finished. And for some of our client’s sites that receive a lot of traffic, we had to manually re-migrate the database, to ensure all the latest data was on Flywheel when we “flipped the switch” on the domain. Aaron was assigned as our migration manager and did an excellent job of getting us through that process. There was one really random problem that arose, but he quickly helped remedy it.
Even with all of Flywheel’s excellent help and support, it was still a monstrous undertaking, especially since we have considerably more members than last time we moved hosts, several years ago. But we knew it would be well worth it. As of Tues, Feb 21st, all of our 65 websites are running on Flywheel’s hosting. Most of the migrations were finished weeks before that. In just those short weeks we’ve seen less downtime and found some of the things we do on a regular basis to be much easier and quicker. Support has continued to impress throughout.
What this Means for Our Members
If you’re one of our members, this means great things for you. The biggest single benefit of this change has is that we’ll have more time and energy to focus on you: our members. We’ll spend even less time managing and maintaining hosting, troubleshooting incompatibilities, etc, and can use that time to respond to your requests and improve your website, even when you don’t ask us to. That’s why we felt it was worth the significant increase in cost and all the hassle and headache of migrating all your sites.
As I said in a previous post, we really want to make 2017 the year of our members. We want to get better at providing support and impressing you. But not only will this move to Flywheel allow us to put more time into that, it’ll also give us insight into their awesome support. Along with other things we’re working on, we hope this will really increase the level of customer service and overall value we provide you.