Previously, this blog was hosted on a Virtual Private Server (VPS) with Linode. No problem there, it worked for many years. However, the VPS has other uses, and this blog needed to move.
Wordpress.com looked like the most attractive option. Automatic updates, automatic backups, automatic CDN etc. So I exported my blog and imported into WordPress.com with a $5 AUD/month personal account. This price gives you a limited setup (no custom plugins), but that was OK as their JetPack plugin provided anti-spam for comments and a form plugin to make a contact form. The price was reasonable too. Alas, the import was very slow eventually imported only 50% of my media (about 40mb of 80mb). URLs to images were also incorrect and showed up as broken even for media that was imported, as the URL structure changed on WordPress.com (links go to a CDN instead). WordPress.com support promised that the image URLs would be updated by a batch job during the night. This never happened. On the subject of the missing media, support told me I needed to upload my media in ~5mb chunks, as the import process could time out but didn’t give any output to the user or support. Ie, they recommended I do 16 manual exports and imports from old blog to new to avoid timeouts. At this point, things felt too creaky to continue, and I asked for a refund, which WordPress.com support kindly agreed to.
Hosting on WordPress.com has some other minor differences. The comment form shows up differently (maybe from jetpack), maybe a little less attractive than my theme, but not a show stopper. There are two admin consoles, the normal WordPress one, and their custom one. There is some overlap between. It is a workable setup. You can’t add Google Analytics though without upgrading your plan, and there’s no way to get everything out easily (you can get out your WordPress xml export, but not media files or settings).
In conclusion, WordPress.com was mainly unsuccessful for me as it was unable to import my old blog. With no access to files or database, it was also impossible for me to manually correct any issues. Perhaps if you were starting a new blog, it could be a good option.
Shared Account with InMotion
After some research online, I went with inmotion.com shared hosting for WordPress. They promise to update your WordPress automatically (I also installed an additional plugin to keep the other plugins up to date). They offer a full and automated WordPress install (all plugins, themes etc available), backup functionality (though you have to ask them to restore), and full ssh access. Speed is good so far, and they are very reasonably priced ($2.95 USD/month if you sign up for 3 years with this coupon). They offer a 90 day back money guarantee.
I tried the same import from my old blog. It was more successful than wordpress.com but didn’t get all media and some links were still broken. I rsync-ed the missing files across (handy to have ssh access) and ran a quick DB update to fix links. InMotion even had a support page for this. Their online support was helpful when I needed to know the IP of my shared host.
So far so good, my blog is now set up and working and I’d recommend InMotion.
Scalability / Performance Tip – Use Cloudflare
I use Cloudflare to provide a CDN, HTTPS and reverse proxy caching for my blog. Their free account is sufficient and means that if my blog ever gets super busy, the load will be handled by Cloudflare, rather than overloading my shared host. Their CDN setup also means the blog loads faster from non-US locations.