Why we’re thinking about leaving Bluehost and finding a new home for our Classroom Blogs

We run several classroom blogs and professional sites, including this blog on using educational technology in the classroom. Mostly we use WordPress, but lately we’ve been experimenting with bulleting boards (phpBB) for our online literature circles.

You can only go so far with free accounts, whether they’re with Blogger, WordPress.com, Edublogs, or Wikispaces. Eventually, you want to be able to do more. That’s when we looked into setting up a self-hosted WordPress account and looked into finding a web host.

Up until now, we’ve been quite happy with BlueHost. They use Simple Scripts to let you set up a variety of websites with the click of a button, including WordPress, phpBB, etc.

So, what changed?

Domain Name Privacy Registration

BlueHost now charges $4.95 (per domain name per year) for their domain privacy service which they used to include for free. That’s enough to force us to go looking for a new home.

What’s the big deal? Domain names (like classroomteacher.ca) cost around $10 per domain name per year. When you register a domain name, your personal information usually gets published in an online database called WHOIS. (Canadian .ca domain names generally do not publish your personal information.)

Do you really want your students to be able to look up your home address and phone number?

Apparently, we have around 200 days before the privacy domain registration we have on our current domain names with BlueHost expires and we’ll be charged the $4.95 per domain name per year fee to mask our personal information. We have around 15 domain names registered for different classroom blogs, projects and professional sites. Now, we’ll have to pay an extra $75 per year to keep our domain name registration information private.

So, we’re in the market for a new place to host our domain names. Heck, we might even switch web hosts, entirely. Here are the two companies that have caught our eye.

1&1 Internet

Trusted by over 7 million customers!1&1 Internet offers free privacy domain name registration. Bluehost does not. 1&1 also charges less for domain names than Bluehost. Bluehost charges a flat $10 per domain name per year. In comparison, 1&1 charges $6.99 for the first year before returning to their regular price of $8.99 per domain name per year.

So, if we transfer our domain names over to 1&1, we’ll pay less for our domain names, and we’ll still get our free domain name privacy.

We’ll probably move our domain names over to 1&1, but at this point, we’re not too sure about switching our web hosting over to them yet.

Bluehost offers Simple Scripts which allows us to install a variety of free (open-source) programs to run our websites: WordPress, phpBB, Moodle, BuddyPress). Sure, we could install WordPress the hard way by downloading and uploading the software ourselves. (Have a look at our free ebook to see how complex it can be to install WordPress yourself.) But, after installing over twenty different WordPress sites on our Bluehost account using Simple Scripts, it’s hard to go back to doing it yourself with FTP. With simple scripts, you can have your wordpress blog up and running in a few clicks and a few minutes. It really is that simple.

1&1 Internet doesn’t offer simple scripts yet. Instead, they have their own “click n build” application process that includes phpBB, but doesn’t include WordPress. Since 1&1 Internet doesn’t offer simple scripts, we could set up our own simple script account, but it would cost us $15 per year to get unlimited installations. (We would need the unlimited installations option because we keep on setting up more and more WordPress blogs for our classes and colleagues.)

pSek

pSek is the web host that Edublogs trusts to run their Edublogs Campus. (For $900 per year, Edublogs will host up to 100 of your own edublogs accounts on pSek servers. $6500 per year if you want an unlimited number of blogs for your educational institution.)

pSek charges $10.95 per domain name per year which is a little more than Bluehost. We’re not sure from their website if they offer domain name privacy.

For many people, web hosting with Bluehost is better than pSek.

  • Bluehost is cheaper. Bluehost charges from $6.95 to $8.95 per month (depending on if you sign up for 3 years or 1 year of service.) In comparison, pSek charges from $7 to $25 per month ranging from a personal plan to a corporate plan.
  • You can set up more websites with Bluehost. With Bluehost, you can have an unlimited number of websites with different domain names (add-on domain names) on your account. pSek only allows you to have a few websites on your account (1 add-on domain for the personal plan and upto 10 add-on domains for a corporate account)
  • You get more space with Bluehost. You get unlimited disk storage with Bluehost. In comparison, you only get 200 MB with pSek. You get 100 SQL databases with Bluehost. (You’ll basically need 1 SQL database per WordPress or bulletinboard site.) pSek offers you 5 SQL databases with their personal plan.

Bottom line is that Bluehost will pretty much let you set up as many class blogs and websites as you want. We’re glad we started with Bluehost and we’ll probably continue to use Bluehost as our shared web hosting provider.

So, why are we considering getting a pSek account? Because when we have 30 students in the lab at one time trying to create work on the same classroom website (powered by Bluehost), it seems the website runs slowly.Wordpress sites definetely run slower than our literature circles (which run off of phpBB) but either way, there seems to be a lag while students wait for the pages to load.

Which brings us to pSek. If this is the webhost of choice powerful enough to power Edublog Campus, then it’s something we need to look at. Especially if we go down the road of helping other teachers to set up online lit circles.

Bottom Line

Since Bluehost is no longer offering free domain name privacy registration, we’re in the process of finding a new place to register our domain name. At this point, it looks like we’ll be transferring to 1-and-1 internet.

But we’re also starting to wonder if we’re beginning to outgrow the web hosting services at Bluehost. We’ve got our eye on pSek as well.

Who do you use for your class blog or website?


9 thoughts on “Why we’re thinking about leaving Bluehost and finding a new home for our Classroom Blogs”

  1. Have you switched to pSek?

    The reason I ask is because I use BlueHost for everything and last night set up an account at pSek for a big WordPress MU blog I’m about to host. The ONLY reason I went with pSek is because WordPress keeps “recommending” them for WPMU. However, I am incredibly disappointed at the service. It’s been over 12 hours and I still have “pending” status. No domain, no site.
    In the world of web hosting, that’s a really long time.

    Their customer service phone line doesn’t open for 30 minutes. You can bet I’m going to be the first in line. If I don’t get the site up in the next hour or so, I’m definitely going to go for a refund and go back to BlueHost for the MU site until I find a more suitable solution.

    I’m just really disappointed. I’ve had great experiences with SiteGround and BlueHost in terms of speed, and with pSek, it’s so far, like watching paint dry.

    Please let me know what your experiences are with pSek if you have made the switch!

  2. Hi Tia,

    We just signed up for an account with pSek because we found that our classroom blogs got choked by Bluehost and slowed down with their CPU throttling (http://blog.classroomteacher.ca/521/classroom-blogs-bluehost-cpu-throttling-and-psek-webhosting/)

    We still have our Bluehost account (in fact at the moment, this blog is still hosted on Bluehost), but we have mixed feelings about pSek.

    1. We set up wordpress MU ourselves. (Actually we transfered over a buddypress installation that we set up on our Bluehost account using Simple Scripts.) WP.MU charges a fee to set up WordPerss MU and pSek’s fantastico script installer doesn’t include buddypress or WordPress MU

    2. We had about 30 students log into our class blogs (WordPress SU) without any CPU throttling. (Bluehost slowed down our class blog when everyone was logged in and the students got pretty frustrated waiting for their comments and posts to load.) Our wordpress MU site isn’t set up yet for the students, so we haven’t given that a go yet, but we imagine there shouldn’t be any problems.

    3. Having said that, our site has been down more often with pSek in the past few days than it has been down with Bluehost for the past few months. Several times in the past two weeks, we’ve placed a support ticket with pSek to find out what’s going on. The first time, they were rebooting their database. The second time, they were rebooting their server. Sure, pSek isn’t slowing down our students when they’re working on the site, but how good is that if the site is down. We’re not sure about the up-time with pSek yet…

    As for support, we’ve found their email response time to be fantastic. We’ve submitted a few tickets (http://www.psek.com/support/) and their turn around has been within a few hours.

    If you do go with Bluehost for your WordPress MU site, we’d be interested to hear if you find CPU throttling a problem when you have multiple users logged in. Good luck!

  3. You’re being stupid, and nobody like being told that… but pay attention and continue reading!!!

    You are mixing apples & oranges so STOP IT!

    Yes, Bluehost provides domain names and YES, Bluehost is a hosting provider.

    What you like is Bluehost’s unlimited domains, storage, and traffic — and their number of allowed email addresses and sql databases….

    GOOD — so you’ve made your decision stick with Bluehost as a “Hosting Provider”.

    So you don’t like paying extra for domain privacy and I’m with you… so go with someone else!! I use NameCheap because privacy is included as well as the first year of SSL 🙂

    You CAN use ANY domain through any REGISTRAR and using the domain manager add it to your Bluehost account.

    So take your domains that are registered through Bluehost and and transfer them to another registrar that provides free privacy and then point them back to DNS ns1.bluehost.com and ns2.bluehost.com… add them to your account using your domain manager and you’re up and running.

    In the future, please try and know what you are talking about and don’t mix apples and oranges 🙂

  4. Whoa Nellie!!! Bluehost no long has monthly hosting and if you look around you can find links that will get you Bluehost service CHEAP!!!

    $4.95 per month for a 1-year plan AND
    $3.95 per month for a 2 or 3 year plan. 🙂

    type this into google: bluehost 3.95 per month

    DON’T WORRY…. BE HAPPY!!!!

  5. Hi Kevin,

    Thanks for your feedback. We know the difference between a web host and domain registrar but sorry we didn’t make the distinction more clear in this post.

    Six months ago, we were looking for a new place to host our domain names because Bluehost started to charge for domain privacy. We switched our domains over to 1and1 and just pointed them to Bluehost’s name servers. But since we were going to take the time looking for a new domain provider, we thought we might switch web hosts entirely to see if we could find anything better. (Bluehost CPU throttles and we felt our class blog lagged because of this.)

    We still use Bluehost as a web host – in fact, this blog is hosted with them. For a while, we moved our classroom blogs to pSek but we found that they couldn’t handle a class of 30 students logging into our WordPress MU class blog at the same time, either, so we’re taken the next step from shared hosting into virtual hosting services.

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