Here at Digital Strategy Works, we are frequently asked about hosting. We have our favorites. WP Engine, MediaTemple, Page.ly and SiteGround come to mind, but we frequently talk clients who signed-up long ago with Yahoo! Small Business for both domain management and hosting needs. Those early decisions to use a company like Yahoo! for hosting WordPress sites were easy to make. You knew Yahoo! as your email provider and trusted that Yahoo! could also provide quality hosting and support. In some cases, that is true. One can get decent, cheap hosting from the company and they’ll manage your domain name entry for you all under one roof. That’s fine for a pure HTML site, but when it comes to a dynamic content management system like WordPress, you should avoid Yahoo! at all costs.
First, Yahoo! should not be in the hosting business at all. Yes, we said it was fine above, but really? Yahoo!? Hosting? Why?
At one point in time, someone at Yahoo! thought, “we need to be in that business to compete with GoDaddy and Amazon! (or other services for that matter)” But that’s not what Yahoo! does best. Under its new leadership, Yahoo! is becoming a content company and their hosting services lag far behind all managed WordPress hosting companies today.
Right now, we’re working on redirecting one of our client’s domains that is registered at Yahoo! Small Business to a new site hosted on Blue Host’s servers. We’re not big fans of Blue Host either, but that’s what we’re dealing with. When we logged into Yahoo! SMB’s Hosting control panel, we saw this message:
Important Announcement: Required Upgrade to WordPress version 3.9.2
- There are possible security issues with older versions of WordPress. To prevent any issues please upgrade to the latest WordPress version 3.9.2. This is a mandatory action that must be completed by Monday, September 15, 2014. After this date, we will automatically upgrade all WordPress sites to the latest version.
- Additionally, we suggest you take the following actions to further enhance security:
- Remove the plugins wp-cache, wp-db-backup, which have known security vulnerabilities.
- Install w3-total-cache and all-in-one-wp-security-and-firewall plugins to provide enhanced security for your WordPress site.
- If you have custom installations, the upgrade to WordPress 3.9.2 may cause unexpected changes to your site. It is recommended that you upgrade prior to the deadline to provide yourself adequate time to plan for any potential fixes. The following WordPress article can help you through the process: https://codex.wordpress.org/Upgrading_WordPress_-_Extended_Instructions. While we do provide the technical infrastructure you need to run WordPress (PHP and MySQL), we cannot offer technical support or a warranty as WordPress is an open-source service.
Okay, Yahoo!. Thanks for the message about removing plugins and installing Total Cache and All In One WP Security, the latter of which we’ve never used. We use Brute Protect to prevent spam bot attacks and Sucuri Security for malware and auditing of our WordPress sites. Brute Protect is so powerful, the plugin was recently acquired by the Automattic for inclusion in the Jet Pack plugin, which features a combination of high level plugins written by the WordPress team themselves.
Where is Yahoo! on Brute Protect? They’re still lagging far behind. And, they’re still advocating for upgrading to WordPress 3.9.2! Wait! We’re now on WordPress 4.0! Come on Yahoo!, wake up! What happens with enterprise companies like Yahoo!, is they cannot move as fast as smaller hosting companies that will test and approve new versions of WordPress weeks after their releases to the public.
The latest version of WordPress: 4.0, comes with a great new feature that allows the blog author to keep their editing tools persistent while writing posts. There are other advancements in the media library and using oEmbed to embed social links from YouTube, SlideShare, MixCloud, SoundCloud and other services, so one doesn’t need to rely on plugins anymore to embed 3rd party widgets that do stuff. But where is Yahoo! on this? Late, that’s where. While the entire world outside of Yahoo! is updating to 4.0, Yahoo! is still recommending 3.9.2.
Okay, so we’ve talked about how late Yahoo! is on WordPress versioning. There are many other problems with Yahoo! hosting for WordPress, but the most pressing problem is the removal of .htaccess from the root directory of WordPress installs. Why is .htaccess so important? First, how can you install Total Cache if you don’t have .htaccess, for Total Cache relies on .htaccess to insert its caching rules! That goes against the statement listed in their admin hosting panel!
Here is what Yahoo! says about .htaccess:
.htaccess (Hypertext Access)
The name .htaccess refers to the main configuration file for Apache, a popular open-sourceHTTP server. The .htaccess file can be used to create custom error pages and web page redirects, set up password protection, enable SSI, and more. Yahoo does not currently allow you to upload .htaccess files to your account. For other customization options, we recommend the custom Error Pages and password-protection features available in your Web Hosting Control Panel.
That’s great. No .htaccess file, so we can’t even write redirection rules in the .htaccess file manually, nor can we employ a redirection plugin, which will write the rules for us. Redirection rules help site owners redirect posts, pages and other links as 301s (forwarding permanently to a new URL) or 401s (not available). Yahoo! offers the “custom Error Pages tool,” but who is going to add HTML files to a WordPress folder and then set some rules in those pages, which aren’t explained in their help section other than to refer you to the tool. You have to be a developer to understand and utilize it and not a general site owner or editor, who could accomplish this themselves with a redirection plugin!
Not only does Yahoo! not allow .htaccess. Yahoo! also restricts users from increasing the memory limit of their WordPress installation. Meaning that if you install a set of plugins and find yourself needing a big more php memory to help fuel your site’s processing needs, forget about it. Call support and plead with them and they will say, sorry, we don’t allow that. WordPress at a minimum, I believe the last time I check required 40MB of php memory. Need to increase that to 64MB, well, you’re out of luck.
We also found out that we simply can’t redirect a URL in the Yahoo! Domain Manager settings. We found the instructions here: https://help.yahoo.com/kb/yahoo-domains/learn-set-domain-forwarding-sln17950.html
It says something about these services being available to Yahoo! domain and business mail customers, but my client is a domain customer! Where we do the redirect, we don’t know. Now, the client has to call Yahoo! and learn why they can’t do something that you can do in most other services easily.
Lastly, in today’s world of WordPress hosting, even GoDaddy is getting into managed WordPress, where you don’t have to use the one-click install. WordPress is simply there when you login. That’s it. No one-click. No fuss. You see this now at WP Engine, which does a fantastic job of powering WordPress managed sites that also come with staging environments, so you can build a site in staging and then push it to live with one click. Most site with small businesses work on their LIVE site, not a staging site. It means the changes you are making to your live site are seen by all. With WP Engine, you’ll get a staging environment relatively easy to deploy and work with. Why would anyone use Yahoo! if they could use WP Engine, who deploy this functionality to every site owner? Answer – you wouldn’t. You would go right to WP Engine!
Do yourself a favor. Get off Yahoo! Small Business Hosting and move today! Need help. We can do it for you. Contact us and we’ll move your WordPress site from Yahoo! SMB to WP Engine today! You’ll get managed hosting where they do the upgrades for you! You’ll get a fantastic admin user experience. And, you’ll get peace of mind knowing that you’re not hosting with a dinosaur, but a nimble startup in Austin, TX who are working on WordPress all day, everyday.