DigitalOcean Review

DigitalOcean provides virtual private server hosting that is highly customizable with high availability at reasonable prices. Unlike other hosting providers that also provide shared hosting and dedicated hosting, DigitalOcean only provides virtual private servers which are referred to as droplets. A droplet is a resizable cloud server that comes in a number of configurations:

1 Core512MB20GB SSD$5
1 Core1GB30GB SSD$10
2 Core2GB40GB SSD$20
4 Core8GB80GB SSD$80
12 Core32GB320GB SSD$320
20 Core64GB640GB SSD$640

Some of the best features that come with DigitalOcean include:

Deploy in seconds – spin up a droplet in 55 seconds

SSD performance – all servers are equipped with SSDs

Highly available storage – attach multiple highly available volumes up to 16TB to a droplet

Fast network – each hypervisor has a 40Gbps network

Resize – scale your droplet’s resources up or down based on your usage

Backups and snapshots – enable automatic backups or take a snapshot at any time

Monitoring – keep track of your droplet’s bandwidth, disk and CPU levels

DigitalOcean has support for a number of different regions:

  • New York City
  • San Francisco
  • Toronto
  • London
  • Amsterdam
  • Frankfurt
  • Bangalore
  • Singapore

You can deploy a VPS to the region closest to your visitors in order to provide the best performance. In addition, you can setup a backup of your site in another region in order to have a spare site in case a region goes down.

Another big advantage to going with DigitalOcean is the number of one-click applications they provide. In less than 10 minutes, you can have any of the following applications up and running: Cassandra, Discourse, Django, Docker, Dokku, Drone, Drupal, Elixir, ELK, Ghost, GitLab, Horizon, Joomla, LAMP, LEMP, Magento, MEAN, MediaWiki, MongoDB, Node.js, ownCloud, Redis, Redmine, Ruby on Rails, WordPress.

And lastly, DigitalOcean is extremely developer-friendly. They do everything from provide extensive APIs so you can automate the creation and provisioning of droplets to hosting meetups so you can meet the team behind DigitalOcean. There is also an extensive community that includes user submitted questions, tutorials and projects that integrate with the DigitalOcean APIs.


Merchant Marketing Corner for Small Businesses

AMEX Shop Small

The Merchant Marketing Corner is a great resource for small businesses created by American Express. The site provides resources to help attract new customers as well as get existing customer back to your store (both online and offline). And to help promote small businesses, American Express is incentivizing their card-holders with 2X rewards when they register their American Express card and use it at a registered small business. And if you’re a small business owner, they provide the following resources:

Promote Shop Small

As a small business, you can let your customers know they’re supporting a small business by having in-store signage, adding Shop Small logos to your websites and emails, and lastly promoting Shop Small through all of your social media profiles (Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, etc.). American Express provides a download with the digital assets that you can use to print and embed the relevant Shop Small images.

Attract New Customers

To help attract new customers, American Express has created an online Shop Small map. As a small business, if you have a physical brick and mortar, you should definitely register. Once you’ve registered, new customers will be able to find you in the online registry which will get a lot of attention Saturday November 26 for Small Business Saturday (also the day after Black Friday).  You can also reach new customers by posting ads online – American Express will even cover the cost of getting your ads on sites like CNN and

There are some pretty cool resources put together by American Express. But there are some gotchas to all these perks – the first one is that you have to be a small business that accepts American Express and have a verified merchant id. In order to have your business added to the online registry or get free advertising, you need to have an account and verify that you own a small business that accepts American Express. I don’t think it’s worth accepting American Express for these perks but if you already accept American Express, then I highly recommend creating an account and making sure your small business shows up.

InMotion Review

InMotion provides a wide variety of products such as shared hosting, VPS hosting and dedicated hosting.

Shared Business Hosting

Shared hosting is a great economical way to start a website. InMotion is well known for their shared hosting plans. A lot of people will pick a shared hosting plan and start a site using InMotion’s one-click WordPress/Joomla/PrestaShop install. You can build a site in PHP/Ruby/Perl/Python and create MySQL/PostgreSQL databases or just a static HTML site. You can get a lot out of a shared hosting plan.

PlanDatabasesWebsitesE-Commerce ReadyPrice

Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting

InMotion also has VPS hosting options that can give you more control over your server while being more affordable than dedicated hosting. One key advantage of InMotion is that all the servers have SSD drives instead of standard HDD. You avoid the risk of someone else on the server eating up the server’s capacity and you get dedicated CPU, memory and bandwidth. A VPS is a great solution if you’ve outgrown your shared hosting and want more dedicated resources.

VPS-1000HA-S4GB60GB SSD2TB$29.99
VPS-2000HA-S6GB130GB SSD3TB$49.99
VPS-3000HA-S8GB200GB SSD4TB$74.99

Dedicated Hosting

Dedicated hosting is the ultimate in website performance, security and control. You get full access to the server and you can have more configuration options than a VPS. For the increased price, you get more CPU, RAID storage, more RAM and more bandwidth.

EssentialIntel Xeon X3430 2.8GHz8GB1TB HDD6TB$99.99
AdvancedIntel Xeon E3-1246 3.9GHz16GB250GB SSD or 2TB HDD10TB$159.99
EliteIntel Xeon E3-1246 3.9GHz32GB2x250GB SSD or 2x2TB HDD10TB$229.99

InMotion is a web host with an impressive track record that includes a A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau as well being a top rated CNET web hosting company for 13 years. In addition, they are big supporters of open source and have sponsorships with WordPress, Joomla, b2evolution and PrestaShop.

Best Web Hosting for PHP


If you’re looking for PHP web hosting, I assume you’re actually building a PHP web application and not looking for a WYSIWYG site builder. I also assume you’re not looking for WordPress Hosting. Still with me? Great, let’s talk about PHP. According to one source, over 80% of the Internet uses PHP. Popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and many more are known to use “some” PHP. I caveat with the term some because all the sites I mentioned use a variety of different technologies. But back to why you’re here, it is safe to assume you’re someone who is learning how to program and chose PHP or maybe you’re someone who has something that needs to be built and decided PHP is the easiest way to do it. The two scenarios might sound similar but are pretty different and we’ll discuss why later. For now, let’s get to what you need to know and what you need to consider when picking a web host for your PHP needs.

How much traffic do you expect?

The first thing to figure out if how much traffic do you expect. If you’re here, I’m going to assume you don’t expect millions (or even thousands) or visitors on day 1. If this is true, any shared web host with good PHP support should be sufficient. If you’re really curious, take a look at our bandwidth calculator to help you determine how much bandwidth you’ll need. On the other hand, if you’re expecting a lot of traffic (let’s say more than 10K a day) then you should go with a VPS web host.

What version of PHP do you need?

This should be another easy question that only matters if you were told that you need a specific version of PHP – the most common version is PHP5 which is what all web hosts support. On the other hand, if you’re using specific libraries or frameworks, it would be a good idea to investigate and see what version of PHP they require/support/recommend. Unless you’re using something either really old or really cutting edge, you will probably be using PHP5 go to the website.

For a Low Traffic, First-Time Developer, Side Project

bluehostBlueHost is a great shared web host that’s perfect for a first-time developer that wants to build their first website in PHP. The sign-up process is very quick and easy, the monthly price is extremely reasonable  at $2.75 and the overall reliability is decent (again, assuming your site has low traffic and this isn’t mission critical). After you have signed up, picked a domain and have access to cPanel, you can start coding your first pages and uploading the files. You might also need to setup a database if you want to store/retrieve data. If you need help getting started and want recommendations on tutorials or frameworks, check out our guide on getting started with PHP (Coming Soon).

For a Growing Site and Experienced Developer 

If you already have a site and/or you know you’ll get a lot of traffic, you should consider BlueHost VPS hosting. BlueHost is a well-known hosting provider and also has reasonable pricing for VPS hosts at $14.99. And if you’re an experienced developer or have built websites in PHP before, you’ll definitely appreciate the flexibility of a VPS compared to a shared host. You’ll be able to install specific packages, upgrade libraries, restrict/enable access or even use different technologies (Java, NodeJS, Python, etc.). Of course, with more flexibility, there’s also risks so you should only go the VPS route if there’s a need.

Best Web Hosting for Small Business

If you’re a small business owner, you probably don’t want to spend time figuring out where to host your website. In fact, you probably want to spend as little time as possible and focus your time on other things like spending time with customers, optimizing other processes and attracting more customers. But on the other hand, your website could help you interact with more customers, be a new channel for sales and help acquire new customers. So, it’s basically a catch 22 and you have to get a website up and running but you still want to spend as little time as possible. So let’s look at your options:

Hosting ProviderBest ForMonthly Price
BlueHostGrowing Online Businesses$2.75
iPageLow Traffic Business Website$1.99
1 & 1Budget Conscious Business$0.99
FatCowFree Marketing Services$3.15
InMotionPremium Business Hosting$5.99

As a small business owner, you should focus on getting the minimal website up and running as quickly as possible. You want Google to start indexing your site and sending you traffic. You also want to start promoting your site on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Yelp, etc.). You want a website that answers the following basic questions:

  1. What is your company name?
  2. What do you sell?
  3. Where are you located?
  4. What time are you open?
  5. How do I contact you (email, phone, etc.)?

You’ll notice I didn’t mention questions like “Why should I buy from you?” or “How much does X cost?” – these are hard questions to answer and something important but doesn’t need to be a priority. Answer these questions after your site is up and running. Most people tend to overthink things and try to solve or answer too many problems/questions. This can lead to analysis paralysis and basically stall a project. Don’t let that happen to you.

As far as pricing, look for something inexpensive, but don’t go with something too budget. If it’s too cheap, you’ll regret things when your site goes down when you get a surge of traffic. And since you also want your site to load fast, you’ll want to make sure you’re on good hardware with enough bandwidth. Look at reviews and feedback from other customers – it should be easy to spot unreliable hosting.

HubSpot Website Grader Can Teach Your Website A Thing Or Two

Website Grader

HubSpot’s Website Grader has been around for years and it really does a great job at keeping up with what’s important for a website and identifies potential problems. By just entering the URL for your website (your email is optional, so don’t feel compelled to provide it) you get an overall score for your website and a breakdown of its strengths and weaknesses. The areas that are evaluated are:

Optimizing your website’s performance is crucial to increasing traffic, improving conversion rates, generating more leads, and increasing revenue.

The main metrics to determine how your site’s performance are page size, page requests and page speed. In addition, Website Grader also checks for browser caching, page redirects, compression and render blocking.

Traffic from mobile devices is growing fast. Optimize your website for mobile or you’ll miss out on valuable traffic, leads, and revenue.

For mobile, your site must be responsive (not only does the Website Grader look for this, Google demands this if you want to rank in SERP). In addition, you need to have a viewport specified so your page scales appropriately on mobile and tablet devices.

Make sure your website is easy for users to discover—and easy for search bots to understand—with better page titles, headings, and meta descriptions.

There’s a lot of things to make sure your site is SEO friendly (we’ll go into more detail later) but some of the basics include specifying page titles, meta descriptions, heading tags and a sitemap. Again, there’s plenty more, but you can’t go wrong by making sure all of these are specified.

SSL certificates protect websites from attacks and give visitors confidence that your site is authentic and trustworthy. And security can also affect your SEO rankings since Google announced that HTTPS is a ranking signal.

So hopefully you get perfect scores in all of these areas, but if you don’t, Website Grader gives you next-steps on how to improve your scores. For example, some of the advice I got for BuildHack were:

Combine files to minimize the number of HTTP requests your site makes.

Speed up your site by lightening up your site pages, compressing images and video where possible.

Implement caching to speed up the loading of frequently used content.

Remove or defer any JavaScript or CSS that interferes with loading above-the-fold content.

So what are you doing still reading, go to and see how your website is doing project task tracking software.

Digital Garage Helps Small Businesses Build Digital Skills

Small Business Online MarketingDigital Garage is an online platform provided by Google to help small business owners develop digital skills such selling online, reaching more customers on social media and getting noticed online. Small business owners can sign up for specific courses and learn through video tutorials at their own pace. Whom better to learn from on how to optimize your online presence than the company that directs up to 50% of traffic on the Internet.

There are 23 topics currently available, some of the ones that I would recommend are:

Build your web presence
There’s more than one way to establish your home on the web. Understand your options and create an action plan to get online.

Get started with search
Discover how they work, why they’re important, how they’ll impact your business and why they are key to your online success.

Get noticed locally
Whether you’re a bricks- and- mortar shop or a localised service, find ways to use the web to reach customers nearby.

Get started with analytics
We’ll show you how to slice and dice data to answer real business questions, and to measure how you’re doing online.

And why are these things important to learn for small business owners? The testimonials are pretty compelling:

Adrian Simpson set up a basic website for his new speechwriting business and began advertising online through search.

Within 31 days, he’d sold 31 speeches.

And here’s another testimonial from across the pond:

Rachael’s Kitchen makes and delivers delicious cupcakes across the UK and Europe.

Since Rachael started marketing online, web sales have grown by 50%. She’s been able to take on new staff and to compete against much larger players.

And lastly, to show the value of understanding what your customers are doing on your website:

Cotswold Balloon Safaris runs hot air balloon flights over the picturesque Cotswolds countryside.

By analysing his web traffic, Captain Mike Jennings learned that his potential customers often browse at lunchtime and in the early evening. Now he targets them at those times.

So basically, more customers, more sales and more money – what’s not to like, right? But you still have to invest time which is a hard thing to come by when you’re running a business. So what should a small business owner expect? Here is how it works:

  1. Create a learning plan by picking courses that interest you
  2. Watch video tutorials and learn from other small business owners
  3. Start applying what you’ve learned on your own website
  4. Rinse and repeat – take more courses
  5. For bonus points, complete all the courses and get a certification 🙂

Again, this is a great opportunity for a small business owner to invest time and grow their business online.

BlueHost Review

BlueHost provides a wide variety of products such as shared hosting, VPS hosting and dedicated hosting.

Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is a great economical way to start a website. BlueHost is well known for their shared hosting plans. A lot of people will pick a shared hosting plan and start a site using BlueHost’s one-click WordPress install. You can also host a site powered by PHP or just a static HTML site. You can get a lot out of a shared hosting plan.

PlanWebsitesWebsite SpaceBandwidthMonthly Price
Basic150 GBUnmetered$3.45

Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting

BlueHost also has VPS hosting options that can give you more control over your server while being more affordable than dedicated hosting. You avoid the risk of someone else on the server eating up the server’s capacity and you get dedicated CPU, memory and bandwidth. A VPS is a great solution if you’ve outgrown your shared hosting and want more dedicated resources.

PlanCPUStorageRAMBandwidthMontly Price
Standard2 CPU Cores30GB2GB1TG$14.99
Enhanced2 CPU Cores60GB4GB2TB$29.99
Premium3 CPU Cores120GB6GB3TB$44.99
Ultimate4 CPU Cores240GB8GB4TB$59.99

Dedicated Hosting

Dedicated hosting is the ultimate in website performance, security and control. You get full access to the server and you can have more configuration options than a VPS. For the increased price, you get more CPU, RAID storage, more RAM and more bandwidth.

Standard4 x 2.5 GHz CPU1TB4GB5TB$79.99
Enhanced4 x 2.5 GHz CPU1TB8GB10TB$99.99
Premium4 x 3.3 GHz CPU1TB16GB15TB$119.99

How Much Web Hosting Bandwidth Do I Need?


There are a lot of factors that go into figuring out how much hosting you need. One component is how much bandwidth you’ll need. Bandwidth is the amount of data that needs to be transferred for all your visitors to see your website. The main components of bandwidth are the number of visitors your site gets, the number of pages each visitor sees and the average size of the page. Once you have these numbers, you can determine how much bandwidth your site currently needs. Most hosting providers will allocate bandwidth on a monthly cycle. Use the following calculator to determine how much bandwidth you need:


One way to avoid having to care about bandwidth is to go with a hosting provider that has unlimited bandwidth. But be careful because typically unlimited bandwidth has restrictions and they also reserve the right to throttle your traffic if it affects other websites. If you are starting a small site and don’t expect too much traffic, most of the shared hosts will be enough.

As an example, if you are starting a website and go with BlueHost, <a href=”https://www.buildhack look what i”>iPage or InMotion, they all provide unlimited bandwidth with their shared hosting plans. This is a great way to get started and then you don’t have to worry when your site gets popular and you start getting a lot of traffic (which is a great problem to have). But be prepared if you do get really popular, you might start to see your site getting slower. You might need to move your site to a VPS or to a different hosting provider. Migrating your site can be difficult, but it’s definitely a rare thing that most websites never have to do.

In conclusion, if you’re starting a new website you probably don’t need to worry about how much bandwidth you need. On the other hand, if you already have a site, you can use that as your baseline and plug those numbers into our calculator and get a pretty good idea of how much bandwidth you’ll need in the future.

Best Web Hosting for WordPress

WordPress Hosting

WordPress run around 5% of the entire Internet, that means around 16M sites are powered by WordPress. You’re reading content that is hosted on a WordPress site. So now that we have established how powerful WordPress is, let’s help you find a web host to host your WordPress instance. Notice how I didn’t mention blog because while WordPress is thought of as a blog, it’s so much more and can power just about anything.

Hosting ProviderBest ForMonthly Price
BlueHostFree Domain$2.75
HostGatorUnmetered Bandwidth$3.13
iPageDrag and Drop Setup$1.99
1 & 1Business Website$0.99
HostMonsterUnlimited Storage$4.95
FatCowUnlimited Domains$3.15
IPOWERUnlimited Hosting$3.25
InMotionHosting with SSD$5.99
Just HostFree Site Builder$3.95
LunarpagesUnlimited Email$4.95
WebhostingPadFree Website Transfer$1.99
Hosting24Unlimited Hosting$3.99

As you look at different web hosts to host WordPress, you want to consider how much space they provide (for all your images/files), how much bandwidth they provide (as your traffic grows) and how reliable the host is. Also, you’ll want to see how much space they provide for your databases since WordPress stores most of your content and configuration in mySQL. And something that web hosts don’t typically include but you’ll want to consider is backing up your site in case the server your site goes down or gets corrupted and you need to host it somewhere else.

Once you have picked a provider and have WordPress installed, don’t get overwhelmed by customizing every part of your site. The best advice I can give is to focus on generating high-quality content. If you don’t have a lot of traffic, a pretty site with no content isn’t going to help. However, if you build high-quality content that gets indexed by Google and you get other sites to link and reference your content you’ll start to see new visitors coming. And once you have new visitors coming, you can worry about the header image and if you’re using the right font. Worry about your house’s landscaping after you’ve ensured the foundation and structure are sound.

And lastly, here are some things you should focus on once you have some well-written content:

  1. Submit your site to Google and Bing
  2. Share the content with your friends and ask them to share it to their social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Tumblr, etc.)
  3. Look for relevant sites that might be interested in syndicating your content and contact them