For email I use Microsoft Exchange Online (otherwise confusingly known as Office 365, except it is different from the Word (etc) Office 365). From inception, it provided Sharepoint for an included public website, and I used it. I had used SharePoint for some time in corporate life, and liked it. Once upon a time.
Over time, SharePoint became more and more bloated and complicated. Its designs were rarely responsive, and quirks of even Windows integration complex, until I finally decided it was more hassle than it was worth. Well, apparently even Microsoft decided that, as it is no longer offered as an integrated web solution with Office 365 – instead they send you to “partners” like Go Daddy. To be fair, Microsoft positions this as allowing them to emphasize its regular SharePoint offering instead of the multi-tenant environment they used for Office 365, but I believe it also stems from a growing recognition that SharePoint just did not make prime time as a web environment, when so many easier, and better supported products exist (and usually Open Source).
Most recently I started to edit my professional site (as opposed to my hobby photography site which I change frequently), and found I could not even get to most site assets. Or if I could, I could not figure out how, but my supposition is that Microsoft blocked it to prevent further growth inside SharePoint while it was phased out. I also tried adding a page, and after an hour’s editing and carefully saving it, found it completely empty. Enough… I embarked on a search for a cheap hosting solution. After all, the 2-3 people a month that might visit really did not merit a lot of expense. I arbitrarily decided I would run WordPress, since I was familiar with it and it was easy.
After filtering through dozens (seemed like hundreds) of sites, I settled in on GeekStorage.com. The obvious candidates (like Bluehost who WordPress recommends) just had too many red flags, especially related to upsell — they started cheaply, and then made your life miserable with “pay another $1/mo for this, $5/mo for that”. Add to that extremely cheap introductory rates with obscure, difficult to determine renewal rates on some (though most were clear), and I kept looking. I found most web host review sites were clearly run by the hosting companies, you could just taste the marketing lies (even when they were true) in them. I did find a few seemingly independent reviews; they often had facts and quantification as opposed to fluff and words like “Our exclusive technology gives you the proven performance, reliability, and functionality you need” with are really content free if you think about it. One good review site I found is here. Its review did not directly recommend GeekStorage in the flow chart near the bottom, but it was the top performing site, and the words rang true to what I was looking for. It also offered multiple domain support in the base product without any add-on cost (I want to do a separate place for photography articles, having once tried Microsoft’s “new” obsolete product Swap and hating it).
So… this site was built after setting up an account on GeekStorage. It came up quickly and easily. I had a couple of questions, and got correct answers very quickly from their staff. I insisted on keeping control of my own DNS, which limited some of the site automation (for example cPanel Let’s Encrypt setup), but found they had all the hooks needed for moving forward anyway (the standard CSR process for SSL certs for example, was still there). I found they had ssh access and a decent level of shell tools (one notable missing was nslookup, though there is a web version).
Most of the time was spent finding a theme I liked. I never did really, but found one I could rearrange. I like a clean, but relatively dense look – many of the newer responsive designs spread things out so that most of the page is empty. But I got it working, and what you see is the result. In doing this, I never once encountered anything missing from the basic GeekStorage provided, I never once had to pay extra for a feature. In the coming days I’ll see up network monitoring of the site, see how its response time varies and performs, but so far it comes up quicker than Microsoft’s did.
So far, a happy camper at GeekStorage.