Is Umbraco Hosting REALLY that much more expensive than Wordpress hosting... myths debunked

A common myth I hear is that PHP hosting (Wordpress hosting) is MUCH cheaper than ASP.NET hosting (Umbraco). Over the past 6 years, I've run my own sites on PHP and in .NET so I thought that I'd share my experiences... spoiler alert (after a certain size, there's not too much in it!!!)

Starting Out

First, before we get to the good stuff, let's do a very quick compare of Wordpress and Umbraco.  I've gone over this a few times already, if you haven't then I suggest you check out my Youtube channel discussion about it here.

1. Wordpress was originally designed as a blogging platform.  It's main focus is for people who want to write and maintain a blog (although over the years it has grown a bit).  Fundamentally, there are a few reasons why you might not want to use Wordpress.  First, most businesses who want to run a company website, don't want to run a blog, they want to build a website with a hierarchy of pages.  If you find yourself in this situation then a CMS like Umbraco is a better choice for you.

2. Wordpress is run on PHP and a lot of companies prefer to use Microsoft technologies, a recent poll on Stackoverflow (the worlds largest software development portal) found that .NET (the Microsoft platform) is one of the most widely used languages in the world.

3. As Wordpress has so many free plug-ins and themes, it is also one of the least secure platforms.

As Wordpress and Umbraco are both free, then in a lot of cases the decision to use one or the other comes to what your website does and how much the hosting will cost.  

Back To The Old Skool Son!

 I'm going to take you back to 2012 when this site first was built.  My aim for this site was a simple CV site, I wasn't selling anything and the only time I really thought anyone would take a look around was when I tried to win a new client.  At the time, my aim then was to create something simple and mainly cheap.  I picked 'duoservers' as my hosting company and for a year I paid $42 bucks, roughtly £30 at the time for the domain and hosting on a shared plan.

Amount to be paid each time: $42.48 USD
Billing cycle: Every 12 Months

This hosting did the trick, kind of, my website would randomly go down for several hours at a time every month though.  As it was on shared hosting. if the hosting company took the server down etc..  I'd get no notice, my website would go down and just come back whenever.  When no one was really visiting the site I didn't care too much, however, this became a big issue when this site became more popular.

As I mentioned, as the site became more popular (I think from memory maybe a 1000 people a week) having the site go down all the time (and it behaving really slowly) was becoming annoying.  Also, around this time my site got hacked.  I was using a free Wordpress plug-in that had a vulnerability and someone logged in and deleted a few posts.

At the time I though upgrading my hosting would solve the problem, so I went for an upgrade in my hosting to get a semi-dedicated plan.  This upgrade came with quite a big cost increase (for me at least) and my hosting jumped from $40 buck a year, to $40 bucks a month!

==================================================================
Order Details:
==================================================================
1 Month(s) @ 41.43GBP = 41.43 GBP for Semi_dedicated renewal Standard

Amount          41.43 GBP
VAT 20.00%      8.29 GBP
                -------------
Total           49.72 GBP

After this upgarde I still had issues.  THe hosting company would change my server's IP without telling me.  As I use cloudflare (a CDN), this meant my website would still break until I noticed, logged into cloudflare and updated it with the new DNS details.  I lived with this for maybe 6 months and then for my new year's resolution I vowed to upgrade my site into Umbraco.  I mean I teach it to the world, I should be using it, right?

NuSkool Options!

I had a few different options when it came to hosting my Umbraco.  I found a shared hosting option for $80-90 bucks a year.  This would have a similiar experience to my first Wordpress hosting, so I ruled this out.

Next up is the Umbraco Cloud hosting which starts from $29 a month.  At the time Umbraco Cloud advised people who had over 20,000 visitors a month to use the professional plan (which jumped to $400 bucks a month!!!!), so I ruled this out.  However, if I had picked it, not only would I have been given an automatic GIT account to auto upload my website, I'd get access to a portal to move content around.  In general that $29 bucks gave me a lot for my money.

In my case I ended up using Azure.  I picked Azure for a few reasons.  First, I use it with clients all the time and I wanted a way to learn/keep up-to-date with it.  Second, it's scalable.  Once it's in Azure, it's in Azure.  Third, I get completely dedicated hosting.  In the last two years I don't think my website's ever gone down to Azure's issues...  (it has through my code a few times though :)

Ok, so you might be wondering how much my Azure bill is.  Well, as it's effectively a pay-as-you go service, the prices have definitly varied a lot!!!  When I started out my average bill was around £70-80.

I currently use the B1 hosting plan and the B1 SQL plan.  I found my Umbraco powered website works OK, my pages load within a few seconds in general.  I had a few performance issues a few months ago, which I eventually found out was my own fault as part of that disaster, I also tried a few experiments with faster/more powerful plans to try and make my site load quicker.  

To fix that particular issue, I installed Application Insights, the Azure version of New Relic which gives you a number of cool stats about your website.  Application Insights cost about $5 a month.  I also upgraded my scale set to a S1 in hosting (£55.00) a month and a load quicker database server ($60) a month.  After paying for these enhancements (which can be paid for on a daily basis) combined with some data-out charges my hosting bill jumped from $70-80 to £140.33 one month and £172.63 in another month.  

My main tip when when using Azure is you need to figure out what you can live with.  When I upgraded my site, my pages loaded on average in 0.5 seconds according to the application insight report, which makes me happy.  In general if I go with the basic options of $80 a month, then the difference in hosting is $20-30 a month.  

Umbraco Hosting Vs Wordpress Hosting - Is It A Big Deal?

As I'm hoping you can see, if you have a tiny website that you really don't care about then a dirt cheap Wordpress hosting plan is maybe $20-$30 bucks a year cheaper.  If this amount is a big deal and the potential issues associated with it, then Umbraco probably isn't the platform for you.  If cost is a factor, get yourseld a free Wordpress theme (or spend $50 to get a paid for one), pick a cheap hosting provider and your website can be up and running for under $50 bucks a year.

If you get a site that grows (I think mine's currently around 5,000 uniques per week) then at a certain size, the price is pretty similiar, Wordpress cost me $50 and Azure costs me about $70-80.  If you're running a business, then over a year $120 shouldn't be a big deal.  

If you want to go with Umbraco cloud $30 bucks a month option, then your hosting may be cheaper than PHP.  My main issue with Umbraco cloud is the price hike, $29 a month to $400 is a very steep jump.  Granted, you get things like 99% uptime (which does cost a lot) and better support etc.. so it's something to consider.  If you're happy to go it alone in terms of hosting and you're happy to manage Azure, then you can definitely expect to see a range of monthly costs. 

Conclusion

If you're reading this (and most of my clients are in this boat) and the difference between $100 bucks a month is nothing to you, then as you can see the differences between PHP and .NET won't break your bank.  It's more important to choose the right platform to power your business, rather than worrying about a few quid here and there.

 

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Jon D Jones

Software Architect, Programmer and Technologist Jon Jones is founder and CEO of London-based tech firm Digital Prompt. He has been working in the field for nearly a decade, specializing in new technologies and technical solution research in the web business. A passionate blogger by heart , speaker & consultant from England.. always on the hunt for the next challenge

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