Where I went

I signed up for domain hosting through WordPress.com for $10/year. Total time, including PayPal transfer, DNS transfer, and importing all my posts? Less than ten minutes.

Why I switched

I only needed the minimal level of hosting that would allow me to keep my domain name and WordPress. Given how infrequently I blogged in the last year—fewer than one post a month—I couldn’t justify even the small cost or time associated with a typical shared hosting account. As I’ve noted before, I’ve been vigilant in maintaining and upgrading WordPress even when I wasn’t using it. Unfortunately, the WordPress Automatic Upgrade plugin works so well that I couldn’t pretend I was doing something with the site anymore. (A WordPress Upgrader is scheduled to be included in the core of WordPress 2.7, so ignoring the tool wasn’t the solution.) WordPress.com fit my minimal(ist) requirements.

What annoys me, and how I’ll fix it

There don’t seem to be any themes on WordPress.com that validate as CSS 2.1 (not even Sandbox). They all insist on stuffing in the CSS3 border-radius property, which is from a working draft, and various vendor-specific extensions as well. (The specification that defines vendor-specific extensions says: Authors should avoid vendor-specific extensions.) So, rounded corners are more important than validation apparently. Damned designers….

Not all errors are the design flaws, though. The CSS Validation Service chokes on Sandbox’s three-digit RGB notation even though the relevant part of the spec explicitly ensures that white (#ffffff) can be specified with the short notation (#fff).

In short: It’s an imperfect world, and I’ll probably end up choosing the custom CSS option. (So much for not tinkering with the site….)

Where I was

A brief note on my previous web host, HostICan’s Base-Host shared hosting plan.

As I recall, I was looking specifically for a WordPress host, and I found HostICan on WordPress.org’s list of some of the best and brightest of the hosting world. Much comparison and examination and review-reading followed. For whatever reason, I think the post that finally convinced me to try HostICan was this one.

Generally satisfactory.
I never had any serious problems with my previous Base-Host shared hosting plan with HostIcan.
Infrequent, transient downtime.
I was never aware of any significant unscheduled downtime. However, I did notice slowdowns, and, very occasionally, my site would be unreachable for 10–30 seconds. Of course, this was on a shared hosting account; it’s not like I was paying for Five Nines reliability. Still, given how infrequently I accessed my site, it did make me wonder about how much downtime I wasn’t aware of.
SSH access was not part of the base feature package.
Other providers (notably, DreamHost) offer SSH as part of the standard shared hosting package. Even with the extra fee, though, the monthly rate was comparable to DreamHost’s. (And, as with DreamHost, there are various coupons / rebates available to lower the initial costs. I used Free HostICan Offers myself.)

The bottom line: if I needed to leave WordPress.com, I’d seriously consider doing business with HostICan again.