Why I switched my blog host to GitHub

Github Pages logo

If you visit my homepage frequently, you might have noticed a change in design, speed and other aspects. The reason is that I switched over to GitHub pages, and here’s why.

I started to use my website and write this blog in march of 2018 by buying a cheap webserver and domain. It seemed like a good deal: around 20€ per year for a domain and a webserver with Wordpress. However, that ended up to be a big misconception!

Insane load times and server downtimes

The host I had my blog on automatically restarted my webserver every night at 3am CET. This lead to a huge downtime of 30 minutes per day, which is especially bad if you have an international readership.

Another reason was the bad performance: The landing page used to load for 3 seconds upwards, even though the server was located in Frankfurt, Germany.

Thirdly, Wordpress has a big overhead to it. While it offers a lot of benefits like plugins, themes and regular security updates, it is still a very big CMS in the background of your blog.

GitHub Pages: Benefits and disadvantages

Hosting on GitHub doesn’t only has its good sides, but certainly a few very nice things to offer. The benefits include:

  • extremely fast load speeds, due to static page generation with Jekyll
  • free hosting
  • source code can be hidden if you have a GitHub pro account
  • high security, because there is no CMS and PHP in the background
  • free use of the GitHub CDN which leads to better ping, load time and availability
  • high maintainability due to easy use of git
  • your content stays yours - you know where it is located

Some of the negatives are:

  • no webserver access, so no serverside scripts like PHP, python, …
  • worse search engine ranking, even though jekyll-seo-tag helps a lot
  • no CMS (at least if you don’t consider GitHub a CMS), also no WYSIWYG

The process of switching over

First, I had to convert all my blogposts to Markdown. I know there are scripts to handle this task, but for me it was a great way to review and fix typos. After that, I had to setup jekyll and the GitHub repository, and change all links in my posts to jekyll’s liquid tags. I also had to re-include the images used.

So, would I do it again or recommend it to other people? GitHub pages is especially useful for developers who use git anyways. Also, the free (and very good) hosting is a major benefit. However, not having a good search engine ranking is a major flaw. So yes, I would definitely do it again - but I understand that it is not the right thing for everyone.