This is an old post with some new information. Since I just shuffled my sites around a little bit this week I want to do some update to reflect that.
When I put my first website on the Internet I picked one that only to be mediocre, to say the least. With the growing number of my sites and the real need for the site up-time and service quality, upgrading my hosting company is a necessity.
I was pretty much blind in the hosting world and had to do a lot of research to and listen to what other webmasters say about the hosting and learn from their experiences. webhostingtalk.com is still the place I go to for research and opinions.
I guess a good hosting company should just offer the solid service and let you forget about them. If I often have things like “what the @#$% is going on with company blah and what happened to my supporting ticket…” popping up in my mind it certainly not a good thing. Also see my post about “5 signs you should start planning changing your hosting company“.
Based on my experience I have compiled a short list of hosting companies in different arena. Hopefully it can help someone in the same shoes to get started.
This is the new home that I’ll move most of my sites to. I chose the “Business” plan which costs $12 per month. I purchased a 2 year plan with 20% discount. So far the moving has been pretty smooth. Here are some observations:
- Hostgator offers cpanel. I like cpanel.
- In shared hosting plans, ssh can only be accessed on port 2222. ssh in your box you’ll get a jailed shell. And from hostgator box, you can’t ssh out. This caused me a little bit of inconvenience but not a huge deal.
- Adding new domains doesn’t cost me.
- $50 adwords credit is a nice touch.
Pair Networks – pair.com
A truly fantastic company. Solid service and support. One thing worth to note is that their MySQL server runs on different boxes (physical or virtual), this really isolate the issues that come across between Apache and MySQL.
Pair supports both PHP4 and PHP5. Since PHP5 runs in CGI mode all you need to do is to put an executable PHP wrapper in the CGI-BIN directory and make the proper configuration change in your .htaccss file.
However they do not provide cpanel…not sure if this is out of the consideration of the high resource usage of cpanel. If you start off a serious site and want some top notch shared hosting service I would strongly recommend Pair.com.
Update: I moved one of my forum site (vbulletin) over to Pair and it has been 2 monthes without any problem. Two thumbs up.
Although Pair is the best shared hosting service that I’ve ever had, I do want to point out that they’ll charge a $5 installation fee on every domain that you add to your account. This may hurt a little if you frequently add/remove domain from your account, which apparently they discourage.
I have recently decided to move my pair hosted sites away. The biggest reason is that their database server connectivity has been very inconsistent recently. I have 5 sites on the server (max out) and there is always one of them that have problem to connect to the DB server. I’m not sure if this has anything to do with vBulletin, or pair’s separate DB server architecture. But continue receiving emails about DB connection problem broke your trust sooner or later. Another reason is that I want to save some money.
Pairlite (pairlite.com) is a brand under Pair. It offers hosting plans with lower cost than pair. I have some sites hosted on pairlite but I won’t renew the lease with them. The limitation of the number of domains and databases you can have is really a show stopper.
I have a few sites hosted with bluehost.com and haven’t had much complaint so far. One thing I do wish to have is to have the capability to run both PHP4 and PHP5 in one single account, and currently this is not possible at Bluehost.
Just a few days back I received a email from bluehost.com stating that they will need to remove all the “catch-all” email accounts to reduce the server load from the spam. And a few days later another email came and canceled this plan. According to bluehost it was apparently due to the customer feedback.
On Jan 18th I received a email announcement from Bluehost President Matt Heaton about the new changes on Bluehost servers for better performance. Some more observations need to be done to see the actual effect on my sites hosted by Bluehost. As a customer I do like their effort of constant improvement.
On Feb. 22 one of my sites hosted by bluehost.com went down for almost 10 hours. The server was down and I am guessing it was some hardware failure and they had to do a whole lot to make it back on line. There was no explanation given after the incidence and I figured even I asked I would probably just get some general answers. NOT a good sign for me.
The bluehost service has been pretty stable lately. One thing I’d like to brought up about their web supporting system. It appears one can log a ticket even without creating an account, but based on my experience, there will be no response to the ticket created this way.
It appears the database hasn’t been quite stable recently and I have a few occasions that DB was not accessible. I emailed the support in one case, and DB was back up later. Next day an email arrives, from support, and ask more detail about how I use DB, what error I saw, blah blah…
On Dec.26 my site at Bluehost stopped responding again. It took about 5 hours to get back online and none of my two support tickets got a single response except the automatic message. Maybe one of the site on the same server is a E-Comm site? Who knows. But at this point I am very disappointed with Bluehost and I don’t recommend using it.
I have stopped using Bluehost.
A hosting company with a fairly good reputation. It seems so hard to find a company that has no gripe from someone, and dreamhost is not an exception.
I started to use Dreamhost this year. The experience has been good so far.
I still have some sites on Dreamhost but I’m not planning to continue that when the lease is up. The disastrous incident happened earlier in 2009 really hurt my confidence on them.
Can’t say I have a lot of experience with the company but once I did buy the basis hosting plan for 12 months and later found out the plan doesn’t include the SSH access. I cancelled the plan and it was quite simple with their 30 day money back ganrantee feature. It was totally my fault and their support was great on this matter.
So I didn’t have a chance to use their supporting system. Anyway, it is a company scores a lot of good reviews. My own little experience adds point to this company too.
Linode and Slicehost
I put these two together not because they are affiliated. As a matter of fact, they are rivals in VPS business and their competition brings out the best of each other.
One thing I want to put in front first is that they are not “managed VPS”. So if you need help to get around in Linux, or rely on sophisticated control panels like CPanel they are probably not for you.
Both of them are very very solid. I just built a couple of “nodes” in Linode and am getting ready to make the move from my previous VPS and I was very happy with the experience.
Which one to choose really depends on your own situation. Just search “Linode or Slicehost” you should get a lot of comparisons online.
I use its VPS for a couple of my sites.
Since I am not in the reseller or hosting business I don’t fully utilize tools like Cpanel so my review has some limited perspective.
So far I have been very satisfied with servint’s service. I bought the Essential VPS package and it was setup in a couple of days. I did have an inquiry about the status and the response was prompt.
With the growth of the site the server started to slow down. I upgraded by VPS and still saw load average constantly over 1.00 mark. This is when great support can really help. I email the support and Tommy quickly adjusted a setting of mysql configuration and the server started to fly again. This also prompted me to look into my.cnf file more carefully and make necessary tweaking.
Fully managed VPS != holding hands on everything. But Servint’s tech support has been great with their knowledge.
As of Oct 2009 I’m still with servint, and I have two VPSes with them now. Rock solid service so far.
Well, servint just got a little bit less solid today.
On 11/04 I found out one of my VPS is down. Pinged the support and here is the answer:
Your host node experienced a kernel panic that required a reboot. We apologize for the inconvenience and will post here if more information is available. If you experience any problems after your VPS has come back up, please open a portal ticket and we will investigate.
30 minutes passed…
Do you have a ETA for the server reboot?
The host machine is still being worked on. I don’t have an ETA at this time, but we are trying to get the server back up as soon as possible.
My bet is that there is some kind of hardware failure. I hate hearing this kind of “standard” response though. Reminds me the way commercial airlines treating their passengers.
On a different note, servint is expanding to west coast and setting up data center in LA. Usually expansion spreads certain area thinner. I hope this expansion is not going to result in some service deterioration. Fingers crossed.