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3 Things You MUST Know Before Buying Web Hosting

snake oil salesman

Back in 2005, I purchased shared server space from a well-known hosting company. In an attempt to “save” money, I paid for two years up front, and $268 later, I had my first real home on the Web.

Two short months after that, I came to the harsh realization that my server package was completely inadequate for my needs.

Ouch. Ultimately, a few key details made the difference, and although I learned this stuff the hard (read: the expensive) way, the good news is that you can avoid these same mistakes. You simply need to know where the potential traps are, and that’s precisely what I want to share with you today.

Buying Web hosting is a lot like buying a new car. The sleazebag car salesman wants to sell you on all the crazy new features of a particular model, but all you really care about is whether or not your venti latte will fit in the damn cupholder.

The bottom line is that no matter what you’re purchasing, you’re going to end up with the best result if you’re able to make decisions based on the details that will affect you the most. With that in mind, here are three things you need to know in order to make the best decision about a Web host.

Web Hosting Sin #1: Too Few Databases

All blogging software, all forum software, and darn near every cool Web application you can think of requires a database in order to function. Unfortunately, most shared server packages only offer between 1 and 5 databases, thereby limiting your ability to expand with new sites or to experiment with new ideas.

In my opinion, this is completely unacceptable. If I want to see if I can tie 10 databases into one WordPress installation, then by god, I ought to be able to do that! Sadly, this would be an impossible task with just about every shared server package I’ve ever seen.

Because of this limitation, I have resorted to purchasing more expensive plans that offer more flexibility. Remember my first inadequate server that I told you about earlier? After that terrible experience, I opted for a more expensive server that cost me roughly $550 up front, and the primary reason why I went with the more expensive unit was because I could have unlimited databases.

But seriously, a $300 difference over a few databases?

What a joke.

Web Hosting Sin #2: Too Few Domains Allowed

Probably in an attempt to curb spammers, Web hosting companies usually limit the number of domains you can have on a shared server. Oftentimes, the limit is between 1 and 5 domains, but just like with the databases, this really affects your flexibility over time.

Want to start that new site you’ve been thinking of lately? Too bad, you’ll have to buy new hosting because you’ve already maxed out your domains.

Oh, and here’s another gem from the crazy world of Web hosting… I’ve seen shared server accounts before that would let you have 5 domains but only 1 database. If every site on the planet requires a database to run, how the hell can you run 5 domains with only one database?

Sanity? Anyone?

The bottom line—and the thing you really need to know here—is that good shared server plans will offer you at least 20 domains, and even better ones will let you add as many as you like (usually up to 999).

Web Hosting Sin #3: Crappy Developer Support

So, that new version of WordPress you want to run requires MySQL 4.0 or higher in order to work properly? What a shame, because your junky shared server only runs MySQL 3.23 and hasn’t been updated since 2005.

Of the three cardinal sins I’ve listed here, this one is probably the easiest to avoid. However, developer support is the ultimate litmus test for any Web host, and you can bet your bottom dollar that if the company you’re looking at doesn’t consider developers a priority (we’re a raucous, complaining bunch), then they damn sure won’t consider you a priority.

No matter what hosting package you’re looking at, make absolutely certain that you see support for the following developer tools:

  • PHP
  • MySQL
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Python
  • CGI
  • .htaccess
  • cron jobs

Bonus Tip for WordPress Users

These days, most savvy people run their websites on WordPress. Although it’s hailed as an “easy” solution for your website, the reality with WordPress is far more complicated.

Here are just a few of the things you’ll have to deal with if you want to run a successful website with WordPress:

  • Software updates — dealing with these can be particularly annoying, especially when you run a lot of sites on WordPress
  • Themes and plugin compatibility — if you’re not completely up-to-speed with the development of your plugins and themes, you could be vulnerable to all sorts of unforeseen problems
  • Databases and backups — for most people, dealing with technical stuff of this nature can be ulcer-inducing (not to mention that ever-present fear of “if I do this, will it blow up my site?”)
  • Optimization — like databases and backups, this topic is highly technical, and therefore not for the inexperienced

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by that information, you’ll be happy to know that many companies now offer managed WordPress hosting.

The point of managed WordPress hosting is simple—to take care of these tough, technical matters so you don’t even have to think about them.

Although this kind of hosting tends to be more expensive than typical shared hosting ($60+/mo vs. $6/mo), you basically get a technical assistant for far less than you could on the freelance market.

Oh, and in times of need, you have someone you can turn to for help. In my experience, this is the most important factor of all, and it’s the aspect of hosting that I value the most.

The Bottom Line

From a Webmaster’s perspective, hosting is nothing more than a facilitative service. As a result, problems arise whenever you find yourself restricted by the account limitations of your server package.

In my experience, the points listed above have been the most upsetting issues that I’ve encountered with hosting, and as a result, I now buy server space based on these criteria. Most hosting companies will try to sell you on the total amount of space they’re giving you or on the total amount of bandwidth they’ll provide, but be warned! Those are just red herrings that will blind you from the reality that is 1 database on a 5 domain account :)

Finally, most of you know that bitching about problematic issues like inadequate Web hosts is not my style. On the contrary, I’m all about finding solutions to problems like these, and today, I’m happy to save you the time, energy, and anxiety required to find a good Web host.

Without further ado, here is the best shared server package on the planet—the one that not only satisfies my strict criteria, but also gives you more stuff than you will ever use!

Oh, and did I mention that it’s only $6.95 a month?

Better still, ANhosting offers 1 and 2-year deals that don’t require additional long term commitments (which is another way that some hosting companies get ya), so be sure to check ‘em out!

Right now, ANhosting is offering their shared servers at a 25% discount, which means you’ll only pay $5.21/mo! Usually, these promotions are short-lived, so if you’re in the market for hosting, click here to take advantage of this sale.

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259 comments… read them below or add one

Jens Meiert November 16, 2007

lol now that is a great teaser image ;)

Guess the “sins” depend on what you’re looking for; I remember other scenarios where too few web space or ridiculous bandwidth restrictions became the real problem …

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John June 20, 2010

Nowadays, a lot of host provider over promised. Example unlimited bandwidth, unlimited webspace.

When you try to host your website, the host keep killing the PHP request due to ‘slightly’ high load on PHP. Ends up – 500 error on your page appear very often.

Another tips on choosing webhost. Get reviews from various site before hoping in. I have had a bad experience with D****host. My site down for almost every week. Each time approximate 10-30 minutes. That’s just very bad!

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Douglas Karr November 16, 2007

I would also recommend referencing Netcraft and doing some homework on how many new vs. departing customers the web host has. I found my host this way and have been extremely happy for over 5 years now. They had the best customer retention and also were in the top 5 of hosts with the least downtime.

Sometimes the numbers don’t lie!

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amish November 16, 2007

Great comments, and I completely agree with all of them. However, I’m a little disappointed to see no disclaimer here that you’re getting a referral bonus for sending customers their way. I mean, you are right?

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Daniel November 16, 2007

Is your site hosted with them, Chris?

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Kyle November 16, 2007

Though I can’t say how good they are vs. AN, I highly recommend Dreamhost. I’ve used them for almost 2 years now and they have been spectacular. The number of features is amazing (I love the subversion support) and I’ve been very happy with their service and support.

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Daniel November 16, 2007

Well I was about to sign-up, but then I noticed that to get the $4.95/month, you need to pay $237.60 for a 4 year commitment. Something you left out in your post :-(.

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daragh November 16, 2007

A Small Orange’s shared hosting supports every technology you’ve mentioned here with unlimited databases and unlimited domains (or “unlimited everything” in their own words) and they have excellent and prompt support.

Shared hosting starts at $25 per YEAR.
http://asmallorange.com/services/hosting/

Admittedly they pale by comparison in terms of storage space and to a lesser extent: bandwidth, but who uses a terabyte of storage and 10 terabytes of bandwidth on shared hosting?

If you really need those numbers then you need a dedicated server, or at least Amazon S3.

I’m sure AN Hosting are as excellent as you say, but there are better shared hosting providers out there, IMHO.

(My only affiliation with A Small Orange is that I am a customer.)

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Dave Sailer November 16, 2007

I see a lot of flashy claims at AN Hosting’s site, and they have some good reviews but I don’t see a user forum, company wiki, set of tutorials, or any other resources for a customer to access. This is the sort of thing I think of as developer support.

I’m a good programmer, an OK designer, organized and reasonably smart, but I don’t know the intricacies of the server world. I can figure out most of it on my own, but need the info at hand. (Configuring .htaccess files, housing multiple domains inside one account, and so on.)

Are there resources like this available “inside” the system once you’re a customer?

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Chris P. November 16, 2007

Jens — Bandwidth issues are almost never a concern with shared servers from Web hosts you’ve actually heard of. People run into trouble when they go for the cheapest deal, which is usually supplied by companies that have no reputation and little or no market share (for like $2.95 a month).

My point is that you generally get what you pay for, and right now, I feel like AN Hosting is offering a heck of a lot at a very low price.

Doug — Your commitment to separating wheat from chaff is amazing :) Most people aren’t willing to do that kind of research before buying, but having that information on hand is as valuable as the service itself.

amish — You’ve thrown yourself under my pet peeve bus. I could go back to not getting paid for things like honest recommendations, but then I would never be able to maintain this blog as a result. Oh, and those free themes (like the modified version of Cutline you use on your site) would not be available, either.

I’m absolutely sick and tired of people being bothered by the fact that others make money online. Salespeople make money by selling. If you owned your own business, you would make money by selling.

The point here is that no matter what, you’re always selling something… The best you can do is try to be honest and genuine with people as you go about that process.

This is literally the most expansive hosting plan I’ve ever seen at that price, and my hope was that aspiring developers could get their foot in the door cheaper than ever before.

Daniel — Although this site is not hosted with AN Hosting, nearly all of my other ventures are on servers located in the AN Hosting datacenter. CelebrityHack, Pro Pigskin Pick’em, and all of my developmental sites and testing grounds are run on these servers.

Also, I have to admit that I was extremely disappointed to hear about the 4 year contract stipulation. Upon reading your comment, I contacted AN Hosting immediately to see if we could work out a special deal for Pearsonified readers. Personally, I loathe 2 year deals, so 4 just looks ridiculous.

If anything positive develops as a result, I’ll be sure to let you and everyone else know right away.

daragh — A Small Orange is an excellent Web host with whom I’ve had some limited experience. I think their service is quite good, but on the $25/year package you speak of, the bandwidth is woefully bad.

On good days here at Pearsonified, I use up more bandwidth than that service provides for an entire month.

The AN Hosting deal, on the other hand, could accommodate this site’s traffic with ease.

Dave — AN Hosting uses cPanel, which has a very easy-to-use, easy-to-understand graphical user interface. Whenever I’ve needed help with an issue that I didn’t understand, the support staff has provided expert, thorough guidance through a combination of their ticket system and direct IMs with server technicians.

Regarding the tutorials and everything, I know exactly what you mean. Personally, I can’t stand dealing with servers and am easily frustrated by how cryptic they often seem, and this is precisely why I appreciate the AN Hosting support staff so much. When I’ve had a problem, they have been efficient and thorough at guiding me towards a solution.

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Derek November 16, 2007

Another one to add to the dev support is URL re-writes (mod-rewrite, or a ISAPI filter on a windows host). “Too many performance concerns” is the response I got. I’ll probably be shopping soon – thanks for the pointer.

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Jens Meiert November 16, 2007

Chris – several German hosters beg to differ (concerning web space and bandwidth), no matter that it’s stupid anyway, and no matter that it doesn’t affect us.

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Chris P. November 16, 2007

Kyle — I think Dreamhost’s shared servers are absolutely the worst in the business. Think I’m just a kook? Even a guy who makes $30,000 a year off of them has his reservations.

I’ve worked with many a shared server, and I can say unequivocally that Dreamhost’s are the slowest, most non-responsive ones I’ve dealt with from any of the big name hosting companies.

The only thing I ever tell people about Dreamhost is to stay as far away from their service as humanly possible.

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Chris P. November 16, 2007

Derek — Excellent point. Fortunately, WordPress 2.3 handles canonical URL redirects, which eliminates the need to have this service come directly from your Web host.

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Kyle November 16, 2007

Chris — Yes, they did have problems in the past, but from my experiences, they’ve really improved recently (that blog post is from over a year ago). Even during that period in summer ’06, I did not experience any downtime during that time. Also, during the last 7 months (when I started measuring with Host-Tracker.com), I’ve only had 90min of downtime.

But, to each his own–I just figured I’d chime in with my personal favorite, I’ve definitely considered AN in the past.

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Michael Clark November 16, 2007

You should also do the quick test in your search engine of choice for “(company name) sucks” You’ll get a few results for *any* company, but look at the dates of the posts to see how the company is doing recently. You can also get an idea of what issues people are running into.

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Jonathan Street November 16, 2007

With “Recommended Hosting: midPhase” in the sidebar my first response was the exact same as Amish’s. There was a distinct feel of opportunism about the post.

Taking a look at the site the offer of adwords credits looked vaguely familiar and sure enough looking at the demo I see it’s branded as midPhase.

“Although this site is not hosted with AN Hosting, nearly all of my other ventures are on servers located in the AN Hosting datacenter.”

Beautifully phrased.

The only reason I went to the demo was I wanted to know what version of PHP they support. Still don’t know.

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Jonathan Street November 16, 2007

I’ve clicked on the “got questions? Chat with us now!” link and quickly got to speak with a very helpful guy named Jeff.

Summary: Some of their servers use PHP5.1.x and some use PHP5.2.x. Apparently they announce the beforehand when they plan on upgrading.

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Chris P. November 16, 2007

Jonathan — The post is opportunistic, and that’s because $4.95 for unlimited databases, support for 999 domains, and a free domain for life constitutes one hell of a deal (no matter how you slice it).

The demo is branded as MidPhase because MidPhase acquired AN Hosting in 2006. They decided to retain the name AN Hosting because of the existing (and decidedly positive) brand equity there.

And as for the version of PHP, it’s 5.2.0—I just checked my server.

Over the last 15 months, they have been extremely punctual with upgrades, and in fact, I don’t ever worry about what version I have because I already know they’re going to keep me current with the latest stuff.

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Chris P. November 16, 2007

Jonathan — Ha! Funny about the “Chat with us now!” feature… I was just wondering how responsive that was :)

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Jonathan Street November 16, 2007

The concern was more that there was this offer they wanted to promote the heck out of, with a possibly stunning affiliate offer, and you were taking the opportunity rather than highlighting a opportunity for your readers. It sparked the bias alarm. Especially with the midPhase promo in the sidebar.

I think if you had said straight out that it was essentially the same company behind midPhase, which you’ve been promoting for months (years?), but they had this stunning limited-time promotion that alarm would have been muted.

The chat feature was good. It took perhaps 30 seconds to be connected to a person and I quickly got back the answers I needed.

I have been considering getting a new/additional host recently and although subversion hosting would be nice, I had been considering dreamhost, I’m hesitant to sign up for 2 years to get a decent price though. I could get subversion hosting elsewhere and if I could get the price of $4.95 with a shorter commitment I would be very tempted.

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kristarella November 16, 2007

Just checked my host NearlyFreeSpeech.Net – they fulfill the criteria you wrote about!

I seemed to remember a limit on MySQL, so I checked the FAQ and they let you have as many databases as you like; perhaps it was the number of MySQL processes that was limited and even that has gone up since I joined, from memory. They’re very reasonably priced; you pay for what you use, which is nice. For some people it wouldn’t be suitable because they use so much bandwidth, but it’s great for my little site.
I have to admit 4.95/month for what AN is offering sounds excellent. Shame about the 4yr payment – hope you can get a deal sorted out for that!

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Chris P. November 16, 2007

If anyone is interested as to why I modified the end of the post, here it is:

From a copywriting perspective, the original ending was a complete disaster. Ultimately, the thing I’m most interested in is the overall quality of each piece on this site. Because of this, if I see something that needs improving, I’m going to seize that opportunity and make it better.

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Kevin Chiu November 16, 2007

Hi Chris – Just wanted to say I’ve made the jump from Dreamhost to midPhase/An Hosting per your suggestion. I made sure to list you as a reference as well.

Unfortunately the transition has been a bit rocky. Currently, my website redirects to a blank directory listing.

I contacted them and they said DNS propagation needs to complete, which they claim will take 48 hours.

Obviously, my traffic is zero for this time period. Traffic graph: http://mediahustle.com/anhosting.png

I wish there was a way they could allow me to pre-populate their servers before switching the DNS entries.

Also, for some reason, I’ve lost access to the server I was assigned. I was going to start a minimal migration myself. This is a bummer.

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Chris P. November 17, 2007

Kevin — Have you opened a support ticket about the issue yet? Their techs tend to respond well to those, and you should get answers pretty quickly. Oh, and remember to include your IP address and account password in the ticket, because that will expedite the process.

Good luck—I’m sure you’ll get it sorted out.

[edit] Since you’re on a shared server, you can’t give them an IP address. In fact, because you’re on a shared server, they probably only need to know your primary domain name, and I think that information gets passed along with the ticket anyway. My bad :)

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Kevin Chiu November 17, 2007

Yep, I’m a ticket-giving, live-chat-using fiend now.

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Mike Hedge November 17, 2007

I have followed your blog for a long time…

I finally made the decision to get my wordpress site up….

I’m on ANhosting…

PS I did the 4 years deal. they only charge the first year. for 3 months free, enter coupon code, GOTAPEX-ROX-01

still trying to get a few other sites brought into my account….

I’m having some wordpress problems/questions….

thanks again for your awesome blog.

mike

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Harrison McLeod - JCM Enterprises November 17, 2007

My hosting service (In Motion Hosting) doesn’t pay me for endorsements, but I’m a loyal customer and readily refer this service to everyone. After having suffered through shoddy service, unreliable connections and a host of other problems, IMH has gone above and beyond the call of duty with customer service many times. Their servers are reliable and when you have a problem, no matter how ridiculous it might seem, a rep is always there to walk you through it. Their packages are reasonable and affordable.

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Shane November 17, 2007

Chris, that AN hosting site design looks like a patented Chris Pearson design if I’ve ever seen one. Is that so? If it is, nice work.

Regards
Shane

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Chris Burbridge November 17, 2007

It’s really interesting how opinions can vary so much with hosting. Part of that is probably that one small problem, such as an outage of a few hours, can cause a lack of confidence.

I have been very happy with DreamHost for the past year or so. They are cooperatively owned, seem to be having fun, and doing a good job. They have their own control panel software that is attractive and easy to use. They offer unlimited databases and domains on one account.

When I had a serious problem, they responded within minutes. This was in serious contrast with LunarPages, where, when I had a serious problem that happened to be Memorial Day, no-one responded until the next day! That’s an incredible way to run a hosting business; I still can’t believe it.

My only concern with DreamHost is that it’s possible that becuase they’re so inexpensive, spammers might use them, and it might affect the servers. OTOH, LunarPages is a lot more expensive, and they’ve had problems too.

I still do not feel that I have the host that I could recommend unequivocally to my clients. I feel that this host would be more expensive, because with expense comes attention. But I am still not sure how to balance this with other features. I have still not found my perfect hosting solution, but in the meanwhile, DreamHost is a happy place for me.

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andrew November 17, 2007

Come on, I don’t think ‘amish’ had a problem with you making money, but that you were not upfront about it.

I have seen this so many times in regards to hosting opinions. It’s one of my pet peeves infact.

Your post lost alot of credibility because of it. Try listening to your readers. I wouldn’t be surprised if Amish did not return.

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Baz L November 17, 2007

I’ve finally come to the realization that all shared hosts are going to have their problems. You’re going to go crazy trying to keep up with the “best” host.

Google “[Random Host Name] sucks” and you’re going to find a slew up results (usually a domain name) listing a million reasons why you shouldn’t be on that host.

Every experience is going to be different. I know people on DreamHost that have absolutely no problems. I’ve recently moved and I’m experiencing a lot of slow downs. Luckily I got them on a promo deal, so I’ve paid under $10.00 for the year. So, I’m not too bothered about moving.

I’ve been on 1and1.com, which got great reviews at the time. They were featured in one of my favorite magazines. But they sucked.

Bottom line is, it all depends on group of servers (DNS, File Server and MySQL) your site ends up on. The next Joe on the same host could just have a better mix of servers by the flip of a coin.

The list above is a good start up, though. I would change PHP to PHP 5, add SSH access, and customer service to that list though.

In DreamHost’s defense, they’ve been doing everything possible to make me happy (moving my files to different servers, etc).

Pick your hosts like you pick children’s shoes. Get something that fits your needs, but with a lil’ wiggle room in the toe.

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Leonard Klaatu November 18, 2007

We’re all searching for extraordinary customer service, but the fact is – almost ALL customer service is ordinary, or worse. Customer expectations are constantly on the rise because we live in a world full of choices – but more often than not, we’re disappointed.

I’ve gone through 3 hosting services and eventually suffered frustratingly poor service from all 3. It’s hardly scientific, but I tend to think if you stay with a hosting company long enough you’ll suffer some sort of trouble and likely be disappointed in their unwillingness to dazzle you.

I’m searching for a new hosting company now. AN/Midphase is in the mix, but the 4-year commitment is a deal-breaker because if the future goes as the past I’m guaranteed to experience frustrating customer service within the first 18 months. I’m resigned to change hosting companies every couple of years or so.

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Chris P. November 18, 2007

Baz L, Leonard — You guys have hit the hosting nail squarely on the head. The bottom line is that there is no perfect service.

Essentially, the best you can really hope to do is get hooked up with a company that covers your needs at a reasonable cost and doesn’t force you through ridiculous downtimes.

Also, another point that I think people are missing is the simple fact that shared servers only exist to fill the “value” end of the spectrum. By lowering the financial barrier to entry, hosting companies have given more people an opportunity to try their hand at Webmastering.

Frankly, I think it’s remarkable that a hosting company can offer as much as AN Hosting is for $4.95 a month, but judging from the comments, the masses don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye with me on that one.

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johnzilla November 18, 2007

I agree 100% with your selection criteria for shared hosting. IMHO, though, there’s nobody with a better deal, better support, and better hosting than Site5.

http://www.site5.com

Absolutely crazy deals, great support and user community, no contracts, and they actually develop their own tools and control panels…none of this shrinkwrapped stuff (cPanel, Plesk, etc I’ve used them all and they work about 90% of the time).

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Dave Sailer November 18, 2007

First, thank you to everyone, especially Mr. Pearson. I’ve learned a lot from my visits here.

In reply to johnzilla (at 5:09 pm on Nov 18, 2007), I’m with that hosting company now. I’ve had one fairly complex personal site up for 23 months, with no complaints, and only a couple of brief needs for customer support, which was great.

My new site, hosted separately and under a different domain name, was intended to represent my (infant) business. It has been winking off and on for several months. I finally contacted customer support with details and was told only to get back to them when it happened again.

Then the whole server disappeared twice in one week, and my site’s contact form just stopped working though I hadn’t touched it in months.

Technical support has basically told me they don’t really care. (I.e., it’s my job to find and document server problems, and then tell them how to fix them. And I’ve been warned never ever to ask about anything that even gets close to an application programming or configuration question.)

And that was from a technical support supervisor. Cool. Am I happy yet? Let me count the ways.

Today I found an answer to one of my problems on another host’s wiki. That company’s CEO also does technical support and was kind enough to reply to a “pre-sales, semi-technical” and slightly unfair query of mine. Promptly.

For a while I’d thought I really was an idiot, or just nuts, but the problem I fixed today turned out to be a tiny alternate configuration option, though my other problems continue (to be ignored). Will I switch to company two? Will I?

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Tim November 18, 2007

For AN hosting, what about the CPU limit (10%) ? If I want to host a high-traffic site with AN hosting is that something to be concerned about?

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Chris P. November 18, 2007

johnzilla — I’ve used cPanel for two years and happen to prefer it over Plesk and other server management software. cPanel doesn’t ever just “go down,” and implying that the “shrinkwrapped stuff” is worse than a private control system is like saying that some upstart blogging software is better than WordPress…

That is quite a bold claim, and one that I think you’d have an extremely hard time substantiating.

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Chris P. November 18, 2007

Tim — I think your primary concern ought to be the fact that you’re trying to run a high-traffic site on a shared server :)

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JasonM November 19, 2007

Great comments … definitely had similar experiences.

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Daniel November 19, 2007

Hello, Chris. It’s Daniel — never to be confused with all other Daniels.

I fully support the nature of your genuinely persuasive points toward good-value hosting plans, as it’s been an issue of mine as well for many years. I’m also happy that you count you among the many supporters of an honest opinion — because it seems that there’s too many out there in the world who are anything but.

Of course, it could just be that we’re both from the same regional area — which simply translates toward a rationale of Chicago-area folk knowing a thing or two about a thing or two, and even if the Cubs might lose — again. Or something, and all that jazz.

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johnzilla November 19, 2007

Dave Sailer – I’ve been with Site5 for two years now and have never experienced the problems you seem to have experienced. I can only speak from my experience.

Chris P. – I’ve used Ensim, Plesk, cPanel, and webmin on more shared hosting plans than I care to count for my own sites as well as my clients’ sites. I personally prefer the admin console at Site5. For all I know, it is a wrapper around one of the others (Plesk, cPanel, etc). My point is: it works and it is organized, clean, clear, and efficient. Again, I can only speak from my (very considerable) experience. Everyone is welcome to an opinion, right?

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Chris P. November 19, 2007

johnzilla — Absolutely. If you are more efficient and can get the results you want with their software, then that’s the best choice for you!

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Leonard Klaatu November 19, 2007

Chris, did you get any answer from AN on reducing the 4 year commitment?

LK

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Chris P. November 19, 2007

Leonard — Not a word… I’m very disappointed :(

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SWilson November 19, 2007

Chris and Leonard – Try their forums and ask for MarcB. He’s a regualr fix-it guy that works for them.

Forums -> http://forum3.midphasetalk.com
Knowledgebase in Progress -> http://help.midphase.com/support

I’m presently hosted with AN myself and haven’t had any real issues to complain of. Seeing as most of my tickets were for my own benefit and not a complaint, this is actually good.

I’ve been with them since August 20th. Satisfied enough to take advantage of their Halloween Special for a 2nd account. Their VPS is awesome too but that’s wandering off-topic.

Chris – Like the blog, man. Have it in my blogroll too. Always a good read. As soon as I finish up some housekeeping on mine, drop by sometime. Door’s always open. ;)

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Baz L November 19, 2007

One thing that has helped me with switching hosts is Gmail. Since they started this Google for your domain thing, I’ve been all over it.

So I don’t have to worry about transferring email when I’m ready to jump ship.

Even before that, the most I would use on the host is a forwarder to send everything to a Gmail account.

Just another tip I guess. Don’t let email hinder your choice.

Unless of course you need the 1000+ accounts. I think currently Google has a 200 limit on the free account?

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bakkouz November 20, 2007

Actualy Sir,
the most important thing to look for is the cpu and memory quote, many webhosts offer you fantastic plans, tons of storage, tons of bandwidth, unlimited domains, great prices.. etc.. etc.. but there is a catch.

I know this because i experienced it first hand with bluehost, before i bought my hosting plan from there i looked and looked and did my research well, and they seemed like a good credible reliable option so i went with them and all seems well at first..

but not untill i re-gain the traffic rate i was getting since the move untill i realized the truth, my website kept dying and my account got suspended very often, all because of their low cpu quota limit. it was untolerable..

I do not have an insane amount of traffic on my website, but i do get dugg on occasions, and most lately i got a linkback from imdb.com which was the straw that broke the camel’s back.. the huge amount of traffic forced my account to get suspended all day long do to cpu quota over use.

These fine details is what one must look out for carefully when buying a web hosting, its not how much hard disk or how much bandwidth or how many ip’s, one must look past that and past the great price! its how much processes, cpu and ram quote you’re allowed. this is what distinguishes a really good host from a crappy one.

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Dave Sailer November 20, 2007

Off-topic alert: Query to Chris Pearson (Please excuse me if I’m being excessively stupid, but I couldn’t find a way to send you email, so maybe this will work.)

Background: I spent most of yesterday reading through this entire site and capturing references for things I can use and making notes about things I should learn. Personally speaking, I’m not outgoing and never will be great at marketing or sales. I’m a seriously different person than you seem to be, and that’s probably OK for all concerned. I have some experience and talents in my own right, but would like to learn more. Starting with raw talent it seems that you have basically willed a great business into being. I know you wanted to work for yourself, do something worthwhile, and realized you needed to get good at CSS and Photoshop, but that’s a little sketchy.

Question: Have you ever considered doing a tutorial of how you decided what skills you needed and how you went about mastering them, then bringing up a business with them?

There’s a lot more to what you do than basic CSS and Photoshop. Was it only by chance that you began working with WordPress? Was there a decision process against building “ordinary” web sites and going to the blog end? Where did all your design skills come from? You didn’t start over with another four years of college, so did you have a personal mentor or two or absorb everything you could find on the web? Did you create a structured plan or just try stuff? Was your existing network of business and personal contacts the critical difference, or only a help? And so on. (Like you’re not busy enough, but I had to ask anyway.)

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Armen November 20, 2007

By the way, my friend, I’m still thinking through this whole hosting business. I was speaking to a (mt) user the other day, and they’re very happy with their gs. They’ve been ‘dugg’ a few times, and survived without using wp-cache.

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Chris P. November 20, 2007

Armen — I have also heard positive things about the GridServer’s ability to gracefully handle traffic spikes. To be honest, I like almost all aspects of the GridServer, and only one item kept me from choosing them as the host of choice for my projects.

Specifically, the fact that you are on a grid and not on a single server makes it impossible to run a reliable, server-side statistics package. When I first selected a Web host for my projects, this was a big issue because people were always wanting to see graphs from awstats and webalizer.

These days, however, I find myself completely reliant on JavaScript-based stats packages like Google Analytics and Mint. In all honesty, I think I could easily survive on the GridServer at this point, and I think you’ll be fine on that service as well.

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Armen November 20, 2007

Man…you just solved a puzzle, which has bothered me for ages!

I used to check my webalizer stats, now and again, but, the results always seems skewed through the roof. Then I’d see some bloggers talking about their stats for the month, and I just knew they were unrealistic. It must be the shared server issue.

Like you though, I use reinvigorate for daily/weekly monitoring, and GA for monthly trend monitoring, etc.

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James Celeste November 20, 2007

Same here. I have been hopping from webhost to another. Expensive indeed. Luckily, I found the right one now..

Thanks for the inputs.

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Butler November 20, 2007

Chris, I think that four year deal is a killer for most people.

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Chris P. November 21, 2007

Butler — I love what they’re offering, but four years seems a bit much to me. If people are cool with that, though, then I think this package will more than adequately serve them in the years ahead.

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Monchster November 21, 2007

I’ve read through the comments on your post, and I don’t think I saw anyone post any comments/complaints on GoDaddy hosting. I just purchased their Deluxe Linux Plan. I’m able to host unlimited domains, but have a limit of just 25 MySQL databases. None of the domains are yet live on the host, but it all seems very easy to manage. The price was just over $6 per month. Not bad in my eyes for unlimited domain hosting.

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ern November 21, 2007

I have to say that having a simple newsletter and some free tips seems to blow out all the hosts we have tried CPU inadequate, bandwidth lies and tricks, half truths seem to be the norm.
What I do not get is this attitude which seems to cater only for people who will never make it online.

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Rico November 23, 2007

Why does that salesman look like a wimpy you Chris? :lol:

Anyways, I’ve been extremely happy with philwebsales.com (which I use to host technogra.ph). So far the service has been prompt and helpful, and the servers are fast! Cross my heart and hope to die.

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Mae November 24, 2007

I wish I’ve seen this earlier then I wouldn’t have to make do with GoDaddy’s crappy hosting :(

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Ern November 26, 2007

My daughter has a simple web site and 25k of newsletter subscribers.
She is selling only one product, and the newsletter goes out fortnightly at 1800 words.
One would think we were asking for the moon when we look at shared hosting.
Real bandwidth cpu useage, and other factors mean we need an expensive dedicated server.

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Yuri November 26, 2007

When I got dugg half a year ago, Site5 suspended my account, because they thought its a DDoS attack or something. When they restored the server, the CMS (Drupal) wasn’t running and I had to reinstall it again (painstakingly, myself).

The only reason I don’t want to move is the unpredictability of the new host. Since the Digg Effect, I have enabled static file caching, so it’ll help, I guess (Tiger Tech Hosting support said that my site got 30 times faster w/ static file caching).

As for BlueHost, while I’ve read many good reviews of them, the CPU limit is heartbreaking and very complex for a non-techy mind. Here’s a quote:

You are limited to 40 cpu seconds of cpu time in a 1 minute window. This is cumulative. So within 60 seconds if you have 400 tasks taking 0.10 seconds each you will exceed your quota. Then ALL tasks will fail until after the tasks stop for a five minute window. Then the error will clear.

You must limit your usage to less than 40 CPU seconds for each 1 minute window. (A CPU second is a normal second for each process. IE: if you have 10 processes running all at the same time for one second its not one second, it counts as 10. One second for each process. Everything is cumulative.)

If they translated it to something more comprehensive, I might have made a switch.

Btw, the problem is often that my site isn’t high traffic, but an occasional boost might happen unexpectedly. And I don’t want my host to consider it to be a DDoS attack. I don’t remember how Midphase responded, but I am still not with them.

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Leonard Klaatu November 26, 2007

The 4 year AN deal really isn’t that bad when you look closely. You commit for a 4 year deal at $4.95 a month. That’s $237.60 – total commitment. They’ll charge you the first year – $59.40. Then annually, they’ll automatically charge you that amount. They do not charge you the entire amount upfront. That makes it somewhat better I think.

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Chris P. November 26, 2007

Leonard — I do like that better, but then you have to consider the termination fee…

Does anyone have the info on that?

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Jeff November 26, 2007

I had trouble getting several hosting packages and domains under the same login info with AN hosting. Tried to use them for a solution for the company I work for and it was brain damage trying to consolidate the accounts for 7 or so domains and hosting packages to set up a few blogs.

I also experience a LOT of downtime with them. Don’t mean to totally poo-poo your post, but I didn’t have a rosy experience with AN hosting.

My personal stuff is on godaddy.com and haven’t needed much more than they provide: reliable uptime and straight-forward user interface. Not a fan of their constant upselling attempts when buying a domain, but other than that I’m happy.

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Stuart November 26, 2007

Hey buddy, just thought I’d let you know that your blog has been hacked.

Check the code on all your pages & it’s hiding heaps of hidden links to blogs about Viagra & other meds.

This has been happening heaps lately.

Anyway, you should probably sort it out incase you get penalised for linking to bad neighbourhoods.

Cheers
Stuart

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Chris P. November 27, 2007

Stuart — Excellent spot there! I just upgraded to WordPress version 2.3.1, and that seems to have solved the problem for now. Thanks again!

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Simon November 27, 2007

Great article! Can I just throw this in from the angle of a web hosting company?

What a lot of customers don’t realise is the finite nature of what a server can handle (and why should they?).

Even the highest spec monster can only cope with a certain number of database queries and http requests per second.

Disk space also has a limit. Spend 5 minutes Googling for dedicated servers and you will be hard pushed to find anything with more than 500GB of storage. So how on earth can a hosting company offer hundreds of GBs for each shared account on a server that could be hosting hundreds if not thousands of websites?

Bandwidth is a metered utility just like gas, electricity and water. We have to pay for every GB of bandwidth our customers consume. Of course it gets cheaper per GB the more you use but it still costs money. So what is ‘unlimited bandwidth’ all about?

In our experience the time and therefore cost of providing our customers with support increases proportionally with the number of domains/websites we host. Every support request costs the business money in the form of staff wages.

Of course every business has to operate at a profit or it is not a viable business. So how can hosts:

1. Offer the use of more domains and more databases than a server could possibly handle?

2. Offer more disk space than is physically possible?

3. Offer a huge amount of bandwidth that if used would make them run at a huge loss.

4. Charge a few $ per month, cover all their business overheads, wages, server, bandwidth and support costs and still make a profit?

Well the answer is simple my friends. The entire web hosting industry is built on great bag fat lies!

There is no such thing as ‘unlimited’ anything. Mots people have no idea how much disk space or bandwidth they need so ‘unlimited’ removes that potential barrier to making the sale. They are banking on the fact that most customers will only use a fraction of what they offer (if they didn’t they would go out of business very, very quickly).

So web hosts generally fall into 2 camps. Those that offer realistic, deliverable account limits and resources, and those that offer ridiculous ones than can never be met in reality. It is not uncommon for the latter to close down sites or ask for more money in the event of ‘excessive resource usage’.

The bottom line is that the majority of websites only need a few MB of storage and even really busy websites don’t need that much bandwidth if they are properly optimised. So don’t be taken in by ‘unlimited’ offers because in the real world ‘unlimited’ does not exist!!

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Leonard Klaatu November 27, 2007

Simon – isn’t it really about “overselling” the numbers to get clients? I mean, how many of us need the gazillion specs most hosting companies offer (or claim to offer)? I’d bet most sites have such low traffic and low bandwidth usage that they cost virtually very little to host. So, the more clients a hosting company can get – the better – knowing only a small percentage of their customers will ever need those big numbers.

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Simon November 28, 2007

Hi Leonard.

Absolutely. But the web is full of articles by disgruntled customers who have fallen for such offers and come unstuck when ‘unlimited’ did not turn out to be all it promised to be. I just think it is an unethical way to promote your services i.e. overselling and underdelivering, no matter what busines you are in.

I think the tide might be turning. A few large hosting companies have recently had to slash the amount of disk space and bandwidth they were offering because (big surprise) people actually started using it!! I guess this is a symptom of more internet users having broadband, making devlivery of rich media content a reality. The trouble is that content uses loads of disk space and bandwidth!

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Murtaza Chang November 29, 2007

Great article Chris and lovely blog. I tried purchasing AN Hosting but my card didnt work, latter I found out it doesnt support online purchasing since its an ATM card not a credit card :) lol

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Murtaza Chang November 29, 2007

It just bit me while commenting :-o
“WordPress database error: [Table 'wppearsonified.wp_post2cat' doesn't exist]
SELECT cat_ID AS ID, MAX(post_modified) AS last_mod FROM `wp_posts` p LEFT JOIN `wp_post2cat` pc ON p.ID = pc.post_id LEFT JOIN `wp_categories` c ON pc.category_id = c.cat_ID WHERE post_status = ‘publish’ GROUP BY cat_ID”

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Ehab November 29, 2007

Very funny – Murtaza .

Chris P. – I was wondering, if you knew, if AN hosting gives SSH access to the server ?

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Chris P. November 29, 2007

Ehab — I’m pretty sure there’s an upcharge for SSH access on the shared server.

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Doc November 29, 2007

1and1 hosting. $2.99 mo. 99 domains. 25 databases. Not bad. Link at my site.
Oh, enjoyed the article also!!!

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Baz L December 3, 2007

Doc: did you not read this article at all? I’m coming from 1and1 so I’m speaking with experience here.

There are only 25 database with a 100MB limit.
There is NO shell access.
There are NO cron jobs.
Old version of MySQL (MySQL4.0)
No Ruby on Rails
I’m pretty sure no Python

Not to mention other dumb stuff such as random naming conventions. Your database server is d343.perfora.net, database name: db185573997, database user: dbo185573997, ftp username u238293.

All of this just makes the experience even worse than it has to be. If you’re not on your local machine with everything bookmarked you have to look up up these usernames every time.

I really hated it.

Not to mention their sub par support.

Please people don’t fall for the 3 bucks a month. I did.

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Brian December 5, 2007

Could you do a tutorial on how you created the folder tab system on your website? thanks

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Dominic December 5, 2007

I use Rackspace exclusively now. It is managed – I do nothing. It is reasonably priced (under $400 for an exclusive server). Support is unbelievable, I rarely wait more than 15 minutes for a support ticket to get answered, most problems solved in 20-30 minutes tops. Call in and they serve you directly over the phone. I just had my first downtime in almost 4+years last week, they had a power issue (normally the redundant power kicks in, but this was in house). My 2 cents!

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Charles December 6, 2007

Anyone here heard of http://www.servage.net?

7$ a month, 3600GB/month (although there’s a prorated daily cap, really, still), excellent costumer service.

The only problem I’ve had with them so far is that I can’t get e-mails to og to an inbox and get a copy redirected to another account at the same time. Small inconvenience, really.

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Simon December 7, 2007

Hang on a minute…. has anyone done the maths?

If you used 3600GB a month, at $7 a month, servage would have to be buying bandwidth at less than $0.0019 per GB to make any kind of profit. Of course that doesn’t take into account any other business costs. I don’t know of any bandwidth provider that sells bandwidth that cheap. Not even close. I wonder what happens to people who start using all that bandwidth :-/

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Baz L December 7, 2007

What’s so hard to believe about the bandwidth? Dreamhost is up to 5000 GB a month.

The profit comes from hundreds of people like me who still pay $9/month and use 5 GB/month.

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Chris Garrett December 10, 2007

While it is a cardinal sin of web hosts to offer too few DB’s, it’s worth pointing out that most well-planned applications, like Wordpress, allow you to add a prefix to tables related to each individual install so you can host more than one Wordpress blog in a single DB.

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Nick December 15, 2007

Chris I need some serious help man, I can’t find your email anywhere on here, so if you see this, could you please please please give me a holler

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Chris P. December 15, 2007

Nick — You can’t find my email because I don’t want it found :D

Please keep in mind that I no longer do client work, and if your question has something to do with hosting, I’ll be happy to address it here.

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Nick December 15, 2007

That’s fine man, I am having an issue with one of your themes, it’s probably something simple, but it’s not so easy for me. with the copyblogger theme the headlines to the articles are like 10x bigger than they should, which knocks the sidebar below everything. when i go in archive mode back far enough it realigns properly.

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Chris P. December 16, 2007

Nick — Without a link to your site, I can’t give an exact diagnosis, but I’ve seen this situation before. Basically, I believe that you have probably included a headline tag (like an <h1> or an <h2>) in one of your posts, and you haven’t properly closed out that tag.

Carefully scour your posts and look for the offending tag, and you should be able to solve your own problem.

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Data Girl December 18, 2007

We just purchased a new hosting here in Australia … but that adds another level of complexity / expense.

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Shane December 21, 2007

Chris. Sorry to post here, but I lost your email. I need to contact you about your Neoclassical theme. Could you get in touch with me through my email?

Rock on
Shane

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Appalbarry December 21, 2007

It’s worth noting that past experience is not always a sure way of knowing what will happen in the future. For years I used a company out of Ottawa called Magma Communications who were 100% reliable, and whose support was second to none. I swore by them and sent them more than a few customers. They weren’t the cheapest by far, but boy were they good.

About three years ago they were bought out by Primus Communications, a long distance provider cum cel phone provider cum ISP who have what can only be described as the world’s worst customer service. It’s unlikely that Primus is going to pull themselves up to Magma’s high standards, and my sense is that things have been spiraling downwards ever since.

It’s sad really.

http://www.community-media.com/wordpress/?cat=27

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Paul December 22, 2007

The page you link to as being “the best shared server package” has a javascript Trojan in it. Norton AntiVirus freaks out each time I click on your link and load the page.

You might want to either take down the link, quit using AN Hosting, or let them know that their page is corrupted somehow.

Oh, and a virus/malware scan would be a good idea, too.

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Katy December 23, 2007

I’m a newcomer here and you scared me a lot!

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Jason December 23, 2007

I have tried all the top hosting companies,

ipower(50 minutes for support everytime I call),enom (was best for tech support but has to many issue and server kept crashing),superb (tech support short wait but tech support sucks) and a few others which my clients had signed up for and my overall feeling about all of them was that there technical support was lacking, some don’t even have 24 hour support. If you can’t get hosting company on phone 24 hours a day avoid the company. Only situation is when you need a certain setup that very few companies have.

I decided to purchase my own server and I have it hosted it colocated at my friends hosting company which happens to host companys like Akamai, and Apple. I am very lucky because my friends works for them so he manages my server and tech support isn’t an issue.

I host 95 % of all my clients sites and I find that with my server it is setup optimally for my clients and I can have as many db’s I need. I can upgrade software as needed. I also opted out of using a control panel as they lag down the server which is something many people do not know.

I am overall dissatisfied with the jobs that most of these shared hosting companies provide.

Get your own server and an IT person to manage it or email me if you want a good server with out the hassle of those big companies.

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Leonard Klaatu December 24, 2007

UK-2 Group acquired MidPhase (parent company of AN Hosting) on Dec. 20th. FAQs are posted here.

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James Boyer Morristown NJ December 25, 2007

Very interesting offer.

I wanted to ask you if would mind letting me know how to get the archives and the about page to work on the Cutline blog theme which I am using on the blog that my signature links to. I have tried to fix them but not had any luck so far.

Thank you,

James Boyer

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Leonard Klaatu December 26, 2007

James Boyer — You’ll likely find the answer here. Pardon the interruption, Chris.

LK

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Roy December 26, 2007

For those of you who have 20+ websites, the Reseller package at Fasthosts http://www.fasthosts.com for me have been unbelievable.

I’ve used them for 5 years now and everything is clean cut, easy to use, with all the trimmings…no bandwidth/usage limitations and all scripting is enabled always.

They have some great Red Hat Linux packages too.

As a reseller with over 80 domains, I’ve found the 24 hour, 365 support to be second to none.

For single site usage they’re certainly not the cheapest (although I would say they’re the best by miles) but for high end users…they are the dogs danglies!!!

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kwatery prywatne December 27, 2007

Everything depends on what traffic and needs you have. For example my English friend had a very demanding site and hosting for it costed him about 1500$ a year. I recommended to him a polish hosting company and he got even more for over free times less moeny. Adding up: Sometimes it’s worth it to do some research to save so much money buing hosting even in another country.

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Chris P. December 27, 2007

Leonard — No worries! I appreciate the help.

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James Boyer Morristown NJ December 27, 2007

Anyone have any experience working with the Cutline theme and srg clean archives? What I am hoping to archive is to have all of my posts show up on the right hand side of the main page and on every post. Currently the 10 most recent show up there but nothing more. I am not sure where to address this but I guess it would be in the coding for SRG but where in the coding?

Thank you in advance for your help.

Jim

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Vineet December 27, 2007

Hi Chris,

Interesting article and the comments and participation is awesome.
I use globat. Since I made the decision to go with them I have not thought about these details. Maybe I will check what I have gotten myself into.. They were rated quite highly in a review site when I was researching.. I m quite uninformed about web hosting and the technicalities but I found it attractive at that time considering they wanted me to pay some 70 bucks for an yr with aa 50 $ mail in rebate for a domain and hosting service.. To add to that they were rated quite highly in the reviews.
I will see how they rate in these parameters.
defn good information

Vineet

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amish December 28, 2007

Chris – I think you misinterpreted my comment. It was a little brief, and for that I apologize. I’m not trying to bash you for making money through your blog. I’m perfectly fine with you doing what it takes to earn some green, including referral links for companies you do business with.

I was only highlighting that you didn’t disclaim your referral links. Perhaps I’m too demanding to expect this, but I really like it when someone is fully transparent when they do write something like that. I like to think that it t makes the opinion that the author is giving is more ‘honest and genuine’ – that there is not some sort of ulterior motive for writing such a rave review.

Now, I’ve been around these parts for a while (yes I do use Cutline and subscribe to the Pearsonified feed), so I’ve come to respect and value your opinion. I’m currently tied to another host and don’t have a huge need (or traffic) to necessitate a switch to another one, but when the time comes, this review has provided me an idea of where to look first. But think about a random reader who happens to stumble upon your site… do you want them to brush off your review as just another money-motivated sales pitch (something I certainly considered your older reviews of this company to be when I first came across you), or an honest, educated testimonial about the strength of this company’s offerings (which is what I see it as now)?

In any case, its just food for thought, and certainly not intended to be interpreted as harsh criticism. Sorry for the miscommunication.

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Nico January 3, 2008

Hi Chris,

i tried your recommended Package from AN Hosting and i can say i perfectly fits my needs. Support is great and uptime is 100 % so far.

Thanks for now.

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Tracy January 3, 2008

Same here, Nico. Every thing is cool so far.

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Samuel Elliot January 5, 2008

I have been using HostGator.com as my host provider for some time now and love it. I send all my clients there-way because of there history, offerings, and the price of there packages.

They offer Shared, Reseller, and Dedicated plans and seem to always be offering a sale! There shared plans range from $4.95/mo to $14.95/mo; all plans offer UNLIMITED MySQL databases & sub-domains, the smallest plan only allows for one domain, but the others offer UNLIMITED. I have never before experienced such competence from a company when it comes to support as I have from HostGator. There support is more than just 24/7/365 but it’s prompt and willing to tackle any issue you may have. They offer SSH with a little hassle (for security) and they monitor there servers for abusive processes.

A excerpt from there package details page:
“HostGator is one of the world’s top 10 largest web hosting companies with more than 700,000 hosted domains. We have over 130 employees to provide you around-the-clock superior support. We are the perfect choice whether you are looking for business, personal, or even Fortune 500 hosting.

Every web hosting plan comes with a 45 day money back guarantee, 99.9% uptime guarantee, and is fully guaranteed by the owner himself. If you ever have a problem with regular support just ask that your ticket be assigned to Brent and he will personally take the time to give you the VIP attention that you deserve.”

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todd January 5, 2008

just a chime in after reading through these comments.. i enjoyed all the input and in response to Amish, even though i knew at the beginning that Chris was doing a referral, it didn’t offend me.. i just saw it for what it was and continued enjoying the article and comments…

a disclaimer though, that i am currently considering a switch of hosts and have already been weeding through tons of referrals all over the place trying to get the best perspective on reality that i can.

I am limited budget wise, so have to stay with a shared host. What seems to be true from my research is that all shared hosting services are risky and oversold, and there is about a 50/50 chance that a particular host will be satisfactory (excluding the ones that obviously suck)…

what bakkouz said was very informative, but i don’t think any budget host is going to divulge these fine details…

ideally for me would be a mostly reliable budget host out there that would do a custom rate based on my needs rather than offering too little services or way too much… (I currently ‘need’ 4 gigs of storage, 4 gigs of monthly transfer, 4 domains, and 4 databases, and of course, a budget rate… which for me that means $4 to $5 per month, with the 2 year prepay)… of course that’s not gonna happen but I bet the budget host who would offer something middle of the road like this would get a lot of biz…

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todd January 5, 2008

i forgot to mention that hostgator is the best looking budget host from everything I’ve read, but they are actually only $4.95/m for 1 domain, 3 year prepay, and the next possible rate for anything more than 1 domain is $7.95/m and only if you prepay 3 years, which isn’t possible for me right now. The 20% off offer knocks it down a little, but not enough… And this is not to mention the discomfort that comes with knowing how much can change in a 3 year period, considering that they are obviously overselling….

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Brian January 6, 2008

It seems to me from what I’ve researched that US hosts tend to oversell more than UK hosts. It’s a shame companies have to use marketing tactics such as overselling and then putting a cap on CPU usage in the fine print. I think it would be helpful to be able to translate the CPU usage cap into bandwidth and number of domains. etc. Don’t know how feasible that is though, I’m no computer expert.

BTW, would anyone happen to know a good use-friendly UK host for Wordpress? The stats on Bluehost look impressive but given their CPU cap and the fact that I live in the UK, it would be harder to phone them should anything happen.

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Ern January 6, 2008

Great comments everyone.
I have so little certainty generally on the web, and although there is plenty of input, I have not yet chosen a new host.
I am in the motor industry, and if someone wanted to buy a good new or used vehicle they would have the same problem I am having with the net.
The truth may be out there, but not too many know what it is, and even fewer will share it. Keep up the good work, it does help.

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Correz.A January 11, 2008

Hey Chris. I’m in a hosting bind myself right now. I was wondering If I could ask your advice? I am torn between two hosts that I currently do business with. I’d love to consolidate everything to one service, but there are a few compatibility issues. I know you used to use Movable Type, Are you really that much happier with WordPress? That’s what’s making my choice difficult, one host lacks some packages that Mt requires to run.

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Austin January 13, 2008

Hey Chris, I was wondering what you use to create the site?

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Manchester Parking January 13, 2008

I use host nine. They are cheap, but also do damn good support.

Another important factor for me is location of servers.
I can select ones in the UK, if need be.

From what I have gathered, in terms of seo, it pays to have the server located in your target country, if you have one.

Chris is this correct or an Urban myth?

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Austin January 13, 2008

where has Chris been?

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daggone January 14, 2008

I use Mosso and love it. It is the bomb, check it out. $99.00 a month and you get a whole lot. the interface is really easy to use, you dont have to bs with a lot. I switched to them about 6 months ago, and I love it. My clients do too.

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Alexander Avramov January 15, 2008

When it comes to shared hosting, one of the most important things is web host not to oversell. Any good company cann afford to buy a reliable network and hardware. So it is really about business approach and human resources. That means a company must have a vision about the market and to have heplful customer support.

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Brad January 15, 2008

Hey Chris,
I’m using Pressrow and I really like it. I have several people post on my site. How do I allow the name of the person that posted to my blog be visiable at the bottom of the post? Thanks for the Great template!

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Low January 17, 2008

I am curious about AnHosting. Hear alot of good things about them. Currently hosted at Dreamhost which happen to change to ErrorHost soon, wondering if HostGator, MidPhase/AnHosting or Bluehost is better on support and less outage compare to ErrorHost? I’m no techie so tech support will be the most important thing to me on choosing hosting company.

I’ve emailed these companies asking the same question: Are You Better Than Dreamhost? AnHosting & MidPhase are so traditional while HostGator emailed me back but never really answer my question. BlueHost says yes through live chat (i’m happy) but seeing all these good reviews about them (Googled it and all i found are good reviews dominating the search), i’m starting to doubt whether they are true reviews.

I’m confused, does anyone has real experiences with these hosting companies? Which one is better on tech support and less errors/slow/outage?

Thanks so much.

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Austin January 17, 2008

Yes, I was wondering the same as Low.

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Austin January 17, 2008

What hosting company do you prefer?
I was looking at Mid phase, what do you think?

Nice website, I love it

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fontadoni January 17, 2008

Well, I have to say I´ve been using 1and1 for more than a year and Ive had no problems whatsoever. I use Wordpress and phpBB, and for this kind of stuff 1and1 works fine. For someone that´s just starting (like me) it´s not a bad deal…

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Matt January 18, 2008

I really enjoy your articles…
but I had to speak up when I started reading about the web hosting, I do local web design and I run a small hosting company. I won’t give a link because I don’t want this to be a shameless plug… For everyone here who is looking at the big 10 hosting companies; 1&1, dreamhost, midphase, even hostgator etc. please look harder. Brian is exactly correct about the cpu cap and about US companies overselling more (I believe it is a an advertising legality in the UK?)
Anyway, before you run out and sign up for ridiculous claims of 10000GB bandwidth and “unlimited” storage space, go to the source… take a look at WHT http://www.webhostingtalk.com and ask the actual owners of web hosting companies (both large and small) about your requirements. You will get an honest appraisal of your needs and if you ask in the right area you will get dozens of hosting offers.

Matt

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Austin January 18, 2008

Matt. I was actully told by people that mid phase is the worst?
is that true?
What would you say is the best for website designing and creating?

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Matt January 18, 2008

Austin. Its really difficult to say who the best is… I think I have the best product for my clients ;) but I think the best shared plan I have ever used is the SDX plan from Jaguar PC http://www.jaguarpc.com/semi-dedicated/ it’s $30/month and loaded with real features, you can get better performance than most virtual private servers and even better then some low end dedicated servers out there. If you have a problem the support staff are very knowledgeable and if you need to talk to Greg the owner he will email you back.

Good Luck

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Austin January 18, 2008

Matt. Wow that plan looks great but the only thing is I can’t afford $30 every month. Is there any other hosts just like that or ones you also love?
What do you use also?

What does this site use?

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Boht Trophy January 21, 2008

I’ve experience #3. Under different circumstances I developed a perfect database in SQL and was signed up with a friend who owns some servers. After paying I found out he had a different SQL version and I was out of luck, couldn’t open or import the database. I spent a few day redoing all the work.

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Matt S. January 27, 2008

What’s the point of a website if you can’t get people on it??? someone tell me now on here!!!if you think I’m wrong

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Mukesh January 30, 2008

Get a reseller account.. simple & sober

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Ovidiu February 10, 2008

You can get a dedicated server.

http://www.softlayer.com

I think they are one of the best!

I have my site on one of their servers and never had ANY problems.

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mount laurel February 13, 2008

well i use hostgator reseller for my site and my friend’s sites and they are great really suffer no problem at all and for my proxies i used wdservers plan and its great too!

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sftco February 16, 2008

cool, i recently got from hostmonster and hostgator both are fine will see if any probs in fucture.

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sheila February 20, 2008

Hi!

Your website is amazing! I have been reading all your articles! Thank You!

Also thank you for the wonderful cutline wordpress themes. I do have two questions with them, can you please email me so that I can ask them to you? I could not find a contact on your page.

sheilabocchine@gmail.com

Ciao,
Sheila

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Chris P. February 21, 2008

Sheila — Thanks for the kind words! Unfortunately, I stopped all development and support on the Cutline theme in March of 2007 after selling the property. As a result, I cannot assist you with questions about the theme; however, I can point you in the direction of Neoclassical, which has a knowledgeable user base that you can ping for assistance.

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Christina February 27, 2008

Though I am biased and getting paid for referrals to hosts, I spent a great deal of time creating a review site on a number of the top cheaper hosts. However, I actually reviewed them, called, tested (signed up, canceled), and so forth, and found out that most hosts do not pro-rate refunds and make you buy a couple years up front. I found two that do pro-rate refunds and one that is really reasonable month-to-month.

I always recommend month to month plans and going to your phpmyadmin and making a copy of your database every day.

Whether you post this post or not, always call and find out what you can do if the host goes south a year down the road. You’re SOL with most hosts.

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Holly Fortenberry February 28, 2008

I have used HostGator (as a Reseller) since August 2007. I did a lot of research, using the host matrices, etc. before choosing them since it was my first hosting experience and I knew that making a good decision up front was well worth the due diligence. I have been very pleased with HostGator as a reseller. They provide plenty of resources and great support. I have used the online chat, email and phone systems, mostly when I was first getting ramped up to learning how to be a reseller and use cPanel. They were professional and responsive. I’m grateful to have found them.

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bennie March 6, 2008

Hi, Im on Bluehost at the moment because they have one of the best support out there and their current hosting plan is practically the greatest offer.

By the way neoclassical is probably one of the best free themes out there so keep the good work!

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Claudiu March 6, 2008

Well you get what you pay for; still, $500 for a web hosting seems kind of way to much, don’t you think? :) This would be around $40/month which is way 2 much (at least from my point of view)

Month to month plans for seem to be the best way to work for me. I also recommend it. This way if you decide to go with some other hosting, you won’t loose money.

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Ranked Hard March 17, 2008

Excellent pointers. Another important thing to keep in mind is whether you can grow with your hosting company.

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Reality March 19, 2008

On the debate who the best host is, my conclusion is that the best host is the host that can meet your current need. Each site has its own need. If you own flickr.com, why would you host your site in a shared hosting plan?

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Ro March 20, 2008

Joyent Hosting rules:

for $50 you get 25 domains and 50 databases (mysql, sqllite, or postgresql, your choice). That’s $2/month

Built in support for Subversion, latest and greatest Apache/PHP, Rails/Mongrel. Super fast upgrade path if you get more traffic.

They host:

Twitter
Wordpress
RubyOnRails
Facebook Apps (the most popular ones)

Joyent rocks.

Their tech support doesn’t suffer fools gladly, but they are pretty helpful in their forums.

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Goran Giertz March 27, 2008

So who knows which are the best hosting companies in South Africa. We choose to host our clients websites in the country that we target.

And the prices are expensive. For $4.95 you wont get database hosting on 1 domain

We currently pay about $20 dollars for 1Gb traffic.

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Adam Beaupeurt March 27, 2008

Dear Chris,

I am looking to get in touch with the intelligence behind ’4 Inch Heels’.

I have been offered a correspondence job in Berlin, love her style and would love to use her as a guest editor.

Please inform me if you can help.

Warm Regards,

Adam

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Hip Hop April 7, 2008

I’ve come to respect and value your opinion. I’m currently tied to another host and don’t have a huge need (or traffic) to necessitate a switch to another one, but when the time comes, this review has provided me an idea of where to look first…

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Fubiz April 8, 2008

Thanks a lot for the tips!

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Bogensport April 13, 2008

I enjoyed all the input and in response to Amish, even though i knew at the beginning that Chris was doing a referral, it didn’t offend me..

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John April 15, 2008

Never pay upfront – opt for the more expensive plan for few months and then buy the cheaper long term plans. That way you have a chance to opt out if you’re not satisfied.

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yak sox April 22, 2008

Ouchy! so bitter

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Eran April 27, 2008

I think reseller account is a good solution. maybe even a vps will do a good job in relative… :-)

Eran

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Goran Giertz May 3, 2008

Resellers are great solutions, Eran, as it gives the sellers incentive to give clients service.

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tanya May 7, 2008

Hi There,

I just found this blog… the server comments have been going for 5 months! And every one has an utterly different opinion.
So how about godaddy? I’ve been registering my domain names there for me and my mates for about a year (after i realised my local hosting company (in Hong Kong) was doing that and charging me 100% markup). They have the most horrible interface, but they seem to be cheap and competant underneath. Everything works.
But what about their server deal? I just bought 2 months of the ‘budget’ size 15 Gb, to try it out, see if I can make it work. It’s only been a day, but i’m finding that so far, i can’t connect through dreamweaver, only their (slow) ftp client. And the help books aren’t so helpful. (They tell you how to use their website, which is the obvious part).

What’s a reseller?

What about Amazon? Do you have to be a big geek to use that? (I’m only medium sized, but scaleable).

Thanks, Tanya

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Chris P. May 7, 2008

Tanya — In my experience, I’ve found that hosting solutions from the likes of GoDaddy and Amazon tend to be a little different than solutions from people who specialize in hosting only. For one, FTP is often an issue (and oftentimes, the more advanced SSH is also a problem). Furthermore, with GoDaddy, things like creating databases or even database limits can be problematic as well.

Personally, I never recommend anyone but a bona-fide Web host (like ANhosting, A Small Orange, Bluehost, Rackspace, Mosso, etc.), as I think these solid hosts excel at taking a lot of the head-thumping out of dealing with a server.

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LA Computer Dude May 14, 2008

Good post.

I noticed your comment about any host needing to be Ruby On Rails-friendly but I have to give a shout out to Drupal and its great open source community. It’s my opinion that design geeks can come to grips sooner with Drupal than Ruby.

ALSO- do not go for the cheap host solution automatically, check their server downtime rate and ask (if possible- host companies have notoriously bad customer service) when was the LAST time they had a server go down.

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Baz L May 20, 2008

Where does one find information about a hosting company’s downtime rate?

When I check, most of them promise 99.9% uptime. Choosing a good host is extremely difficult, since everyone has such a different opinion.

I mean google: “[insert web host here] sucks” and you’ll get tons of results. You can’t even judge from these results. Does a lower number indicate less people think it sucks, or less people feel the need to report that it sucks?

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Chuck May 22, 2008

I’ve heard that AN Hosting is taking a dive in quality of service until their new ownership…which is apparently now being farmed out (as so many are doing).

I’ve had TERRIBLE experiences with LunarPages (major ripoff…and zero accountability from the people upstairs!) and many others. The reports of long (multi-day) outages at Site5 are true. I don’t understand how ANYONE can recommend BlueHost or Hostmonster (same company) anymore. I constantly get database errors because they are so damn oversold. Some people speak highly of Dreamhost and Hostgator. Too many horror stories for me, though.

I have a blend of a VPS with one company and a few shared packages with about 5 other companies (both MMhosting and Ace-Host.net have done well by me so far). I had good experiences for awhile with IX Hosting, but they seem to be stumbling with their recent datacenter move, and I had to leave them behind when it starting hitting me in the wallet.

I read thru this whole post looking for a recommendation that I would find helpful. I leave with no confidence whatsoever. And, to the Web Hosting Avatar… if you’re recommending BlueHost and Hostmonster… it’s really hard to take your “recommendations” seriously. I’m always happy to click on someone’s affiliate link when I sign up for something. But the info in this post is too old for me to depend on…and the comments largely cancel each other out.

I’ve tried several companies that I found recommended on WHT, but I’ve ended up cancelling all of them within the first 30 days. I don’t think there are many companies at all who are serious about service. I don’t even have significant needs…but even the occasional request seems to overwhelm most of them.

So…I am STILL in search of a great shared hosting package…especially someone with adequate (not oversold) database power and space/speed. I find AN’s lack of a response to Chris very, very discouraging…and I’m inclined to believe that the rumors of declining service are true.

However, I’m a new subscriber to Chris’s blog. And quite impressed with most of what I’ve read here so far!

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Yarks May 24, 2008

To the people complaining about bad things happening after getting a lot of Diggs, you should get a VPS. If you get Dugg a lot, that seems like the logical, safer bet.

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Tabitha May 27, 2008

Ahh, web hosting. A thorn in my side since the late nineties. I remember way back when no-one offered databases, hosting was like 35.00 a month if you could get it cheap and trying to muck about in your server was like wading through a marsh of barbed wire on a moonless night :). I’ve been ripped off, had big companies close shop with no warning and no refunds (of course), cruddy customer service and more. What a pain… Luckily, I hate database work, so my current hosting is fine for me. So long as it runs PHP, and has a few databases i’m a happy camper. At least the offerings have standardized a bit in the past few years. They’re all fairly stable, they all have pretty similar features and so long as you go with someone well known, you don’t get ripped of so much anymore :)

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Jim May 30, 2008

The CPU quota problem may have been fixed at Bluehost. See this entry from the BH owner: http://mattheaton.com/?p=119

I have about 15 Wordpress Blogs on Bluehost and for a while those CPU quota timeouts were killing me. Knock on wood I have not seen them for a while and seem to coincide with the upgrades mentioned in the above site.

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BigBri June 12, 2008

I’ve had my fair share of problems with shared hosting. At one point I had to run all five of my blogs off the same database because of database limits. My single database was so huge, when I changed hosts – it exceeded their upload limit! Now that everything is over at Bluehost, I couldn’t be happier.

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Goldnite June 15, 2008

I already had several small sites on various hosts when I needed to put a corporate site for a small business up – so I looked at the hosts I was using. I was surprised how much they offered for an individual for a blog, or small store – but how little they offered to a small business that didn’t need the full blown corporate account. It took a bit of hunting before I finally came up with a good hosting solution – but it was well worth the effort. This is definitely one of those times when you need to be thinking “buyer beware” before you sign up for a package. Thanks for bringing this to everyone’s attention.

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Rachel June 22, 2008

I’m in Canada – and these guys don’t host “international” domains. Although I’d like to create a .com for my personal account, long story short, I’ve lost my domain name because I didn’t resubscribe, and now I’m just going to create a Canadian version (my audience will only be Canadian anyway)….what do I do? Where do I go?

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Chris Pearson June 23, 2008

Rachel — Despite the fact that you’re in Canada, you can still opt for Web hosting in America. Honestly, I don’t see any reason why ANhosting wouldn’t be a great fit for you, especially since you’ll have all the services you need at a low monthly cost.

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dave July 3, 2008

From my experience:
Dreamhost suck
Midphase suck more
Unitedhosting.co.uk are one of the best UK resellers

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naturelimit July 12, 2008

Thanks for these useful tips. Does web hosting differ between different types of server?

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Ariel Kenneth July 21, 2008

000Webhost’s premium package is great! It come with a domain name, unlimited bandwidth, databases and space and supports all programming languages. Though, I use the free service which is nice itself for a personal site. It has 350 MB, 100 GB bandwidth, no ads and supports PHP and MySQL.

And no, I’m not advertising, I’m just a regular 13 year old letting everyone know of this cool webhost.

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Rexibit July 22, 2008

That is a great point you make about choosing a hosting plan that is right for you. Always plan to expand!

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G. July 30, 2008

Reading through this post just confirms what I already knew since the very first moments I started to look into offering Hosting companies.

Look, there is NO PERFECT HOST available, all sites are different and each need some specials which this or that Host don’t offer.

Good example is the guy here which hates Bluehost/Hostmonster. I host there and have no problems at all and the best up time you can get, and I can get you several client testimonials from the forum (not Host owned) from satisfied clients.

So what’s now ? Is Hostmonster or Bluehost a bad choice ? Hell no.

In fact this confusion from all those reviews mad me use a different system to rate hosts. I make a crosschecking from at least 10 sites and get all rankings together. The ranking position gives points which leads to a ultimate ranking list.

Anyhow, my top 10 list #1, or #2 and 3 is not necessarily the best pick FOR YOU. Do your due diligence is the most important thing before you decide where to sign up. You can ask any Host first about your special needs (if there are some).

G.

P.S. AN-Hosting is on the list, but not in the first positions.

P.P.S – Ridiculous to critique that Chris gets a commission for his recommendation. You will pay a the same price at any host you sign up, regardless where you sign up. So it’s just fair if a Affiliate get some commission for his hard work of maintaining sites and blogs etc.

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Chris August 22, 2008

After using a number of different hosting services, I have found Hostgator to be the most reliable.

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Ride it like you stole it August 27, 2008

Good piece, thanks for the tips. I decided to just keep my blog on Blogger using a private domain. All the support one needs to be successful, and it’s FREE!

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I Hussey August 28, 2008

I totally agree with everything you say, thanks for the tips. One other big problem I seemed to encounter in the UK was indian call center support what a nightmare with communication problems. I hopped around a few hosts over the last 8 months and found that for me the Heartinternet in the UK was the best. The ones I found the worst definatley Eukhost. I am not a one to slag off these companies but it is worth doing your homework.

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Marcin Kasperski September 3, 2008

VPS is the answer. Truly. You get your own small Linux box where you install whatever you need and configure it the way you like. And unmanaged VPSs are fairly cheap nowadays.

Yes, you must be a sysadmin. This is a fun part, in fact ;-)

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Roon October 23, 2008

VPS is the way forward, if you know what you are doing (know your way round a LAMP stack) then you can get one cheap, for around 5$ a month for 256-512Mb RAM or for a little more you can get one that comes with a Control Panel where 1 click domain set up is so easy to do!

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NYC Hypnotist October 23, 2008

I’ve been using godaddy and just started using hostgator. And you are right about mysql problems with godaddy. That’s the reason I added sites with hostgator. I couldn’t upload my own blog software very easily with godaddy.

I will check out the other hosts offered on these posts. Good info, and now a good resource for me.

Thanks

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Jackson October 24, 2008

I manage several Drupal websites. One larger community site hosted at http://www.workhabit.com and several other smaller sites at http://www.micfo.com.

I’ve been finding that sites at both hosts have been down frequently. (e.g. they are down when I check them.) When I ask for a downtime report or other way to objectively measure the service level, someone with a strong Indian accent tells me they will get back to me and never do.

1. Drupal Hosting.
I am definitely in the market to consolidate my sites at one reliable host that has some expertise with Drupal. What are the top 3-5 I should start with? (Currently paying $50/mo with Workhabit and I think I’m being screwed.)

2. Host monitoring.
I’m trying to do my homework because moving is a pain. What I find odd is that people are making important business decisions based on what the “crowd” is saying. My guess is that the “crowd” is heavily skewed toward insiders who have a vested interest. (e.g. hosts and resellers.)

I’d like to find an inexpensive, objective and reliable way to monitor the performance of the hosting company. My search for “website monitoring” ended up with 100s of software packages. Can any of you pros recommend the top 3 host monitoring solutions for small websites on a budget?

Many thanks!

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Gregory Burrus November 1, 2008

Hi Chris Great read but have to say it – ended up being disappointed that after all these post there is no one two or three great host solutions.
I used 1and1 since the days of their free package over 3 – 4 years ago and so far all is ok EXCEPT the support service is really horrible over the phone. The formulaic answers drive me crazy.

However I guess we all have to do as advised and make our decisions based on the moment.

With all this good advice I hope you come up with a best of the moment, top ten etc since it obviously a dynamic list.

Thanks for read.

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Mike November 2, 2008

Apart from what you mention in your article, the most important thing you should do is research the web host when you find one.

Go to all the review sites, search for the name of the host and add things to the search like scam, fraud, bad etc. If you do that, you might save yourselves the problems of everyone who’s contibuted to my site.

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Jonathan Lambert November 3, 2008

For the record here, we don’t offer hosting accounts. Not sure where you had your account (maybe Bryght.com?), but we don’t do any 50/mo hosting.

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Esme November 5, 2008

Wow, it really says something when a blog goes on for a year! It says that there is no cut and dry answers! I am exactly at the point of choosing my first web host to use wordpress on, and while there are no easy answers, I come away knowing several things to watch for and to question. One thing for sure – I’m only going to subscribe month to month at first! I was just about ready to subscribe to APlus, which I found on CNET – editor’s choice. Now I have to go back and check all their specs. I am afraid to find that they fall under Chris’ Sin #2 – MySQL not updated. I wonder how important that is? I’d be paying $10/month for the small business plan.

It has taken me over an hour to read all these since the terminology is unfamiliar and I had to read slowly to learn, and I really have a headache now, but this has been quite helpful everyone. Thanks, Chris. I actually found this by following a trail from “pomomusings” blog (the designer of Cleaker for Wordpress) where he recommended your Thesis theme. Anyway, this has been interesting…

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Joel McLaughlin November 7, 2008

Great article, I sold hosting in the past and its a very competitive industry. I agree with Chris, Hostgator is a good provider

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Steve November 24, 2008

This has been absolutely the best discussion I have found to date regarding hosting company experiences.

Naturally, I’m in the market for a change and consolidation.

I am wondering if anyone has any comments about consolidating 30 or 40 low traffic sites onto one of those theoretically unlimited shared plans.

Oh, and one more thing, should I be using a reseller account if I do indeed consolidate? Should I ask or pay for static IP’s?

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Fotografi December 1, 2008

Thanks really useful.
Could you also suggest some provider for Wordpress?
Thanks.

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Claude December 31, 2008

I have moved my sites to DreamHost after spending the last year hosted at MidPhase/AN Hosting on the most unreliable servers and terrible customer service by people in eastern Europe.

DreamHost is an employee owned company and so far they’ve provided excellent service. The control panel they offer let’s you take care of most tasks within minutes. Their Wiki has been an excellent resource with solutions that are easy to find and implement.

My current (LAMP) plan allows for unlimited databases, domains, google hosted email and applications. All for under $120/year. Static IPs are available for a nominal fee.

HTH

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Chris Pearson December 31, 2008

Claude — Interestingly, MidPhase’s servers in Chicago are fleet and snappy, while Dreamhost’s shared servers in the States are quite possibly the worst in the industry! This just goes to show you that the variables are completely different overseas, and no matter what your situation, it certainly pays to research things as much as possible before making a decision.

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Saqib Ansari January 7, 2009

hmmm i think most newbies fallen with such mistakes.

nice tips for newbies.

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walidm January 7, 2009

wow!

What an incredible discussion Chris! I don’t think I’ve seen one like it to date. I have narrowed my choices to Bluehost and Hostgator and am caught between the two.

I found this after perusing phoenixrealestateguy’s website and seeing the recommendation for the thesis theme.

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Guido January 24, 2009

For 99% of you, shared hosting at a good service provider will do the trick.

My favored are Hostgator, Hostmonster/Bluehost, IX.

Anyhow, the overall ranking out off all review sites do give a different result. You have to find out which one you like and then research this one for what you will need it.

If you like to get on top of the SERPs with your site in a higher competitive market, then individual IP’s are better. At Hostmonster for instance you can get those for a additional fee.

Anyhow, relationship between a host and your website is like a marriage. So chose wisely before you sign up and don’t go for price only.

G.

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Peter Beck February 8, 2009

I’m considering changing my host as well…and doing lots of research. The answers keep shifting, as hosts’ reputations/management change.

Midphase has gotten a nod from Chris, but lots of negative comments on a Twitter search (a fair number of very positive comments, to be fair, too). A2 mentioned earlier above has almost no entries, but the one I found was positive. Can’t seem to find any Tweets on ANHosting, probably because “AN” looks too much like “an.”

As ever, would be most interested to hear about anyone else’s (current) experiences.

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Nile February 26, 2009

There have been webhosts that have offered even way back before ’05 that offered spectacular hosting. Unfortunately, like you, despite seeing these places, I opted for the cheaper at first.

I recommend HostGator…especially dedicated servers. I have one of theirs and if I ever have an issue, they have been fair and on top of the problem. The awesome thing is that in 2007, when there wasa fire and 3 days downtime, they gave ALL of their dedicated server clients (over 150 of them that were on the floor affected, including my own), the entire month free. I could not get that anywhere else and even the prompt service, especially since I have webhost clients of my own.

When I read this article, first host that came to mind about being so limited was Powweb. I truly despise their services and have had several web design clients that eventually moved to me or got hosted at one of the recommended places I gave them.

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Malcolm March 19, 2009

I’ve hosted several sites over several years at crystaltech.com. The sites are all database-driven (SQL Server), the shared plan is about $17/month, and they answer their phones 24/7 by fully-knowledgeable network people, not script-reading support people. I find it a very professional operation at a very good price.

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Not A Fan March 30, 2009

An Hosting is the worst! poor customer service! site speed is a problem. you get what you paid for. Oh btw they used to have a bbb affiliation but it got dropped because of too many customer complaints.

go elsewhere…

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Shark April 8, 2009

has anyone had any experience with SharkSpace or Downtown Host?

great info. here but i’m still at square 1 and undecided on which service to host several personal sites.

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FMJ April 18, 2009

Very Useful. After using a number of different hosting services, I agree Hostgator is reliable.

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Scott S. April 20, 2009

You didn’t mention a thing about security. More specifically, how many of the things you hate also tie in with measures to keep websites and data more secure. What possible protection can you get for $5 a month?

Sad day. =[

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Thomas April 29, 2009

Yeah right away I noticed that I would definately need to upgrade to a mid-level hosting package. I read a post on a forum about a guy who went over his alloted spave….and was charged 0.50 cents a gigabyte…so he ended up being charged over $500 one month….that is a horror story!

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Malcolm April 29, 2009

>was charged 0.50 cents a gigabyte…so he ended up being charged over $500 one month<

What hosting company?

Also, I recently opened an account at hostgater for use with a wordpress site. So far I’ve been impressed with their support.

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Rick May 6, 2009

Lesson learned the hard way:

Go to a primary provider such as GatorHost rather than a reseller. Who do you want to support you, a trained staff that is there for you 24/7 or an individual who sleeps at night, goes on vacations and gets sick sometimes?

GatorHost gives me prompt support always and even their shared accounts have unlimited everything, bandwidth, storage, domains, etc.

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Raffael June 19, 2009

How the heck can I contact someone if I have a question, BEFORE I buy thesis? I checked for an email address, but I couldn’t find one. And everywhere I tried it I would have to “sign up”, which means, buying thesis. Well, I am interested in buying it, but I have one question I need to have answered before I make my decision. So is there an email address where I can send my question to?

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Chris Pearson June 20, 2009

Raffael — Please send your question to diythemes [at] gmail [dot] com, and we’ll take care of you!

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Tamer K. August 1, 2009

How can I get the template you used for this blog mr. Pearson? I can’t find a place to ask a question, and my post does not seem to go through.

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Tamer K. August 1, 2009

haha, I just realized Raffael was complaining about the same thing : – ) I’ll send my questions to the same email address.

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Adam August 18, 2009

Always do your research before purchasing web hosting. Watch out for affiliate reviews also, they’re only looking to make money. I personally use Best Damn Web Hosts for a discount from FatCow.

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Justin September 7, 2009

Hmm, I don’t think I am very impressed with AN Hosting. I like Bluehost and have been a customer for a long time. None the less I know people who have had issues with them. Perhaps I have just been lucky!

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Bob October 9, 2009

I agree with Justin, I had an account with MidPhase which is what came up when I clicked on your link. I kept it about two weeks and moved off because they did not have something I needed. This was over a year ago and I think it was curl they didn’t have. I like Hostmonster which is a Bluehost sister company.

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Chris Mack October 27, 2009

What about the backup policy? This is the one thing that everyone seems to overlook until they’ve been bitten by either messing up their own site, or having a hacker come in and do it for them. None of the big hosts offer a very good backup policy.

The best in my opinion is rochenhost, but their fees are steep. So I’ve had enough of it, and now host my own sites, on my own VPS with a great off-site backup strategy (daily, weekly and monthly backups), and it’s worked so well, I offer it as a service. $90 a year ($7.50 a month) and you’ve got everything most websites could ever need and a wicked backup strategy in place.

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Nick Halmond October 30, 2009

I agree with bob. I’m also a bluehost fan

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richard November 1, 2009

I have been with hostmonster for over two years now. I can only remember one time when the server was down. They have been pretty good to me.

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daryl December 7, 2009

I opened an acc with fasthosts.co.uk because they seemed to tick all the boxes.

Hadn’t realised that 24/7 support meant that they take 24 hours to reply (often with a standard reply).

I aslo made the error of not reading the T&Cs- silly me- now I am locked into a year contract for space that doesn’t work properly.

Just because a firm gets good reviews in the mags that they advertise in it is no assurance of quality or honesty

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Ali December 8, 2009

l have been using 1and1 and looks alright and all they need is provide more mysql because very limited and not nice but other than that all ok l think.

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CS Thompson December 9, 2009

I have found Godaddy to be really good, especially on the support side. You can always talk to a real person 24×7 which I really value. Its also scalable, so if you get loads of traffic you can upgrade pretty easily.

They are really slow on the auto applications setup compared with fantastico on cpanel, but they are always up to date in my experience.

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R. Venkata Subramani December 14, 2009

I use Bluehost and found to be very efficient, except for some hiccups that surfaced last month. Unlimited domains but restrictions on number of files. Overall I am a satisfied customer of Bluehost.

-R. Venkata Subramani

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sisiel December 14, 2009

waw this is great tips for newbie like me.. helpful.. thanks to pearson..

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daryl December 15, 2009

I have an account with bluehost that is supposed to host a site for HTC rom updates- no idea though if they live up to their promises. I opened it 13 hours after the scum suckers at fasthosts locked me into a year of crap service.

I have numerous differing types of accounts and just want to say- STEER CLEAR OF FASTHOSTS.co.uk- They are lying thieving gits who miss-sell packages. Anyone that offers you a 3 month discount but hides the fact that it is a year contract sucks- always read the small print.

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Jaki Levy January 4, 2010

As a developer, I’ve had multiple issues with GoDaddy (always trying to upsell), aPlus, networksolutions, and 1&1.

I’m personally hosted on Dreamhost, but have multiple issues with downtime. They’re cheap, but their phone support is mostly non-existent. You have to pay for it (they do offer chat support though).

Overall, I’ve found Bluehost to be best for wordpress, drupal, and flash intensive sites. And they’re recommended by WordPress.

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Divya January 20, 2010

Hello,
I am new to all this. Here’s a question I hope someone can answer. If I sign up for Personal Option plan $87 on this page:

1. Will I be able to get my own domain name?
2. If yes, will I be able to use it for business?
3. Will I need to sign up for web hosting service?
4. Will I need to renew domain name every year?

Thank you!!!

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Chris Pearson January 22, 2010
  1. Domain names actually have nothing to do with Thesis, and you’ll need to purchase one of these beforehand. I recommend buying your domains from GoDaddy (save 10% off your order with that link), as they’ve always had reasonable prices.
  2. You can use your domain for whatever you like, including business.
  3. Unless you want to run your own server (almost nobody does this because it’s highly technical and, in most cases, a total pain in the ass), then you’ll need to purchase web hosting service. I work closely with the team at ANhosting, and they offer a fantastic mix of reliability, low prices, and great service.
  4. You can renew your domain name for as long a period as you like; most folks opt for 1 or 2-year registrations, meaning that they renew once every 1 or 2 years.

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Natalie February 3, 2010

these are very important points which consider to take web hosting service, that blogs or forum or many new web 2.0 features help to make your website more attractive and keeping your visitors stay from moving others.

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Seeor February 4, 2010

what is your hosting now? SOFTLAYER?

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Chris Pearson February 4, 2010

My datacenter is Softlayer, but my current server is an aff.biz server that is part of the UK2 Group, which owns and operates VPS.net, AN Hosting, MidPhase, and others. Pearsonified and DIYthemes will be moving to a 6–12 node VPS by the end of the month. Both sites are already utilizing a killer CDN to speed up page loads and create a much more seamless user experience.

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Mary February 27, 2010

This is extremely useful to me. I am fairly new to this business and I have to admit that I find webhosting to be very confusing. I have some basic hosting but I know that I will need something better quite soon but have been unable to make any decision about what is really best for me. Thanks for the tips given here about what to look out for.

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Andrew B March 2, 2010

Hey Chris…First time ever on your blog.

I didn’t know anything about you before reading this one post but you have a new reader…we came up with the same end game.

My new sites arent up yet so i got nothing to push here.

I trust you believe in this product because I also wound up with the same 2 host options (after hours and hours and days and days of chatting, talking, test driving and researching…)

Will be checking out your other posts to see if you can save me some time in other areas! Seems like you’ve made some of the same mistakes…and maybe even made some of the mistakes for me so i dont have to. Looking forward to learning lots.

Peace!

P.S. I take no issue with you profiting off a link if you truly did legit research and have reason to believe in a project. I have every reason to believe you did. I spent weeks of my life trying out hosts, chatting with techs and services only to come to the same result.

Anhosting (shared) and vst for virtual.

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Kaushik Biswas March 22, 2010

I have a shared hosting package since last 1 year, 1250GB space, unlimited bandwidth, 20 db etc. for only 12$ per year. No addon domains :)

The problem is, mine is a personal site and 1250GB is too much in excess which I’d never require in my entire lifetime, so I asked my provider if they can allow me just one more domain with an extra price than a new regular package. My wife wanted her domain to be on my host. The answer from the web hosting authority was “no”.

The next higher package of 24$ allows hosting 5 domains, so either I need to get that one, or get another similar 12$ package of 1 domain only. So maybe next year I’ll renew with that higher package (it has 5×20=100 databases).

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Manikandan March 29, 2010

hi nice post..i too think about to start my own blog with some good hosting..but little confused after seeing these comments..bcoz everyone will their own exp..from that how can we choose our best suitable hosting :)

Thanks/regards,
Manikandan.K

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Mapics May 10, 2010

What’s so hard to believe about the bandwidth? Dreamhost is up to 5000 GB a month.

The profit comes from hundreds of people like me who still pay $9/month and use 5 GB/month.

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Gravity May 15, 2010

I think this article needs an update, all major hosts now offer unlimited disk space, bandwidth and domains on one account like Blue Host, Host Monster and Dream host to mention a few and all at 6.95 per month…

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channeljay May 18, 2010

Its a nice article about hosting. And its really a mere fact that people tend to dive into the “unlimited” kind of statements from providers and not giving time on scrutinizing the other essential support that they might bite them in the future.

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Brian G May 24, 2010

cool article. never thought twice about some of this stuff

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Kedze May 26, 2010

I had a look at AN Hosting and their demo cpanel page wouldnt even load so not sure I fancy that. Must say rather tired of trawling the net for “independent reviews ‘ only to find EVERY reviewer is affiliated to the ones they choose. I’m settling on BlueHost as wordpress themselves recommend – any probs with this Chris? I’m about to purchase Thesis.

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Kedze May 26, 2010

I’m going to ask straight out – where should I go? Read your stuff about VPSnet Chris – very interesting. I have a niche market travel company. So although my business mainly comes from the web I am not totally reliant on the site being there 100%. What I would like is speed of loading because i have lots of photos. Would I be best going down the VPS route or will; shared server suffice? Thanks.

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Frixter2000 June 19, 2010

i recently purchased a new domain name from godaddy.com. I opt to buy .info because its cheap. I will make a new blog out of it. Another thing is that i bought a domain through blogger but i do not know what’s the next step to do.

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Cathy Tibbles July 15, 2010

DONE – I’ve increased the DB’s and Domains. The support is ALWAYS there – cause we’re fabulous. :)

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Scolex July 16, 2010

i purchased a new domain through blogger but i do not know how to configure it. Until now, i was not able to use that domain name.

The domain name is bought from godaddy but through blogger. Please tell me the next step to do.

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Gosmartinking July 21, 2010

I happened to buy a hosting plan, but according to your domain hosting with what is good in search engines?
Regard

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Frixter2000 July 22, 2010

i’m also looking for a good hosting plan for my website. It’s nice that i’ve stumbled into this site which gave a lot of things to do.

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Jon August 11, 2010

Like all things, there are good and bad. I was recommended a web host a couple of years ago and have not looked back. Their reseller account is £25 a month and with that you get unlimited domains and databases. Reasonable bandwidth (I now pay extra for the bandwidth I need) lots of adds ons, latest software versions etc. All good.

They are not a well know company, and I do not want to advertise them on a popular blog like this as I am selfish in my nature and hope that they always remain relatively small and continue to provide the excellent service that they do.

Shop around, ask questions. The big boys do everything on the large scale, so you may pay less, but you get far less than you need.

Another thing to think about is upscaling. If you little blog turns into a global brand, can their servers cope? Can they move you to a better server with no downtime, or will you have to do it all yourself? Will they give you and extra 100Gb bandwidth in a moments notice, or block traffic if you become popular overnight?

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Frixter2000 August 30, 2010

just purchased my new domain name from godaddy.com. But i do not buy a hosting plan coz i still want my blog to be hosted by blogger.

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Marcellus September 27, 2010

I checked out AN Hosting. It still has nothing on WebFaction. Up to 20 domains doesn’t compare to unlimited domains, unlimited subdomains, unlimited databases, etc. AN Hosting is nice, but I’m just saying…have you checked out WebFaction?

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Anna November 3, 2010

We use a small company in Germany. The price for a managed server with PHP, MySQL, Wordpress, Serendipity, cgi, cron jobs, etc, is quite ok, but our problem is, that the company is not able to give us seperated C-Classes in DNS.

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Thomas November 16, 2010

I guess I got lucky then my first time around. I have HostGator and pay about $10 per month which gives me unlimited everything and…I have the AWESOME C-Panel Interface!

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chris g tucker November 22, 2010

Thanks for the server tips Chris!

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David December 26, 2010

And where is this site hosted? ;)

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Chris Pearson December 29, 2010

Pearsonified is hosted in the clouds at VPS.net :D

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Pastas January 2, 2011

Excellent pointers. Another important thing to keep in mind is whether you can grow with your hosting company.

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Angie January 17, 2011

Great article, but Godaddy is great. Learned a lot though.

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Jonny January 20, 2011

Some great points mentioned here Chris about web hosting. I agree, it is important to do the research before deciding on a hosting company. I have been in the same boat as you before regarding database limitations. Just about every website these days is database driven. AN Hosting are good, but Fusion Host is another great web hosting company that I highly recommend.

We have been using them for over a year now and we have never had a problem with them. When we need help, their customer support is extremely helpful and they also offer great features. Best of all though, they offer unlimited of everything :)

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Navin January 27, 2011

Great Post Chris as usual, points you mentioned are very helpful for new bloggers like me. Thanks alot :)

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Damian March 3, 2011

Thanks man some helpful info

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Zak Klemmer March 25, 2011

Thanks for writing such a well thought out article on web hosting plans. I fell into one of the worst hosting plans available on the ‘net, I signed up for a hosting plan with whois.com, then to discover that it didn’t meet my needs. After signing and paying I discovered there were no refunds and that not only could I use it only for the domain that I had signed up for but that I could not transfer it to another domain that I own – had I bothered to read the agreement I would have known.. Don’t spank me- whois.com beat you to it!

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Lugh May 1, 2011

I think this blog has confirmed my suspicions that I need to be careful on giving hosting advice. I am soon to do a wordpress site for a company back in Ireland and I’ve spent most of the day trying to sort out the wheat from the chaff with Irish hosting companies without much success. I’m not sure that they company would be happy to host outside the country. I would be tempted to go with AN Hosting myself. Although a company may have 24/7 support I wonder if at night time in the hosting country there are fewer staff available than during the daytime.

If a site has a denial of service attack is there any way of countering this by dual hosting? So one site goes down and the other pops up? What I noticed in reviewing the Irish hosting companies was that they all seemed to be hosting in the same building so that got me thinking.

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Jps July 3, 2011

I have ended up with many bad web hosts myself for my wp business website. Some of the famous names out there are expensive and not that great. Finally I have settled down with a great host.

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Ben July 17, 2011

I like hostgator. Very cheap with unlimited domains.

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Malcolm Ruthven July 18, 2011

Hostgator has been hosting my WordPress site for a few years with no problems and great support. I’d say it’s the best web host I’ve used and I’ve used several (all good ones).

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Jason July 20, 2011

I have to agree, cause some hosting is just terrible. I was originally with host gator back when I first built a site, well after geocities that is, then due to the “cost” thing, I switched to Arvixi, then to JustHost, etc… and right now, I can’t wait to get back to hostgator. They had great support, offered what I needed and my site was faster on their setup.

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Jensen July 30, 2011

Yes, a horrible thing to get snagged with. And as you say “make decisions based on the details that will affect you the most.” applies not just to hosting, but to so much more…and to life! :-)

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Persenning August 11, 2011

It is allways the same. Here in germany it is not that common as in the U.S. I had a hosting account with hostgator that was got me bacause of the cheap monthly payments with almost all the available features. But after a few days you realize that this is a really slow server as you have to share it with many other people (too many, I know its shared hosting, but oftentimes the hostimecompanies overdu it)
Lession is: You alwas get what you pay for.

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Katherine Holmes August 24, 2011

Great article, I’m all for GoDaddy though.
P.S. Awesome pic, haha!

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Anne Joki September 9, 2011

Katherine – I was with Godaddy recently too, but I changed to Hostgator and i must say – it is just Night and Day! Sopport is brilliant and everything is mutch more user friendly!
I really do recommend them as usually there is 200+ LIFE assisants ther for 24h a day. IMHO perfect!

Regards,
Anne

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Suzann Holst September 20, 2011

Yes, I completely agree with Anne! I’m totally all the way about Hostgator coz 24h per day you can ask for help and they always are there!

When I was upset with GoDaddy complexity last year I changed my host to Hostgator and since then newer looked back. Recommended definitely!

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Shannon October 12, 2011

What are your thoughts about Bluehost? I’m currently using them but I just started my website. I literally have two articles and no traffic……YET! If it won’t live up to what I eventually need it to, I’d like to switch.

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Alexander September 9, 2012

I’ve been using Hostmonster (subsidiary company of Bluehost) web hosting for about 2 years. Here you can get unlimited Space, Bandwidth and host unlimited Domains for $6.95 a year. For all this period uptime was near 95,5 %. And site was out only few times for 1-2 minutes. I think Bluehost is quite good web hosting, most advantage – fast stable work.

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Hassan Raza October 30, 2011

This will really prove to be helpful

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Rob Thomson November 28, 2011

We currently host 47 of our websites with Rackspace on one server and our email on another server. We are looking to build more websites and being a real estate company & just getting into doing all of our web development & marketing in house; finding resources like this make it easier for us to make decisions about where to host & what kinds of things to look out for when searching for hosting. Thanks!!!

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Arjun May 23, 2013

Hey there !
This article really helped me !
I wrote a cool article about the factors to be considered before buying a hosting service!
I was writing for my client ! (I am a freelance writer)
Took your site for reference and sold my article for $5

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Adam Perkins September 25, 2013

This is a great article and a ton of great comments. While nothing can replace what a server can do.

Other options exist for those of us (myself included) who just want to get a site up there without the hassle. Sometimes abstracting that away can be a beautiful thing. Depends on the job for sure.

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Hoot and/or Holler

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