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[web] Let's talk about your hosting...

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Quite simply, tell me about your hosting plan and experience with the various hosts you've had over the months/years. I've had a couple of private chats with people who have had both positive and negative experiences with their hosts, so I thought it'd be a good idea if we could build a collective picture of how hosting seems to be these days. More importantly, it might help point people in the right direction for their specific hosting needs. I want to know what went well with your host, what when badly - how could they have improved their service? What was their communication like? Did they compensate your for any downtime or inconvieniences? If you've changed host, why? If you've been with a host for several years - why? If you're looking for a host, what sort of things do you expect them to deliver? I don't want to hear about second/third hand accounts of hosting; this has got to be about a host you (or your company) have dealt with personally. This rule is simple, I don't want to have the thread turn into hear-say/chinese whispers. Also, when discussing your host please be objective in your criticsms - I don't want anyone to get in trouble ;)

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My site is currently hosted with godaddy.com, and has been for the past two and half years. No complaints; for example, I've never noticed any downtime. However, I don't ask for much from them, so I may not be an exactly representative sample. Since I've been with them they've increased my bandwidth and disk space limitations free of charge without asking a couple of times, which I count as a nice touch in the customer service side of things.

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I'll get the ball rolling with my first ever 'real' webhost (eg paid-for).

PMHIS

I've had a very positive experience with this host; although I don't host my site there any longer they still maintain several DNS records and forwarding plans for me and a few of my clients.

They're a small company operating a reseller account from DonHost (or so I believe). Because they're so small they really give good customer service; any email correspondence was answered within an hour and was always personal (eg: read the FAQ). I've never had to call them but they are reachable via telephone if needed. The basic packages they offer are (or at least were, when I was with them) very competive on price. Sure, they weren't the cheapest but the deals they had were tempting - offering 'Unlimited' space on their Web+ accounts for example.

I had the basic ASP Windows hosting package with them for about 2 years before needing ASP.NET hosting with a MySQL database, an option that unfortunately wasn't available with them.

As for customer service; they once made a mistake with a domain name I wanted hosting for a client. I wanted a .org and a .co.uk; they only registered the .org by mistake beleiving the registration to be a double transmit (I registered both really quickly). I was delayed for no more than a couple of hours wondering where the confirmation email for the .co.uk before contacting them. They were so apologetic they gave me free registration and forwarding for the year. Sure, it wasn't a lot of money but it was a nice C/S experience - especially since I wasn't even that bothered.

The only real downside to them I saw was that as a reseller, they were unable to control the server they were buying into. This stopped them from installing MySQL and other addons that I needed; their ASP->ASP.NET upgrade price was also a little expensive considering they were already running on 2K3 servers with the ASP.NET framework. I think that again, as a reseller they were forced to pass on costs from their host's packages.

I'll talk about my current host in a little while :)

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My experiences with 1Portfolio ($7.99/year 250MB PHP) has been fairly positive. With the occasional downtime (once every two months or so) I have thoughts about switching. The thing that keeps me with them is the cheap price.

Their customer service isn't that good. Whenever I've sent them an email, it's usually answered with a useless answer, the good thing is that the problem is fixed within three hours.

Overall, if you're looking for a cheap, pretty reliable host, go with 1Portfolio.

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I've got a reseller account. 200gigs space/30 gigs of bandwidth that I continue to pay for. I haven't resold to anyone.. but if anyone is interested I would create accounts for people at a very small price. Since I'm paying for it anyway.

Rob, if you are interested I'd do something like a dollar a year for the same account... So far the service has never been down and it seems fast.

It offers all normal services.. unlimited mysql/postgre databases.. newest cpanel + a bunch of extentions... fantastico.. etc etc..pretty nice.. I shopped around for awhile.

I also have a VPS account that I use. I pay about 15 bucks a month for it. (cheapest I could find). I don't use it a whole lot, but its nice to have root access to a remote linux box. It's hosted by TekTonic.net. I really couldn't recommend them enough. I emailed them to update my DNS entries on the weekend and got a reply within about 15 minutues.

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I have personal experience with several hosts so far.

YourName Webhosting
This was the first paid webhost I got. Like all european hosters it's quite expensive and the packages are small. I have hosted two different site's there and I have never had any issues with them. I quickly outgrew their hosting package though so I moved.

iPowerWeb
This is where I currently host my personal website and one other site. They are pretty cheap, reliable, excellent support desk (I always got a response in < 24 hours). The only gripe I have had with them was that at some point they upgraded the PHP package on their servers which broke the scripts that were running off the old installation. They didn't send any advance notice that they were going to upgrade it so I only found out when I opened the page one morning and my site crashed horribly.

Generic Webhosting
This one is (partly) run by one of the GDnet mods. Excellent host, especially considering the price (dirt-cheap). Ideal if you are short on cash and need a small website. I recommend this one often to other people. It did have a full day of downtime once which affected their own site as well. Because of this I wasn't able to get in touch with any of the GW staff (all the details were listed on their website), so I just PM'ed the moderator responsible through GDnet. They could do with a decent support service but otherwise I recommend them for small sites.

Turbo-host (UK)
As with YourName it's quite expensive and small in comparison to US hosting plans. Support is excellent though, they fix problems very fast. I would not put too big a site there though because they have some issues with available bandwidth. When you start getting close to the 10 million visits / month in php pages on their largest package then it's definately time to get the hell out of there or you'll suffer a lot of downtime.

Layered Tech (dedicated servers)
After outgrowing TurboHost UK, the site I work for moved to a dedicated server. LayeredTech was the one we picked because of many raving reviews and because they had very good packages for a low price (currently we have a 3 Ghz AMD with a Gig of RAM and 1000 Gig bandwidth for $80 / month). So far I have not been disappointed. A big advantage of LayeredTech is that they rent space and bandwidth from a big datacenter but not the hardware. They own the hardware themselves and have their own tech staff on-site, so technical issues are easily and swiftly resolved. They also don't charge you for the occasional server reset or small things like that.The only downside I can see so far is that the support team that you are supposed to e-mail in case of troubles doesn't respond quickly during the night-shifts (US time) so it takes a bit longer to get a reply.

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I'm using a Norwegian host called ServeTheWorld. I get PHP and MySQL/MsSQL and 500MB web/mail space and 5GB traffic/month. I pay 79NOK/month - about $13. Pretty expensive, but it's in Norway which makes it a bit simpler with support and such. I couldn't find any better or cheaper hosting service in Norway when I shopped around (was a while ago though..)

They're quite small and got good customer relations on both email and telephone. I've never noticed any downtime but they guarantee 99.3% uptime or free for a month.

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I use Powweb

Absoltuely wonderful. I have looked around for another host but even the cheaper, good-looking ones like 1and1, the features of powweb always is greater than anythign else. 5 GB a day!

Rob, for that money, I'd switch over to powweb.

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I forgot one that you definately need to know about:

AIT (Advanced Internet Technologies)
This is the worst of the worst. I cannot name a single good thing about these bunch of fraudsters. First off, they will sell you a dedicated server but in reality give you a virtual server (that is, they run multiple virtual servers off a single machine). Sneaky, you will never know the difference untill you actively investigate (e.g, your neighbouring virtual server does something stupid that kills the machine so you go down with it). Their connection permanently sucks so bad that you think they have their entire datacenter hooked on a single 56k modem. We could never get a download speed of greater than 20 kbps. Ofcourse you start calling the support department about this. The "fix" lasts for about 24 hours after which the connection is back to 20 kbps again. Then you get the first bill. They overcharge you on everything. Support calls are billed twice, you get billed for services you did not recieve nor asked for. The support staff is unfriendly, especially when it comes to billing questions.

We had a 60-day money back guarantee (they have since lowered it to 30 days). We were so much displeased with them that we cancelled after 25 days giving a term untill the end of the 60 day money back period so we had time to find someone else and move our stuff over. At the end of the 60 day period they indeed cancelled our server access but they never cancelled the contract which resulted in 4 more monthly charges to our creditcard on top of the two months in the beginning. AIT claimed we never cancelled and they were going to charge us untill the end of the year. At this point we contacted a lawyer and threathened with a great bunch of lawsuits (quite easy, because they did cancel our access to the server and we kept all communications with them, full headers and all). AIT backed down and ended our contract immediately but we never got a refund for everything they overcharged us (about $400,- all-in-all).

In short, avoid this company like the plague. It's one of the worst bucnh of scammers I have ever come across. We cannot not afford a lawsuit against them to get the $400,- back but I really hope some rich dude will take them down someday out of principle.

[flaming][flaming][flaming]

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Quote:
Original post by Sander
I forgot one that you definately need to know about:

AIT (Advanced Internet Technologies)
This is the worst of the worst. I cannot name a single good thing about these bunch of fraudsters. First off, they will sell you a dedicated server but in reality give you a virtual server (that is, they run multiple virtual servers off a single machine). Sneaky, you will never know the difference untill you actively investigate (e.g, your neighbouring virtual server does something stupid that kills the machine so you go down with it). Their connection permanently sucks so bad that you think they have their entire datacenter hooked on a single 56k modem. We could never get a download speed of greater than 20 kbps. Ofcourse you start calling the support department about this. The "fix" lasts for about 24 hours after which the connection is back to 20 kbps again. Then you get the first bill. They overcharge you on everything. Support calls are billed twice, you get billed for services you did not recieve nor asked for. The support staff is unfriendly, especially when it comes to billing questions.

We had a 60-day money back guarantee (they have since lowered it to 30 days). We were so much displeased with them that we cancelled after 25 days giving a term untill the end of the 60 day money back period so we had time to find someone else and move our stuff over. At the end of the 60 day period they indeed cancelled our server access but they never cancelled the contract which resulted in 4 more monthly charges to our creditcard on top of the two months in the beginning. AIT claimed we never cancelled and they were going to charge us untill the end of the year. At this point we contacted a lawyer and threathened with a great bunch of lawsuits (quite easy, because they did cancel our access to the server and we kept all communications with them, full headers and all). AIT backed down and ended our contract immediately but we never got a refund for everything they overcharged us (about $400,- all-in-all).

In short, avoid this company like the plague. It's one of the worst bucnh of scammers I have ever come across. We cannot not afford a lawsuit against them to get the $400,- back but I really hope some rich dude will take them down someday out of principle.

[flaming][flaming][flaming]


If you paid via a credit-card then the credit-card company should have insured you - given your legal success the c/c company should refund the money & then sue AIT for you at their expense ... that's what the 5% credit-card charges on purchases cover :)

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Thanks for all the responses, there's a varying range of experiences there as I predicted.

For you low-end users:

Would you rather have a web host that is:
a) Cheap and has standard or basic features
b) Has customisable features but comes with a higher pricetag or
c) Has a unique selling point (eg: full software bundle) for a higher pricetag

How important is access speed to you? How about customer support? Do you think "oh well, it's cheap - I get what I pay for" or do you always expect the best for whatever money you put out.


For the higher end (eg: more money to spend):
a) Do you research the reputation of a company before signing up with them? If so, what sort of factors to you take into account?
b) How important is customer support to you? Would you pay a premium to have 24/7 instant-response support?
c) How important is security/stability to your business with your host? If you internet connection was down for a day would it affect your decision to stay on with them?

I personally would expect good customer service with a more customisable package. I don't get along too well with hosts that aren't willing or in the position to accomodate my growing needs - which probably rules out a lot of resellers. I don't mind paying more money for something that I know is going to suit my needs.

Sorry about all the questions, I'm not really fishing for anything in particular - I'm just trying to detangle the web (har!) of hosting available to people. I suppose it'd be nice to have a thread with an open discussion about hosting that we can refer people to for them to make up their own minds about hosts. It's all well and good recommending package abc from xyz, but often you're with a host for a set period and it can be extremely frustrating having to change. Obviously it won't be as simple as drawing up a chart but a discussion could turn up enough qualitative information (and of course links) to help people make up their minds about a host.

Perhaps more importantly, I'm growing slightly concerned that people will recommend a host based on price alone with no prior experience of dealing with them. Where money and contracts are involved I want people on this forum to feel secure in making their choice and hearing from a few people on here might just give that extra peace of mind. It's never 100% safe, but I think that most of the time past experience will speak the truth.

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Quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
If you paid via a credit-card then the credit-card company should have insured you - given your legal success the c/c company should refund the money & then sue AIT for you at their expense ... that's what the 5% credit-card charges on purchases cover :)


I am not exactly sure how it went down in the end (since I was not the one doing the actual paying) but IIRC AIT claimed that they had supplied us with a service so we could not get the CC company to charge back easily. Or something to that effect.

Anyway, dealing wih AIT was so terrible that we didn't want to start a prolongued fight with them over this. We just got the hell out of there.

Quote:

Original post by Evolution
a) Do you research the reputation of a company before signing up with them? If so, what sort of factors to you take into account?
b) How important is customer support to you? Would you pay a premium to have 24/7 instant-response support?
c) How important is security/stability to your business with your host? If you internet connection was down for a day would it affect your decision to stay on with them?


A) Yes (I learned from the AIT disaster). Top priority for me is customer support combined with a good price. I don't need support often but if I need it then I want it to be good. If a hosting cmpany gets bad reviews on customer support then I will not use them.
B) See A. 24/7 support is overdone for me but I do want a reaction in < 24 hours (and willing to pay for that) on normal hosting. As for a dedicated server: I think 24/7 is pretty much a must to have. I would not want to wait 12 hours for a technician to press the reset button if something went awry!
C) I don't use the bigger websites I work on as a business website, so this is a tad less important for me. I can live with a few hours downtime (provided there is a good reason) because I won't loose money over it, though I will get a load of complaints from a large userbase telling me they need their daily fix [wink]

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Until now, I had been hosted by my ISPs, first noos.fr:
Great tech support, maybe the best I've seen so far, with talented people and excellent service, but only 20 Mb and no server-side scripts or databases.

Then free.fr:
Horrible tech support, the worst I've encountered anywhere in the IT world, with "overnight mySQL database initialization" turning into "wait for one week for us to do it right without answering your questions" and the funniest phone conversation I've had in years with a support guy. But they did support a custom, watered down version of php/mySQL.

Now I'm using ovh.com and the bill so far is: €12 for 60Mb, php/mySQL, €9 for a one-year .net domain registration, and some €1 initial fees. The total (with taxes) is €26 (~$34) per year, quite the best price I've seen so far for something like this around here.

As you might have guessed, competent tech support is important to me, although I wouldn't pay an additonal fee ONLY for 24/7 support (although if I were doing this for a company, I would anyway). Next thing I look for is services (fully working php or asp are minimum requirements), and finally the price.

[Edited by - ToohrVyk on December 30, 2004 5:40:59 AM]

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using gibbering.net
I get a subdomain, but it's completly free. 50mb, unlimited use, no ads. Developers only. Came from the ashes of IllicitDev.net.

Very good :)

currently not open to new registrations, but they will be launching a new service in the near future which will offer a new set of free team-orientated services, and several paid services.

Yeah. I like it [wink]

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I use iPowerWeb and SpiralPages for my website (which is currently not being used).
I use iPowerWeb for domain services, mainly because they give you full administrative privileges of your domain, so you can manually change the nameserver with paying a $10 fee like some of the other hosts.
I use SpiralPages for web hosting because the beginner plan costs $4.95/mo for premium hosting, which has 1.5 GB space and 30 GB monthly bandwidth. Compared to my previous host, InfluxHost (which has disappeared), it was much better.

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I'm currently with Host Europe, who are now part of Pipex.
For what I know it's pretty cheap (I don't pay for it myself [smile]) but you're limited to an old version of PHP (4.1) and all emails to tech support regarding upgrading or installing new modules are ignored. In fact, all emails sent from the support page are ignored.
When I initially set it up I selected FrontPage components as an option (it's a lot less hassle to set them up and open the remote site in FP than editing locally then uploading via FTP) the FrontPage folders were there, but none of the DLLs were in them and thus FrontPage refused to connect. After calling up they claimed that FrontPage components had been installed, where they clearly hadn't been. In the end they reinstalled them, recharging us for them.
For some reason, my site (see signature) is pretty fast with them (but still goes down once every couple of weeks or so). Some of the other sites we have hosted with them go down fairly frequently (multiple times a week) and are infuriatingly slow at moments.
But, as I say - you get what you pay for. I think there's a glitch in the bandwidth/month details - we paid for 10gB/month, but it says 1000mB/month on the main page. When I first set it up I transferred 3GB in 4 days (image hosting) but never heard from them - either they didn't notice or I do get the 10gB/month that's being paid for.

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I've been with Generic Webhosting for exactly a year now, however unfortuantely I have hardly done anything (live) with the webspace so I can't really comment on how a webstie would handle. Futhermore, they've just switched/merged/were bought out by shadowcore.ca. This month I hope to be launching my site, which may attract a lot of visitors given it's content, so we'll see how everything holds up.

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www.hostdepartment.com

We've been using this for our online survey software for half a year, and it's been a trip. I don't think a fortnight went by that it was down for at least an hour. We had a scare at the end of the year where it was down for more than a week straight. Our clients were going insane, we were going insane... and HostDepartment's support team had little to say about it other than your usual dismissive BS. After the event, we found out that someone on our same box had been doing some illegal business, and the FBI confiscated the entire box (with all of our data, and presumably others' on it). This ties into the fact that we had e-mail and accessibility problems with our people due to the sort of clients HostDepartment keeps. On several occasions we had to resort to freemail to contact clients because our domain was banned from their mail servers.

End result: we recently moved to RackSpace and everything has been solid.

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ILB, that sounds awful :( I hope you managed to get your data back.

It kinda reminds me of my current host, 7Host, generally their services have been excellent and the customer support has been quick and quite on the ball. I asked them to upgrade from MySql 3.x to MySql 4.0 because 3 was old and kinda lame; after a couple of weeks they notified me that they were upgrading so we were all happy. I get a pretty good deal with them; 10Mb MySQL space, PHP, ASP, ASP.NET and a bunch of server-side components for around £75 a year; most places don't have a package that covers the MySQL/ASP/ASP.NET combo so I'm pleased with it.

The only black mark I have to offer is that someone used their server for spamming and as a result the DNS of my mailserver got blacklisted for 2 weeks over christmas. Nearly all of my email bounced and I didn't receive a lot of mail, causing me to miss out on an important job interview and losing several receipts for online christmas purchases (Nintendo DS). I wasn't satisfied with their response to this incident and received no apology or compensation for the losses I endured.

Other than that, they've been good to me.

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I use WebHostFreaks and I'm really happy with them. They have four tiers of service (Basic, Silver, Gold, Platinum). I have the silver package and pay $75.50/year or $6.29/month for 1GB, 10GB bandwidth. Get all the cpanel, php, asp, mysql, fantastico, etc.

They send me regular emails about updates they're doing or maintenance etc.

When I first signed up, I posted a problem I had on their forum and I received emails from 2 of their staff within 5 minutes resolving the problem.

Great service if you ask me.

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