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Phosphorus and Lime

A Developer's Broadsheet

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hosting : My Selections
I signed up with the two web hosting companies I selected this week. I contacted all 6 companies on my short list. Based on their responses, they neatly divided into three categories and my decision was relatively easy:

My Picks
Myriad Network home webhostingtalk google
I was very impressed with the responses I received from Jeff Peterson at Myriad Network. He replied quickly and knowledgeably. He was quite frank in spelling out for me what his company could do and couldn't do for me. No sales pitches. No evasions or vagaries. And as I've already noted, he helped me solve a nagging issue with PHP.

We exchanged over a dozen emails back and forth. The following is representative of one of Jeff's responses:

Any time someone is found to be using an excessive amount of resources, we try to deal with the situation in a way that interferes with the customer's account as little as humanly possible. For example, the last time this happened, the server reported a higher load than usual, and investigation showed about 5 PHP scripts running under their account that were each using about 20% CPU a piece. 5 scripts x 20% CPU = 100% of one CPU. The issue is that the scripts didn't just run and exit quickly after, but they cotinued to run for minutes at a time, taking a large part of the total available CPU resources on the server. Our action was to stop the scripts from executing, then immediately notify the customer (or the reseller, if this was one of their customers).

Because, as Jeff made clear, MN does not provide the kind of fully managed hosting on the VPS plans that I was looking for, they are not necessarily my ideal provider. But shared hosting will satisfy this project for a while, so I signed up with them and hope to stay with them as long as possible.

Package: smart source with dedicated IP
Total Cost for First 3-months (w/ set-up): $45.61
Project Quarterly Cost: $42.61/qtr

West Host home webhostingtalk google
Matt Platis with West Host promptly replied to my query and we exchanged at least 8 emails back and forth. I get the impression that West Host give a great deal of attention to their sales and customer support (which I distinguish from technical support.) That said, Matt quickly and informatively answered my questions. The following is characteristic:

You are automatically warned multiple times if you start getting close to your limit at the end of the month for data transfer AND disk space. When you hit your limit for either one, you are warned again. At this point, I would recommend upgrading your account (if not sooner). Once you hit approximately 110% (I believe it's a little higher than this), your site will slow down and eventually be disabled. We do not upgrade (and bill) automatically, but with all the warnings and notifications, you should have no problem upgrading your limits if/when you reach them.

West Host offers more a more complete bridge between shared hosting and higher end managed hosting, so they are a better fit in that respect. There were a couple minor nuisances in setting up my account. (They also do that thing where they post discount prices that require somewhat unrealistic commitments, e.g. 24 months.) But I opened a test support ticket (of sorts, it was actually a legitimate question I had about changing php.ini settings for my account) as soon as I signed up and received a useful, detailed response within an hour.

Package: business starter with dedicated IP
Total Cost for First 3-months (w/ set-up): $39.80
Project Quarterly Cost: $29.95/qtr

Honorable Mentions
Future Hosting home google
Vik responded to the second query email I sent to Future Hosting. He was detailed and candid in his reponses, acknowledging for instance a recent brief server outage. I decided against FH on this occasion because there seemed to be a bit of a gap between their shared hosting and VPS plans. But I will look at them again when I am in the market for VPS or dedicated hosting.

Liquid Web home google
Travis at Liquid Web initiated contact with me by private message on the Web Hosting Talk site and invited me to contact him personally. In response to my query email, he asked me not to share details of his reponse publically, though I found his reponses fairly vague -- much less detailed, in any event, than the others responses I received. He didn't respond to my follow-up letter.

No Response
Host Gator home google
In response to my email, I received an automatic ticketing system reply. I then got an email inviting me to call them at their toll-free number. If I had not received more detailed responses from the other companies, I probably would have called.

A Small Orange home google
I contacted ASO twice. I received an automatic ticketing system reply, but no further reply after that. When I tried to look up my ticket, I got a PHP error. I have a shared hosting account with ASO and know that they have a devoted community and offer an informative forum and wiki.

I wouldn't rule out any of these companies on the basis of my experience here. They all made my short list on the basis of the favorable reviews and reports on them I read online.

I should also note that I am not a network or systems admin, so I have little basis for evaluating the technical merits of these companies. However, I do have experience with customer service. When I say that, I mean to discriminate between what I consider polished but ineffective customer service (a la companies like HP that outsource support and often make you jump through a ring or two of utter unhelpfulness) and genuine interest and concern for one's customers. I think I am also reasonably sensitive to both the importance and the limitations of first impressions. With that background as a reference, I have to say that I was very favorably impressed with,, and

I plan, to the best of my ability, to follow up with quarterly reports on my hosting picks. I also hope to put up a page somewhere listing all the companies with which I've done business. So please accept this summary with those qualifiers and stay tuned.

Blog Posts
Letter to Companies on Web Hosting Short List
Hosting : Server Requirements
Hosting : Short List
Wanted: Reliable Web Hosting

Web Hosting Talk Threads
Web Hosting: My Selections
Choosing a Host -- My Short List
Web Hosting Strategy