My General Thoughts
So I wanted to share my thoughts pertaining to web hosting. They are kind of biased…but it is what it is. Throughout my entire web/application development career, I cannot describe how many hosts I have researched, intensely studied, or personally tried. I have personally tried a variety of them (tons of free ones, bluehost, 1and1, hostgator, godaddy, and many others). I have researched/reviewed more than i can name. The world of hosting changes every year. Every single year there are new things happening in the world of hosting. Companies shut down, companies down size, other companies get bigger, some get worse, some get better. It is always changing.
Let me start off by giving you some examples. These are all my personal opinions. If you do not agree, that is OK. These are not set in stone, they are just my thoughts. So let’s start off simply. I always refer all of my clients to the host I am currently at. I always make sure I am at the best host I can find, with the best services, most features, and best support. I always choose the best that I can find (I am a perfectionist). If a host does not stay the best, and I get a hint of a better host, I change. So does all of my clients generally. Since I refer every new client to the host I am currently using.
So let’s start with Bluehost. When I first started my career…about 7 years ago, they were an awesome host. They did everything I needed. They were simply amazing. So, I used them a long time. However, after awhile they started going down hill. They had a lot of downtime around the time I stopped using them. They had a lot of complaints in the forum. I was just trying to start a business and my site was down all the time. This was happening due to growing pains. They were starting to grow faster than they could support. They lost my business permanently at that point. Not because I did not like them, but because I knew they were no longer the best (at the time). By the way, they have gotten a lot better since then. I have heard a lot of good ratings. But generally once I get that impression about someone, I stay away from them. On top of that, I never really did like the way they had their CPanel setup, I checked recently and it’s almost the same.
From there I went to Godaddy. They are “OK”. They are too big for their britches I think. They are too popular, and too big. So they are very restrictive of their resources. Their other features (domain registration) is also a pain to me. So I eventually left them. They are huge. Not to mention some of the third party systems that I like playing around with can’t be installed easily in Godaddy. This is just another negative. Everytime I have had a client on Godaddy I have ran into one issue or another.
After that was over, I went to 1and1. I fell in love with this host. I had used them a VERY long time. I currently can say I have really no complaints. Over a period of time however, I got sick of the setup. There are a lot of things I find annoying about it. The interface in their panel is not user friendly, it’s just not what I am looking for anymore. After a lot of debating, and thoughts, I finally decided it was to leave the dinosaur that is 1and1 and find something a little more suited to my current needs.
My Final Decision
With a ton of looking, I ran into Host Gator. This ended up being the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Host Gator ended up being my favorite host, that I have ever had the pleasure of hosting with. I have a great deal of things i have liked about them…and every time I start to think I have ran out of ideas to love them, I notice something else that I like even more about the whole experience. I have listed some of those experiences below. I have had a lot of experiences with a lot of hosts, but none of them were quite so…enjoyable. I actually enjoy going through my panel and doing stuff with my websites now, this has really engaged me to take on a lot more personal projects than I previously was.
The hosting company is a growing company, but their down time is very good compared to other hosts. I have seen a few blog posts online that describe heavily about the downtime, on a grade chart they come somewhere around 99%. They have really good down time, and I have noticed no issues whatsoever since I started using them.
This host is the fastest that I had used. I do a lot o custom development, sometimes I use Drupal, sometimes I use WordPress, and sometimes I experiment with random third party systems. With 1and1 my own personal sites ran very slowly, because of their server.
When I moved everything over to Hostgator everything was almost instant. I noticed that all of my sites load almost lightning fast.
Makes it easier for me to get around, and perform development on new personal projects as well.
The main thing I like about Hostgator is their supreme host gator setup. Their databases are all inline for one thing. SO you can
go into the system, setup a database/user and be done with it. It is very fast to set this up, and their CPanel runs so fast, that you
can add 5-6 databases within just a few minutes. Another great thing is their PHPMyadmin import is set at 50 gigs (more than most of the
hosts I have seen). So most of the time, I can upload whatever sized SQL files I need, saving me a lot of time having to bring out
Putty and doing it the manual way. Another thing, is their open database. Once you click “PHPMyadmin” it does checks to make sure your in the Cpanel. Then it brings up a directory of ALL the databases on your account. You can go through them all and review stuff, change stuff, and just work on them all in one interface. Since your logged into the master account, you are logged into all databases. It also doesn’t disconnect you every few minutes of inactivity, so you can do something and come back to the database as you need. It does disconnect you
after a few minutes, but the time on it is a lot more…reasonable than 1and1.
That’s not all. The way you setup domains and structures on the site is pretty good. Their is one issue (having to re-add add-on domains just to be able to reset the default directory), but that is an issue with Cpanel, not with Host Gator. I am just waiting on the developers of Cpanel to do something about that.
I am a programmer also, so that means I like working with a variety of languages. The Host Gator standard server (I have business hostings) allows me access to a bunch of primary languages (PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby) and a few others. This is a great experience when I want to play around with a few other languages, or if I decide I want to build a few sites in some of those other languages. This is also great for experimenting, learning new skills, or practicing my usage of various languages. This is a major thing for me. Very few hosts offer a variety of languages..this increases the capacity for development by a great deal, even allows a programmer to perform experiments between a variety of languages. TO me, the more languages you have available, the better.
Right now the way that Host Gator handles domains is very annoying. I am actually registering and managing my domains through 1and1, then sending the DNS servers to Host Gator. However, Host Gator even has a solution to this issue. During the month of February, they are going to release their own Domain Management Utility. This is going to solve all of my issues pertaining to the domain registration handling. Not to mention they are becoming their own Registrar. Right now, they go through ENom, and their prices are VERY expensive. To transfer a domain, your looking at 20 bucks. The register a domain, they are around 10-15. Almost triple the price of 1and1. The good thing, is once they setup themselves as their own registrar, they are going to be getting a great deal of discounts for their users. That means the prices might potentially get cut in half. This is something to look forward to, and it’s happening this month (so less than a 30 day wait). This is going to address the only negative thing I had to say about Host Gator (meaning they would be even better then, than they are right now.
I can’t even describe the support. They have 24/7 phone and chat support. Every issue I have had so far (NO MATTER WHAT IT WAS) I opened a technical support ticket, ask my questions, and log off chat. They are always very nice, very knowledgable, and answer my questions the best they can. I have had no complaints with support whatsoever. They even discussed with me the ins and outs of the hosting panel as I had various questions about the way their CPanel was configured.
Overall…host gator is my favorite host. If something else gets better than them, I would consider changing…but I expect Host Gator to be on top throughout at least all of 2011, 2012, and most of 2013. By that point it just remains to be seen if they end up growing too big to support hosting in the majestic way they do now.
If you are interested in what I had to say about Host Gator, and want to try them yourself, then please either use the banner link on the right hand side of the page, or use the code “ninjakreborn” when signing up. This will get me credit for your signing up, as well as give you a 9.00+ discount on whatever your first package payment is. This is also a good way to support the time I put into this site, if you find any use out of it.
More archived blog posts can be found here.
A good website for tutorials and information on hosting can be found here.