Great Webhosts

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This post was originally published in 2009
It may contain stale & outdated information. Or it may have grown more awesome with age, like the author.

I’ve had quite a bit of experience with these two hosts: all of it good.

Shared Hosting: Hostmonster

I use Hostmonster to host this site, Te Kuiti SPCA, Bay of Islands SPCA and Waikato Golden Key.

It’s shared hosting, which means that when one subscribes to a hosting plan one doesn’t get a machine all to themselves – rather one’s account is hosted on a machine that also hosts many other accounts. This has not been a problem for me – it’s cost-effective and has been supremely reliable. As my site does not receive a massive amount of traffic, don’t offer large files to download and don’t run scripts that take longer than a few minutes (usually seconds!) to complete, this hosting plan (MonsterPower) has been ideal for me.

The plan also comes with more bells and whistles that I know what to do with. Of those included, the ones I think are most important are:

  • Multiple FTP accounts
  • Multiple IMAP email accounts
  • Ability to serve multiple domains
  • PHP
  • MySQL
  • Fantisco De Lux / Simple Scripts (easy installs of useful things like WordPress, Dada Mail, Mantis, Tikiwiki and 20+ more)
  • SSH
  • phpMyAdmin

There is a limit to MySQL databases, but no-one would ever reach it. There are other limits as well – limitations on traffic and storage. No-normal user would ever reach them either: both are 6144000 MB!

With Hostmonster my site has been able to grow with my skills – the services offered have never been a limiting factor to progress. Though you may think you don’t need all these bells and whistles, if you’re interested in developing not only websites but your own skillset, then having such a plethora to choose from can only be a good thing.

Hostmonster support is awesome. Of the 20 or so live chat support sessions I’ve had, all have been excellent.

Dedicated Hosting: A-Plus

For Taejitsu, another site I’ve been developing, a dedicated server was required. We tried to use a shared server, but the client wanted to offer large files to download, and the shared server couldn’t handle it. Users were complaining that the downloads were halting mid-way, and my client had great difficulty uploading files to the server.

Google helped me learn that these issues were common in a shared-hosting environment. The client told me he wanted to move the site to a dedicated server, so I turned to Google again.

A lot of research showed that the Internet’s opinion of A-Plus hosting was high, and a long conversation with a representative confirmed it.

The hosting is more expensive, but one does get an entire machine all to oneself. For the client’s site the additional cost is well worth it.

So far it’s handled everything beautifully! No complaints from users, no complaints from the client about upload speeds.

We’re about to make some major changes to the site, including offering the previously download-only videos streamed using an embedded flash player. When deciding how best to approach this, guess what I did? I researched our options and then drilled a support guru via live chat. He was very helpful – I was actually late for a class because we spent so long chatting – along with excellent answers to my questions, he kept teaching me little tricks and caveats – how could I refuse information like that?

Support:

As I don’t live in the US, I almost always obtain support through live chat, a facility that both Hostmonster and A-Plus offer. When I bought the Hostmonster package, I had almost no web development experience, and new no HTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL. I didn’t know what CPanel was (it’s the menu system that allows one to manage hosting). The support crew did an amazing job – every hosting-related question was answered swiftly and politely. I was never left hanging, and no question (no matter how stupid it was – I’m happy I can’t remember every question I asked them) was brushed aside.

By the time we bought the A-Plus package I knew a lot more about web development and so had less stupid quesitons to ask them compared to Hostmonster. I have asked some pretty stupid questions though – today (I was tired, OK?) I asked if the server, that we’ve had for over 7 months, had PHP installed. The support guy was very polite – he merely said that it does – as soon as he said this I remembered that most of the site is handled with PHP. Ouch.

Final Verdict:

I have had only positive experiences with both hosts, and would recommend them to anyone – Hostmonster for normal sites, A-Plus’ dedicated servers for sites that require more muscle.

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