hosting companies part 2

[written 04/19/04]

hi there.

ok, it’s been a bunch of days since i last wrote, i know, but i’ve been getting really fed up with the instability of my hosting people, the hosting specialist. if my site wasn’t actually down, then either the cpanel was entirely unreachable or, even worse, none of the mysql databases were up and running, resulting in ugly googedly-gunk right in this space here instead of a nice message from me. so, not exactly the most encouraging motivation to post anything. i know, somewhat my fault. (i.e. i’m paying $2 a month, what kind of service should i really expect?) last night thoug, i made the jump: i switched hosts once again, after a bunch of hours of research.
looking around, the webhosting talk forums seemed the best place to do some searching for a good host. though there seemed to be a lot of fighting between staff from different hosting companies which made some threads kinda hard to follow (try following a fight between computer people and unless a lot of cuss words are being thrown around, it gets real dorky real quick.), overall i could get a feel for the different hosting possibilities.

also, i thought i’d check where my favorite sites, both personal and larger, are hosted themselves, since they in general seem to have no real problem with downtime, which was my biggest concern. so, i looked real hard at dreamhost, united hosting in the uk, and westhost.

lastly, i looked at exactly what do i need now that i’m a little bit more experience than i was when i first moved this site off of geocities in december (was it only december? wow. time moves so quickly!). basically my list was:

  • » lots of storage: i didn’t want to worry about that at all, and i like my gallery and shorts pages alot, which take up the biggest space
  • » decent bandwidth: i use a pitifully small amount of bandwidth (sob) so i didn’t need the 40 gb of bandwidth some hosting places said they could provide (ha! som much overselling out there..)

  • » a nice cpanel: ok, i’m a sucker for flashy pretty control panels, with all the latest gadgets, especially pretty awstats, which is much better than webalizer

  • » php 4.x and at the least one mysql database: i like playing around with code everyonce in a while, and more importantly, some basic aspects of my little site depend on these php/mysql, mainly my booklist, (a nice little app called oddbook from jessamyn west of librarian.net fame) and these posts both here on this page and, all saved and nicely ordered, on my past page

  • » a strong community: i love hosting forums! filled with computer-geek-talk, and links to personal sites, and annoying/amusing animated gifs and emoticons, oh the fun never stops. plus, we could all gripe about the hosting provider together :D

  • » general support: this was my main issue with the two places i’d hosted with already. phpwebhosting was ok, and much better than the hosting specialist people, but not that good really. i knew that if there was a pretty vibrant forum, like i’ve heard dreamhost has, and others, then there was more likely to be frequent announcements of routine server maintenance, etc etc. plus, lunarpages has unlimited toll-free phone support. you just can’t beat that..

so, ultimately, i went with lunarpages. they have a very strong community forum, a really good plan (800 mb of space, with more than enough bandwidth), very decent price ($8 a month), and such a good reputation it made me wary for a few hours. the only drawback was they only offered one mysql database. unlimited tables, but still only one db. so.. i looked around a little bit and found out i could get an extra database for $1/month, as many as i wanted. i was willing to pay up to $10/month (and even more if i felt desperate to to find a good reliable host), so if i really need more than one database in the future, i can get up to 2 more and still not go over my limit. yay!

now, it’s a matter of waiting for my domain registrating people (gandi) to ‘propogate’ the dns and all that, and changing the mysql info to the new hostname, etc, and then i’m set! update: looks like the dns worked though still a bit wobbly, not i just need the mysql stuff to get right..) i’m very excited, mostly because i’ve just felt so isolated with the hosting specialist people. i don’t know who else hosts with them, i never know ahead of time when my site will be down, or really why it’s been down for hours (and hours and hours) at a time, and so on.

another extra for me is that lunarpages is located real nearby in la mirada, california. and their servers are at the scarily-close one wilshire building downtown, so if i ever have a problem with them, i know where to go :D

before i go though, i got a question: why don’t people write about their hosting issues/migrations/frustrations more? it’s amazing how hard it is to find opinions about hosts on people’s personal sites! i ended up having to go to a whois to find the hosting providers of a lot of my favorite sites, and rely on complete unknowns at the webhosting talk forum. frustrating! really, believe me, it’s super cathartic to write about your hosting experience. i’m still keeping my account with the hosting specialist people, but i’m going to use it strictly as a storage space for large files, like photos and stuff like that.

have a great monday! i can’t believe the weekend passed so fast.
oh! and p.s. it’s national library week. have you hugged a librarian today?

p.s. 2: i just signed up with lunarpages’ affiliate program so if anyone signs up with them, by clicking this link they earn me a cool $52 for refering them. i only need two of those to pay for the the whole year of hosting. swwwweeeeeet. :D anyone? anyone? (bueller? bueller?)