I've been tossing around a 'tube' type site idea for a while and decided to get started on it. I did some searching on a few relevant webmaster forums in an effort to source potential web hosts. After crossing referencing a few recommendations from the aforementioned forums, I ended up with just one host that seemed viable and was worth taking a gamble on. This company, obviously, is Certified Hosting.
Certified is an "unlimited" host that leans towards being the video/tube hosting niche. I'm obviously leery of unlimited hosting offers but I liked the way Certified presented their take on the concept. They put forth a straight-forward appearance and even offer up page explaining their definition of unlimited.
TLDR, they don't meter disk space or bandwidth but do limit resources. Fair enough and at least they are honest about it. Interestingly, they offer a $4.95/month add-on called "Certified Protection" that they claim with guarantee your account from being suspended should you consume large amounts of resources. Honestly, this seems kind of "hokey" and almost GoDaddy-esq to me. I didn't purchase the option but I'd be interested in hearing from someone who has/had and experienced it in action.
Certified seemed like a relatively legit operation for an unlimited host so I ended up choosing their lowest level shared plan on month-to-month terms. Like most unlimited/bargain hosts, they of course list the 3 year price up front and their month-by-month pricing option is more expensive than I'm used to seeing from hosts of this type. $8.95/month (without a promo/coupon) if paying monthly.
They also charge a $5 set up fee if you choose month-to-month terms with signing up. I'm never happy to see any type of setup fee, it's not 1998..heh, but it's really not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things and I understand why they would do it from a business perspective.
Since signing up, I have basically been testing things out myself and playing around with different tube scripts deciding which one I want to go with. That said, I can't really comment on their performance in a production environment but things are acceptable for an unlimited host, in my opinion. I will say that ping times can vary..sometimes significantly. There doesn't seem to be a pattern to the variations but sometimes it is in the 50ms range, other times it has been as high as 140ms. I'd like to see it consistently around 70ms-80ms, but I have never really noticed any significant slowdown or downtime.
Certified's support has been adequate as well. I have used both live chat and ticket. Live chat generally responds quickly but seems better suited, as usual, for very basic requests or issues. I say this as I did 'test' (which I'll touch on later) live chat to gauge their response to a question regarding a missing feature. I also submitted one tech support ticket and received an adequate response/resolution within about an hour. Billing/Sales seems to be available 24/7 and they responded within an hour of the one ticket I sent their way. I have yet to try their phone support which they state is 24/7 as I'm personally just not a fan of telephone tech support in general.
All-in-all, after a month, I'm on the fence about Certified but being optimistic. Here are my likes/dislikes to this point:
-Caters toward the type of site I am looking to develop
-Offers lots of video/tube-centric software and information
-More upfront about how they handle the whole unlimited thing when compared to many similar hosts
-Offer several support avenues as well as a dedicated status update blog/site and a regularly updated company blog
-Acceptable performance thus far, no major downtimes
-Relatively straight-forward, easy to understand Terms/AUP and other explanations of their services.
-Default cPanel flavor is a modified version of the light blue RVSkin and is missing some standard cPanel options.
-cPanel is missing the 'Service Status' link/functionality. I asked about this in live chat and didn't really get the response I was hoping for.
I was hoping that I could just request with support to have my cPanel skin to be the changed to the default one and the status link would pop back up. Such is not the case. I was told by a live chat support rep that they do not offer this with their cPanel. When I asked why, I was told "that's just the way our servers are configured.". Obviously, I don't like that answer at all. From past experience, the only reason I've seen hosts hide the Service Status link/function is because they are trying to avoid the potential for large influxes of support tickets with clients see a high load number or other system resources being maxed out.
I plan on submitting a ticket and asking for a more detailed explanation about this.
-TOS and AUP don't specifically state what they constitute as overuse or abuse of system resources. They do make things clear that their services are not intended for storage or hosting large files not related to your site. That's pretty much par for the course with these types of hosts but to Certified's credit, they don't try to disguise it work crafty/confusing verbiage.
Those are really the only two things I've come across thus far that I have not been happy with. Perhaps as time goes on, I will come across a few more.
-Setup fee if paying monthly. We all know setup fees are not necessary for any reason in a shared environment so it's basically a money-making tactic on their part. Even still, $5 is low enough to not be a deal breaker or get too in a tizzy.
After a month of script testing and generally just messing around with my plan, I'm somewhat neutral about Certified Hosting but if I had to lean one way or the other, it would be a positive direction. I'm looking forward to getting my site up and running and generating some traffic to see how the service responds.
I will update this review at the 3 month mark unless something significant occurs during the interim.
Quick footnote - I was working on my site quite a bit last night after I typed this up and ran in to a handful of issues that required the assistance of support. I used live chat all three times just to test it out and, surprisingly, not only did I get an immediate initial response but they resolved my issues as well. Nice.