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  1. #1

    Need advice choosing a host to suit our site's needs

    Hey there! I was referred here by a friend who had good things to say about the feedback available here. I'm a volunteer web developer in charge of a large video game fan forum and we're looking at migrating away from our current host to a new one and I was looking for some advice from seasoned veterans. I do not know anything about web hosting, other than what our needs are... so I am hoping that the experts here can point me the direct of a couple web hosting companies!

    It is mostly a vBulletin forum but we also do news articles, have an image gallery and a large download area. We have about 25 thousand users (only 1-2 thousand monthly regular) and see approximately 10 thousand unique page views daily. This year we are expecting traffic to double/triple (or more) when the next game in the series is released. Our requirements are the following:

    - We need unlimited bandwidth (right now a lot of our downloads are hosted off site)
    - Unlimited storage (probably even 10-20 gigs would be fine)
    - Daily/weekly database back ups (our current host does a backup every Sunday that overwrites the previous backup... we found this out the hard way during a major site problem/outage :-( )
    - Good up times and download speed (it doesn't have to be insane but we'd like the site to be as fast or faster than it is now)
    - Must support MySQL and PHP
    - A server that is 'managed' by someone that isn't me... IE. I basically need access to upload files, code PHP and have direct access to the database (like through phpMyAdmin or something similar) but do not want to be responsible for maintaining or configuring Apache, PHP or MySQL. At the same time, a host where I can send them a message about changing something in the config (example, PHP max upload file size or something) and have it done.
    - A web host that will let us put our own advertising on the site

    Suggestions very appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Based on your description you should be going for at least a VPS. Don't expect to find "unlimited" disk or bandwidth on VPS though. What is your budget to start off with
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  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by misterburke_ View Post
    we're looking at migrating away from our current host to a new one
    First question, why?

    That could have an impact on the responses you receive.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by JFSG View Post
    Based on your description you should be going for at least a VPS. Don't expect to find "unlimited" disk or bandwidth on VPS though. What is your budget to start off with
    Well, that's still up in the air right now. But probably anywhere from $60-100 CAD/USD a month. Is it that hard to get unlimited bandwidth? 100 gigs a month would probably work. At least for the downloads area that uses about 1-2 gigs a day.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by misterburke_ View Post
    Well, that's still up in the air right now. But probably anywhere from $60-100 CAD/USD a month. Is it that hard to get unlimited bandwidth? 100 gigs a month would probably work. At least for the downloads area that uses about 1-2 gigs a day.
    That's a fine budget to start with. Most VPS will get you several TBs of bandwidth so you should be fine either way. I recommend you to look for managed VPS if you are unfamiliar with managing a server.
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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Loon View Post
    First question, why?

    That could have an impact on the responses you receive.
    There's a few reasons but right now we don't have unlimited bandwidth or storage. Getting support from the host is like pulling teeth... no support on weekends. On week days you're lucky to get a response within 48 hours. Backups are ineffective because we only get one a week and it's overwritten every Sunday night (the last server outage we had happened on a Sunday and the only 'backup' we could get wasn't useful).

    They also require that we put their advertising on our website and have most of our download links pointing to some other website that they run with their ads (4-5 ads PLUS a video). It's a terrible experience for the users. We'd like to be more independent and have our own ads and start putting the revenue back into the community (we pay for all our software ourselves out of pocket... no funding from ads :-().

    I guess the end goal is we want to be more independent and being the ones to set the rules and pay the bills is going to help us do that.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by JFSG View Post
    That's a fine budget to start with. Most VPS will get you several TBs of bandwidth so you should be fine either way. I recommend you to look for managed VPS if you are unfamiliar with managing a server.
    That gives me a good place to start... you're the third person to say we should get a VPS. That leads me to my next question... who would you recommend? To the common man such as myself, I see an ad for something like Go Daddy and it looks super... but then those in the know will say it's not that great. Even like a "top 5" suggestion list. I'm not familiar with the "brand names"... if that makes sense?

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    If you have time to perform the research, you can learn a lot from previous reviews that have been posted in this forum. I've come to learn many of the popular brand names by doing the same.

    I'd recommend performing an advanced search on the WHT forum here:

    http://www.webhostingtalk.com/search.php

    For example, you could search for "reviews" in just the "VPS Hosting" section. You'll not only be able to read unbiased reviews, but you'll probably start noticing repetitions with hosting company names. From there, you can pick a few names, and start performing more specific searches on them and/or find their websites and speak with their sales or support teams directly.

  9. #9
    Thanks... Seems like KnownHost and WiredTree have some pretty good reviews. Anyone know if KnownHost will let you use phpMyAdmin instead of cpanel (I guess I don't really know what cpanel is)? Tried calling their 1-800 number but haven't been able to get a hold of anyone. Thanks for the help everyone!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by misterburke_ View Post
    Thanks... Seems like KnownHost and WiredTree have some pretty good reviews. Anyone know if KnownHost will let you use phpMyAdmin instead of cpanel (I guess I don't really know what cpanel is)? Tried calling their 1-800 number but haven't been able to get a hold of anyone. Thanks for the help everyone!
    phpMyAdmin isn't an entire control panel so it's not really something you'd want to use in lieu of cPanel.

    Furthermore, phpMyAdmin is part of cPanel, so with cPanel you get phpMyAdmin
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  11. #11
    Oh hey, it's KnownHost :-) If we buy a managed VPS server and down the road decide we want a managed VPS SSD, is that easy to switch over to?

    Good to know phpMyAdmin is packaged with it... that's my bread and butter for working with the database!

    Edit: I have another question too... based on my specifications, what package do you think is going to be the best? Or would you recommend picking one and then upgrading/downgrading as necessary? Will KnownHost provide metrics for how much bandwidth/activity we're seeing?
    Last edited by misterburke_; 01-10-2014 at 05:48 PM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by misterburke_ View Post
    Oh hey, it's KnownHost :-) If we buy a managed VPS server and down the road decide we want a managed VPS SSD, is that easy to switch over to?

    Good to know phpMyAdmin is packaged with it... that's my bread and butter for working with the database!

    Edit: I have another question too... based on my specifications, what package do you think is going to be the best? Or would you recommend picking one and then upgrading/downgrading as necessary? Will KnownHost provide metrics for how much bandwidth/activity we're seeing?
    Yep, it's us

    The upgrade path is very simple if you choose our TX DC. It can be done with no downtime to you. Currently TX is the only location where we've launched SSDs, though they will be in our other facilities too I just don't have an exact timeframe on this.

    I'd recommend starting with a VPS-2 (or SSD-1). Both are great starter VPSs and upgrades are seamless.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by misterburke_ View Post
    Good to know phpMyAdmin is packaged with it... that's my bread and butter for working with the database!
    I'd definitely recommend cPanel in your case. cPanel/WHM is an administrative GUI for managing the server and (typically) the LAMP stack, and it's relatively easy to learn. PhpMyAdmin is an administrative tool specifically for managing MySQL, which is included with many GUI's, such as cPanel.

  14. #14
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    I'm curious. Are you on a free hosting plan right now? There's no host that should be serving multiple ads, and videos on your site unless you're not paying for the service or have previously agreed some sort of discounted fee in return for adverts / sponsorship.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by KnownHost-Jonathan View Post
    Yep, it's us

    The upgrade path is very simple if you choose our TX DC. It can be done with no downtime to you. Currently TX is the only location where we've launched SSDs, though they will be in our other facilities too I just don't have an exact timeframe on this.

    I'd recommend starting with a VPS-2 (or SSD-1). Both are great starter VPSs and upgrades are seamless.
    Thanks! I'm already impressed that you're replying to this thread. Another question... it says I need a domain name to purchase services. Can we purchase services now but then migrate over later? We'll probably keep the domain pointing at our old server until we can migrate... then we'll want to 'flip' the switch and redirect to the new IP.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by misterburke_ View Post
    Thanks! I'm already impressed that you're replying to this thread. Another question... it says I need a domain name to purchase services. Can we purchase services now but then migrate over later? We'll probably keep the domain pointing at our old server until we can migrate... then we'll want to 'flip' the switch and redirect to the new IP.
    Sure! The domain doesn't have to point at your VPS to order it. To use the domain with your services it obviously will, however.
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  17. #17
    What is your forums concurrent activity like (how many users online at one time)? How large is the database? What kind of downloads are being shared?

    A decent Semi-dedicated plan would be more suitable for your needs since you do not want to deal with the hassle of managing your own server.

  18. Quote Originally Posted by WireNine View Post
    What is your forums concurrent activity like (how many users online at one time)? How large is the database? What kind of downloads are being shared?

    A decent Semi-dedicated plan would be more suitable for your needs since you do not want to deal with the hassle of managing your own server.
    Agree with WireNine, there is a few hosts that offers bigger ressources hosting plans, which are managed.
    You kinda have the positive of a VPS without the hassle to manage your server and a lower price too.

    Lookup StableHost they probably have what you are looking for.
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