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  1. #1

    * An annual review of hosting

    About ten months or so ago I visited this site hoping for a savior. I've had a website since 1997, and for the previous four years I had been hosted by Simple shared hosting, something like $20 a month for 200 megs of space. At first they were satisfactory, but I noticed early on that if I had any real problems I was on my own - their technical support was a joke and both TS and CS was all talk and no action. It got to the point where I had over a dozen unresolved support tickets in their database (all closed, mind you, though never by me). If I wanted it done I either had to do it myself or live without. After 4 months of no resolution to my Frontpage issues I just coughed up the cash for Dreamweaver. In the end that's probably served me well, but I shouldn't have been forced into it by an inhospitable, incompetent webhost.

    Nightmare is an understatement. When you can't get into your admin areas, your Frontpage site is entirely broken, the tech support guy can't even find your domain in the system and that's after you've been on hold for over two hours during the course of a THREE hour call!!! you know it's time to move on.

    So I came here and asked around. I settled on based on a few recs by others here and some private communications. I ended up with a gig of space for a reseller site for less than what I was paying for 200 gigs and no reseller abilities.

    On every single count I can come up with z3 gets an A+. Quite frankly, I'm a total n00b when it comes to server things. All I know is that my site has never been down, never been slow, and what few problems I've had were resolved in a matter of a few hours rather than days. And I don't get huffy responses when I email them with dumb questions like "Why doesn't my email work?" when the problem is actually with Earthlink and scheduled outages.

    With Interland I had to pay fees to add domains, more fees to add even subdomains, setup fees on top of that, and my admin abilities (when they worked) were limited to adding email addresses, ftp accounts and turning and Frontpage extentions on and off. With I've got WHM and cpanel (and for those who know, that's a HUGE improvement over the admin abilities I possessed with Interland). The mail server didn't even have a spam filter. Now I do everything myself and have even branched off from just hosting friends (the only reason I wanted a reseller account) to selling space to others. No paying off the hoster for every single thing I do.

    I've only had two issues in the past year. The first was that my Fantastico hadn't been updated so I couldn't do an auto-upgrade of my phpbb2 forum (which I could have done manually). Everything was working later that same day and the auto-upgrade ran perfectly and upgrades to Fantastico seem to have been timely ever since.

    The second was that _I_ had screwed up on installing a hosted domain for a client. If I remember correctly z3 had fixed my mistake within 6 hours.

    Of course, with Interland I wouldn't have bgeen able to install phpbb at all, nor would I have had the ability to install new domains on my site without paying extra to have them do it for me.

    I can honestly say this has been the happiest ten months of running a website I've had since 1997. Now I'm hosting my own site, 3 friends and 5 paying clients, just enough to make my site pay for itself! I can't beat it.

    I honestly cannot think of a bad thing to say about them, except that perhaps it's a little difficult to tell who really is. When I called z3 the one and only time (at something like 7 am, a really sneaky thing to do) I talked to Jim. When I got the confirmation email from the "sales staff" it was signed Jim. When I asked my first support question on how to use cpanel, the response was signed by Jim. When I sent in another support question and sneaked in a question asking if there was anyone else in z3, he answered my support query only. Frankly at this point I don't care. If it's just Jim then it's amazing to realize that one person is providing a better customer experience at a lower price than an entire corporation.

    I suppose I could spend hours looking through whois pages and piecing things together, but in the end the results are what matter for me, and the service I'm getting would be a steal at twice the price, though as a college student I'd have to give up food and beer to afford it then. : )

    After ten months you'd think my enthusiasm would have waned somewhat, but it hasn't. I am giddy-like-a-school-girl happy (which is a strange sight since I'm six foot two and male). It's gotten to the point now that I no longer wonder ten times a day if my site is actually up and running, or dreading that next mandatory two hour call to tech support. The nightmares are all but gone (and no, that's NOT a joke).

    If you're looking for a good shared hoster or reseller, check them out. If your results are even half as good as mine have been you'll be a giddy fool too.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    EU - east side
    XhaLe, that's a mighty long review. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Would it be possible to let us know your website that you host with them? (That is unless you want to keep its anonymity, which is understandable under certain circumstances.)


  3. #3
    Originally posted by ldcdc
    XhaLe, that's a mighty long review. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Would it be possible to let us know your website that you host with them? (That is unless you want to keep its anonymity, which is understandable under certain circumstances.)

    I'm long-winded. It's a problem -- for other people, anyway.

    Hosting websites other than my own personal space has never really been a huge focus of mine, so my main website, is actually about two years out of date. It started out as a Sarah McLachlan fansite ("Surfacing," see?) as I've been a fan since 1993 or so.

    My current hosting "priority" is I kinda feel embarassed to post a link here, considering a) I'm only competent, and not an expert in the fields of hosting and design, and b) I've written and host a number of fanfictions related to the X-Files, some of which are explicit (so any of you kiddies out there are hereby warned). I'm proud to host and be affiliated with some of the most famous writers in XF fandom, some of whom are famous/published authors and even FBI Agents (and at least one confirmed criminal profiler) - the embarassment comes from the fact that "fanfic" is frowned upon by many people.

    I suppose this is proof that I'm not some Z3 stoolie here to plant false reviews.

    Right now the entire site including all the subdomains averages somewhere around 30 to 50 thousand hits a month, but the X-Files Alternate Season 8 site has endured that many hits a day on occasion, with no server issues that I've seen.

    At this exact moment, these are the stats, taken from Cpanel:

    Server Load 1.32 (1 cpu)

    Memory Used 27.1 %

    Swap 0.888 %

    Disk hda3 (/) 53 %

    Disk hda1 (/boot) 22 %

    As far as what I'm paying goes, I paid out about $250 a year to Interland, minus some discounts. I pay well under 200 a year to Z3 for a 1 gig, unlimited domain reseller site with I believe 5 or ten gigs of transfer. The space and transfer are both customized with a price to match - Z3 was quite willing to work with me on my smaller sized needs. I won't be more specific than that because I don't want to hamper whatever Z3's current price/product structure might be (I should probably look, but I'm lazy). I don't know if there are cheaper reseller plans out there; there probably are, but what I'm paying to Z3 for a reseller account seems comparable to what some big name hosters charge for simple shared plans. For example, I'm paying a third of what charges for their one domain Developer site.

    I visited your site, Dan, and I liked it a lot. If you're considering including Z3 in your host reviews, you've got my vote.

    One thing you and I may disagree on, though, is that Z3 lets resellers "oversell" space and bandwidth. I believe the policy is that you can oversell as much as you want. If you exceed your actual space/transfer limitations often, you have to move to a bigger plan. If you go over once in while, you're not forced to upgrade and you're not nickled and dimed by per-meg charges and the like. I think I've gone over my transfer on occasion, but I've never been asked to upgrade. I'm nowhere near having any problems with that, but it's nice to know that if I do get a deluge of clients I can ramp up my upgrades rather than paying out in overage fees.

    From here on out is a bit of off-topicness, and I hope the mods here will forgive me. I didn't get an email to tell me I had a reply (like I should have, and this has happened here before) and I only found this response because I was curious as to why nobody'd responded, I think we're even-stephen on this one.

    I read several of the articles on your site and humbly suggest you find yourself a copy editor - I'm willing, if we can work out some sort of deal. One sentence as an example, from unlimited-bandwidth.htm: "Smart and responsible hosts don't advertise neither unlimited bandwidth (data transfer), neither unlimited space." Don't and neither are double negatives, which is fine if you're writing in Russian. Also, neither is generally paired with nor, like either is with or. Not two neithers. I suggest dropping the "don't" and the comma and replacing the second neither with nor.
    Last edited by XhaLe; 05-22-2004 at 06:07 AM.

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