This is my first time frequenting this board. But before I ask for a recommendation, I think it's important I explain my situation and maybe then you'll be able to offer me some advice/guidance on possible webhosts.
I began my website/message board back in August 2005. Hard to believe it's been almost 2 1/2 years now. I've been somewhat luckly and have a decent (well small) amount of traffic.
Here's some of my stats:
November - 7.1 Gig
December - 6.16 Gig
January - 5.77 Gig (to date)
Currently 205Mb out of 400Mb allocated for my plan
2007 average - just over 6,400 unique visitors per month
My messageboard continues to grow (almost 2400 members now). Over the past four months I have averaged a little over 150 members per month.
After my first ten months on the web, my first webhost refused to continue service for me due to political views (my board is not a political board, however there are political discussions from time to time). Thus, I moved my site 2 months early, took the loss of the last two months paid and started with new company. Initially I had no issues, but it almost seemed that there was ALWAYS some sort of down time over the weekend for one reason or another for 30 minutes here, 30 minutes there... and from time to time during the workdays when I was working. I would get emails from members etc. about it. They seemed to trail off and I've now been with them for over 1 1/2 years. My two year mark with them comes up this June. As they had decent customer service and decent uptime, I let it go, especially for what I was paying for it ($5.00 a month).
However this past December their server had major issues and had a hardware failure and I was down for a day and half! They said their backup was corrupt as well. Following this fun experience, over the past 30 days, I had database errors on my site twice, which had never occurred before; keeping my site down for 6+ hours at a time (all because I didn't see it earlier to report it). This last one included not even being able to access my site due to a server issue. I was down ultimately over six hours.
Now I know this is just a few instances over a year and half, and I do only pay $5.00 a month and their customer service (when they get to my emails) are hard working to correct the issue. However, as my board is growing and as it is an official messageboard for a #1 New York Times Best Selling author, I feel I need to move it to a more 'reliable' source, with GREAT customer service. I know I will need to pay more for this, but I am willing to do so.
As I am no expert on webhosting when it comes to knowing reputable companies with amazing uptime and tremendous customer service, I could really use your inputs. Who can I depend on, and are they any particular packages you feel I should look into, i.e. shared v. dedicated, etc...based on my situation.
Thank you very much for your time and your help.
Based on your bandwidth usage, space usage and traffic I would still recommend a shared environment.
Now for your budget what exactly is it? You said you're willing to pay more than $5/month now but is $10/month now the price range or higher? Reason I ask is there are hosts who are generic hosts who provide a higher quality while there are others that are pretty expensive ($20/month range) then advertise they are application hosts which essentially means they run servers that are high end and are great for dynamic web sites.
Finally what sort of software requirements do you have? I'm going to assume it's probably just standard PHP/MySQL but you never know.
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I'd like to at least look in the $10 - $20 range. But I'm unsure what I should look for, for minimum requirements for a shared server, i.e. RAM, etc... when it comes to paying something along the lines of $20 a month. I would assume 24/7 support via email AND phone would play a factor in the cost as well.
PHP/MySQL is all I need. I run SMF/TinyPortal for my board.
Also I'm used to using CPanel as well, but I'm unsure if there is something better out there or if I should just stick with looking for a host that uses it?
As above suggested, I see the problem being your budget compared to your requirements. Stability and reliability seem to come with a higher price tag than what you are using for $5
One note: SMF has several settings which can make it easy or "hard" on a server. Your host will probably require these be off. Generally they will only be allowed if you get to a server of your own.
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By the sounds of it you need a VPS and need to stop mucking about with cheap shared hosting. Basically you are growing a business and its not good sense to risk this in a shared environment. You shouldn't flinch at paying $50 per month if the site means at least this much to you when its is offline.
$15-$20 can easily get you an account on a good server with a host who does not oversell!
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Your budget is fine for your needs, I suggest you to make an small list of the hosts fitting your needs, and then research about them, the "search" function of this forum can be a great tool for do that.
I will take some time now to research. However before I begin are there any names below that I shouldn't bother checking into?
- Precision Effect (Quartz and JLHC, thanks for the tip here)
- Liquid Web
- TinyPortal Hosting
- G.C. Solutions
- GeekRack Networks
- The Realms.Networks
- Host Monster
- Hawk Host
Ultima Hosts, thanks for the advice on a VPS. I'll probably hold off as I don't think my site is ready to move up to something like that.
coold8 - thanks for the advice on the 100mbit ports to their servers. I guess I'll have to contact these hosts to find out. I am curious if you could explain why, and the difference between others...for my own education.
Chris Reed - thanks for the advice on hosts. How do you find out if someone has good support? I guess it's all word of mouth from others. As I said before, my current hosts have good support (when I notify them of an issue). I guess that is the case for all shared hosting. One time I contacted them and they realized they needed to reboot the entire server...
Also, is it worth looking for 'phone support'. Right now I just have email/ticket submittal and it seems to work alright. Are there benefits to actual phone support?
First of all, I would suggest staying away from both 1&1 and Bluehost.
I cant speak for any of the others on your list, as I have had no experience with them. The majority of your list I have never even heard of. That can either be a good or bad thing ; O).
As for your question with finding out who has good support and who doesnt, just like you said for the most part its through experiences of others. And just like all opinions, the majority of them should be taken with a grain of salt. Researching these forums never hurt though.
The phone support I wouldnt really bother with personally. As you say your site isnt THAT big. But should the host you choose to go with offer it, hey, whos gunna argue with that ; O). A good host should be able to help you quickly through a ticket system and things of that sort.
Well I have looked over many companies and talked with a number of them. There are many, many hosts that I think I would be very happy with. However, I think I've finally narrowed it down to two of them and will have to research them in great detail over the next month or so:
1) Precision Effect
My main concern is as little downtime as possible, so Precision Effect's failover web hosting is very very tempting. However, these two both seem outstanding. MediaLayer's Litespeed v. Apache...thoughts on this?
I'd be curious to hear from people to host with these companies to come to understand how their service/support is, etc.
I have been with medialayer since December and so far I have no problems. I have never used that much bandwidth though so mine is light weight. For me it is worth the money. Service is great, I haven't noticed any down time except when scheduled. Yeah in december I asked basically the same question and medialayer was not directly mentioned but it was in someones signature and all the reviews seemed positive. I like medialayer and plan on sticking with them for a while. I don't have any experience with precission effect.