When you’re running an online campaign and throwing thousands of dollars’ worth of traffic to the website in a single day it’s important you don’t experience any downtime. A few minutes of downtime can be the difference between making a profit or loss for the day and can have devastating effects on your business. With that said, here are my thoughts on web hosts to use and to avoid for different scenarios.
I’ve only had 3 years of experience with web hosting but in those 3 years I’ve been a customer to a hell of a lot of web hosting companies. From companies who offer “unlimited bandwidth” for ridiculously cheap prices to hosts that charge hundreds of dollars for dedicated servers I’ve seen them all. Even after 3 years, I still have trouble finding a decent host. Just today I’ve had 2 separate hosting issues. The first involving Sofa Moolah’s hosting account being suspended and the 2nd being a server side error that the host is refusing to fix. I’ll get into more detail about these further down.
Let me start off by praising the 1 host that I haven’t had any issues with. It probably won’t surprise you that it’s Media Temple. The thing that impressed me the most with (mt) was back when I was running AddToDesign with Matt Craig. We started off on a host called HostRocket (please don’t laugh) which offered the genetic “unlimited everything” packages. A few back and forth emails with support and they assured us they could handle mass traffic include the infamous “Digg effect”. A few hours later we were on the front page of Digg and the site was down. We should of seen this coming, but that’s’ hindsight.
Anyway, after this incident we moved over to Media Temple’s Grid-Service for $20.00 a month. I’m not going to quote all of their features as you can see them here, but the thing that sold me was that they could handle large spikes of traffic. Along with this, their support was great, prices were reasonable and their reputation was one of the best in the industry. A week or so after joining Media Temple we hit the front page again. Not once did we go down and the site was still running fast. I would easily recommend (mt) to anyone running a high value campaign and doesn’t want to take a chance on the “unlimited everything” web hosts.
Moving on from the good, let’s touch on the bad. About a week ago I had the lovely experience of dealing with HostGator. Yes, I know. There are a few people out there that worship HostGator and haven’t had any problems, but let me explain what happened to me. If you follow me on Twitter you would have seen that I was looking for a decent web host. A few of you recommended HostGator so I decided to give them a go. It was 7:30PM local time and all I needed was a quick, cheap & easy host to setup my new website on. I purchased the “Hatchling” plan for $8.00 with the promise of “Instant Setup”. Obviously it was getting past knock off time here so I didn’t want to deal with them all night so the “Instant Setup” seemed perfect. It wasn’t.
An hour had passed and my account still hadn’t been setup so I got onto online support. I was told that my “account has been flagged”. 2 hours had now passed and still nothing. It was now almost 10:00PM and I’m pissed off that my night now involves chasing HostGator to get my account setup so I can get a site live. 2 hours and 15 minutes later I received an email from HostGator. The email wanted me to make an international call late at night. My phone was off; people in the house were asleep so I really didn’t want to make that call. The other half of the email said that if I couldn’t make the call I can instead reply to the email with a scanned copy of: my driver’s license, passport & credit card. Um? No? I got back onto the live chat and was told that my $8.00 plan was a “high risk order” and that I still needed to provide verification. 5 HOURS LATER I gave up after deciding I wasn’t going to be providing a scanned copy of my passport, driver’s license and credit card. In the end I was told I was “randomly selected” and not to take it personally. I sort of did…
Just as I write this HostGator has taken the Sofa Moolah website down. The reasons are unknown so this is pretty ironic. Obviously by the time you read this the site will be back up and we will be looking for a new host! Put suggestions in the comments.
Carrying on, I decided to put my new website onto GoDaddy. I’ve used GoDaddy in the past and I hadn’t had any issues. Granted their support isn’t the greatest and their backend is super slow and confusing but I just needed something cheap & easy and GoDaddy filled that gap. Would I recommend GoDaddy? Not really. The amount of upsells and the crowded homepage should be enough to scare people away.
So to recap:
– I highly recommend Media Temple. Support is great, services are moderately priced and they can handle a good deal of traffic.
– My experience with HostGator has been shit (for lack of a better word). I guess you could try your luck in hopes you’re not “randomly selected”. I don’t recommend doing this.
– GoDaddy is alright. If you’ve got no other options and can’t afford Media Temple then grin & bare it and register to GoDaddy.
One more thing I would like to add: Consistency is key in business. If you don’t consistently provide a high quality product, then you’ve got nothing. Media Temple is the only host I know that consistently provides a high quality service. Now you know where I stand.
Just a quick note: none of these links are affiliate links. While I could use my affiliate link to generate some moolah I decided not to. I wanted this article to be written without an incentive. With that said if you do decide to sign up to one of these hosts, mention my name or this blog. Who knows, I could get a free shirt or some shit.