My Experience with DreamHost:
When I started this website, I chose hosting with DreamHost. Only reason for that was I got a full year hosting, as well as domain name registration for just $10! That is the lowest price I have seen till date. Of course, that was for just first year, and price increases to around $120 from next year.
In the beginning, I had a pretty bad experience. I had setup website monitoring with Pingdom, and used to get frequent alerts. It was always a problem with Dreamhost’s server.
Then I read somewhere that in such situations, I should ask Dreamhost to move me to a different server. I did that, and had an amazing experience after that. Downtimes were very rare.
During all these times, one thing I really liked about Dreamhost was its support. Support team was like WordPress super experts. There were many instances that I screwed up something with my website, and they were always ready to help.
My pageviews had been growing a lot since last few months, and I have started seeing a a bit slowness in my website. So, I decided to move to some different host.
In a nutshell, DreamHost is a pretty reliable hosting, and good for new bloggers, and those who do not get tons of traffic. You can get hosting pretty cheap for first year if you use some coupon code (try “ILove75” coupon code for $75 discount on first year’s hosting with DreamHost.).
Search for a New Host:
The search for a new web host was much more complicated and confusing than I had anticipated. I had some general hosts in mind, but actually I ended up ruling all of them out:
- My first choice was MediaTemple. However, couple of bloggers told me that they moved out from MT for various reasons, so this one was definitely out.
- Another contender was WPWebHost, but heard some horror stories about them from few fellow bloggers, so passed this one too.
- Then I chatted with support teams of a few hosts (like LiquidWeb), but wasn’t really satisfied with them.
So, I was basically out of all the options, and I had to start the search from scratch.
If you search for something like “hosting reviews”, you will get tons of results. However, I quickly saw that most of such websites rank the hosts in order of commission that these websites get from hosts (JustHost is one of the highest commission payers, so expect to see its names in top 3 list of most of the review websites. Quality of JustHost is of course another story.)
So, I had to disregard all such reviews.
I started asking fellow bloggers that which hosts were they on, and also searched on net for bad/good stories about those hosts. If I read good stories about some host, next step was to talk to their support team. I used to ask their support about number of accounts on 1 shared server, memory limit allocated on shared hosting, and do they support 5K page views daily on shared hosting.
The chat sessions with support were really helpful, and instrumental in deciding the final contenders.
My final contenders were:
I reached this list after extensive research, reviews, recommendations, and of course, response from support. All these guys ranked highly on all the parameters. Very good support. Big hosting companies, so nice infrastructure. Support available via chat (something I really missed in Dreamhost).
Note: Hosting fee wasn’t a criteria in my selection. I was ready to spend a good amount of money for a good hosting.
Zeroing Down to Final Choice:
I had a long chat session with RackSpace team, and quickly found that it would be a pretty bad option for me. RackSpace basically gives you a VPS in which you are allowed to manage everything, right from OS. This is a fantastic option for anyone who is a good techie in managing LAMP type configurations. However, I pretty much suck at it. So, if something would go wrong, I would have no clue what to do (and Rackspace team would not help in application level problem with VPS). So, even though I loved everything about RackSpace, I had to forgo that option because of lack of knowledge at my end.
This left me with HostGator, and InMotion. I was actually quite surprised, and apprehensive about both of them. Only reason being both of them are quite cheap (around $7 per month!). So, I was having a hard time to believe that both of them are actually the best web hosts that I have narrowed down to.
I did another round of research, but everything reaffirmed that both of them are indeed really good.
Between both of these, I did not have any particular criteria to classify one as better than other. But HostGator was the name I had heard most about. So, only for that reason, I decided to go with HostGator.
Experience with HostGator:
Final Test with NetbookFreeware.com:
As I said earlier, I was quite apprehensive about HostGator because of its low cost. So, I decided to try it out first with my other website: Netbook Freeware. This website gets much lesser page views, so it would be a good test.
When I signed up for the account, I was immediately able to get on chat with support team, and they told me that they will take care of everything related to transferring my website from DreamHost to Hostgator. I was quite pleased to hear that.
However, I got an email from them a couple of hours later that I need to confirm my account by calling their customer service. I was a bit worried to see that. I called up the customer service.
Customer service guy asked me what type of website it is, and what type of content will I provide. I told them that it just has articles, and no downloads. I think word “freeware” might have triggered some alert at their end.
To be frank, I was very happy that they manually validated my website. This confirms that it will be difficult for some stupid website with lot of file downloads and bandwidth usage to get on my server and impact my website.
Once I confirmed my account, they started the transfer process, and within a few hours my website was up and running on the HostGator servers. Not even a single minute of downtime!
After that, I saw an improvement in performance of the website, and no downtime at all. This confirmed that HostGator would be a good choice for ILoveFreeSoftware as well.
I purchased a separate hosting account for ILoveFreeSoftware, so that the websites do not consume each other’s resources. The transfer process went smoothly. I had opened a ticket for transfer before I went to bed, and everything was all set by the time I woke up.
I noticed the same performance improvement with this website as well. Apart from that, I also saw that I was able to do some operations with my website that I was not able to do on Dreamhost. For example, I have the WordPress statistics plugin. If I used to click on “Top Pages” section of it, I used to get an error that not enough RAM is available. However, that option is working absolutely fine on HostGator.
It has been just a few days that I have been with HostGator, but I am very happy with my experience with them till now. They are extremely cheap, and still pretty good.