If you want to build a website, you'll need somewhere to host it. Check the fine print; there are often limitations that you don't discover until you go to implement the functionality you need and discover you can't do what you need to.
My requirements are:
- Linux based hosting. (Well, anything other than Windows, really).
- Support multiple domains for no extra cost.
- Handle WordPress and Joomla!
- Performance: a “good” landing page assessment from Google Adwords.
- Reliable: no downtime from pingomatic in a month.
- I don't require shell access, as long as there's a control panel to configure everything.
Here are the hosting services I've used, and the gotchas I came across:
I currently use HostGator to host all my new sites, and recommend it. Here are the pros and cons:
- Great 24/7 online support.
- Strict mail policy: 500 emails/hour limit. You must use throttling, and even then some of their policy looks impossible to meet from a typical web application if you want to push the envelope.
- At least they claim to bounce mail that exceeds this limit. IX Web Hosting just drop them silently.
- 64Mb PHP memory_limit. If you want more, you gotta pay for it.
- PHP max_execution_time cannot be increased above 30 seconds.
I haven't tried WestHost yet, but Joost de Valk recommends them for WordPress hosting, and I trust him. When I get fed up with working around the PHP setting restrictions on HostGator, I'll probably switch to WestHost.
I've also heard good things about BlueHost:
- Recommended by professional blogger Yaro Starak
- Appears to meet my requirements
I used to use SiteGround, and was happy with them for a single site:
- Excellent Joomla! Support.
- Only support a single site per account.
IX Web Hosting
I used IX Web Hosting for a couple of years based on a recommendation from my cousin. But I've since migrated away because my sites kept going down, and poor performance was degrading my Google ranking and increasing my Adwords costs.
- When you exceed their mail limitations, they just drop the messages without telling you or bouncing them.
- Their clunky Webshell has obvious bugs, but they don't fix them.
- Like Webshell file compress/uncompress often fails to extract all files without warning.
- 24/7 support is good
- ...but often unable to fix fundamental problems.
- Cannot handle VERP bounce processing required by MailPress
- cron is under ftp manager service, of all places.
- Path to the php interpreter in their manual is wrong and non-standard. It's actually: /hsphere/shared/php5/bin/php
- ...I first reported this earlier than August 2010, and it's still not fixed.
- Slow; Google Adwords says target landing page performance “poor”.
- Allows much larger PHP memory_limit settings than HostGator.
No Monthly Fees
No Monthly Fees was the first hosting service I used. Can't remember much about it:
- Only support a single site per account, which is why I left.
I use Go Daddy for domain registrations but never use them for hosting; I've read a lot of complaints online about sites hosted on Go Daddy being hacked even when the webmaster was vigilante about security. I've never had a site hacked on any of the hosting services mentioned above.
VPS.net are really in class above the other guys but I'm including them because they're the next logical place to step up to if speed is an issue. They offer:
- Cloud hosting, meaning much faster site performance.
- CPanel access.
- Joost de Valk recommends them, and he knows what he's doing.
- Considerably more expensive; but still a bargain for what you get.