This is a highly-debated and ever-evolving topic of discussion. The question, ‘‘What’s the best web host?’’ has to be one of the most often asked questions on internet discussion forums around the world. The answer that is always given is ‘‘There’s no one right answer. Your needs determine the best host.’’ What that translates to is you having to spend hours and hours staring at your computer screen, clicking through endless Google search results, reading boring, redundant chat forums and biased reviews until you finally give up and use somebody that has a catchy advertisement. I’m going to break the rules and just tell you who the best are.You’ll find my recommendations for web hosts at the bottom of the article. First, I’ll talk about my negative experiences because that’s more interesting. I have used several different web hosts, and done tons of research as well. You should know that when I look for a web host, I’m first looking for the ability to run PHP and MySQL database websites, such as those that use WordPress or Joomla. There’s an acronym for it: LAMP. It stands for Linux operating system, Apache server, MySQL database, PHP language-friendly. I always look for at least PHP version 5 so that WordPress and Joomla are happy. All of the following hosts qualify for those criteria:
- Network Solutions
Those are all the hosts I’ve used. Yes, I know there’s lots more, but if you go read enough reviews, you’ll find that pretty much everybody else out there will fit into a category that one of the above also represents. Here’s the problems that each one has:
GoDaddy uses proxy servers for https connections, so if you’re going to be using secure https connections, applications like VirtueMart will not be happy. It takes tons of work and phone calls to customer support to get the necessary options in place. Not worth it. If you’re just doing a static HTML site, GoDaddy’s fine, as are all the other listed hosts, but if you’re using a dynamic site, avoid these guys. Plus, their adds really piss me off with all the near-porn. Come on, guys—really? Lame.
Network Solutions has unreliable and exceedingly irritating https connections most of the time. Sometimes they’re slow but usable, most of the time they drop out after a few seconds then reinitialize. This leads to multiple charges in web stores and frustrated site visitors that blame the web designer. Plus, Network Solutions is the most prideful, self-absorbed, self-important, over-promising, under-delivering, uncaring web host in existance. As one of my web design customers put it, when you call them up for tech support, they answer your question by telling you how great they are, then they close the support ticket. It’s like living in a Dilbert cartoon working with these guys. One day I’ll be able to look back and laugh at the insanity that is Network Solutions, but for now I’m still working to get out from under their oppresive stupidity. I have chosen the words in that paragraph carefully. There’s no hyperbole going on.
StartLogic is friendly and they work hard, but they’re just too slow in regards to database queries. Unfortunate, because they’ve got a lot going for them.
FatCow is the most friendly and fun to work with group of folks I’ve yet to encounter. They advertise in Mac magazines too, which is a big plus. Their site interface actually makes you happy. Crazy, I know, but there it is. I love these guys. One problem: abysmally slow database connections. My WordPress installation is beginning to get angry even as we speak. Yes, WordPress can get angry. So, if you’re going to be using a MySQL database, avoid FatCow like the plague. In addition, there is no ability with FatCow to install your own SSL certificate. You can only use their shared https connection, which doesn’t work with many ecommerce applications like VirtueMart. That’s a deal-breaker, no matter how friendly you are. I’m in the process of leaving FatCow right now.
Here’s where it gets good. The last two hosts in my list are my recommended hosts. One is for those with little-to-no web development experience, and the other is for those who need control and options—those who have experience with web development.
Recommended Web Hosting Companies
- Fast in both HTML and PHP/MySQL applications
- Friendly, unofficially Mormon company
- Great cPanel interface, easy to use
- Perfect for anyone who doesn’t know much about web development.
- A reputation for being ‘‘controlling’’
- They will close down your site if you use cursewords or host pornography. Not a problem for most, but it’s indicative of broader corporate policies.
- If you register a domain name with them, they are reticent to give it up to another registrar if you move to another host. Reticent is an understatement. They have a reputation for being downright bullheaded about it. Please note that I’ve not had experience with this issue with Bluehost, but that’s their reputation.
- Unlimited data transfer, unlimited storage space. That’s actually a bad thing because it means they run a load-balanced server structure. So, if you use tons of storage space, or lots of transfer bandwidth, they will restrict your speed so that the other websites on your shared server don’t experience slowdowns. Anytime a web host advertises unlimited anything, know that if you use a lot of it, your site’s gonna run slow. Again, not a problem for most sites, but if you’re running a large site, Bluehost may not be for you.
- As fast (possibly faster) as Bluehost with PHP/MySQL usage
- Amazingly great https/SSL setup. They do most of the work for you.
- Friendly, completely knowledgable tech support staff. They work hard to make sure you have no unanswered questions, and that you’re completely happy with your hosting experience.
- You’re given complete control over your server space, even on shared hosting plans. It’s magnificent!
- Good options for managed private servers, virtual private servers, etc.
- Free, automatic enterprise-level backups to offsite, encrypted backup facilities.
- Data center in Dallas, TX
- Amazing customer support forums
- MyRochen area with detailed past, present and upcoming invoices for easy bookkeeping and accounting.
- Great resellers program. Awesome.
- They are the official www.joomla.org web host, so they are absolute Joomla masters.
- CGI runs in your site’s own directory, so you never have to CHMOD any files or folders to 777. Ever. That’s security!
- For the novice, you’re given too much control. It can be daunting.
- There are a couple too many places to go when dealing with Rochen. Such as, for tech support, you can go to the Customer Forums website, where you’ll get answers to your questions from customers and Rochen staff, or you can go to the MyRochen website and get answers just from Rochen staff. They both are confidential, but the MyRochen site is run under https, and not even other Rochen customers see what you write. Plus, there’s your site’s Control Panel. Setting each area’s access is done separately, so it takes a while to get every area going.
- Expensive. Rochen charges more for what they do than most others, but after working with them now on 3 websites, I see why. They offer more than everybody else, so they charge more.
- All tech support and customer support is done by help ticket, chat forum or email. I’ve yet to find a telephone number anywhere. I prefer it this way, as this is the way of the future: no central office, no one telephone number to call. If you have an issue, all the staff is alerted, and the first to respond is the one that takes the ticket. But, if you’re used to calling a person, you might end up feeling slighted that you can never speak to a human.
So, the final word:
If you’re inexperienced with hosting, or if the site will be handed off to someone who’s inexperiences with hosting and the website in quesion will never be as big as amazon.com, Bluehost is the ticket.
If you are a professional web designer or developer, there’s no better choice than Rochen. If you’re running an ecommerce site, Rochen’s the way to go. If you want to become a reseller, Rochen is the deal.