Over the last couple weeks, I have been doing a little “host” shopping, jumping from hosting company to another, thus Zedomax.com went down a lot. (Sorry about that, sometimes in life, you need to keep searching until you find the best deals.)
So, I’ve actually narrowed it down to 3 companies that provide the best “cloud/grid”, “VPS”, and dedicated servers.
This review is based on the 30+ blogs I manage, each of blogs getting anywhere from 100 to 20,000 pagesviews each.
In the end, I found that each hosting company had its strengths and weaknesses. Depending on what kind of web traffic you get and what kind of resources you need from a web server, you will have to choose your web hosting company “wisely”.
For the moment, I am using 3 hosting companies, MediaTemple, GoDaddy, and SingleHop, the ones I highly recommend to host your websites.
This web hosting review is for those of you who are serious about getting the best value/speed from your web server.
So, let me break it down by each company and what I’ve experienced.
Godaddy Grid Beta
This is the first time I have ever tried Godaddy’s web hosting services although I have used them in the past for all of my domain management. (Btw, GoDaddy is the best for Domain names, there’s no doubt about that.)
The GoDaddy Grid is actually in its beta phase and I was able to score a deal for $4.99/month for the first 3 months and $19.99 thereafter. I was sorta worried that the service seemed too cheap but in the end, the GoDaddy Grid is very reliable once you have your websites set up.
The GoDaddy Grid is probably the best option for anyone who wants to run a WordPress blog for stability, price, and speed. I would highly recommend this over any other shared web hosting companies out there.
Btw, shared web hosting companies are the worst. You might pay like $100 for one year but trust me, shared web hosting companies are not reliable by any means if you are serious about getting your website up and running. I have tried BlueHost, DreamHost, you name it. The thing with shared hosts is that they are “shared”, you never know if you are going to be sharing your website with 10 other websites or 50.
Besides sharing the server, shared web hosting companies also share 1 dedicated IP address among those different websites. Meaning if that IP gets blacklisted for someone “spamming”, you will get affected too, even if they change the IP address.
Just stay away from shared hosting companies, they are the worst.
- Grid offers “unlimited” resources. Grid is basically like a Cloud web hosting service, it can ramp up and provide your website with extra bandwidth up to 1000GB per month. That’s a lot of bandwith and the Godaddy offers great stability, especially if you are on a plane to Hawaii and your website gets digged or slashdotted.
- SSH – Godaddy’s SSH is pretty functional for doing a lot downloading/uploading via wget or scp command. This comes in handy for busy webmasters like me who need to move 30+ websites in a matter of hours. Without SSH, it would take about 3 days to do the same thing. This is the number one reason I chose Godaddy over other cloud service providers like Rack Space Cloud.
- I’ve loaded about 10K uniques/day on this grid server, it allows you to add about 20 websites. This is a really good sign, I am actually putting all my crappy sites with smaller traffic on Godaddy. You can check out DeClubz Blog, which gets about 3000 uniques/day, hosted on the GoDaddy Grid. (I was rather surprised the Grid didn’t crap out at all and runs flawlessly.)
- You can load up to 20 websites/20 MySQL databases, this is the perfect server if you plan on making/running multiple websites in the future.
- I’ve noticed that there’s some kind of automatic “throttling” by the Grid when you try to download/upload files over 100MB. This is normal on most cloud/grid/VPS servers as they need to protect the system against DoS attacks and whatnot. I still prefer fast downloads on pure dedicated as they waste less of my time, which is highly valuable to me. But again, this isn’t something that’s going to affect your website after you have set it up, it’s only going to be a little pain to restart your downloads.
- Godaddy’s uses separate MySQL database, meaning you can use “localhost” as database domain. This can become quite a lot of pain for custom-coded sites but stuff like WordPress shouldn’t be easy.
- I found that some PHP coding didn’t go through as well with the Grid. There’s no ability for you to install/manipulate the core PHP files in the server. This is not a good thing for developers but if you are just running WordPress, not a big deal at all.
For the regular price of $19.99, you can’t really get better than GoDaddy’s Grid service, especially since they provided a limited SSH, which is crucial for moving/setting up your sites in time.
Overall, I found that GoDaddy has the best bang for your buck for any sites getting between 100 to 10,000 pageviews/day, especially WordPress blogs.
GoDaddy Grid Beta Hosting ($4.99/month for 3 months and $19.99/month thereafter) – Click Here and Go to Hosting->Grid Hosting.
MediaTemple isn’t a cloud nor grid web host, they run something very similar to it, a Virtual server utilized by Plesk, which is probably the most reliable virtual server system out there. I run Plesk on all my dedicated servers and it was easy for me to migrate all my websites to MediaTemple using Plesk, which has a native “import” tool so you can do a “1-click” migration when moving servers.
MediaTemple provides 3 different levels of service, the Grid(gv), the Dedicated Virtual(dv),and Dedicated Nitro(dpv).
The Grid(gv) I know have had some issues in the past so I didn’t even sign up for that, especially since you are also CPU-limited by the number of processing power you use. Although MediaTemple even gave money back to their customers in the past, I would highly avoid the grid, especially if you are serious about getting your website up and running 24/7. If there’s been problems with MediaTemple’s grid in the past, I am sure it will happen again. (Murphy’s Law) If your want to go grid, I would probably suggest GoDaddy’s Grid.
The Dedicated Virtual(dv) is the one I signed up for. It’s basically like a dedicated server except your server is virtualized within a number of servers.
There’s 3 different levels of the DV service:
- Base – This is the most basic DV service you can get at $50/month. I have about 10 of my lower-end websites running on it. I could probably compared to a dedicated server with Dual-Core Xeon processor but you are going to be very limited by memory resources.
The most web traffic it can handle – around 3000 pageviews/day. I loaded couple sites but once I got over 3000 pagesviews/day, the server kept hitting its memory resource limits.
- Rage – This is the second-tier DV service you can get at $100/month. I had most of my medium-end website running on it with about 10,000 pageviews/day. It ran fine but did experience some hiccups once I got over 10,000 pageviews/day. I think that is pretty much its limit. I did however upgrade to Extreme “instantly”. The best part about these DV servers is that you can upgrade your hardware instantly, I mean literally within seconds, no rebooting needed.
- Extreme – This is the best DV service you can get at $150/month. You can also upgrade your RAM up to 512MB. I did find the Extreme server able to handle about 15,000 pageviews/day but again, my site (Zedomax.com) came to a crawling. I even tried hooking up Zedomax.com to 2 of these Extreme servers with 1 HTTPD and the other MySQLD. The major problem I faced was that there was no way to “locally” connect the 2 extreme servers. Without being locally connected, my ping times between the 2 servers averaged from 0.5ms to 10ms. This caused a havoc on the HTTPD server and load would go out of control. But don’t get me wrong, if you have less than 15,000 pageviews/day on your website, this is a really great server. I have most of my 3000 pageviews/day blogs running on the Extreme now.
Nitro – The Nitro is the next step up from the DV servers. I found that the price wasn’t worth the features as much as the DV servers. For $750/month, I could get 3 quad-core dedicated servers, which would probably be much better investment. I even talked to Tony at MediaTemple, who told me the same thing.
Room for Improvement?
MediaTemple needs to provide a medium point between its DV Extreme servers and the Nitro. For me, Nitro was an option but I wasn’t sure if that was even going to solve my problems since my blog has been always running on 2 quad-core dedicated servers. I wish there was something between the Extreme and Nitro.
You can clearly see that there’s an obvious gap between the price points of Extreme($150) and Nitro($750), that’s about $600!!!
If MediaTemple provides something in the mid-range so customers can pay like $300 and get somethine in-between, I am sure they would have more customers and also customers who need something in-between doesn’t have to overspend on a Nitro.
Another point is that even if a customer gets a separate DV Extreme server for database, MediaTemple does not provide a local switch between the 2 servers. This is a serious issue for sites like this as it’s a difference between me going out finding a job or keep running my blog and making a living from it.
Other than those 2 issues, MediaTemple is awesome virtual servers that perform.
Overall, I found that MediaTemple has the best bang for your buck for any sites getting between 3000 to 15,000 pageviews/day on the Dedicated Virtual servers. I am still using them on most of my medium-trafficked blogs, they are very reliable so long as your web traffic doesn’t get out of control.
If you are serious about getting your high-trafficked website up and running “FAST”, SingleHop is probably the best place to go as I have found their hardware, prices, and customer service excellent over all the other dedicated server hosting companies I have tried.
I have tried many other dedicated servers but SingleHop has the best prices for hardware.
If you get over 15,000 pageviews per day and you need multiple servers to run just one website (such as Zedomax.com), you will want to take advantage of SingleHop’s great deals on quad-core servers that come with default DDR2 8GB of memory. (Anything below 5000 pageviews/day, I do recommend MediaTemple for price.)
I actually got 2 of these servers to run this very site (Zedomax.com). It’s running and humming faster than ever and I have to say the best part about SingleHop is that they offer “gigabyte” switches between your servers as one of its basic add-ons. My site has been plagued before by slow MySQL server connections. I have talked to numerous people at hosting companies telling me that their “datacenters” are fast and I don’t need a local connection between servers. Yeah, well, anything above 1ms is NOT FAST for mission-critical blogs like this one. If my life depended on it (which it is), I would try using a gigabyte switch between servers. 🙂
I’ve experienced about 0.05 ms average of ping times between my servers at SingleHop using the gigabyte switch versus 5 ms average of ping times over at MediaTemple. (That’s about 100 times difference in MySQL speed!!!)
The end result?
My site loaded in about 5 to 30 seconds while on 2 MediaTemple DV servers while it took about 1 second while on 2 SingleHop dedicated servers. Well, it’s not a fair comparison since MediaTemple is much cheaper but I did learn my “expensive” lesson as Zedomax.com plummetted to like 9,000 pageviews instead of its normal 20,000 pageviews during the week of testing. (I could have paid for 2 dedicated servers for that loss…bummer.)
I did try RackSpaceCloud before trying GoDaddy and MediaTemple. In the end, I had to cancel my service because they did not provide SSH service plus FTP uploads took way too long. To move 30+ of my websites, that’s about 30 gigabytes of data, it would have took at least 24 hours on RackSpaceCloud while SSH would cut that down to about an hour. I simply don’t have much room for margin here, I am work against time, one man managing 30+ sites, I need it fast. Time is money, especially when it comes to moving servers. And the faster I can move my blogs, the more time I have for blogging and concentrating on my blogging business.
I have heard great things about RackSpaceCloud and if you don’t have much data and don’t mind uploading via FTP, go ahead and try RackSpaceCloud.
As for me, I decided to wait until RackSpaceCloud has SSH in the future. It simply doesn’t work for me if there’s no SSH. Everything should be fast as possible.
There’s also a “cloud server” which is bare-bones system for people like me but I don’t like paying my server by the hour, it doesn’t seem like a smart choice if I get “digged” suddenly one day and my bandwidth bill skyrockets above my profits.
Final Thoughts on Web Hosting
If you run multiple websites/blogs, you should NEVER to rely on one web host. My advice is to use at least 2 or 3 different web hosting companies so you don’t put all your eggs in one basket. It’s inevitable that every hosting company will have its “downtime”, whether that happens once every 100 years or 3 months, it’s something you cannot control.
If that “disaster” happens to your web hosting company, at least you will have other hosting companies to resort to while that “disaster” get resolved.
One time, all my websites were hosted with Aplus.net, I lost couple thousand dollar easy as Aplus.net was down for almost a WEEK! I did however move after Aplus.net was slow for couple days. Aplus.net did not offer me any kind of credit after that incident nor did they say they were sorry. I later found out that Aplus.net executive management team did that INTENTIONALLY so they can save themselves some money but not their customers. All they had to do was tell their customers that their servers are going to be down for another week and they would give money back for that month. I am not bitter though, they did take a nose-dive after that anyways and got bought by another company.
I am much more experienced now and smarter. Whatever web hosting companies you use, make sure they are reliable, fast, and priced competitively.
Feel free to ask me questions via the comments below, I do like talking about web hosting companies. But please do not spam the comments line with web hosting company ads, they will immediately be marked spam and my right index finger can move much faster than you can think, already.
Some Tips on Using wget with SSH
The main reason I use hosting companies with SSH access is because I can transfer files between web servers, which is about 100 times faster than trying to upload files from your own computer. If you are a webmaster and you still don’t have a clue about SSH and using FTP for all your file transfers, I highly suggest you to dig into SSH more as it can ultimately save you enough time to go play golf instead of waiting for files to transfer.
One such command I use often is “wget” linux/unix command, you can easily download any files on any website via the HTTP protocol.
You can actually “resume” a download file if you happend to “stall” while using linux command wget. Just make sure to add “-c” at the end like this:
wget http://mysite.com/myfile.tar -c
This comes handy for those cloud/grid/VPS servers where you might stall often due to its throttling mechanism.