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webhosting blues
May 3, 2009 6:35 PM   Subscribe

I need a web-hosting company and I know bugger-all about what to look for. Bonus: I'll need to re-register my domain soon. Can someone please hold my hand and gently point me in the right direction? I am in Australia.

I run a small business from home. My current provider isn't working out for me - and, being overseas - they are impossible to contact if there's an emergency (which there is ATM), so I'd prefer one in Australia.

I have a small-ish site (minimal pages, but a fair number of images) and would get only a couple of hundred visitors per day and I don't need anything fancy. I need a few email addresses and that's about it. I have full backups of everything on my site so I just need to migrate to a new host. I think.

I tried Googling but I'm completely overwhelmed by the number of results and I realise that I know bugger all about this business. Even if you can't recommend a specific company, I'd appreciate advice about what to look for and what/who to avoid.
posted by ninazer0 to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've recommended NearlyFreeSpeech.net before, and I'll recommend them again. They've hosted my site for years with nary a hiccup, their fees are dirt-cheap and everything is perfectly scalable in case your site grows. Check them out.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:46 PM on May 3, 2009


I love Dreamhost. I have multiple domains hosted there and for the money you can't beat the uptime. I would sign up again if I could. They're also a domain registrar and since the fees are in line with GoDaddy minus all the upselling crap and spam I moved most of my domains there as well.
posted by cdmwebs at 7:20 PM on May 3, 2009


"... so I'd prefer one in Australia."
Outside of WebCentral (& WebCentral resellers), which are fairly expensive compared to US & Euro hosting providers, I can't think of any offhand that (a) I'd recommend, and (b) are geared to handle small volume (& small-value, sorry ;-) customers. The likes of Connexim.com.au &c are geared towards VPS, dedicated server, & colo services.

Do you really want Aus-based hosting, or just someone with an Australian office that you can ring up and yell at? ;-)
posted by Pinback at 7:43 PM on May 3, 2009


I'm a satisfied customer of WebFaction, which I use for Drupal/Django development as well as static HTML/CSS/PHP pages. I like their push-button installers and haven't had any problems with them. Seem to support everything I need - PHP, databases, unlimited domains, mailboxes, etc. Not the cheapest, but I can't find much dirt on them on the web, either. Every other hosting company seemed to have pretty polarized reviews - love/hate.

I got my domains at GoDaddy, though some people don't seem to like to use them due to the owner's politics. I enjoyed the coupons I found for them on the FatWallet forums. No problems there, either.
posted by xiaolongbao at 7:44 PM on May 3, 2009


I'm in Australia, and I'm going to second NearlyFreeSpeech. There isn't really any compelling reason to insist on an Australian-based hosting company that I can see. WebCentral aren't bad, but they're not wonderful for the price.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 7:58 PM on May 3, 2009


Pinback: An Australian office will do.

I wanted an Australian provider because of the time lag it takes to get someone to reply to me. For example, today's disaster has totally stuffed both my site and my email. I'm using an old gmail account to talk to my provider, which will do at a pinch, but their customer service isn't going to even see my email until tonight my time, and then I can expect to get an answer tomorrow evening at best. That sort of lag is frustrating. While I'm sitting here twiddling my fingers no-one sees my site, my advertising is essentially wasted, I lose customers and the years of effort I've put in to be professional and reliable is slowly eroded.
posted by ninazer0 at 8:39 PM on May 3, 2009


I'd ask dan of dansdata.com what he uses, major tech nerd in .au. Personally, I use dreamhost with a bunch of domains and it works fine. What I look for: knowledge of the web and underlying technology without being a bunch of marketing/SEO lunatics.
posted by TimeDoctor at 10:22 PM on May 3, 2009


> their customer service isn't going to even see my email until tonight my time, and then I can expect to get an answer tomorrow evening at best. That sort of lag is frustrating.

I would say that this has nothing directly to do with the company being physically located in Australia or elsewhere. Proper web hosting companies have better support than that, and by the same token, bad web hosting companies in Australia will be just as bad.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 11:14 PM on May 3, 2009


I don't have advice on an Australian provider, but if most of your customers are in your hemisphere, I hope you won't let people here talk you out of that requirement.

Even webhosts that offer 24 hour support are better staffed to take on a wider range of issues during normal business hours in their part of the world. Also, some issues its a lot easier to work through if you can make a phone call, which could start to add up if it is an international call.

A US based provider is also going to more than double the network latency for Australian customers, which will make your site feel slower.

If the AU hosting market is really bad and you have to go with a US based webhost, Pair.com has provided me with very good service for over a decade. I'm using webfaction now, because they offer some things I want that Pair doesn't have, and they've been pretty good. I've been really impressed with Liquidweb's service for a virtual server we use at work. They also have shared hosting, though I'm not sure the prices are that great.
posted by Good Brain at 12:04 AM on May 4, 2009


I would say that this has nothing directly to do with the company being physically located in Australia or elsewhere. Proper web hosting companies have better support than that, and by the same token, bad web hosting companies in Australia will be just as bad.

But at least I'd have a chance to phone them or at least deposit a fresh turd in their mailbox.

*sigh*
posted by ninazer0 at 2:06 AM on May 4, 2009


I can't recommend any Australian hosts, but I have recently been comparing GoDaddy, Dreamhost and Angryhosting for the same job specs (cron job, PHP, small-scale hosting – nearlyfreespeech.net would have been part of the experiment except that they don't offer cron jobs) and GoDaddy has been the fastest and cheapest server but the most maddeningly godawful to configure scripting on, Angryhosting has had the fastest (and best) customer service, and gives me the most leeway to do my own geeky thing in the shell, and Dreamhost has the most insta-config one-button features and good support. The cheapest for my chosen plan is GoDaddy, then Angryhosting, then Dreamhost, but they are all cheap and Dreamhost usually has a deal for the first year.

I'm in Central Europe so there is a healthy time offset. My experience is that I never get a relevant customer support response from GoDaddy, and of the other two, they deal with things quickly and intelligently enough that I never have the feeling that I'm sending messages by homing pigeon. I don't think I've ever had a full 24-hour wait for a useful response from either.

Something that does recommend Dreamhost if your concern is with support turnaround is that they blog every server change, scheduled downtime, or problem, so a lot of things which might turn into support issues at a less-transparent host can be looked up without the need to have a discussion with anyone about it. They also have a restore button in their web panel which you can use to roll back to a previous date's backup, which can also solve some issues before they become issues.
posted by Halle at 3:35 AM on May 4, 2009


I'm with westnet.com.au for my hosting - I've managed to bugger things up a few times but when I call their support line I always get someone enthusiastic and helpful who understands that I'm not stupid, I just don't know what I'm doing :) I don't think they're the cheapest around, and I believe they were recently bought out by iinet.com.au, but the service and reliability have been worth it for me.
posted by harriet vane at 5:30 AM on May 6, 2009


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