Help me become a web savvy mogul superstar! (on a budget) :)
November 2, 2008 7:49 PM   Subscribe

I'm about to start some new business ventures and my current web host has not been doing a very good job so I want to switch while things are still small. Helllp!

By this time next year I plan to have four business websites up and running. (Right now I have one site and two domain names, so I'm planning on doing a lot of work this year.) Recommendations on how to keep this virtual growth as painless, smart and profitable as possible so that I can focus on the work itself, not on damage control with my host. (I've spent three hours on the phone with them this week alone because I haven't been getting my e-mail. They're just awful.)

Here are the sites I plan to set up:
1) I own the domain. My current design site features my resume, portfolio, and room to ftp client files. In the future I'd like to develop that ftp area to be a separate password-protected client area.
2) I own the domain. I need to redesign my old jazz vocalist website and launch that within the next two months. (I don't want MySpace to be where my main web presence is, so please don't suggest that. I need my own domain with MySpace as a minor supplement that points to it.) Although I don't plan for mine to be so Flash-heavy, the content of this site will be similar to this, and should eventually include an area to purchase CDs.
3) Domain needs registering. A new business site set to launch within 3 months, probably no more than ten main pages with one form questionaire page. There might be a variety of photo galleries added over time.
4) Domain needs registering. Probably utilizing a blog template, this site is an online community startup to launch in a year or so, the timing to be dependent upon how the new business progresses (they're tied together). This could end up being a huge and very successful project down the road with a great deal of income potential, but only time will tell. For at least four months, this domain will be a blank canvas waiting for paint while other things get accomplished first.

So here are my questions:
A) What host would you recommend for hosting these four sites (with room to grow)? I want to be sure that the prices are reasonable and don't become cost prohibitive as my businesses grows and traffic increases. I've heard dreamhost is good but when I tried to contact their customer service for an estimate they didn't e-mail me back. I figured that was a bad sign so I gave up on them.
B) My previous domains were registered with Network Solutions. I know I probably don't want to register the new names with them. Should I go through the new host or how do you recommend I register the names? (I already know what they're going to be so I need to snatch them up asap while they're still available.)

Okay... advise away!!!! Thank you in advance for your help. :)
posted by miss lynnster to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I recommend for domain registrations - I usually tell my clients to register their domains themselves, not through their host (tho they often have us do it for them - we just use Joker, register it in their domain, and charge an extra $3 to cover the admin costs). If you decide you're unhappy with your host, it's not fun to try and point your domain elsewhere when you decide to leave.

GoDaddy is cheap and I can not discourage folks from using them strongly enough - two of our clients came to us with GoDaddy registered domains and wanted hosting, and GoDaddy used the interim to display a slough of porn links at their domain name. Ick.

As a webhost, I've gotten a lot of ex-dreamhosters who are tired of 1) oversold shared hosting boxes and 2) having their WordPress blogs hacked (tho admittedly, that's not entirely Dreamhost's fault - they're big, they offer WordPress as 1-click install, so when security exploits are published Dreamhost is one of the first targets).

I think you have a few different questions - some hosting related, some content management related. You can easily find any host that has room enough for what you wish to do, plus a control panel to let you manage FTP accounts for your first project. I hear great things about MediaTemple, but I've never used them - I'd look there first, myself. As for managing content, some hosts will offer one-click blog sofware installations, so if that's something you're looking to do, that should be one of your criteria. If, however, you're comfortable with HTML, PHP, all that jazz, then the one-click stuff is very low-priority.
posted by annathea at 8:28 PM on November 2, 2008

I hear great things about MediaTemple, but I've never used them

I do use them and so far they are fan-fucking-tastic. They had a very brief outage a week ago, and they credited me with two months free service! The outage was very minor and I never would have noticed if they hadn't emailed me.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:21 PM on November 2, 2008

I'm very happy with A2 Hosting. Merlin Mann uses them to host 43folders, and I thought if it's good enough for him, it must be OK. I haven't been disappointed. Responsive service, reasonable prices, easy installation of services - I'm mostly using Drupal for my site, and it's been pretty easy to set up. They've got PHP5, MySQL5, Ruby on Rails, Auto-Install Blogs, Wikis, etc.

I had my domains registered with a different provider, and A2 walked me through the process of changing the registrations over - no problem.
posted by kram175 at 9:30 PM on November 2, 2008

I second I have used them for 4+ domains for over 8 years.
posted by special-k at 10:30 PM on November 2, 2008 has my domain registration business - and a lot of it. I'm known as a Domain Name addict and at this moment am cutting down from a maximum of 39, most of them totally unused or just redirecting to my blog. They are almost as inexpensive as GoDaddy with much less upselling (although their recent venture into web hosting worries me) and quite user-friendly, including transferring registrations from elsewhere and passing domains to other Namecheap customers.

All my web presence is hosted at the infamous DreamHost, which is very much "one size fits all", therefore sales-based service is pretty much non-existent. Haven't had much need for human service from them; their automated processes have worked well for me, and I've been otherwise lucky (missed being part of its Great Double Billing BooBoo last year by my pure fortunate timing in renewing my account). And I'm seriously underutilizing the available service, so I'm happy but very non-typical. Still, with my "standard" service, I could flip the switch and make all 39 domains active on my one account but beyond that, I can't be sure. I switched there 3 years ago from, which did a lot worse job of making things easy.

DreamHost's "OneClick" WordPress installation works well and I've never been hacked (but I am a very small fish) and I have worked around the One-Click (as I'm doing right now to test run WP's 2.7 Beta) without anything blowing up in my face. You can also One-Click Install other programs including MediaWiki and the Joomla CMS to run sites. There are a lot of other potentially cool things you can do from their Control Panel, but don't expect real Human Help doing them. In general, if I can stumble through without breaking things then they're VERY user friendly, BUT if you really need human Customer Support, technical assistance or hand-holding, DON'T go with DH.
posted by wendell at 11:38 PM on November 2, 2008

Laughing Squid is a local (if you're still in SF) hosting company that is very involved in the art scene. I don't know how competitive their prices are, but my girlfriend had an account with them for a long time, and they are very responsive and reliable. They are a small operation (like 5 or 6 people), so you get a personal level of support, but they handle a ton of local web sites, and so are very experienced and knowledgeable. I'm sure they'd help you through your growing pains.
posted by team lowkey at 10:06 AM on November 3, 2008

I personally use steadfast networks in chicago, who I found based on personal recommendations. the people there have been delightfully easy to deal with thus far and seem to have no problem hosting larger sites as well.
posted by krautland at 10:37 AM on November 3, 2008

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