Advice on website hosting
September 24, 2011 10:39 AM   Subscribe

Who do you recommend for small-scale web hosting?

I'm looking to change internet hosting and wondering what the hive-mind recommends. I currently have shared linux hosting on GoDaddy (and subsequently a website with some mysql databases, and a wordpress blog, as well as domain names registered with GoDaddy). The reason that I need new hosting is because I now need admin access to linux for some software that I want to install (postgresql and postgis).

I've heard a few anti-recommendations for GoDaddy from friends (and seen quite a few online) but I can't personally fault it aside from my wordpress blog running very slowly. I do find that moving from their cheapest web-hosting to a virtual server is quite an increase in price. As I have very little knowledge about how much it should cost, I'm wondering if paying for ~$30 for 1 GB RAM, 15GB storage and 500 GB/mo bandwidth is good value.

Part of the reason I am considering staying with GoDaddy is because I thought it would be easier to move my current site/blog to the new server but it turns out that I can't migrate any of it anyway, so I have to set up everything from scratch.

Also, although I'm becoming more familiar with how the various pieces fit together, I'm also not sure I can do it all using just ssh access. Is it worth paying extra for something like plesk or cPanel for managing such a server?

The general objective of this site is to showcase some aspects of my academic research. At the moment it receives a low level of traffic, but I would expect this to slowly grow so bandwidth limitations are not an issue!
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth to Computers & Internet (24 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I use Dreamhost and have no complaints. They claim to offer unlimited bandwidth and storage for $8.95 a month.
posted by TheRaven at 10:52 AM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

If you're comfortable with running everything yourself, I use the cheapest Linode plan ($19.95). You can install webmin or open panel, which are like plesk/cpanel, but free.
posted by disaster77 at 10:58 AM on September 24, 2011

Best answer: A Small Orange doesn't oversell their servers. They are also very responsive. Send them an e-mail and see if they will set up a postgres db and postgis for you. With luck, you will get what you need for $25 a year, and can upgrade to larger plans as necessary.

If you want to get a VPS, ASO's prices are reasonable if you pay for a year at once. Linode is also good, as is servergrove.
posted by jsturgill at 11:00 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

I couldn't be happier with Laughing Squid.
posted by bwonder2 at 11:01 AM on September 24, 2011

Seconding Linode. I host some pretty large services there and have been extremely pleased with their service. Their 512MB virtual server is pretty powerful for $20.

It is a mostly do-it-yourself process, but Linode and Slicehost both have a pretty sizable library of tutorials:

posted by jeffch at 11:04 AM on September 24, 2011

i've been super happy with bluehost (which was recommended on ask). their customer service is super responsive.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 11:04 AM on September 24, 2011
Have been using them for half a dozen websites for two years and I could not be happier. They are on the low end of the cost scale. Great uptime and their customer service is actually composed of real human beings instead of corporate droids reading a script. Google "namecheap coupon" before you buy to take a few dollars off your purchase.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 11:06 AM on September 24, 2011

Best answer: admin access to linux

This means you need root access. The shared hosting plans people keep mentioning are all out and you need a VPS. Unless you are okay with installing, configuring, and managing your own server then you want this to a be a managed VPS.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 11:08 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding Linode for non-managed VPS.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 11:12 AM on September 24, 2011

You need root access or a host willing to install it for you.
posted by jsturgill at 11:12 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

or a host willing to install it for you

Or a host with it already installed.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 11:20 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Webfaction. Next best thing to a VPS, for shared hosting prices. They support Postgres and PostGIS. You can compile software in your shell account if you need something they don't provide.
posted by zjacreman at 11:22 AM on September 24, 2011 [4 favorites]

Yes, or one with it already installed. Basically, don't jump to a VPS for this unless you want the excuse to learn how to set up and maintain a server. You don't need to do that.
posted by jsturgill at 11:24 AM on September 24, 2011

Best answer: Don't take this the wrong way, but unless you want to get a job working with servers, Linode may not be for you. I use Linode regularly, and while ssh is really all that's strictly necessary, it can be a long learning process. A glance at your posting history suggests that you don't already know most of what you'd need to know, so it may be easier and cheaper to let someone else handle basic administration. So just shop around for a host with the parts you need, and pocket the money for air fare to a conference you'd like to attend and promote your scholarship.
posted by pwnguin at 11:37 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding A Small Orange. Been using them for years. $25/year w/unlimited email accounts.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:33 PM on September 24, 2011

Best answer: Another Vote for Webfaction. I've only used them for a couple of weeks but I love the level of control and support for common scripts like Wordpress. They also have ssh so you can command-line your heart out.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:47 PM on September 24, 2011

Best answer: If Webfaction has support for postgres and postgis off the shelf, that's the hosting for you. You don't have to learn how to administer apache by hand, and don't have to pay full VPS prices. And in the small experience I've had with them, there's been absolutely nothing wrong with their service.

If for some reason you still want a full VPS with a control panel, my recommendations are HostGator on the low end, and Pair on the high end.

(Please don't go with GoDaddy. They provided the worst VPS I've ever used. For the money, much worse than their shared hosting.)
posted by tsmo at 2:24 PM on September 24, 2011

Dreamhost - great, prompt customer service.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 5:18 PM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Count me in as another vote for Dreamhost. Hate dealing with GoDaddy. Have also worked peripherally with HostGator and that was a good experience, but I do like Dreamhost's proprietary administrative panel so much better than cPanel.
posted by lgandme0717 at 7:38 PM on September 24, 2011

Thirding support for A Small Orange. I've had it for a couple of years.

It comes with CPanel. I'd be surprised if you'd need to pay extra for that at any standard host.
posted by maurreen at 9:55 PM on September 24, 2011

I loved Dreamhost... easy, cheap, 100% recommended...

...but then the programmer on a project I'm working on requested that I switch to Webfaction for better Django support out of the box.

If you enjoy learning about "under the hood" kind of things, Webfaction is a lot of fun... but it's got a steep learning curve compared to DH. I'm happy with the switch because I understand more about how the Internet works than I did before, but if you're after simple easy functionality, DH may be a better fit.
posted by Shepherd at 2:17 AM on September 25, 2011

Best answer: Another vote for Webfaction - great customer service/support, low prices, fast servers - a powerful setup for pocket change. I've been with them for close to two years and am running all kinds of cool stuff * on an account that costs less than $10 a month.

* dev, test and production Wordpress installations running a number of customer websites, Mercurial (dcvs), imgopt, custom Apache 5.3 stack, custom mySQL installation, custom NGINX installation, ruby apps, python apps, php apps - just a slew of fun stuff for super duper cheap. I plan to install erlang and node.js, next.
posted by syzygy at 5:26 AM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, for your answers. I looked at all the sites suggested and ended up going for webfaction. They are incredibly responsive, and I've managed to get everything up and running on their server (including Postgresql and Postgis).
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 12:09 PM on September 25, 2011

Response by poster: Just re-chiming in to say that Wefaction are completely wonderful. The difference between them and GoDaddy is like night and day (Webfaction being the day!)
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 2:57 AM on December 23, 2011

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