Recommend me a new webhost for my client, please
March 22, 2013 9:22 AM   Subscribe

My client is talking about moving to a new host. I need options to suggest.

My client is (finally!) fed-up with Network Solutions for their web host. I'd like to recommend a couple of good possibilities to them, but I'm not really up-to-date with the options.

They're a small business (an adoption agency, actually) with a mid-sized website, all pretty basic html, no fancy bells-and-whistles. They average between 2.5-3.5 GB of bandwidth per-month.

A really good webmail option would be a plus. Currently, the staff hate NS's webmail interface to the point where they are all having mail forwarded to Gmail accounts (a situation I'm not entirely comfortable with given the sensitive, personal nature of a lot of their emails and, well, Google being Google.) The host's mail should have solid spam filtering that doesn't require each user mess-around with Spam Assassin or whatnot. Ditto for not using multiple webmail clients (for instance, my own webhost has you choose between three webmail clients each time you log in.) The fewer geek-oriented features for users, the better.

As for future site plans, there is always talk about having secure forms and, possibly, some limited sort of live chat, but they have never gone further than talk.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Obviously, cost is a concern (they're a non-profit) but almost anything has to be cheaper than NS.
posted by Thorzdad to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Google Apps for the mail, for the hosting if it's basic.
posted by iamabot at 9:26 AM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

My biggest suggestion is don't lump mail service in with web hosting. There is no technical need for them to be provided by the same company, and IMHO very few providers (especially on the cheaper end) are good at both. Find a company that's good for web hosting, and another for email.
posted by primethyme at 9:26 AM on March 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Hostgator over GoDaddy and 1and1 until someone proposes something over HostGator. I haven't had any problems with Hostgator yet.
posted by thorny at 9:31 AM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I just switched my small business from Network Solutions to Blue Host (and started using Google Apps for mail) and have been very happy.
posted by rinosaur at 9:34 AM on March 22, 2013

I'd recommend Webfaction for hosting and Google Apps for mail.
posted by backwards guitar at 9:35 AM on March 22, 2013 is a great email host that isn't Google.
posted by zsazsa at 9:37 AM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd recommend A Small Orange and Dreamhost.

A Small Orange has excellent customer service and affordable plans.

As a non-profit, your client can get free hosting through Dreamhost and Dreamhost can also help set up Google for email. Here's info on their nonprofit discount. Years ago, Dreamhost's uptime left something to be desired but I've heard that it's a lot better now.
posted by JuliaKM at 9:50 AM on March 22, 2013

Nthing Google Apps for mail. It is lightyears better than any other solution out there.
posted by Aizkolari at 10:07 AM on March 22, 2013

ASO (A Small Orange) over Hostgator and Dreamhost. And totally yes, Google Apps for mail.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:16 AM on March 22, 2013

BlueHost is cheap but I get a fair amount of downtime alerts from Pingdom with them. I've had much better results as far as that goes with MediaTemple but they are more expensive (but still reasonable I think). Both BlueHost and MediaTemple have simple integrations with Cloudflare in case you want to use that to enhance the speed and security of the site(s). As far as I know, MediaTemple generally has a very good reputation.
posted by Dansaman at 10:49 AM on March 22, 2013

nthing google apps for mail and I use Dreamhost and Webfaction a lot. Very satisfied.
posted by humboldt32 at 11:12 AM on March 22, 2013

Don't do Hostgator for email. I was just looking at them last week and their webmail clients are hopelessly out of date. Horde was about 3-4 years old - not even sure the version they have is supported anymore.
posted by COD at 1:39 PM on March 22, 2013

Google Apps (education edition) is free for nonprofits. I've deployed it for a couple of client organizations. If it's what your users are going to on the sly now, you might as well give them what they want.

I understand the privacy concerns, but those don't go away at smaller providers. Email is like telephone service - it's not private without heroic efforts.

I will add my voice to the Webfaction chorus, too.
posted by zjacreman at 2:00 PM on March 22, 2013

I've used Dreamhost for 15 years. I do not recommend them.
posted by dobbs at 3:20 PM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

You don't say much about the web hosting. Is it just a static site? If so, amazon S3+CloudFront could be a good, cheap, option.

For DNS registrar and hosting, I like and use namecheap.

I use Google Apps for email. I plan to more at some point. At this point the leading contender is fastmail.
posted by Good Brain at 3:54 PM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have been with MacHighway for 15 years and would recommend them.
posted by Vaike at 4:36 PM on March 22, 2013

Google Apps For Mail, Calendar, Contacts

MediaTemple for web hosting (rock solid)
posted by bobdow at 4:39 PM on March 22, 2013

I've been asked why I don't recommend Dreamhost even though I've used them for 15 years. Basically, in the past 2 years or so their service has gone from so so to mediocre.

I have multiple mailing lists and in the past year or two have had many people say they don't get my emails. I also have had many emails bounce that are going to legit addresses.

When I approach Dreamhost for assistance and to get to the bottom of it, which I've probably done a half dozen or more times, I get an email back from them telling me they've passed it onto a specialist and that I'll be hearing from them soon. I never do. When I inquire as to what's going on, they apologize and say they aren't sure why I haven't heard back but someone will get right on it. Then I never hear anything more until I submit another support ticket and the whole thing starts again.

In frustration two months ago I moved my mailing lists to Mail Chimp. I sent an email to one of the lists that my subscribers previously said they weren't getting any of my mails from and had a 85% open rate proving my list is stronger than average and that the problem has been on DH end for years.
posted by dobbs at 9:21 PM on March 23, 2013

I've been using BlueHost for about three years now and I'm not too pleased with them. Their customer service (both via phone and via chat) is great, but they've been incredibly slow for about half a year now, with lots of timeouts. I'm getting around 3-5 MB/s in terms of download speed on my basic hosting sites, which is incredibly frustrating both for my visitors and if I'm trying to edit something on the site. I get around 40 MB/s on the pro accounts, which wasn't worth the price to me.

I switched over to Tigertech at a friend's recommendation and I cannot endorse them enough. They're a lot more bare bones than BlueHost and require you to be more comfortable with setting your own stuff up, and they're not really designed for hosting a dozen sites on one account (and you need to do some fiddling to add externally registered domain names to the account), but the speed is fantastic and the service people I've been in contact with are incredibly friendly about working with you to make sure your set up works out. If you're not reselling hosting or if your client only has one set of domain names, they're your way to go.

I also used to host on Nearly Free Speech, which is fine for smaller sites, but once you start to scale up in terms of bandwidth / processes / databases it starts being not so cost effective.
posted by Phire at 7:40 AM on April 2, 2013

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