In search of a good web host and domain registrar
October 4, 2016 7:18 AM   Subscribe

Please recommend a good web host and/or domain registrar. Details inside-

I am a web designer who needs to be able to recommend worthwhile and reputable services to my clients. I used to have a go-to web host and domain registrar but they have recently stopped being reliable.

I am familiar with and use Nearly Free Speech Net but they are not appropriate for most clients.

I have used GANDI for domain registration in the past, but am open to other possibilities.

I do not want to use GoDaddy or Network Solutions - too many negative experiences with both. I have also noticed that when a company gets taken over by EIG, they seem to turn to crap. This has been my experience with Blue Host, A Small Orange, Homestead, etc. So I'm hoping to avoid them if possible as well.

I mainly create WordPress based sites these days. Nothing super fancy and nothing really huge so the hosting package doesn't need a ton of bells and whistles.

"Green" hosting would be nice but I know that comes in a lot of shades.

Lastly, I need for the hosting/domain accounts to be accessible by more than one person (i.e., account roles like Owner, Admin, Tech, Billing).
posted by jammy to Computers & Internet (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Forgot one bit: It would also be very great if the hosting company offers development areas for new sites (subdomains, etc) and, just as important, *actually* knows how to migrate the site to the main domain once done. Thanks!
posted by jammy at 7:25 AM on October 4, 2016

I work for a web agency that almost exclusively does (fairly simple) WP sites and we recommend Dreamhost (shared)/DreamPress (managed). But they don't do staging sites.

We have a few clients on Pantheon, which offers three environments: test, demo, and live. It's awesome for testing purposes, but it is definitely more complex than something like Dreamhost. And their cheapest plan is significantly more expensive than Dreamhost's.
posted by anotheraccount at 7:31 AM on October 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have registered several domains through Hover and the experience was great. Really fast and easy. Actually too easy (and cheap), I now own a bunch of domains that I bought on a whim and don't know what to do with!

They're always advertising on podcasts so I'm sure there are coupon codes floating around.
posted by radioamy at 8:13 AM on October 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

Long time satisfied Dreamhost customer here, though web work is not my career so I'm not as knowledgeable as many others are. You can do subdomains with them, and I used to do that myself as a staging/development area. If they have tools to migrate to the main domain, I don't know about them, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. (I've switched to using MAMP on my home computer to test locally instead.)
posted by dnash at 8:30 AM on October 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

Dreamhost shared hosting is a pretty good value for the money if your clients' sites don't get huge amounts of traffic or have otherwise critical reliability needs. Reliability has been fine for my low-traffic purposes, but a site getting hammered with tens of thousands of hits an hour might not hold up in a shared environment. The account provides "Unlimited" storage (which basically means: host all the files you want as long as you're not abusing the privilege by storing/sharing your library of illegally torrented Blu-rays) and as many domains/subdomains/mysql databases/ email addresses as you want, which is great for setting up "" and "" sites separately. You can create multiple accounts for accessing your files on the server, for instance one for each client. You can optionally enable shell access to those accounts via SSH, so you can use git/rsync/other command line tools to manage your site source code.

The account admin panel is pretty good, although I am not sure to what extent it allows you to delegate different aspects of account management in the way you describe (admin/billing/dev.)

Really the only issue I've had in 5+ years has been a couple of e-mail outages this year, but all things considered, for about $10/month the value is quite high.

You can register domains via Dreamhost, although I can't speak to service/reliability there as I've been using NameCheap for a while now. (I've been pretty happy with them too.)
posted by usonian at 9:07 AM on October 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: For top quality hosting, I swear by Pair. They've been around for a long time, with good reason.

I register (and recommend) domains through NameCheap. Despite the name, they have been very clear and helpful, no-frills domain registration (very little of trying to upsell you to hosting packages you don't need, a la GoDaddy).
posted by Zephyrial at 9:10 AM on October 4, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Pair is awesome! I use PairNIC for domain names, which is also awesome. I've been using them for a long time.
posted by amtho at 9:43 AM on October 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

One vote for A Small Orange.
posted by erebora at 9:53 AM on October 4, 2016

I'm a fan of Webfaction for hosting. For years I used for domains, and never had a problem. However as they renew I've been transferring them to Google as Google doesn't charge extra for private registration.
posted by COD at 10:31 AM on October 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

Third for Dreamhost.
posted by Autumnheart at 11:44 AM on October 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

I only use WebFaction for hosting. I use Dotster for a registrar. I've been a web developer for over 20 years now.
posted by humboldt32 at 1:39 PM on October 4, 2016

I just saw your follow up. Honestly, you should be the one who *actually* knows how to migrate the site from development environment to production. I wouldn't choose a host, nor recommend one myself, based on that criteria.

You should also know how to quickly set up a subdomain for your development environment. I wouldn't consider any hosting that didn't provide this option simply off-hand.
posted by humboldt32 at 1:46 PM on October 4, 2016

Best answer: Nthing Pair and PairNic. Always reliable. Wonderful customer service.
posted by Joleta at 9:57 PM on October 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: humboldt32: I do know how to migrate a site from development environment to production, thank you. I have also been in situations where the host has promised to do so and then royally screwed it up.
posted by jammy at 5:01 AM on October 5, 2016

Sorry, I didn't properly parse the part about the company handling migration between staging and production - in the 20 years I've been making websites large and small, the staging-to-production problem has been a universal pain in the neck, particularly when databases are involved. It's something that really falls more under the duties of a dedicated sysadmin or "webmaster", if that's even a thing anymore who's familiar with the specific requirements/environment of the web site being migrated. (It would be a good whole separate AskMeFi question!)

For a hosting company to competently handle cutting a site over from staging to production, you'd probably be looking at a relatively pricey "Managed hosting" solution where you pay for a dedicated server and a higher level of support; it's not exactly like having your own sysadmin on call, but you can do a support ticket/chat/call to ask them for help installing/configuring things, and they'll take care of it. I've had good experience with Rackspace's managed cloud service; they're capable and responsive. I've never tasked them with moving a site from staging to production, but they definitely help with Apache and MySQL config, so it seems like something they'd be able to do. I'm sure if you called Rackspace and described your requirements, they could recommend an appropriate level of service. It's not cheap, though.
posted by usonian at 6:19 AM on October 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you for the answers, good peoples.

I think I will go with Pair for my current client. The pricing structure is good and the packages have what I need.

More importantly, I sent inquiries to all the hosts suggested above and Pair support responded within the hour - a nice detailed response that actually answered all my questions. No response from anyone else yet.
posted by jammy at 6:50 AM on October 5, 2016

I'm no expert, but I've also been happy with SiteGround; their customer service is quick.
posted by craven_morhead at 7:32 AM on October 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've been a happy Freehostia user for several years now. They have always been affordable and reliable.
posted by ReginaHart at 6:08 PM on October 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm a >10 year (casual) Dreamhost customer with no complaints. Heavy hitters in the web arena will probably scoff at their offerings, but my limited needs have always been met.
posted by bigtex at 1:37 AM on October 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have had great experiences with MDD Hosting, including very smooth transfers from other hosts (including one non-cPanel host). I started trying MDD after doing extensive research on WebHostingTalk, where they seemed to get a lot of really positive reviews.

For domain registration, I've been pretty happy with Namecheap.
posted by kristi at 9:58 AM on October 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

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