What is the best web host for an e-mail dependent small business?
July 17, 2007 12:46 PM   Subscribe

What is the best web host for an e-mail dependent small business? Are you using it yourself?

I am part of a small restoration architecture business of 6 people that needs a highly reliable web host that provides php 4, mySQL, at least 500 MB storage, and highly reliable e-mail servers. All the content is served from a mySQL database.

This question is primarily aimed at people who are actually involved in a similar situation now. E-mail reliability is an absolute necessity. It hurts this business when e-mail goes down for as little as an hour.

I am currently using yahoo small business, which has deplorable overextended support and significant outages. 5 hours of mySQL downtime matters!

I have looked at dreamhost, mediatemple, medialayer, reliablesite.net, site5 with no particular outburst of passion yet.
posted by peetle to Computers & Internet (15 answers total)
Google hosted is what I use for email and office-sharing regardless of the hosts, which are pretty much a dime a dozen.

Google hosted is free, www.google.com/a and uses your @whatever.com, you just change the MX record.
posted by TomMelee at 1:11 PM on July 17, 2007

posted by TomMelee at 1:12 PM on July 17, 2007

I also use Google Apps for my domains' email. I think it's the best email interface (including desktop programs), the best spam filtering, and I haven't had any problems with reliability.

You can also download the mail into your current email software -- you don't have to use the web based interface (but like I said, I prefer their web interface to any software)
posted by winston at 1:24 PM on July 17, 2007

I've set up and used sites/email at laughingsquid.net and enginehosting. Both are good. The service at both have been excellent. I've never had downtime at either over the past few years.

I also like using fastmail.fm for just email.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:29 PM on July 17, 2007

I've been pleased with Pair after switching from TextDrive because of months of intermittent downtime.
posted by MarkAnd at 1:59 PM on July 17, 2007

For web hosting, you get what you pay for. We use Rackspace for our hosting and while it costs a fortune, they are fantastic.

Email is has been a secondary focus for them, but their Managed Exchange is quite good.
posted by mrbugsentry at 2:10 PM on July 17, 2007

FWIW, I wouldnt use dreamhost for critical email.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:58 PM on July 17, 2007

Consider splitting your mail hosting and webhosting, and hosting your mail with someone who specializes in mail.

That said, Pair.com's shared hosting has been very good for me. The only problem for you may be that one of their spam fighting techniques (greylisting) can cause mail delays the very first time someone sends you e-mail. You can turn greylisting off, but I don't know how much more spam you'd get.

BTW, PHP4 is reaching the end of official maintenance soon (this fall, I believe). This is part of a big push among PHP platform developers, PHP app developers, and webhosting companies to drive PHP5 to critical mass.

As a result, Pair.com, which has been very conservative to this point, is now migrating servers from Apache 1.3 and PHP4 to Apache2 and with mod_php running PHP5. If your PHP app has problems with PHP5, you'll still be able to run it, but in CGI mode, rather than in mod_php.

Mine is going to be switched over today. I'd better make sure than none of the older wordpress plugins I'm using broke.
posted by Good Brain at 3:03 PM on July 17, 2007

FWIW, I wouldnt use dreamhost for critical email.

Seconded. In the last couple of days, people have reported sending critical e-mails to my Dreamhost-hosted e-mail account, which I never received.

Needless to say, I am looking for another "e-mail solution."
posted by jayder at 3:05 PM on July 17, 2007

I've been a satisfied customer of Tigertech for years - have about 6 domains with them, some of them have been there for more than two years. 5 GB of storage, 50 POP accounts, 5 MySQL databases and really, really fast bandwidth, for $6.25 per month. Can't say enough good things about them. (Their service is top-notch - they get back with me really quickly when I have questions.)
posted by jbickers at 3:44 PM on July 17, 2007

Brandon Blatcher writes:
I also like using fastmail.fm for just email.

I used fastmail for my main email, and I love it - good spam filtering, good support, imap, etc.

But if highest-possible-reliability is what you're looking for, I wouldn't recommend them yet - there have been a few outages in the past year or two. Nothing terrible, but I don't think they are the most reliable provider out there. (Though they are working on making things better). See http://status.fastmail.fm/ ....
posted by ManInSuit at 3:47 PM on July 17, 2007

(whoops - I meant "I use fastmail..."
Still do. They're good.)
posted by ManInSuit at 3:48 PM on July 17, 2007

I don't have a longstanding experience to base this on, but having just set up with Mi8 for Exchange last week, I have found their service to be excellent and tech support to be there when you call.

I haven't had a single minute on hold while I asked dumb questions about setting everything up, which, to me, is worth even more than 100% uptime.
posted by danwalker at 4:59 PM on July 17, 2007

I enthusiastically recommend Pair (or their small-business/hobbyist option, Pairlite. I have hosted several domains with them for years, have been wholly satisfied and never had an uptime problem. Their support is fantastic!

Their shared hosting plans seem to meet your requirements; although they are upgrading from PHP4 right now, they will continue to offer it as a CGI.
posted by bradlands at 5:13 PM on July 17, 2007

Nthing Pair.com. If you ever have to call them on the phone for support, you'll find that they're friendly, speak American English, and very talented.
posted by Wild_Eep at 7:34 PM on July 18, 2007

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