Webhosting reviews
March 25, 2008 1:43 PM   Subscribe

How do you find good shared web hosting, aside from word-of-mouth? Is there a "Consumer Reports" (or Ars Technica?) of the hosting world?

I've found word-of-mouth from a handful of people to not be entirely reliable, so I'm wondering if there are some websites that actively review and rank web hosting providers in terms of uptime and reliability. Barring that, are there any good forums for discussing this topic?

The one forum I'm aware of offhand is WebmasterWorld, but their forum is atomized into a lot of other subjects and overall it's pretty much unsearchable.

Basically I have been on Dreamhost for a couple of years now but it seems like the wheels are starting to fall off. The downtime on mail, mysql, web, and panel is gradually increasing and I'm now seeing problems on a daily basis. I think it's time to pack my bags.

If you want to make recommendations for shared/dedicated hosting, that's fine, but resources and forums dedicated to webhost shopping are preferred.
posted by mr. creosote to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
The Webhostingtalk forums have proved to be a pretty good resource for me in the past.
posted by sharkfu at 1:46 PM on March 25, 2008

The problem is, from personal experience, hosts change in quality *really* fast, both down and up. The ones that get good ratings suddenly get a lot of business, then they're not so good any more and you run into a lot of downtime as they struggle with growth, then they get caught up again and maybe things get better again.

I'd second Webhostingtalk, and also what I do is go through some of the review sites that come up Googling "web host reviews", and I *stay away* from the top 2-3 because of the growth reasons above.
posted by edjusted at 2:21 PM on March 25, 2008

There are tons of garbage referal / link farm / spam / sites purporting to do what you are looking for. I found the webhostingtalk forums (that sharkfu mentions) to be good. But it was a start, I narrowed the field down and then just starting sifting through the Internet to see what people thought of the place.

My final consideration was to go with the one that didn't have 'sign up' fees and didn't offer me different monthly rates based on the term length of contract I would sign. Month to month allows me to mover whenever I want.
posted by maxpower at 2:23 PM on March 25, 2008

I have found word-of-mouth very reliable, but I stick to small hosts and resellers who can provide personalized service. You'll pay a bit more but it will be 1000% worth it in terms of service when things go wrong. I've had my share of bad "million gigs for two cents!!!!1!" type places and I stay a zillion miles away from big hosting companies who oversell their servers.

(I can recommend a great company if you're looking; just MeMail me. I don't get any kickbacks or anything.)
posted by loiseau at 3:09 PM on March 25, 2008

... web hosting reviews tend to be really biased. You might also want to check out Netcraft or one of the other sites that tracks uptime - which is a much better measure, quantitatively. And for my personal pick - WestHost has been good to me, and Pair is the crotchety old man of web hosting, but it's pretty darn reliable. Dreamhost, MediaTemple, Surpass Hosting, and 1&1 have not been good to me. SliceHost requires Linux knowledge but is awesome VPS hosting.
posted by tmcw at 5:23 PM on March 25, 2008

I used Westhost happily for years. Right now I'm using a VPS from httpme.com which has been excellent.
posted by null terminated at 6:39 PM on March 25, 2008

Seconding pair. I've been using them for years and have never had a downtime problem. Their customer service (e-mail and phone) is excellent, but their tutorials and help files are so good that you might never need customer service.
posted by Joleta at 6:44 PM on March 25, 2008

I gave up and bought a 1/3 cabinet from the local colo. It's a bit more expensive ($400 / month), but I can split it with buddies. If you can't hack the down time, and you don't mind applying sweat equity, a cheap colo can be the way to go.
posted by jenkinsEar at 7:10 PM on March 25, 2008

I've experienced and suffered low cost web hosts for many years. About two years ago I settled on JodoHost and have never had reason to think about moving again.
posted by tetranz at 7:54 PM on March 25, 2008


small, cheap, effective, like dreamhost but .. you know .. good
posted by oliyoung at 9:32 PM on March 25, 2008

Seconding asmallorange!
Even their smallest hosting package comes with all the good tools and unlimited email accounts. Very responsive customer service, too.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:33 AM on March 26, 2008

In 10 plus years of buying hosting, I've never found a good ranking for web hosting companies that wasn't filled with spam or purchased ranks. Word of mouth of forums is also highly suspect, one of the worst hosting companies I've ever used was a recommendation in a part of a forum I used that wasn't even open to the general public. WebmasterWorld's anti-linking policy is so stringent, and the mods so anal you could search for a month and not find much useful info about hosting there. (or much of anything else).

The only thing I can safely recommend is that you always make sure your site is fully backed up to your own machine, so if you have to move, you can. Hosting companies by and large are just plain unreliable, and even a good hosting company today, can be bought out and turned into crap tomorrow. Consider that most hosting companies won't move your site onto newer hardware without you asking, and that in two years time your server is no longer as powerful as similar sites for the same money. You're going to end up moving one way or another. Either hosting companies or within the same company to another server.

You also don't mention whether you are looking for a dedicated server or something smaller (where you share a server with a dozen or more other sites).

I'll join in with mentioning who I use for what that's worth. For cheap hosting, I've had good luck with www.tera-byte.com and have used them for various small sites for several years. For dedicated servers, I'm currently using FastServers.
posted by inthe80s at 7:51 AM on March 26, 2008

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