Thursday, January 12, 2012
Frugal: Website hosting
I can't help you evaluate web development tools because I do most of my development by hand (other than this blog). I've been doing this since the internet was invented and the tools designed for the non-technical just slow me down. They also, often anyway, generate dreadful HTML code. For a personal website, this might not matter, but for business sites it can mean the difference between a site that brings in new business and one that nobody ever sees.
What I will comment on is cost, availability, and technical support. Cost is easy to measure: just look at their price for a package that meets you needs. Availability is how often their servers are up and available. Most have up time above 99%. Check out what the company says, and then check around for reviews to see what really goes on. (Take all reviews with a grain of salt, even mine, and check the date of the review. Things change.) There are lots of options for companies in the same price range and with similar availability records.
I'll repeat a bit about using reviews. Definitely read several and question what you read. Some reviews are "planted", paid for positive or negative reviews. Some are from a customer who had one bad experience. And also check the date. The company I have used the longest, APLUS.NET, went through a change of management and then was bought by another company and delivered dreadful technical support for a while. There are some really bad reviews out there that were accurate at the time. Fortunately, they got their act together and have returned to acceptable, but not stellar technical support.
I'm sorry to say that I do not know of any local or regional hosting companies that are as good. While I would love to support local companies, I won't settle for less. Many use under-powered servers, or crowd too many sites on a server. Many charge extra for basic services (like FTP support or PHP coding).
APLUS.NET for a really long time and am very happy with them.
I started using InMotion Hosting when Aplus was going through one if its transitions. I continue to use them. I like that they are employee-owned. I didn't pay too much attention to GoDaddy.com until I stated doing some work for a client who was already registered and hosted by the them. I had thought they were too focused on personal site hosting, but have found their offerings to be competitive and robust, and their technical support is very good and REALLY friendly.
Define your needs and check out the options.
Important: If you are going to hire a web developer, talk with him/her BEFORE you sign up for hosting. Having the wrong package can cost you lots in monthly fees and additional development costs if the host doesn't have the required tools and facilities.