That being said, I want to tell you about my success in finding great web hosting, as well as a good hosting deal for WDD readers that also lets you do some social good (more about this below).
Choosing the right web hosting provider is one of the most difficult business decisions I've had to make.
I realized early on in the game that the quality of the hosting and support is much more important than the price, because a website can build or break your reputation, and I didn't want to mess around with hosts that would leave me in embarrassing situations.
Having worked in the web business for several years, I've seen my fair share of hosting companies. I switched from two of them in particular, Media Temple and Mosso, because they were unable to handle my site's needs, certainly not without the costs becoming exorbitant.
My experience with Media Temple
I hosted many sites with Media Temple (MT) for several years and was generally happy with them. After all, MT is advertised all over the place and at the time was a great company to host with.
After a few years of success, MT grew so big as a company that things went downhill, at least for my sites.
My websites went down constantly or would become slow and unresponsive. As if this wasn't enough, their usually excellent support gradually became unprofessional and uncaring.
The good technicians seemed to be replaced by novices, and their once fast response time eventually took forever. It was as if support was not a priority for them anymore.
They seemed to have too many unusual causes of downtime. I certainly did not expect this from paying top dollar for hosting.
My experience with Mosso
So, I switched to Mosso for hosting. Mosso is a very good company and its support is far better than MT's in my opinion.
However, because of its "cloud server" load-balancing system, I'm left as a user with very little control of the back-end of my sites.
For example, I had no way of changing certain settings in the .htaccess file or getting the information I needed from the server logs.
Also, its bandwidth and compute cycle overage fees became excessive: Webdesigner Depot is a big site and can get tens of thousands of visitors in a single day.
Although Mosso was a very professional company, its infrastructure didn't allow me to customize the server to my needs, and its service was probably one of the most expensive out there.
Things get better: My experience with AN HOSTING and UK2Group
For several weeks, I was unhappy with Webdesigner Depot's hosting situation. The site was slowing down, and its costs were increasing as it became more and more popular.
However, he convinced me that their services were different and to look into them further.
After some research, I found out that UK2 Group was founded in 1998 and is actually one of the largest web hosting companies in the world.
I also found some old articles in which people complained about ANHosting, but that was before it was acquired by UK2 Group, so things are different now.
Now, let's be honest: with hosting, you get what you pay for. But in the end, the support behind the product is what matters most to me. Admittedly, Webdesigner Depot is not on ANHosting's $6.95/month plan, but all of UK2 Group's customers get support from the same team, which is based in the United States and answers to the same management team.
I've been hosting with them for a while now, and so far I'm really impressed. Here's what I like about them:
- Excellent support
Support is the most important aspect of hosting to me. ANHosting and UK2 Group's other hosting providers are supported by a team of great staff based in Chicago and in Utah. While most companies are outsourcing their support, UK2 Group is shifting to insourcing, as reported by TheRegister.
- Fast servers
Webdesigner Depot always loads quickly now and has a fast response time. UK2 Group purchased ANHosting in December 2007 and shortly after migrated to SoftLayer. I'm no techie, but from what I've read, the servers and network at SoftLayer are top-notch.
- Handles the Digg effect
Articles from Webdesigner Depot have appeared on Digg's home page without causing the site to crash or become unresponsive. I know other sites sharing the same server that I'm on and are also frequently on Digg, and when they are, they don't slow down my site. I should make it clear though, that you can't expect a $6.95/month hosting account to be able to handle the Digg effect every time, but ANHosting will work with you, and it has many products built to handle such effects, such as VPS.NET and 10TB.com. If you know you'll be getting a spike in traffic, contact its managers ahead of time, and they will make it work.
- Transfer assistance
If you're with another hosting provider, as I was, but dread the idea transferring to a better hosting company, don't despair. UK2 Group's team will help you transfer your site. It helped me with mine and assured me it would do the same for you. Just let them know you're a Webdesigner Depot reader and would like to transfer to one of their companies.
- Data security
Backups happen several times a day and are kept for a while, giving me peace of mind. Every UK2 Group server is backed up, too. Ask about packages that support R1Soft backups for added comfort; otherwise, the $6.95/month package includes backups once a day, if that works for you.
- Loads of bandwidth
UK2 Group give loads of bandwidth, even with their lowest package, and provides as much as 10 TB on their dedicated servers. Also, they don't cut you off without warning if you go over the limit, as many other hosts do. They work with you, knowing that your site is your priority.
Summer of Social Good: Exclusive offer for WDD readers
Starting today take advantage of any of the offers below and UK2Group will donate $100 to the Summer of Social Good for every signup!
Signup at either Midphase.com or ANHosting.com and use the coupon code "WEBDESIGNERDEPOT" to receive 3 Months of FREE hosting on top of your purchased term. Simply sign up for at least 12 months, stick around for at least 31 days and they donate $100 to this great cause (and you receive great hosting at the same time!).
Midphase and ANHosting honors a 30 day no questions asked money back guarantee so there's no risk.
We are hoping to raise $10,000 this summer for charity. So, help us out by signing up and let's do some good. ;)
If you have any questions or concerns, Nick has authorized me to post his email address here so that you can contact him directly with any questions or concerns: nick.n [at] uk2group.com