The horrible world of web hosting


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Anytime someone posts a question about HTML or issues they’re having I have them check with their host for a few things and invariably, every time their host is always goddamned GoDaddy. These are smart, intelligent people who would be horrified where they are sending their money and they just did not know.

Once I point this out to them they always tell me the same thing: I already spent the money, oh well. Their cut bottom rates always bring people in, the fact they pre-pay for it then keeps them there. I hate GoDaddy with a passion. Completely no technical support, horrible business owner, but nobody seems to care.


My hosting provider, Megapath (who bought Speakeasy from Best Buy) just announced that one of the features I absolutely desire (SSH access) is being removed from my service at the end of the month. Now I have nine days to switch hosts. Thanks, Megapath!

My host has been pretty good, and I’ve been with them for five+ years (long enough that I can’t remember exactly when I signed up at least). I’m certainly not getting the most competitive price on the internet but the service has been reliable enough that it makes me disinclined to find a better price… there are many, many horror stories out there when you start digging around for a web host.

Point being they aren’t all bad. Maybe I just got lucky but I can’t be the only lucky guy on the internet.

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I quit SugarDaddy because they were slow and the interface sucks. I use hostgator, but I gnash my teeth at them multiple times monthly. They ARE responsive to my support requests, but I don’t ever really get the response I need, so I have to keep needling them. I would love to have the cash for a virtual machine, so I could be fully self-driven and responsible for all software needs, but I can’t afford that right now and so I have to go with shared hosting. Ergh. I see the light. If I just hold true to my entrepreneurial dreams maybe, just maybe, click my heels together three times, there’s no place like my own home directory, there’s no place like my own home directory, I might just get there.

bastards. That’s like taking milk away from a baby.


So, I used to work for a large hosting firm. Horror stories aplenty.

Now I work at a big-name firm which works with hosting companies.

My advice? It’s a roll of the dice. If you want reliability and certainty, you will need to pay for it. Shared hosting can never give you this. Choose a reputable VPS provider to start with (I use Linode, but others are good too). Once you outgrow that, a dedicated server.

Also, PLEASE HIRE A REAL SYSADMIN. They cost money, but if you really are losing thousands of dollars a minute, you should be able to hire one.

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And the writer’s recommended alternative to GoDaddy? “My least-horrible experience was with DreamHost, so I guess I ‘recommend’ them”. Not exactly a compelling reason to leave GoDaddy. I know the owner of GoDaddy is a douche, but they’re reliable, their interface is easy, they’re cheap, and they’ll be around for decades.


The GoDaddy culture is gross, but I always feel compelled to defend them for one reason: I can always reach a human being who speaks reasonable English and invariably answers my questions. Always. I have never once received a “we are dealing with larger than normal call volume” recording. Having said that, I only use them for domain registration and certificates, not hosting.

No, I’m pretty lucky as well, any issues that I’ve ever had were dealt with in the 24 hour chat or larger issues via e-mail within less than 12 hours.

I’m not getting the most competitive price either, but I’m not paying jackasses to hunt elephants and offshore tech support to a team of people who are going to go through their binder trying to find the correct conversation path to move onto the next person. I’m paying a little bit more, but I’ve been happy with it.


This might be a newsflash to the author of the article, since he’s never been a Media Temple customer, but Media Temple is not that great of a host. For a long time, the best Ubuntu they could offer was 11.04, because they were using Virtuozzo and it didn’t support Linux 3.x kernels. Further, they recently hiked prices and tried to push their customers into managed solutions (with the awful Plesk installed, which was responsible for several of my machines being compromised).

More to the point, though, I don’t understand why people complain about what they get when they are cheap bastards. Web hosting is a very competitive market, with many offerings at many prices. Is it some kind of surprise that the rock-bottom, cheapest services aren’t that good? In web hosting, like so many other markets, you get what you pay for. This, however, isn’t news - or at least, it shouldn’t be. It’s just what a reasonably competitive market looks like, with lots of people trying lots of different things and many of those things not working out.


They require a little bit of technical know how, but I’ve always thoroughly loved Nearly Free Speech when I needed hosting that didn’t quite require virtual or dedicated servers. They work on a prepaid system, but everything is broken down individual (bandwidth, storage, whether the site is static or dynamic content, etc.), plus they allow access via SSH/SFTP.

Long ago I tried my hand at offering web hosting based on a few dedicated severs I was using for other purposes but still had free resources. I could barely get anyone to pay $5 a month (even going so low as $2 a month at one point) because they didn’t get 500GB of storage or whatever along with their plan. I got so tired of all the bitching and moaning about how GoDaddy or Dreamhost did this or that that I just gave up on it altogether.


There was that really fun incident a few months ago when we learned that Bluehost (I’m a partially-satisfied customer), Hostgator, HostMonster, JustHost and about 60 other hosting brands are all owned by Endurance International Group, and they run the listed four of a single data center in Provo … because they lost a switch and everything was terrible.

The additional unmentioned problem picking low-end hosting is that it is really hard to estimate your resource use, no one wants to get surprise charges when your site gets the reddit hug of death or the like.

Three years ago I switched all of my infrastructure over to EC2 and have never looked back. I’ve used serverbeach, peer1, and more commodity hosting than I can shake a stick at. And while there certainly is a learning curve when it comes to EC2, the results in my experience have been more than worth it.

I’ve had nothing, but good experiences with Dreamhost over the years. Which is frankly, a surprising thing to say about a web host.

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We’re dropping our MediaTemple server this month following that particular news. I won’t have my business feed any cash to GoDaddy - even if you’re not appalled by their morals you should be by the quality of their product.

We’re likely to be moving to TSO hosts (UK based which is bonus to us) - who atualy look a little better than mt anyway.


In the eight years I’ve been running my modest real estate blog, I’ve gone through Dreamhost, Hostgator, and Media Temple. All of them were indeed terrible. Frequent outages, lengthy waits for customer service, etc.

I finally ended up asking the biggest local neighborhood blog what host they used. They happily recommended WiredTree. I switched to one of their VPS solutions and have been a happy customer for four years now.

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Dreamhost is much, much better than GoDaddy. Responsive, helpful support (for free!), cheap domain name registration (2 domains free), support for a variety of services, a good wiki walking newcomers through everything that can do or needs to be done, quite reliable for the price.

Ultimately, they are still a shared hosting service, with all the problems that brings, but they are far and away the best shared hosting I’ve ever used. Much, much, MUCH better than GoDaddy.

Their monthly communiques about what is going on with the company, what you can expect to effect you, etc. and so on, is always legitimately enjoyable to read as well. It’s nice to feel that your host actually cares about keeping it’s customers happy.

Are they flawless? No. But for what they are (a cheap shared hosting service) they are quite good.

I suspect that the ‘learning curve’ bit can be where many web-hosting(as opposed to VPS or colo) customers get into trouble.

If you just want a server(especially if you only need one of modest power and don’t have any other specialty requirements), you have options, from some very competent outfits, and what you are buying is so generic that it’s hard for the vendor to cruft it up with shitty upsells, proprietary dashboards, etc. Unfortunately, now you are a sysadmin as well as a site admin, loads of fun!(and something that most people probably aren’t ready for)

If you just want to put your website files somewhere, and have somebody else do (most) of the server admin (obviously, for more interactive or stateful sites, you may end up mucking around with the supported scripting languages and database options on the server), you are in much deeper trouble because, while somebody else is doing the sysadmin stuff for you, now there is wide variation in how well they are doing it, what ghastly interfaces to their system they are or aren’t offering to you, what restrictions you are or aren’t laboring under, what terrible security decisions they choose to make, what features they make into upsell fodder, and so forth.

I suspect that if Amazon wanted to steal some business from ‘web hosting’ outfits, rolling a safe, simple, default, ‘web hosting instance’ that would allow a relative newb to host in (reasonable) safety without becoming a Linux guru could win them some business.

Honestly, Dreamhost has been great. I’ve been there over 10 years. There has been some downtime, but it’s been minimal, and followed by pretty clear explanations. They have SSH access and a decent suite of web tools and their customer service, the few times I’ve needed it, has been very prompt and helpful.

I swear I’m not a Dreamhost employee. I just don’t have anything bad to say about them at all.