This Blog Entry is written by Dana Leaman. Do not email Max Leaman with questions. Instead, visit www.danapriceprojects.com.
Reviews of 4 Hosting Companies – Pros and Cons
#1 HostGator. This website hosting company, in my experience, is the absolute best. Especially considering their great pricing. Setting up basic PHP contact forms for your website is easy. They truly support basic PHP contact forms, rather than just saying it. You’d think supporting basic contact.php forms would be something every hosting company should provide without any headaches. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case; wait until you hear me complain about GoDaddy (THE WORST). HostGator makes it easy to set up hundreds of re-directs, which is important as your website goes through changes. You will need to direct old links indexed by search engines to their new URLs. HostGator is also easy to set up a blog. Password-protecting a folder is also very simple. What I like best is their LiveChat support. I don’t have to sit on hold with my phone if I encounter an issue. I can open a chat window, wait usually no more than 5 minutes, then chat live with a real person who actually knows what they are talking about. I’ve used them for ecommerce sites and have had an issue with SSL certificates. They did not handle the issue very quickly and were quite obnoxious about it. Still, everything got worked out in the end. Their webmail is not excellent, but most people run their email through GMAIL or through Microsoft Outlook, so it should be a non-issue for most people. If your site is running slow due to a resource hog on your shared server, I’ve been able to get a hold of someone at HostGator and they’ve resolved the problem usually in less than 30 minutes. www.hostgator.com
I do not recommend ANY of the following companies. There is no best to worst. They are all the worst, with the exception of GoDaddy who is THE DEVIL.
#2 Network Solutions. I am inspired to write about this company because I am currently sitting on hold for the last 20 minutes waiting for someone to help. I’ve used the same FTP account for a site for a few months. Every once in a while, it is fidgety and will not connect. Today is one of those days. I also notice that I have to disconnect and reconnect constantly to upload or download files to a site. Time-waster! You can password protect a folder hosted by Network Solutions, however, the way they’ve set it up is an odd, illogical interface. For some people, maybe it’s no problem. To me, it was again a time waster when I had to go through their process 10 times trying to set up a username and password to the correct folder. This should be easy! Contact PHP forms are supported. There is no LiveChat support which I can find. So, get ready to sit on hold when you have an issue. I’ve heard they are “top of the line” but in my experience they have wasted a lot of my time. www.networksolutions.com
UPDATE: Total wait time for support with Network Solutions = 51 minutes. If you remember, my issue was that my FTP account no longer worked. Turns out, they automatically changed my FTP password, unbeknownst to myself or my client. I’ve never experienced a hosting company automatically resetting passwords without being requested to do so. Did not even occur to me to login and get the new password they created without being requested to do so. If they had LiveChat support, that would have been a 2 minute chat instead of a 51 minute hold time and 4 minute phone call.
UPDATE #2 – Working on the site, FTP access completely goes out again. Did they change my password again without asking? I’vew wasted so much time with this awful hosting company. To get this resolved, I’m sure I can anticipate another 51 minute hold time. Infuriating.
UPDATE #3 – Perhaps Network Solutions learned the hard way WHY you don’t automatically update all of your customers’ FTP passwords without permission. Their entire FTP network has been down for a few hours because they are having problems caused by their decision to change all the passwords. As a result, no one can connect to their sites with FTP. It’s not necessary to update everyone’s FTP passwords, especially without permission. The support person scoffed at me yesterday when I asked WHY they felt it necessary to do that. He said “Security purposes, of course.” I don’t understand why FTP passwords are so insecure that you need to change them without permission from your clients. And frankly, I’ll take an insecure password over one that DOESN’T WORK. This company has wasted hours of my time. Frustrating.
#3 Host Depot. They do support contact.php forms. Setting up mail is easy. Interface is ugly, but again, you can use GMAIL or Outlook to solve that problem. I had a permissions issue with this hosting company. When I tried to upload a file, it would not let me overwrite any files. Called support, waited on hold FOREVER, explained to them exactly what the issue was and they told me I must be doing something wrong. I had to get another developer involved who had to be extremely confrontational in getting the issue resolved. It was a basic permission problem on their end and it required hours on hold to get them to finally fix the problem. What a headache. www.hostdepot.com
#4 GoDaddy (Don’t do it!!). Danica Patrick is a great spokeswoman because this is the worst hosting company on the face of the earth, yet I have to constantly deal with them. Clients always seem to have an existing contract with this terrible company. For most clients, it’s much cheaper and easier in the long run to get them moved to a different host as soon as possible. Clients pay more money every step of the way when anyone has to work with GoDaddy. It’s time and it’s money. GoDaddy does NOT support basic contact.php forms. You have to use their special contact form called “gdform.” It’s tedious and a waste of time. If you ever leave this host, you have to change all of your contact forms back to contact.php forms since no one else on the planet uses “gdform.” Support at GoDaddy is awful. Not informed and ready to help. Long hold times. Another HUGE problem with GoDaddy is that they do not support a large number of re-directs. I once did a large update for a client. We needed to redirect about 30 URLs to new pages on the site. After hours of wasted time, GoDaddy finally admitted they don’t support a large number of redirects. The redirects kept sending visitors into a huge redirect loop – never landing on a page. I don’t consider 30 to be a large number of redirects, but to GoDaddy it is. We had to let visitors go to broken links if they found the old site links in search engines. It should be easy and simple to send visitors from old pages to new. Not the case with GoDaddy. Another issue that costs clients money: SLOW upload/download. Just like Network Solutions, I found that the FTP connection constantly disconnected and I had to spend time reconnecting constantly. It’s only 10-15 seconds each time, but if you’re actively working on a site and have to reconnect constantly, that time adds up. www.godaddy.com
I am not a hosting expert, but I can tell you it’s a relief to everyone when you host with HostGator and the problems never stop when you choose a host such as GoDaddy. Save yourself and your developer time and money. Just go with HostGator now. I do not get any money from HostGator to say this – it’s just my experience.