Web Hosting: Which Web Host to Choose

It’s another Expert Briefs, where I ask really smart business owners to answer your burning questions.

This week I asked our panel of experts to name names…

What web host(s) do you use to run your business?
Yes, I want to know Who has the Host with the Most?!

The best way to know what to use is to ask successful people, right? So that’s just what I did.

Before I share their responses, I feel I should clear up a few things.

1. What is a Server?
A web host like Host Gator is really nothing more than a building with a bunch of computers in it, just like the computer in your own home. Each of those computers is called a “server”. Each one of these servers runs many websites from it.

2. What is Unlimited Hosting?
Unlimited hosting means that for one account, you can have many of your websites hosted for one price. I was shocked when I went to NAMS one time and a lady told me she was buying a new hosting account every time she set up a new blog. eek! Nope. A simple upgrade and you can host all of your sites in one account – assuming that your sites aren’t filled with tons of huge huge files. If that’s the case, then you may have to upgrade to a bigger account.

3.  What is VPS?
VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. Several of my friends below talk about having a VPS. What that means is that you are the ONLY customer on that computer at the web hosting company. Instead of sharing the computer at say Host Gator or Mom Webs with 100 other people, you have it all to yourself. There are definitely big benefits to doing this, but there are higher costs,  as well. This is typically something that people grow up to, and don’t buy a VPS right out of the gate. One BIG benefit is that you can block all IP addresses but yours from logging into the control panel (also known as the cpanel). This can help to keep you safer from hackers.

Now that, hopefully, that is cleared up, let’s see what my friends are using to run their businesses.


Karon-black-225-framedKaron Thackston of Step-by-Step Copywriting Course says:

Several months ago I moved to a virtual private server (VPS) on Host Gator. It’s much more secure than using off-the-shelf hosting where my sites would share a server with many others.

Because of a security scare with my Marketing Words Blog and Step-by-Step Copywriting Course sites, I decided to take whatever preventative measures I could.

Karon Uses:



rachel

Rachel Rofe of How To Get Every Book You Write Onto The First Page Of Kindle says:

I use HostGator. They’re fast, cheap, and customer service is always excellent. :)

Rachel Uses:


Tiffany Dow of Gathering and Structuring Ideas says:

Hosting is something where I don’t risk my business by simply going with a slightly cheaper price. Hosting is cheap enough as it is –and I have used Host Gator since I started online with absolutely zero regrets.

There have been times when people would say, “Well this other hosting company is $2 a month cheaper,” but $2 is worth my peace of mind.

I love so many things about Hostgator. They’re affordable. You can get a little hatchling plan, move up to a baby plan or go with a business plan as your online efforts grow. They’re a household name, not some company poised to go out of business any day.

But more than anything I appreciate their customer service. Hosting is technical, and therefore it’s intimidating to me. Anytime I have what is probably a really stupid question, I just log into cpanel, click on Live Chat and someone’s there 24/7/365 to walk me through whatever it is that I need.

I’ve seen so many people freak out if their website is hacked with malware or something. With Hostgator, you just get on Live Chat, let them know, and they fix it and email you when it’s right again – which is really fast.

Tiffany Uses:


aliceAlice Seba of Step-by-Step PLR Guides says:

Next month, it will be 9 years since I’ve been with Servint. I have used a number of other hosts over the years (and still do use one other currently) for small projects, but my core business is on Servint.

They offers VPS (virtual private server) and dedicated server services, rather than regular shared hosting. In 2004, I chose them for a few reasons:

* When my business partner at the time, Linda Stacy helped me research, we found they had a stellar reputation above other options we investigated.

* I owned a very busy website that was already starting to tax my current web host and I just didn’t want to deal with those issues anymore.

* I was also concerned about SEO issues and not wanting to be associated with any bad sites I was sharing hosting with.

It was a move I’m definitely glad I made and have no intention of moving anywhere anytime soon. I can host as many sites as I’d like, there’s tons of bandwidth, the support is 24/7 and they are very security conscious. That last one has become very important to me in the last year, especially with hacking issues.

It turned out to be a very good choice to use the VPS because I’ve run a lot of sites over the years and many at the same time, so the server always made it easy for me to manage that. Add to that, the support is fantastic (although there have been some changes over the years and I’ll get into that in a second) and they often go above and beyond the call of duty.

A VPS has other benefits including:

* It’s more powerful than shared hosting, but you get much more support and help than you would with a dedicated server

* A VPS has more power and can handle unusual strains on your resources including spam and DDOS attacks…you aren’t sharing resources with other hosting clients

* You get root level access to your server, which gives you much more opportunity to adjust settings, manage permissions and install software to your server

* You can host a mail server, FTP server or other similar services

When I first signed up with Servint, their support was lightening fast and everyone was extremely knowledgeable and they always seemed to know how to help me when I had no idea what I was talking about. These days, there is no longer the 5 minute response time (amazing, hey?), but if you ever need to phone them, they answer right away. I also find that the front line of support isn’t always as knowledgeable and so I have to be more specific than I used to be…but things work out well too. And no, I don’t mean I have to be super technical because I have limited knowledge when it comes to technical issues…I can’t tell you how many tickets opened that have the phrase, “I don’t know what that means, but can you help me?” or “I have no idea how to do this. Can you help me?” I also find have to be a little more persistent than I used to be. I’ve had a few tickets where I felt I was being brushed off when I detected a potential issue, but if I persist and then ask them to escalate the ticket, I do get the help I need without any further issues.

I wanted to mention that because about a year ago, I was starting to feel a bit frustrated with them because the relationship was different than what I had with them in 2004, so I needed to learn how to communicate with them. After all, a company that has grown over the years like Servint has will experience a change in the type of service they provide, so as a client I had to adjust a little too. So if anyone reading is using Servint or is thinking about it, I wanted to provide some pointers on how to approach communication with support. Don’t ever feel like you’re on your own because if you ask the right questions or simply ask for escalated help, they will provide it to you. They continue to go above and beyond…all you have to do is ask and I think this sets them apart from other VPS providers.

I am actually up to hosting two VPS’s with Servint now…and it’s possible we’ll have a third later in the year. The uptime is great. I only remember any noticeable downtime in about 2005 when a fibre optic cable was cut somewhere, but everything has been shipshape since. Definitely not going anywhere.

Alice Uses:

servint


Susanne Myers of  Daily Affiliate Tasks says:

I first started out online after my husband and I came across an ad in a magazine that offered 2 years of free hosting if you registered a domain with them. From there we’ve grown our online business to include some shared hosting with a few different hosting companies including Host Gator, BlueHost, and MomWebs, a virtual dedicated server with Reliable Webs and 2 different dedicated servers.

From a logistical standpoint, it’s a bit of a nightmare keeping up with what’s hosted where and what’s billed on Paypal and what by Credit Card. But there’s reason behind the madness. I like to keep our various web properties spread out. One reason is SEO. I’m sure you’ve heard that it helps to have sites on different c-classes when you are linking from one to the other.

The main reason though is that no matter what things are going to go wrong. A server can go down and sometimes even the best backup plans fail. When (not if… but when) that happens, I don’t want it to take down my entire online business at once. That’s my main reason for spreading things out across a variety of different web hosts.

I also like to check out different hosting companies that I come across by purchasing a small shared hosting plan, putting a site or two on there and just see how things go for a little while. It gives me a chance to check out their uptime and support before considering moving a larger site over to them.

Susanne Uses:


kellyKelly McCausey of Solo Smarts Podcast says:

All of my sites are hosted with MomWebs.com and full transparancy here – this is the hosting company I own together with Nicole Dean.

Way back in 2002 when I first set up my first site, I ended up being left in a lurch by the person I trusted for my hosting.  I had no idea at the time that there were such a thing as a ‘reseller’ host but that’s what he was.  When he let his hosting bill go late, all of his client sites went down.  It was pretty disturbing to say the least!

I was rescued by a smart gal who ran her own (non-reseller) hosting company and later she sold her business to someone else.  I was nervous about trusting the ‘new guy’ but soon discovered I was in very good hands.  I so often referred others to him that I asked him if he’d consider setting up an affiliate program.

The idea of running an affiliate program was not appealing to him so ultimately I decided to pursue the creation of a new hosting brand where I could offer a residual commission affiliate program (http://www.momwebs.com/affiliate-program/) and he would run the tech side of things for me.  That is where MomWebs.com came to be and it has been a successful project ever since.  We have around ten servers servicing several hundred clients at this time. I have SoloSmarts hosted on our VPS hosting and my other sites are on a semi-dedicated server.

Kelly Uses:


NicoleNicole Dean of .. here! .. says:

Over the years, I’ve been through a few different hosts.

The things that are most important to me at this stage are:

1. Reliability. 
The host can’t be going down for no reason – as it costs me money.

2. Customer support.
If I have an issue, I need it fixed and explained to me in little words. :)

3. Security.
Make sure backups are being done and that the hosting is locked up and safe.

Because I’m not one to take risks with my business, I do spread out my business between two different hosts.

I use:

I use HostGator for a bunch of my niche sites.

I also use MomWebs.com which I started using years ago. MomWebs.com specializes in helping moms and the non-techie to get their sites running.

They also help people who are currently using Blogger.com to move their blogs to a self-managed WordPress site to build an ongoing business.

What about you?

What’s your experience been with web hosting?

Are you happy with your current web host?

Do you have any questions about web hosting that we can answer for you?

Thanks for reading – as always.

Warmly,
Nicole

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Comments

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Comments

  1. I switched off of HostGator over a year ago after some really crappy customer service experiences. I’ve been happily hosted with Reliable Webs ever since :) – In fact, I just had some amazing customer service at Reliable Webs this morning when I put in a support ticket to ask a question.
    Loretta recently posted..Creating the Content for Site A with Forever Affiliate – Sharing a Content Creation ResourceMy Profile

  2. Like Alice, I use ServInt with a VPS account. Prefer not having an account shared by hundreds of other people on the same server. And yes, their support is very solid, although not as fast as Hostgator’s chat. But I have found them to be more helpful overall and the downtimes haven’t existed.

    Bob
    Bob The Teacher recently posted..5 Webmaster Skills You Should Be Able To Do Yourself And Keep More Of Your MoneyMy Profile

    • Alice Seba says:

      A phone call to Servint is a very quick response too. Always pick up the phone if it’s urgent. Just a tip to anyone looking at their service.

  3. I’m with Hostgator. They have been nothing but great with customer service.

  4. I have used Hostgator for years on several sites and have been very happy with them. In our web design business, we will be offering hosting and plan to do that through Hostgator as well. We have found them very reliable and very helpful as far as their support.

  5. I started with iPage and still have hosting there. They don’t use c-panel which is different to get used to. Not that it’s a bad thing, it was still user friendly. I started with a blog there as a newbie (now I’m an experienced newbie) but just haven’t been there to give it any attention. When I used customer service they were easy to deal with.

    The blog I pay some attention to is hosted at D9. They were recommended by a”Guru”
    and I am quite happy there. I have used the customer service several times and always satisfied with the service. I believe they offer VPS but I’m not at that stage yet.

  6. Hi!

    I use Hostgator. When I made my first niche site, Hostgator was what was recommended to me. I can’t really complain with them. I like that they have 24/7 service, as I do a lot of my work in the evenings and I’ve had to be on live chat with them several times at midnight.

  7. I used HostGator for several years up until 2+ years ago when I switched to StormOnDemand (a LiquidWeb company). Fantastic service, totally managed Linux cloud server, and really does a great job handling product launch load as well as anything else we’ve thrown at it. Highly recommended.

  8. My webhost is MomWebs.. I’m not extremely techie and they’re support team is great, very patient and friendly.

  9. Alice Seba says:

    Just to clarify…for the comments I made about Servint’s support, I’m referring to more technical type questions, not simple cpanel issues. I didn’t mean to make them sound like they’re aren’t helpful. In comparison to the other glowing reports, mine sounded kind of negative, but that wasn’t my intention. :-)

  10. I’ve been using Hostgator from the start, mainly because it was recommended to me. I started with the baby plan and had all my niche sites on it.

    Unfortunately, I got hacked about a year and a half ago and Regina Smola helped me clean it up. But one of her pieces of advice at the time was that I move to at least a reseller account as soon as I could in order to have separate cpanels for each site. That way, if one gets hacked, they don’t all get infected.

    So now I have a reseller account at Hostgator, but all is not peachy. Their customer service is amazingly fast and I love the chat. But I had four times this past fall in the space of just a couple months when the server was down for one reason or another. Bad luck? Maybe. There haven’t been any problems since, but if it happens one more time I’m going to insist they transfer me to a different server.
    Sharyn Sheldon recently posted..Repurposing PLR: How to Create Worksheets from ArticlesMy Profile

  11. I use http://www.hostmybusinesswebsite.com love them ! never had an issue with them and no limits in terms of bandwidth etc

  12. How timely! I’ve been searching for a new host due to way too much downtime on the current one, where the contract is coming to an end. We have a lot of our sites on HostGator and really love their service and uptime. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to ensure that my 2nd batch of sites would be put on servers in a separate location (don’t want all my eggs in one basket).

    Our tech team deals with almost everything, so I need reliability as a top priority and was thinking of BlueHost. I like what you’ve said about Servint but the site made my eyes cross. Is that a Ferrari when I need a Honda?

  13. I use Mom Webs, have since I found it. And I Love it, it is very rare that
    there is a problem and when there is I get quick answers. Or like that one
    time when they went down for a couple of days things were corrected in a
    positive way. Since that time which was like 2 years ago or so I have never
    had a problem.
    Tamara recently posted..Homemade: How-to Make Hundreds of Everyday Products Fast, Fresh, and More NaturallyMy Profile

  14. I use BlueHost…never have a problem with them. :)

  15. Wow, I know HostGator is popular, but surprised to see how many of the expert panel reported using it.

    I use HostGator for mostly all of my sites and recommend it to most of my coaching clients. I also use a GVO dedicated server for one of my niche sites that gets massive amounts of traffic and requires it’s own server.

    - Brian

  16. Thanks for sharing! I love hostgator hosting. I run blog with blogspot for a year ago. I heard that hostgator is great wordpress and especially active customer services. I looking at hostgator plan and the price is acceptable $3.6 per month but because my budget is less, I decided to Ipage instead of hostgator $1.99. That okay, I never have problem yet.
    Kimsea recently posted..WordPress Self-Hosted (Ipage Review)My Profile

  17. Allegra Sinclair
    Twitter:
    says:

    Interesting question! I have tried several hosts but decided I needed to consolidate a bit for sanity sake. I just moved all of my Bluehost accounts to a reseller account at HostGator. But my mine web host is WPEngine and I love them! All they do is WordPress hosting, their service is awesome, my sites are super fast and since it is ‘managed’ I don’t have to worry about updating core WordPress files or security and backups. They take care of that for me in the background. Yup, crushing on them hard.

  18. I use BlueHost. They are very reliable and have very good customer service.
    Adrienne Dupree recently posted..Time Management – Full Time Corporate Job vs. Online Marketing BusinessMy Profile

  19. I think this post was written just for me.. I have been thinking from last week to switch my blog to VPS but not able to decide which 1 shall I choose. Finally I have come close to choosing Bluehost or Inmotion Hosting.
    Ansh recently posted..20+ Premium WordPress Directory Theme Collection 2013My Profile

  20. I actually am a web host so I use my own server *LOL* I have a dedicated server through HostGator (awesome support) and all my clients and reseller clients are hosted on it. I love it because I have full control and I know what sites are on the server. It’s nice not to have to worry about some of the things you deal with on shared hosting. :o)

    Glennette Goodbread, Owner
    Premium Web Design and Hosting
    Glennette Goodbread recently posted..Stop it! 10 Things To Quit DoingMy Profile

  21. Bella Belle says:

    I use Arvixe. Fast servers that don’t seem to bog down, 24/7 call in support and a fully loaded c-panel to include cloud flare and seo tools. Has the ability to upgrade me as needed. Not the cheapest…

  22. Ian McLaren
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi all

    I’ve used “Host-The-Name” for ages now and have a reseller account with them.

    I also use them for my Face-Book hosting on a dedicated IP with ssl.

    Their tech support is always fast and they don’t ignore “stupid questions” when I need help or I’ve made a mess of something.

    I also use other hosting just for backups and to avoid the “all your eggs in one basket” trap which can really catch you out.

    All the best

    Ian McLaren
    Rutherglen
    Scotland

  23. I really like staying in touch with this kind of post a couple of times a year, just to keep in touch with what’s out there…

    Personally, I switched from Host Gator to Hawk Host a few years ago. Am still happy with HH, technically and customer-support-wise.

  24. I have used Hostgator since I started and wouldn’t change. Their support is excellent and they are the only hosting service I would recommend.

  25. I’ve been online since 1993 and have used many hosts…For over a decade though, I have used a VPN hosted by pagematic. Have never had to use their support as I have never had any issues or problems.

  26. Hostgator. No one else would stay on phone support with me for as long as they have as many times as they have and always with a smile in their voices.

    My site has never been down. No problems ever. Hope I didn’t just jinx myself. Hostgator all the way.

    I let my domain registrar talk me into hosting a domain (I bought it there) and, while it was okay, the customer service wasn’t as good. I transferred to Hostgator as soon as the year expired.
    Ruth recently posted..Getting Organized—A Day For Everything And Everything (mostly) Gets DoneMy Profile

  27. Before I bought hosting for the first time, I did a ton of research on hosts, their offerings, discounts, etc., and narrowed the list. Then I tested their different customer support (in particular, in the middle of the night when I would typically be working on my sites) to see what kind of support I might encounter from each. The end result was HostMonster, BY FAR (HostMonster & BlueHost are both owned by the same people). And I got their unlimited hosting package for just $3.95 a month!

    HostMonster has 100% US support out of Utah and they are sooo patient, lol! That was one of the major things I tested for in advance of signing up anywhere. I didn’t know my a** from my elbow back then and absolutely knew I would have questions & issues that I wouldn’t necessarily be able to even explain coherently, yet would still need someone to figure out what I was asking and then figure out how to help, lol! Boy, were they terrific about dealing with this type of situation from me,over & over & over!

    They will even do what you need done for you, if you tell them you’re not sure you understand the answer they give. Or if you tell them you want to learn how to do it yourself, they’ll walk you through it click by click right with you.

    I’ve even called them up and read them instructions I was reading somewhere, that I had absolutely no comprehension of, and they would listen, explain it to me, and then do it for me! They’ll even go so far as to go do research through the WP pluin repository to see if they can find things that will help with what you’re trying to do.

    There doesn’t seem to be any limits or boundaries to what they’ll help with, lol! One day I may just ask them why my check engine light keeps coming on when I start my truck, lol!

    Another thing they offer that I found to be a major cost saver is that they have free shared SSL that works perfect for the now required HTTPS for Facebook apps, which is the only thing I need it for. Once they understood what I was trying to do, they told me about their free solution so I wouldn’t have to pay a bunch of money just to iFrame my site into my FB page, and then hooked it up for me in two minutes flat.

    OMG am I glad I did my research & my “patience factor” testing of hosts before I committed to 3 years with anyone!

    I simply can’t say enough about their service and their support team! If other companies in America had this kind of support their wouldn’t be nearly as many angry people running around, lol!

    I absolutely LOVE HostMonster.

  28. From my consideration Hostgator is the best web hosting. I’m being using Hostgator hosting services since my website I’ve created. I really like their customer service and whenever my site stuck with hosting related problem they’re rescued within short time. Another important thing about this hosting I wanted to add visitors browsing experience. My visitors are leaving comments behind saying, they’ve pleased downloading speed of page browsing of my site and in the slow net Hostgator provides best services as well. Thanks.

  29. I know it’s boring but I have to agree with most of the other comments. Hostgator is just very reliable. I’ve been using them for over a year now and no downtime on my websites. I use the baby plan so I can have several websites on one plan. Their online support can be frustrating just because you can be on it a long time trying to solve issues, but there are no language barriers and it’s available 24 hours a day. I can’t complain at that price.