This is the second part in a series about how I customized my WordPress Blog (read the first part). Before I proceed with the next part, learning CSS, I thought I’d tell of my recent experiences with actually hosting AndrewKelsall.com.
For years, I had used US-based hosting service Netfirms. I was reasonably happy with this company for about 4 years, until I noticed huge amounts of downtime on one of my other sites over the following months. I set up some online monitoring with Pingdom (which may I add is an excellent service) and discovered, to my horror, that my sites average uptime was a dismal 95.45%—totally outrageous! After countless emails to their awful customer service folks, nothing was done about it—and they wouldn’t even admit there was a problem with my site uptime percentage.
That was it, I was moving—but to which hosting service? I had never moved hosting providers before, and I’d heard that it can be a chore if you don’t know what you’re doing—like myself. I had a site, a blog and other domains named I owned which needed to be transfered, so I set about spending hours researching the net for advice, answers and resolutions to my needs.
I’m not going to go into great detail about this, but this is the jist of how I chose my new web host—MediaTemple—or (mt). After great deliberation and much research, I initially decided to use Fused Network, a fairly new company who appeared to have great reviews with 99.9% guaranteed uptime. However, these reviews were from a ‘web host review site’ that sounded too good to be true.
As I’m quite cautious, I decided to check the domain servers (via who.is) of the review site, HostJury—and guess what? They were hosted by no other than Fused Network! I can only assume that the sites were linked in some way, as there was also an identical iPod competition running on both sites. What a shame, this company looked promising with excellent customer service, so I found. Also, I found out they were a Canadian host, but I required a US-based one because of my prospective reader-base.
Media Temple, however, was a host that I was initially put-off with. It had mixed reviews—not because of bad customer service and lack of features, or even price. The issue with (mt) was one of reliability on their Grid Server. I’ll not go into too much detail, but the Grid Server is fairly new (and experimental) technology that has one main advantage—handling traffic spikes on blogs, etc. The main complaint I found over and over again on the web, is that the Grid was failing quite a bit and was unreliable.
On the plus side, I read a great deal about how these problems were being addressed and ironed-out by Media Temple’s team of highly skilled technicians. So, after being tired of researching the web-host issue—and the fact that I could just pay (mt) monthly (so I could move hosts again if things didn’t quite work out), I moved over to ‘The Grid’. Now, 3 months into the (mt) experience, I must say that their customer service is excellent, the features are great—and my uptime is over 99.9%. Brilliant (thanks Pingdom).
I intend to stay with Media Temple for two main reasons. Firstly, they inform me of issues with their servers, which are actually becoming less frequent, with the servers more stable than ever. Secondly, their customer service is second-to-none. When I was moving my sites to them, they gave me advice on what to do with transferring my other blogs’ database, as well as transferring all my domain names and their registry information/servers. I hadn’t done this before, but they supported me in my hour of need. Thank-you James Starbuck, Amanda, Alex, Paul, Brandon and the whole (mt) team. Yes, that’s a lot of support (make that hours of need)!
Funnily enough, apart from the fact that my sites had a terrible downtime record with Netfirms, I left them for poor customer service. So, after my move to (mt), I closed my account with Netfirms—and to my surprise, their customer support was top-notch! Maybe the folks in the support department should swop places with Accounts. Just a thought.
Have you had a bad experience with a web host? Can you recommend another host that uses new technologies, such as grid servers? I’d like to hear your thoughts…