Slight Interruption in Service | February 26, 2004

A few of you may have noticed my site was down much of Tuesday and Wednesday. This was due to my host changing their ip address without informing me. Because my domain is managed by a separate company, my DNS setting got out of whack, hence the temporary blip in service.

I was a little annoyed about the lack of notification. I was lucky as I check my site regularly and a few people contacted me to let me know it was down. However many site owners rarely check their sites and could have found themselves unavailable for some time before the problem was spotted.

Apart from this last blip, I've been pretty happy with my hosts. Their prices are reasonable (for the UK) and their support pretty good. However I'd be interested to find out what people think of their hosts. Do you have a host that is super cheap and super reliable, or maybe you've got a hosting scare story to tell?

Posted at February 26, 2004 9:20 AM

Comments

pid said on February 26, 2004 10:29 AM

personally - oneandone.co.uk for some of the cheapest servers i’ve ever seen. don’t expect much support though, if you’re confident and in no rush they’ll do.

host europe have also done me proud, so far.
123reg for dns, (a related outfit i think), have also been pretty easy to use.

commercially - worked with some bigger names, all of whom come with bigger price tags, still not quite sure why, in some cases.

scare stories - what like?
how about the time, inexplicably, a site ‘disappeared’ on the morning of launch - national newspaper coverage and people were calling in to say the site wasn’t there.

a few days later the same site disappeared one evening, after a couple of phone calls to the US the site reappeared.
the techies from the international (insular?) company (hosting the site) sent patronising emails asking the equivalent of ‘are you sure you tied your shoelaces?’ instead of trying to find the fault.

mysteriously, however, the web logs showed a 3 hour gap in traffic…

Egor Kloos said on February 26, 2004 10:44 AM

I’ve got a dirt cheap host and they have pretty good helpdesk. In fact it’s so cheap that I’m surprised that they even have a helpdesk.

I make sure I have a backup every week because one of their servers went down once and I lost everything. When I asked if they could get the site back up they said it might take some time because of the severity of the failure. I had been with them for a few years and never had any trouble with them before so I was a bit surprised of the systems failure. Apparently the servers were getting a bit long in the tooth. They suggested that I should transfer my account to their new servers, however they did note that I would lose all my data. I had a backup that was a month old and thought that I might as well switch servers. Google had cached the remaining post that were missing from my backup and I was up and running the next day. So not much of a scare.

For 70 euro’s a year I get a domainname, 115 MB storage, 7.5 gigs of bandwidth per month, CGI, PHP, MySQL, SFTP and a custom control panel so I can manage my own account. So I can’t really complain :)

ben said on February 26, 2004 11:51 AM

I use purplecloud, (.com), and for 20 notes a year you get a lot of features, (php focused), and they haven’t been down yet.

Top drawer for bargain hosting.

Paul Silver said on February 26, 2004 11:54 AM

Another vote for http://oneandone.co.uk combined with http://123reg.co.uk

I have several sites using the two of them and have had excellent results so far. One thing to look out for is that they have data-centres all over the world, so if you want to ensure a .com gets registered for UK only searches in Google you’ll want to make sure it’s hosted on the UK servers rather than one of the other (e.g. German based) server farms.

If you’re looking at transferring to another host without having to set up your own oneandone account, one of the other Farmies does hosting, give me a shout or just mention it on the BFL if you want me to hook the two of you up for a chat.

Paul said on February 26, 2004 12:27 PM

I use http://www.dreamhost.com. The basic service is cheaper than xcalibre and you get 10 times as much web space and 25 times as much bandwidth! All the other features are covered too, plus you can install pretty much anything you like if they don’t already provide it. I installed a custom version of PHP with Ming (SWF library) and latest libxml2 support.
As far as keeping you informed about changes they are excellent. You sign up for the announcement level you want. At one extreme they’ll tell you about every little tweak they make to the server and at the other you’ll just get downtime and other major announcements. I’ve had about one hours downtime in 18 months.
Check their plans http://www.dreamhost.com/shared/comparison.html

Ruben said on February 26, 2004 2:14 PM

I do my own hosting. What about that?

travis schmeisser said on February 26, 2004 2:45 PM

i second dreamhost. super reliable service and funny newletters to boot. i try to sign up as many people as i can with them whenever starting a new project.

Milan Negovan said on February 26, 2004 3:05 PM

I use CrystalTech (http://www.crystaltech.com). They have pretty good rates giving you more database space and higher monthly bandwidth cap compared to lots of other hosting companies.

I bought an ASP.NET + SQL Server plan for $30/month, but a basic plan is $7.95/month.

They support ASP/ASP.NET, PHP, Perl, XML, WinCGI & CGI-BIN, SQL Server, MySQL. Their knowledge base is very helpful and tech support people are great. So far I’ve been very happy. I think they got DDoS’d recently but… who doesn’t :)

But the real cool thing is their control panel. I am impressed with the stats service!

Jonathan Hicks said on February 26, 2004 3:24 PM

I’m with oneandone.co.uk. While its fantastic value - more webspace and email addresses than I could ever need, forget it if you want something like ImageMagick installed, or the GD library upgraded to v2.0+ (its currently 1.6). I’ve had some connection problems too - unable to FTP or very slow uploads, with the server dropping the connection every now and then.

Rich Manalnag said on February 26, 2004 3:25 PM

My vote — modhost (http://www.modhost.com) US based…

- 350 mb storage
- 12 gb transfer
- host 2 domains
- Excellent help desk… they’ve responded within 5 mins of all my requests.

Rich Manalnag said on February 26, 2004 3:26 PM

Oh btw, modhost gives you all of that for $48 USD a year.

Patrick Griffiths said on February 26, 2004 4:13 PM

Years of struggle with idiots…

My first host was easynet (http://www.easynet.net/ ). I felt that they misled me when I first purchased the package and generally weren’t all that interested in my concerns once I’d signed up. I had the feeling back then that they were only interested in big businesses, which they certainly seem to be focussed on now.

Virtual Internet (http://www.vi.net/ ) seemed great but then after I left them they attempted to sue me. I was receiving letters asking me for money two years after cancelling with them. No matter how much I tried to explain to them, the letters kept on coming.

Then there was Fasthosts (http://www.fasthosts.co.uk ). Oh dear. Now they always had a bad name (that I didn’t realise when I first signed up - always check news groups, that’s my advice) and my first year with them (I had a reseller package) was miserable. The reliability was awful and their customer service quite unapologetic. When they shifted to Windows 2000 servers from Windows NT things got better, but I should have known better. I stayed with them another year. What a mistake. They (and their domain name company, www.ukreg.com) also seemed to have a penchanet for helping themselves to my money without telling me.

Now for around two years I’ve been using Titan (http://www.titanhosts.net/ ). I host two sites there, including http://www.htmldog.com and I’ve never been happier. I was beginning to give up hope for hosting companies, but Titan have been everything I could ask for. Extremely reliable and fantastic customer service.

For some reason a majority of hosting companies in the UK come across as incredibly amateur, unreliable and untrustworthy organisations. I have really been through hell and back with them. It has seemed so difficult to find a good host that has all of the things you want and frankly, all of the things you should expect.

Matthew said on February 26, 2004 4:51 PM

I use http://www.webhosting.uk.com and they are very good, they are average price depending on what package you get.
The package I use is the Extra Plan which contains
- 100MB Web Space
- 1GB Data Transfer Per Month
- 20 POP3/IMAP Email Accounts
- 5 Sub-domains
- PHP 4.3.3
- Python 1.5.2
- PERL 5.6.0
- CGI-Bin
- MySQL Database 3.2.3
and more

The package is 29.99 a year.
As I am an existing customer they sent me and e-mail the other day with a link to a discount order page. They had a seven day sale for all existing customers. Making the package only 11.99 for this year.

Joshua B said on February 26, 2004 5:10 PM

Yeah, the guys over at www.asiawebsolutions.com have been great. Reasonable pricing, but their support is outstanding. Their packages (even the cheapest ones) are robust and have tons of built in components. Check ‘em out.

Jennifer said on February 26, 2004 5:14 PM

The first hosting company I ever worked with was Endore, who hosted my site at $100 a year. I paid it all up front, knowing I wouldn’t have that much money later, and enjoyed fairly good customer service, 99% uptime, and more space than I could use.

However, sometime last month my host got the sudden urge to disappear on me and thousands of other customers. Our sites were gone, our files gone, our memories were gone, all with no heads-up or even a friendly email explaining the whole bit.

There really should be something I can do about the 5 months of service I didn’t receive. I guess it’s a lesson learned, though. You get what you pay for.

Aaron Schaefer said on February 26, 2004 5:22 PM

“However many site owners rarely check their sites and could have found themselves unavailable for some time before the problem was spotted.”

Really?!? I check my site numerous times a day…I’d think it’s safe to say that I’m the ONLY person to check my site every day :-)

Good to see you’re back Andy…love the page!

Trygve Isaacson said on February 26, 2004 5:53 PM

I went with javaservelethosting.com because I really wanted to build my server stuff in Java. They use Tomcat. It seems like a pretty good value and is reliable. My only horror story is when I recently noticed that my site was down after discovering that I couldn’t retrieve email. My account had been disabled for non-payment! It turned out that the yearly invoice for billing (and a follow-up) had been sent to an old dead email address of mine, not the address that went with the hosted service. I had no idea that I’d been “ignoring” the invoices. But they cleared it up promptly with a phone call to a real person at a toll-free number. My lesson was to pay more attention to billing contact information and make sure it’s up to date.

SimonR said on February 26, 2004 6:02 PM

Big, big vote for www.blackfoot.co.uk. A good deal with a useful reseller discount, a very workable specification and excellent, personal tech support at times when you really need it, like late on Sunday evening. Not one single problem with forty-odd projects running for a couple of years.

Now, Fasthosts, that’s a different story…!

Charles said on February 26, 2004 7:17 PM

I’ve been with clook.net for a couple of months now after moving from Fasthosts and I’ve got to say - what an amazing company! Their support is superb - second to none even - and totally transparent. They let you know well in advance what’s going on. The community of other hostees and resellers on their forums is friendly and helpful too. Their servers are dripping with features, are well up-to-date (and kept that way) and, best of all, if they don’t have something on their servers, they’ll probably install it for you, if it’s a resonable request. Truly, this is how a company should be run.

This is starting to sound too much like an advert now, so I’ll stop. :) Seriously though, well worth considering very carefully.

Neil Vodka said on February 27, 2004 12:41 AM

Well, Ive had really really bad experiences with Fast Hosts. No service or quality there at all.

My website, up until Monday was hosted with http://www.hostinqube.com. Minimal uptime, problems with email. Decided to transfer the domain, after three weeks of support tickets the guys at Hosting Qube decided he didnt fancy transfering my domain and that he would keep it!

I called the registrar he was a reseller for (dont even want to think about uk to us calls) and they transferd the domain out on the asumption that i was the registrar.

My domain is now hosted over at Media Temple for a not so bad $18 a month. They have offered me excellent customer support in getting the account sorted.

Just need to install Moveable Type now…………

Anyone going to use Text Pattern?

Tim said on February 27, 2004 10:10 AM

I have a couple of accounts through a DSVR reseller. No shell access, but PHP, Perl/CGI, ImageMagick, MySQL, PostgreSQL etc are all available.

Re. the blip: I thought some angry member of BNM had DDOS’d your site ;)

Richard Rutter said on February 27, 2004 11:25 AM

Whenever the hosting question comes up, I always like to answer because I’m so consistently pleased with my hosts digitalspace.net (the .net is important, .com is someone else).

I’ve used digitalspace.net for the past three years with absolutely no reason for complaint. I host clagnut.com with them, as well as half a dozen other domains.

Their customer service is excellent. Same day answers to emails (with proper solutions and immediate action if required, such as provision of additional databases or PHP modules). They also have an IM system which is open during PST (California) working hours.

That they are US based could be a problem with Europe based developers but I’ve never had an issue. After all their morning overlaps with our afternoon so direct communication isn’t a problem.

And digitalspace.net are cheap. I pay $3 per month (one year in advance - their cheapest rate) for which I get PHP/MySQL, telnet, my own cgi-bin, unlimited POP accounts, web mail and more. Disk space and bandwidth is limited but I’ve never exceeeded my quota and if I did I could simply upgrade for a month at a time without incurring extra charges or loss of service.

They publish planned maintenance on their site and you can sign up for an email giving advanced notice of work.

So, very highly recommended. And no I’m not on commission!

Chris said on February 27, 2004 4:34 PM

http://www.valuehost.co.uk/hosting/

For 4.45 a month (if you pay for 2 years upfront or 5.45 yearly) you get…..

700MB disk space
31 GB monthly burstable bandwidth
10 Sub-servers
Multi-Hosted Domain Support
10 FTP Accounts
Advanced Valuehost PRO Control Panel
CGI-BIN and latest PERL 5.x Installed
PHP 4.3.2, 10 MySQL 4.0.13 Databases, phpMyAdmin 2.3.3pl1, SSH, Cron Job Control Panel, Custom MIME Types, .htaccess files, SSI, OpenSSL, GD2, mcrypt, Apache 1.3.x, SSL HTTPS sub-servers, Private SSL certificates (Optional)

and they even answer your emails promptly!

Guy said on February 27, 2004 4:39 PM

I use hostzone (www.hostzone.co.uk) and get unlimited webspace/bandwidth + mysql, php, asp, cgi etc for 80 + VAT per year. A very good deal i think. Great customer service.

Lamiere Forate said on February 27, 2004 4:49 PM

Nice Blog

Adriano Castro said on February 27, 2004 5:33 PM

Super cheap? Yeap!
Super reliable? Kinda…
Scary story? You can count on that.
Great support? I’m not even sure this company is run by humans.

I use WebHostXL’s (www.webhostxl.com) 700M ValuePlus Pro. In short:

Price Yearly: 60 USD
Set Up Fee: free

Disk space: 700MB
Bandwidth: 10GB

Subdomains: unlimited
Email accounts: unlimited
Email access: POP, IMAP and 3 webmail interfaces (Horde, NeoMail and Squirrel)
Email Forwarders, Autoresponders, Filters, Mailing List.

FTP Accounts: unlimited

Databases: MySQL - unlimited
Perl, PHP, phpMyAdmin

Control Panel: yes (cPanel X)
Stats: yes (Awstats and Webalizer for both main domain and subdomains)

more info: http://www.webhostxl.com/webhosting/700M.htm

The only major problem is they take forever to reply to your emails, this, of course, if they reply.

Major scary story:
I believe one of their hard drives died so the hosting was out for a day and a half. When it finally came back on there where some things missing on the databases but nothing very important. I guess I was lucky and they had just made a backup before the crash. However, since my stuff was transferred to another hard drive a number of things stopped working (Movable Type’s settings and general .htaccess files were referring to the wrong path also I couldn’t retrieve my mail through IMAP). The main problem was they said nothing whatsoever during the time the site was off nor afterwards.

I have another scary story. This one happened to a friend of mine who I referred to WebHostXL. His hosting and domain name took 2 weeks to be setup and running - webhostxl kept silent the whole time.

I don’t recommend it to anyone.

Tate said on February 27, 2004 6:10 PM

My first hosting experience was with Mediatemple, however I soon realized it was too expensive, and the standard features restricted my database needs.

I switched on reccomendation to surpasshosting.com - which was dirt cheap at the time, $23 a year for features that were comparable to MT. I’ve had a lot of downtime with this service, and server data had been reset twice, sending my site back in time a couple of weeks.

I now use mediacatch.com - ridiculous standard features, for $45 a year. I plan on switching all my sites to them in the future.

Aaron said on February 28, 2004 6:21 PM

The bill for one of my websites tickles my humor so much that it provides exactly one reason to stay with them (v. low benefits, v. high price):

“Islandnet.com — offering Internet Services since the late 1900’s”

Chris Owens said on February 29, 2004 9:27 PM

Spent some time with OneAndOne before deciding it was costing too much for too little when compared with other companies.

So I moved to Silvernet UK and have been quite happy since. I have also been hosted by UK Web Solutions Direct and had no problem with them either.

Chris Owens said on February 29, 2004 9:30 PM

For the record (HTML was stripped out):

- Silvernet UK : http://www.silvernetuk.net/
- UKWSD : http://www.ukwsd.com/

Mark Hurd said on March 1, 2004 5:12 AM

My roommate is kind enough to let me use his dedicated server for my hosting. Currently it’s running at http://www.ev1servers.net, but will be transferring to http://www.theplanet.com in the very near future.

If you’ve got the money and need for a dedicated server, I highly recommend it, you get top-notch support if you need it, otherwise you’re in full control to do whatever you want.

Before I had access to this server I used http://www.mediatemple.net - for $9.95 a month you can’t beat it.

Mark said on March 1, 2004 8:56 AM

I second Chris Owens’ recommendation for UKWSD. I’ve had nothing but fantastic service from them for the 12 months that I’ve been with them.

I can’t believe I used to pay Cyberjack about 15/month for a service that doesn’t even come close to matching my current UKWSD package, which costs only 40/year.

Good job I moved from Cyberjack too. Their servers were hacked a few months back, resulting in about 3-4 days downtime for their customers and some loss of data.

I’d also recommend Rackblast.

Adriano Castro said on March 1, 2004 5:59 PM

Just a small note to Mark Hurd who said he was thinking of transferring to his site to www.theplanet.com…

ThePlanet.com is either the same or part of the same company has WebHostXL.com (my host) and as for their support I can only say it’s pure rubbish! If you know ThePlanet.com from before then it’s a different thing, if not I’d advise you to proceed with extreme caution.

AD

Adriano Castro said on March 1, 2004 6:04 PM

Hey, Andy…

I know there’s already something of this sort up and running some place else but, what do you think of creating a quick DB with all this information in order to do a quick trace of a different variety of hosts and hosting plans?

AD

John B said on March 2, 2004 5:51 AM

I don’t have much experience with hosting but I’ve been with a company called Web-Mania (http://www.web-mania.com) for 3 years now and I they host two of my websites. No problems at all, except for a few days downtime early last year when they upped and moved their servers to London.

Domains are 15/year.
Hosting is 20/year (yes, a year!) and you get all this lot:
- 500mb webspace
- 6mb/month data transfer (I don’t have many visitors though)
- Unlimited POP3 and email forwarding
- Unlimited subdomains
- CGI-BIN, Perl, PHP, SSI, MySQL
- Full SSH and FTP access
- Frontpage support if required

Only thing is, the Control Panel isn’t very good, although it does everything you need it to do, just not brilliantly.
The visitor stats are appalling, but they do reply to emails quickly and also have LivePerson help although I’ve not needed to use it yet.

owen said on March 2, 2004 8:02 PM

I wanted to go with a overseas host but then I though “why not go with a local host and that way I could get free tech support and extra features”.
so I did that.

local host = hosting service in my area

webbie said on March 3, 2004 4:41 AM

I agree with these host companies trying to delay services with people’s web site. They really can cause nuisance at times. I was planning to switch to another - cheap and efficient web host - for my Site - http://skmedia.net - but haven’t had too much time to research it on the web.

But you have some interesting comments here to read from people. My site - skmedia.net - usually get a good amount of bandwidth during the day, so it’s important for all of us who own a web domain, that we have less interruptions during the work hours.

Anyway, thanks all for the interesting comments.

SKMedia.Net Designer.
http://skmedia.net

Mark said on March 5, 2004 11:15 AM

Oops. Within 2 days of posting my recommendation for UKWSD, I had a problem with them.

My installation of InvisionBoard was exploited by a third party who used it to transfer 20Gb worth of files into my web space, which resulted in 59Gb worth of excess bandwidth charges.

UKWSD were initially stand off-ish about the whole incident and didn’t really take the initiative to help me work out what happened. To their credit they were fairly helpful once I started pressing the issue, but I would have felt a lot more confident in their ability to handle this sort of situtation (which, let’s face it, is pretty common) had they taken a more proactive stance when it came to resolving the issue from the moment it occurred.

To make matters worse, after I posted details of my experience in the Something Awful forums, the UKWSD support team followed me in there (going as far as to pay for a forum account which is required to gain access) and, without hesitation, started throwing around words such as “libel” and threatening to publically disclose the full contents of my support ticket (not that I would have cared, given that I had nothing to hide). I know enough about libel law to know that their support team were pissing in the wind, which simply resulted in them displaying a very unprofessional attitude to the whole issue.

The other forum members gave the UKWSD personnel a hard time, which drew so much attention to the thread that UKWSD were just continuing to dig holes for themselves the longer they tried to argue their position.

Eventually, UKWSD swallowed their pride and decided to save some face by fully refunding the excess bandwidth charges caused by the malicious exploit. This was despite the fact I had paid the agreed amount within an hour of the incident occurring the previous day, so they get bonus points on that regard.

I had no problem accepting the bandwidth charges and admitting that my software wasn’t fully patched (although the software had a built in upgrade check which told me it was!), so that wasn’t my beef. My complaint is the unprofessional way in which the support ticket was handled and their subsequent decision to follow me into a forum and attempt throw their weight around, trying to get my post removed, because I made a negative comment about their service.

On top of that, I asked them to supply me with server logs which showed evidence of the 59Gb worth of excess bandwidth, but they were unable (and remain unable) to do so.

Given all these factors, plus the fact that they have no file system level quota blocks in place to prevent 20Gb worth of data getting into a 300Mb hosting package, I’ll unfortunately be taking my business elswhere.

Guido said on March 25, 2004 9:40 AM

We just like to correct the comment from Joshua B.

The new Site from Asiawebsolutions is moved to
http://www.asiawebsolutions.net

Thank You

P.S. Thank You Joshua for the nice comment

Andrew Green said on October 12, 2005 7:01 PM

WARNING
If you use 1and1 (oneandone) Be very very careful when it comes up to re-billing time, if you want to downgrade or cancel the package you have with them.

I took up their offer of 25 .info names, free for one year. At the end of the year, they automatically billed me and tried to charge my credit card.

The fact is that renewing those free domains automatically, without telling you that the price would increase (in this case, infinitely, from zero!) is illegal (in the UK, at least).

They have to have stated in their t&cs exactly what the cost would be for .info domains after the free period.

What they should have done, failing that, was to “issue an Amendment Notice no later than 6 weeks prior to the date that any variation of the Charges shall come into force” (from para 5.5 of their terms and conditions).

What I did was registered a complaint with UK Trading Standards (www.consumercomplaints.org.uk) and on iXat (www.ixat.net).

THIS COMPANY CONSISTENTLY ENGAGE IN THIS TYPE OF UNDERHAND PRACTICE - THEY ARE CHEAP, BUT SHOULD BE AVOIDED.