Web Hosts: Choose Carefully

When jamespautz.com first launched, I found a really good deal with Dreamhost, so I signed on for a year.  Their regular price was a bit more, but it wasn’t horrible at the time.  When that first year was up they had raised the price by $3 per month and they also charged extra for decent customer service.  I didn’t have any problems with them, but I couldn’t afford to sign on again.

web serverI decided to shop around a bit.  It was then I came across a good deal that I could sign on for multiple years, essentially saving me $25 and some.  It was through IX Web Hosting.  The setup went great, domain transfer and hosting, but after a couple months I noticed a that my site was seeing some downtime.  (It happened for me two days in a row.)

It was then I decided to monitor more closely, so I signed up for a free account at Pingdom.com.  Pingdom is great.  It can ping your site everyPingdom minute if you want, it will notify you if you want, it gives you a nice display of statistics, similar to Google Analytics.  Needless to say, my site’s uptime wasn’t doing so great.  In the first 2 days I had almost 4 hours combined downtime, some periods up to 18 minutes at a time.

This prompted me to contact IX.  IX has great, prompt customer service.  The people you talk to on the phone are easy to understand and nice.  They don’t, however, do much to help you if your site is seeing downtime.  They tried a few things, but my site was still seeing only 93% uptime (as opposed to the the promised 99.9%). They even told me I would have better luck upgrading to a Dedicated Server (which would cost more).

It was then I shopped around for a new host.  I decided on Bluehost.  They have an excellent record of uptime and they do it at a value (a little more than IX, but the quality of the product is better).  Since switching I have seen 100% uptime according to Pingdom.

The next step was getting my “Anytime Refund” from IX.  This was where I got screwed.  The guarantees they make are supposed to go for at least a year.  This means they wouldn’t give me any leeway because of the poor quality service on their end.  They also slapped me with “setup fees” and charged me for my domain as well.  I only received a fraction of what I deserved, but it was all in the fine print.Bluehost

When choosing a web host, ask someone you trust for a recommendation.  There are thousands of Web Host review sites and most of them seem phony.  You should also do a quick Google search for a coupon for that host.  Most web hosts will give a deal to first time customers.  Finally read the fine print.  Make sure you aren’t going to get screwed if you pay upfront (which is usually cheaper).

My grades:

Dreamhost:

  • Customer Service:  C
  • Hosting Product: A
  • Value: D+

IX Web Hosting:

  • Customer Service: B+
  • Hosting Product: F
  • Value: B-

Bluehost (so far):

  • Customer Service: A-
  • Hosting Product: A
  • Value: B+