Inexpensive Website Hosting For Photographers

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UPDATE: 3 days and Joerg is still down. He’s got a temp site up (here).

Joerg Colberg’s weblog Conscientious has been down for over a day now and I wanted to let any of his regular visitors know that he’s down but not out. Apparently his webhost is MediaTemple which kind of surprises me because they have a good reputation and charge you more than most for the ability to handle traffic spikes. Still, things do happen and even a 99.9% uptime guarantee means you could be off the air for at least 9 hours a year

My experience with the cheaper hosting has always been that you will see outages from 15 minutes to an hour now and again but never anything like a day unless they have a fire or flood or some “act of god.” The bigger problem with cheap hosting has always been that they can’t handle the traffic spikes when you get mentioned on one of the big aggregator sites like slashdot, boingboing or digg. And, it’s not just your site that’s susceptible either, because you’re in a server with hundreds of other websites so if someone in your box gets “slashdotted” you’re going down too. Incidentally they way to prevent a server crash from too much traffic is to make an html page of whatever it is that people are linking too and serve that up instead of the usual pages which probably have 10 or 20 elements that need to be delivered for each visitor.

If anyone has suggestions for good cheap hosting I can make a list. I’ve used bluehost.com and know people using godaddy.com and both seem decent.

BlueHost $7/month
GoDaddy $5 – $15/month
Oditech $10/month
Yahoo Small Business $10/month
DreamHost $10/month
Tiger Tech $7/month
Site 5 $8/month
NearlyFreeSpeech Pay as you go
HostSite $10/month
ICD Soft $6-10/month
Certified Hosting $5/month
Host Papa $5/month
PowWeb $8/month
HostGator $15/month
WebHero $7/month
LaughingSquid $8 – $14/month
Pair $10 – $30/month
SurpassHosting $4 – $15/month
Eleven2 $6 – $21/month — Maybe not good. A commenter is having serious problems.
LiquidWeb $15 – $25/month

There Are 96 Comments On This Article.

  1. Oditech has been good to me for ten+ years at $9.95/month. Excellent tech support as well.

  2. Russell Kaye

    Interesting to note that while Joerg’s site is still down, mediaTemple’s site is still up and running.

  3. Thanks for the update. I was about to send out a search party. One of my favorite blogs out there for sure.

    Brent

  4. Oh and… I use Go Daddy. You can’t beat the price, I have yet to go down and most importantly, when you have a question, their customer service is top notch.

    I had all of my sites with Powweb (another low cost hosting company). They used to be top notch until they moved their support overseas. Too bad because I had many good years with them and changing hosting companies is no fun.

    • @Brent, I use Go Daddy as well.

      It’s cheap, but the most impressive thing about Go Daddy’s hosting is that I get no SPAM! It’s amazing.

  5. I used 5dollarhosting.com for 3 years and had good success with them. Never had a problem and the site never went down. Good email tech support and have always been there for me when I had to phone in.

  6. I recently switched to JustHost.com and am very pleased so far. Good support and good prices ($3.95 a month with 3 year contract).

  7. Just switched to GoDaddy from a small local company… I needed more storage. GoDaddy killed my site for about 3 days during a server migration. It took about 6 phone calls to finally get someone to act instead of just apologize. We’ll see how it goes.

  8. Matthew M Smith

    I too have used GoDaddy for many years with no problems. I also use and highly recommend Yahoo! Small Business Hosting, which is a good bargain if you pre-pay

    I will toss into the pot a hosting company that you should avoid like the plague. Thinkhost. The absolute worst hosting experience I have ever had plus the worst customer service experience I have ever had.

    Many friends of mine use Dreamhost which is a good bargain if you sign up for a year or more.

  9. I think Dreamhost is well worth consideration ( http://www.dreamhost.com ).. Ten bucks a month for unlimited disk space, which is a pretty great deal for photographers. I’ve had outages similar to the ones you mention… A couple times a year I notice it’s down for 15 minutes or so… Customer service has always been great though, and I find the features & wordpress install, etc. solid.

    -Phill

    • @Phill, I second DreamHost. I host several domains under the same account. Each domain gets its own folder under my login directory. None of this subdomain crap that CPANEL sites use. DreamHost has their own homegrown panel and they permit SSH access.

  10. I have had fantastic service from tigertech.net and those that I have referred have been very happy as well. 6.99/month. Because of this, I have not gone with a new website as yet because the companies that I have looked at, yours included Rob, insist on doing the hosting at an exorbitant rate.

    • @Anthony,
      Hosting is marked up for several reasons. To buy expensive fast servers connected to the backbone, so we don’t have to pack the servers to make it profitable and to give people unlimited space and bandwidth. I understand some people don’t want that but I don’t want to deal with server issues and I just want the fastest you can get so I buy the best and leave plenty of room for people to do what they want.

      Also, my business plan is a little different. I charge extra monthly so I can give upgrades and design switches for free. Only because I don’t want to deal with nickel and dime charges for stuff.

  11. i have been very happy with site5.com . unlimited everything (space/bandwidth(in theory)) for 8 dollars a month.

    they are of course not without downtime, but customer service is very responsive. well worth investigating.

  12. Hate godaddy for all the junkmail and telemarketer phone calls they sent my way when I was with them a few years ago. Switched to nearlyfreespeech.net and haven’t looked back since. Rock solid (can count the outages over the past few years on one hand, and they were all minimal), dirt cheap (only pay for the bandwidth/storage you use), no-nonsense (though you need to know your way around phpmyadmin and other server setup stuff; they won’t hold your hand), and can handle a slashdotting easily.

  13. We’ve used ICDSoft.com since our first site in 2001. They have amazing customer service, MySQL databases and prices range from $10 – $20 a month. This includes a lot of MB transfer/month and large volumes of server space.

    BTW – thanks for kicking ass (you and the blog)

  14. Personally I hate GoDaddy, when you need help they take hours to answer, and usually they copy and paste their help files. Moved to Certified Hosting and loving it, besides unlimited everything they offer real time support – really recommended.

  15. I’ve used Powweb.com for about five years, and my total downtime over the past year or so is probably close to zero, though in the early days they’d have us down for a hour or so every few months.

    Unlike a commenter above, I can’t complain about tech support moving overseas because I haven’t called tech support in a couple years.

    It’s $8 a month, with deals as low as $4 a month coming around all the time.

  16. Yahoo has recently, out of the blue, increased its price to something like $35 a year, from the previous $10. They will charge this automatically to your card if you don’t cancel with them.

    Looks like they want out of this business …

    I changed my websites to GoDaddy and so far so good.

  17. Sorry, I think that the 250% increase I mention above refers to the domains and not the actual website hosting.

    Still happy I changed.

  18. I usually don’t comment on blogs any longer, but since this is my only outlet right now.

    I switched to Mediatemple after a string of what in retrospect were minor problems with my old hosting. Several people were raving about them, how their service worked in essence like a parallel supercomputer etc.

    Here’s the reality:

    They have glitches just like everybody else. Often enough, I couldn’t reach my database, because of demand. So clearly, their approach to hosting lots of people on a server farm is just as vulnerbale as everybody else’s. While that would not be so bad (see what Rob wrote about down time) this leads to

    1. My site has been down for almost two days now. TWO DAYS. This is 2009, not 1995. Words escape me, (I regret I don’t practice karate any longer, since I could really use a little sparring now). The main problem seems to be that they have everybody’s data on a bunch of what they call “clusters”, and if one cluster craps out that means that the websites of ***tens of thousands of people*** are down. I am not kidding. They managed to get ten thousand back up quickly (based on the amount of data they used), but the last thousand has been extremely slow (and of course mine is one of them), at the rate of maybe one per minute (they still have 500 to go right now, and I stand corrected: They retrieved 25 in 90 minutes).

    What this show is that there is no redundancy. If Amazon has a disk failure or a server failure some other disk (with a copy) or server (ditto) will take over. You’d imagine they’d include such a system in their “grid” approach. Not so. The disks are down, the clients are screwed. You don’t expect any redundancy from “cheapo” hosting, of course – BUT for a company that makes such a big fuss about how their grid solves the problems of hosting you expect to have a plan for such a massive failure like this one. They didn’t have one. I imagine someone sitting there, seeing how one fourth of their system had crapped out, saying “Ooopsie”.

    I was on the phone with them fairly often (not that this did anything to speed up retrieving my site), and the latest info is that their last backup is from March. Let me repeat that: They have a backup that’s five weeks old. Five weeks! I’m thus looking at many of my posts maybe being lost because I don’t have a backup, either (something I clearly have to change in the light of them essentially having no backup system that’s worth its name).

    So if you like the idea of the grid and if you like nice people on the phone and if you don’t mind paying $20/month (three times as much as BlueHost and two times as much as Yahoo’s small business!) go with Mediatemple. If you want something that is not going to take you down for days with no backup to speak of avoid them. Seriously. I wish someone had told me about this before I signed up with them.

    As Rob said, it is to be expected that hosting will have glitches and problems. That’s all fine. But in my ten years of being online I have never experienced a disaster like this before.

    That said, I have no idea when my blog will be back up. Hopefully, it’ll be back alive in some older form sometime today (who am I kidding?), and then I’ll move it elsewhere, while continuing to post new stuff. Whatever is/might be lost I will try to recreate – if possible. If regular readers of my blog are reading this, I’m truly sorry for this, and I wish there was something I could do, but I can’t. It’s unbelievably frustrating.

    Oh, and thanks, Rob, for the support!

    • Michael T. Murphy

      @JM Colberg,

      “My site has been down for almost two days now”

      Depending on where you registered your domain, you can redirect the DNS lookup to another site.

      So, you could buy a $10 site from Dreamhost (see below), and put up a quick “out of service” landing page. Right now you just geta “404″ error.

      I’ll spare the lectures and technicalities of redundency, etc. – it sounds like you are learning all about that. Yahoo is a great model to learn from though.

      • @Michael T. Murphy, well, I know about this very well. It’s a bit of a case of throwing good time after bad time. When they went down I didn’t realize it would end up being this bad. And then every time I thought I should just switch, I got another message “We’ll be right back up.”

        At this stage, they told me they are retrieving my site “right now” (the earlier “403″ now is a “404″), but it seems that’s yet another meaningless bit of information.

        With the kind of perfect hindsight I have right now, I should have moved away from them once they went down, but in retrospect we’re all geniuses, aren’t we? Also, DNS re-routing typically takes 24 to 48 hours (because it has to trickle all the way thru the web), and when I thought about it yesterday morning I thought that switching with DNS re-routing would end up taking longer than waiting for them to come back alive again.

        As for redundancy, I do have some backups of my blog, but I never thought my backups would be more frequent than my host’s. You live and learn. At least I have a backup of my interviews. The posts about photographers are easy to re-create. What might be lost are my book and show reviews. We’ll see.

        • Michael T. Murphy

          @JM Colberg,

          I am sure you are getting a good education on your options – unfortunately, the hard way.

          FWIW, and for others: DNS redirects can propagate to a good percentage of users in 2-3 hours, partly depending on site traffic and network IP address (2 digit vs 3 digit, etc.)

          There are 2 other types of redirect. MT can do an internal redirect that should be effective in 15 minutes, at least to get a message to your visitors. Or, if you liscense your domains through a 3rd party like GoDaddy and host elsewhere, GoDaddy can do a redirect – should be in your menu options.

          I used to manage an external web site for a Fortune 5 company. All the same issue with our internal server/hosting teams, who were mostly decent. Plus some external “partners” that were borderline incompetent.

          My sympathies!

          • @Michael T. Murphy, all good information and hopefully of help for other people (too late for me now)! Once my blog is up again and stable I’ll probably post something about this all – so other people can avoid these disasters, at least within a controllable range…

      • @Mario Pires, I might have to come back to this, depending on what Mediatemple brings back. Can you email me (jmcolberg@gmail.com) so I have your email should I need your help? Thank you very much!

  19. Michael T. Murphy

    I don’t have much of a site, but it has been on Dreamhost for 5+ years and I have been happy with them. Even their techy newsletters are personable and fun to read – a first!

    They are having a “Cinco de Mayo” sale – not sure for how long.

    Basically free hosting for 1 year if you need to register a domain – $9.24 for the 1st year of domain registration and hosting:

    **************************************************
    http://dreamhost.com/

    Sign up today for a one-year hosting plan using the promotional code “777″ and you’ll get an entire year of web hosting (including a domain registration) for just $9.24! That’s 92% off our normal pricing!

    *****************************************************

    Note that I AM NOT providing any code for this, so I don’t get any money, etc. out of this if you renew later, although they do have referral services. Not a fair use of Rob’s site in my opinion.

    Cheers

  20. I am another unsatisfied MediaTemple customer. Occasional outages have been brief but not infrequent, and, at least as important to me, individual emails that I send through their servers has been frequently classified as spam by Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo Mail for months. Even after escalating the problem to management they formally stated that implementing the standard techniques to have their customers’ basic email NOT be treated as spam is not a top priority and may take months for them to get to. Thanks for the list above, as it seems time for me to go to the immense trouble of switching web hosts.

  21. Cheap and good are not synonymous. All the places listed above are fine for a blog or a simple portfolio, but get hit with any real traffic and you’re totally screwed.

    I got hit with the Media Temple outage as well. MT is not cheap (about $30 for basic hosting) so you expect top notch service. I’ve been using them for almost 10 years on a variety of sites both personal and commercial. I currently use them at work on 20×200 (which didn’t go down) and Hey Hot Shot (which did go down) and over the years they’ve generally been top notch. This was definitely an extraordinary outage that knocked out 15,000 sites. MT is making amends by giving us a year of free hosting, but it when your confidence in a company is shaken it’s hard to get back. Also they could have been much better in communicating what was going on… still they did a better job than many other companies in similar situations.

    • @raul gutierrez, I disagree with your assessment of MT, and not just because of this massive f***-up.

      What I found and still find particularly galling is that all you hear from them is “More details at http://bit.ly/4A4Z7” and then there are no details to speak of. Just numbers. They never tell you anything about when you will be restored (supposedly, I’m being restored right now, but since I don’t see anything, and it has been a few hours of restoring… it doesn’t sound convincing), they don’t have any idea about how long things will take; and worst of all, they hide their problems behind a lot of tech talk that, frankly, nobody should give a damn about.

      The one Twitter post that REALLY had me blow off steam was when one of their people wrote something like “With our new cluster, problems like this will be solved in ten minutes.” That’s a GREAT piece of information, except when you’re still down (that’s a day ago already), it’s just plainly insulting.

      And I guess I’m so angry about them because they made it sound as if they had everything under control, whereas in fact they don’t. It’s bullshit like this:

      “Our storage vendor has recommended a full file system check on Segment.01, amounting to an additional estimated 48 hours of downtime for those 1800 users. This is not acceptable to us.”

      That’s from 24 hours ago, and hundreds of people are still down. Had I know about this, I would have signed up for new hosting elsewhere right away.

      • @JM Colberg, I agree it’s infuriating and is has cost us lots of money/time. I did manage to get someone yesterday that did a good job patiently explaining what was going on and of predicting when we would be restored (we went back up last night). Physical problems like this throw all hosting companies for a loop because none of them actually have the staff to deal with thousands of angry customers so they resort to generalized form letters which make us all apoplectic. But all this said, I’ve been around the block enough and have built enough large websites to have seen many other companies fail more completely- complete data loss, two weeks of down time, mangled data, etc. Any of the cheap or free sites above fail miserably with a sql database of any size, so much so that the databases can be corrupted and often they provide no backup of the databases. For real security you need to do nightly backups of both database and data and that’s expensive.

        Also one small silver lining with MT… while the MT backs up sites monthly, the sql databases backs up nightly. So when your site is restored the published pages will be from the end of march, but you can republish your blog to restore to May 4th. Images will have to be re-uploaded, but all the text will be intact.

        • @raul gutierrez, Yeah, but on what time scale? I called them three or four times, and they always refuse to give me *any* time scale. And I’m just sick and tired of hearing “we’re sorry” and “look at the status page”, because that’s not how you treat clients. If you have your act together you tell them “Here’s the problem, this is what it takes to solve this, and for your site it will take us X hours.”

          And just for the record, with the cheapo hosting places I used or saw before I never had a problem like this. Not once.

          They should very clearly state on their website about how often they do which backups. And tell people things like “If our system breaks, your site will be gone for days”.

    • Absolutely, under no circumstances should anybody use doteasy. I can’t stress this enough. Stay away from their free hosting, and stay away from their paid services. Nothing but misery lies that way. I have horror stories. Horror.

      • @David,
        I have had no problems with Doteasy in the past 3 years, it does the trick, especially if you have very little money.

  22. Best site with a decent price is westhost.com.
    I’ve been with them for many years and it was never down, great customer service(with live chat 24/7) and always new platform updates.
    To give you an example few years ago (at late night) i was uploading stuff on my site and fetch was acting up and i deleted my site by mistake.
    I went on the live chat with them and they put it back up in 5 minutes, they back up their servers every 15 minutes.

    • @Max, Glad you had a better experience then members of my family. My brother’s site is hosted with them, and they keep cutting him off at random times. In fact, the tech side seems pretty good, but the billing department is a PAIN in the ass to deal with.

      We all host with Dreamhost now, and no problems yet in over two years.

    • @Max, I agree, Westhost is fantastic. I have used their tech support numerous times based on my own errors and they are always quick to a resolution. I pay a year in advance and cannot speak to the billing issues.

      Terry

  23. I am yet another furious Media Temple customer. This recent blip is the second time in about three months that my site (as well as ALL of my client sites) went down. It is not only an inconvenience, but it also affects my business dramatically. If MT doesn’t take dramatic steps to remedy these issues, I’m looking for calmer, more reliable hosting waters.

    And MT isn’t actually that expensive. I pay $20 a month to host about 30 sites. It’s a great deal, if you don’t mind your site going down sporadically. Ugh.

  24. I just got off the phone with Media Temple, they should “eventually” merge the new data with what they restore in the near term so our sites should be up to date in… a day or three. I asked about compensation and am waiting to hear, but a year’s free service sounds like the most obvious solution ($240+) although it seems a bit low for several days of downtime. It’s impossible to say what the true loss is — did I lose a $20K job or maybe nobody even noticed?

    They lost my site for 18-24 hours a few months ago too.

    The irony is that I went with Media Temple after getting disgusted with Webcore (of iStockPhoto fame). I picked MT because kottke.org and Zeldman were hosted by them, and I figured those web celebs knew what they were doing.

    • @Frank Petronio I guarantee you kottke/zeldman aren’t on the grid which is what was affected… if you use their more expensive services you’re much more protected from large scale outages like this.. but these are more expensive…

  25. +1 for Hostgator. Seriously, I’ve been with several different hosts before and so far Hostgator has been the best for speed and uptime (they use The Planet datacenter). Plus, they are cheap. Who could ask for more?

  26. I’ve used Laughing Squid ( http://laughingsquid.net ) for some time. They’ve got packages from $8 to $14. Never had a problem with them, and I’ve always had issues resolved very quickly with a real person on the other line. I think they’re a relatively small operation, because sometimes I end up talking to the same person if I call in.

  27. Cameron Davidson

    I use Dreamhost for hosting client web galleries. One 15 minute loss-of-service last year. I have been happy with their responses to questions and reliability.

  28. I’ve been using SurpassHosting, which gets as low as $4/month, for years and they’ve been great.

  29. I am hosted by Eleven2, located near Houston. I don’t know your hosting needs, but they have plans starting at six dollars a month, and I can personally vouch for their exceptional service and dedication. They even kept all their clients online through Hurricane Ike last year from up in College Station. I would very seriously consider them. http://www.eleven2.com/

  30. warmdriver

    Haven’t been around here in months.

    By coincidence, I was about to bail on my boring, overpriced Earthlink-hosted site, because of a couple of recent, slight … very slight … hiccups for the first time in … six years.

    I originally went with them instead of the “little guy”, because the “little guy” always lied on the telephone, when the truth was probably that he was sub-leasing space on servers over whose well-being he had zero control.

    Well, I was minutes away from signing on with Media Temple and now I’m seriously hesitant. I love the sheen of MT’s hosting portal … but, if they’re so good, sign-up is the last time I’ll be rubbing up against all that grid mumbo-jumbo.

    More and more, the concept of data supported on sites like gmail or idisk .. by real companies with real backup servers with real, international reputations to protect, doesn’t seem like such a bad thing.

  31. Let me start out by saying I am a server admin first, photographer second.

    I use media temple or my hosting and am very happy with it. However, I have a VPS from them and refuse to use any shared hosting. This is because of the various reasons listed above; one site gets dugg and my site does as well, more more likely to have downtime. With a VPS I am able to control everything on the box (server) myself and if my site is down it is due to something stupid that I did.

    Recently the server was up for well over a year with 0% downtime. The reason it went down was due to my mistake of not updating my credit card info.

    Let post my thoughts on each of the hosts that was listed in the post that I know about:
    BlueHost – Never heard much about them
    GoDaddy $5 – VERY oversold. When I helped run a site which was hosted by godaddy the database server would die daily.
    Yahoo Small Business – Well, it is yahoo. However I wouldn’t put my own content on the server.
    DreamHost – Oversold more than just about any host I’ve ever seen. You can get some really cheap deals every now and again, but not the best for uptime.
    Tiger Tech – New service to me. My first reaction is a negative one to them though, not 100% sure why though.
    Site 5 – Heard mainly positive stuff about them.
    NearlyFreeSpeech – Seems like it could end up costing an arm and leg before too long
    HostSite – I didn’t realize they were still around.

    If you are looking for a good shared host you may want to look at Geek Storage. The guys who run the site where the server admins of my very first web hosting provider.

    If anyone needs hosting advice please feel free to contact me. All of my contact info is listed on my web site.

  32. I’ve been using Homestead Site Builder for at least 10 years. It costs about $90 for the year — I have 3 sites.

  33. Just as a warning for everybody: My website is STILL down, after more than two days.

    *** Avoid Mediatemple like the pest if you’re looking for hosting. ***

    If you’re looking for my blog, a temporary replacement can be reached if you click on my name above this post.

  34. scott Rex Ely

    I would just like to say how much I SINCERELY appreciate all those who diligently put their wares and ideas on line to share and I don’t take for granted how valuable time is for those that contribute. I will be the first to sign up for a subscription if Rob and Joerg wind up putting something together in the future that would combine their websites. Apparently the risks of loosing content, great usable content, are overwhelming the costs of providing them for free, or discounted prices and now is the time to step up to the plate and just very simply ask for help. It’s time to be compensated for providing access to all the photo crack you both give out for free. Please count me in. I pay 50 bucks a year for EP and I can’t tell you how much I have received in valuable USEABLE info again and again. It’s a no brainer. Time to make hay gentlemen.

  35. I use 2mhost.com and pay around $45 per year. I don’t really have any problems with their service. They are pretty quick to respond when I have questions.

    Freeservers.com has been around for a long time and also has some low prices from $3.95 to $6.95.

  36. Wow, you would think that hosting choices would begin to consolidate over time, but it seems there are more than ever.

    Lunarpages has been pretty good for me. I have had an occasional outage, some tech issues – but nothing so serious to cause me to jump (yet!).

  37. I read this post / thread yesterday morning when (coincidentally) my site was down. Because my own site was down and I was desperately trying to get it online again, I didn’t post a response. It’s now been OVER 24 hours since my site first went offline and when I checked in with APE this morning, I was slightly horrified to see that Eleven2 had been added to the list of good cheap hosts … as I just switched my hosting to Eleven2 a few months ago. Although I’m absolutely livid at the Eleven2 folks — and a little scared that my site somehow didn’t get backed up in their hard drive fail — I still desperately need their help getting live. They only have a pre-sales phone number and customer support is limited an online support ticket system / forum. I’m definitely not impressed.

    I’ve had a website for five years, hosted with two other companies besides Eleven2 and have never ever even heard of an outage that lasted this long. I just started my blog, just got featured on two major sites, and am just building a fledgling readership. You can’t even tell from the error message in the browser that I’m down but not out. Also — and this is probably worse — this is my booking season. This is the last thing I need in a year of recession.

    It doesn’t matter how marvelous a hosting company is when everything is working … or how many bells and whistles they offer you. What matters much more is consistent service and a speedy and proper response when (and very rarely) things go wrong.

  38. I’m with the APE for my main site (and he is great) but I have another website hosted by retrix.com, very reasonable price, very simple organized control panel and they will get back to you within minutes on any problems or requests.
    RK

  39. Something really needs to be done about this overwhelming choice of hosting. Cloud hosting is probably the way, but services like Amazon EC2 and Slicehost are usually a bit out of the range for the mere mortals both price and knowledge level wise.

  40. Personally I host the “not important” sites over at Dreamhost. I’ve signed up during their St. Patrick’s Day giveaway when it was ridiculously cheap, and it is neat because the unlimited space and domains they offer let you host a number of websites all in one place.

    A key thing to remember about Dreamhost and any hosting in general is to not treat it as a backup. DreamHost in particular has had quite a few outages when they have lost customer’s data. It helps that they are open about it on their blog, but even their paid backup service should not be your only back up solution.

    Most hosting companies offer some way of backing up either the entire website, or the files and the database separately, with you being able to download a zip/tar/gzip archive of everything in the end. You should either download those back ups manually from time to time or set up some sort of automated script to do it for you.

  41. Hey there, Thanks for posting on this seemingly ever-changing issue. I was hosted by Hostway.com from 2000 through 2007 for years without issue – but switched to livebooks during photo school for the easy portfolio maintenance. Since going to the latter, I’ve definitely had more downtime than when I was with Hostway. Hosting starts at $13.95 or Linux packages and their customer service has always been very good – quick response time – fast solutions. I’ve also noticed that they continue to update their content management interface and even for un-web savvy users, it’s pretty user friendly.

  42. From my own experience, it’s very important to look at many different factors when looking for hosting, because there is more to consider than price.

    With MT, I fell for their promise of being able to deal with traffic spikes, but I never even saw what their backup system (if by “backup” you mean “saving some data every other blue moon, which then takes three days to restore your site”) was. If I had known, I would have never signed up with them.

    Also, customer service certainly is important, but if you listen to a bunch of very friendly people for three days telling you things that obviously are not true… I’m just saying.

    A good site to check out is http://www.findmyhosting.com/ – it has an annoying title, but you can get an idea what you can get for what you need. Always read the feedback and make sure to see which negative feedbacks are just because some people are… well, not very smart (my favourite bad Amazon review for an iPod still is a complaint that it broke when dropped on a concrete floor from several feet – and no, that was no joke). But there are some very obvious red flags; and you’ve just seen one for Mediatemple.

    Mediatemple reminds me of the second company I worked for, a software company stacked with MIT computer science grads. They thought they had the best software idea, and in theory it did work very well. In practice, it didn’t. But because they were so convinced of their ideas, they never bothered to look into the problems. That’s Mediatemple, in a nutshell. They’ll be happy to show you pages of information, which is mostly useless for non-tech people; and I’m sure their new system has some huge flaw built right in (which someone with tech knowledge can probably point out easily).

    But regardless, the bottom line is always TO BACK UP YOUR SITE REGULARLY (especially if you run a blog). Computers can and will break, and you don’t want to be stuck in limbo like me. Trust me. Had I known about their backup system I would have had backups every week. Well, you live and learn.

  43. I use westhost.com for our website, shuttertours.com Before moving to this provider, I had seen our shared hosting provider have over 4,500 websites hosted on the same ip. My google crawls were taking over 1500 ms on some pages, now they are down to a fraction of that.

    Use the following tool to check out your site:

    http://whois.domaintools.com/aphotoeditor.com

    This tool is also good for seeing your SEO score and tells you how many alt tags are missing in your images.

    Congrats on the award.

    Terry Divyak

  44. I use Mediatemple and they’ve been great until my server including mail went down for a day. They have handled things abominably and no provider should ever suffer such an outage duration.

    My mail and hosting were impacted by an 11 hour outage and I use IMAP for mail sharing across devices and machines. I’ve been getting duplicates for the past few days so that’s over 600 mail duplicates that I’ve had to sort and filter in the middle of arranging a large advertising shoot. Fortunately, I had a problem in the past which meant I had an alias as my primary address which was directing to my MT POP and a Gmail address.

    Judge your provider by their worst hour. Boy, were MediaTemple found wanting.

  45. I have been using IX Web Hosting for years w/o complaint. I use Google Apps for Business for my email, calendar, and document sharing. Go Daddy is a solid, well-priced domain registrar.

  46. I am using MySite http://www.mysite.com which starts at $3.95 a month. Uptime has been very good. My only trouble was on the initial webmail set-up, though a very helpful tech support solved that quickly. I am not affiliated with them; just a happy customer.

    MySite is owned by United Online, who also own NetZero and Juno. So I don’t think they are going away, nor too small. The lowest cost packages mean very little in the way of site visit statistics, but I have found a way to live with that and get the information I need.

  47. My wifes site (http://www.julielohre.com) and several other sites I used to manage are still on Apollo Hosting, including my prior website I managed myself. Apollo was probably one of the worst at customer service and honestly I feel a little remiss for not moving them. Just seemed like a big hassle for the downtime that we experienced which was low.

    I really enjoy having Rob handle all the web stuff for my new site. It might be a bit more costly per month versus what I would pay if I did it myself…but then again, I’d have to take care of a lot of other stuff myself too. ;) Love that I don’t do that any more!

    Not to prop a major competitor of Rob’s (if you read any photo rags you’ll recognize the tag) but one of their advertisements hits the nail on the head! The ad reads “I chose a career in photography to hone my web editing skills.”

    That line says it all for me! If I’m going to be a successful photographer I should not be spending my time worrying whether I’m on a gigamajig server or a Fire3 Raidex Portal IP Host or whatever… I need to spend my time working on my marketing, my book, my clients, and even more than that MY PHOTOGRAPHY.

    Thanks to Rob and his venture, I can do just that.

  48. Good, Fast, Cheap – pick any two. You can’t have all 3. The variables “fast” and “cheap” change over time, but “good” is not a variable.

    All of the services you list are relatively cheap. As a result, they must make shortcuts in either “good” or “fast”. Both of these can lead to outages.

    Most people don’t know how to evaluate a web host. They don’t know how to determine if a web host is good or not, if it is fast or not. They might check a few hosted sites from their computer, or read a few reviews, but in the end most pick a web host based on price, with perhaps a few positive recommendations (from people they know, or reviews) and that’s it.

    If you want a site that doesn’t crash when your site gets slashdotted (or another site “on your server” gets slashdotted) you need a site that is hosted on a cluster. Clusters have many servers that access a database to get the info to respond to a webpage request. They usually also have a large cache of the most recently requested information, and deliver that information directly from the cache (no need to go look in the database). This makes them fast, and reliable even when one site on the cluster gets heavy traffic (slashdotted). See Clustered Hosting: A Better Hosting Technology a white paper from XC. Disclosure: I worked for XC (Concentric) and rolled out this product in 1997. I no longer work for, nor do I get any benefit from referring people to XO – in fact my own site is hosted on another service (cheaper, thus I’m giving up on “good” or “fast”, or both).

    • @JC Dill, This is correct in theory, but not in practice. With my blog, I noted regular (!) hiccups with Mediatemple. If you’re on one of their shared nodes, you basically experience the same kinds of problems you have on other systems.

      I especially noted that updating my blog (which requires database communication) often was impossible in the evenings (Eastern Time), since it would just time out.

      Clustered Hosting might work well in theory, but unless implemented properly, it works just as badly as non-clustered hosting.

  49. Can anyone recommend a host that is reliable and geared to Mac users. That is, simple and for non tech people. I find godaddy revoltingly confusing and a mess to use. Not for a non tech person who simply wants a reliable FTPable server that can handle flash and solid web features. Yes, I know about me.com (.mac) but that’s another story.

  50. I’d like to rep the hosting services of nearlyfreespeech.net. I’ve been using them for over a year now and have had zero problems. As another commenter noted, they won’t hold your hand but they do offer easy to use web based great configuration tools and their hosting is rock solid. Highly recommended.

  51. [quote]Clustered Hosting might work well in theory, but unless implemented properly, it works just as badly as non-clustered hosting.[/quote]

    Of course, anything implemented badly is not going to work well. Apparently Mediatemple implements it badly. Most ISPs implement stuff badly – not robust enough, not enough backup, not enough fail-over, not enough capacity to deal with exceptional usage. That’s how they trim costs so they can offer services for lower prices because most customers look at price first, and only complain later that the cheap product they bought isn’t “good enough” when it fails. It’s very, very hard to explain to customers why they should pay more than rock-bottom-pricing for a more reliable service. Customers want Fast and they want Cheap and the other ISPs advertise that their product is just as fast and good as your (better) product, and less expensive (cheap) and customers believe the hype and go with the lowest price. In order to compete, you have to lower your costs (so you can sell for a lower price) and there goes the reliability and robustness. This problem exists at most ASPs and ISPs, at most levels of service from shared hosting to dedicated servers to broadband, etc.

    You don’t know if your website host really has things under control, until things spin out of control. The reason I know that the clustered system at XO works as advertised is that I helped build it, and helped test it. For shared hosting I don’t think you will find a better engineered or better provisioned hosting platform. Sure, you can find cheaper hosting, but not cheaper *and* just as good (or better).

    If you need more reliable/robust hosting than XO provides, you probably need to Akamaize your site.

    • @JC Dill, The problem here – as always – is that – as you write – people won’t know whether some company has their act together a priori. You basically sign up and then start praying it’ll work. And when it doesn’t you’re totally screwed, and you can try to find the next act that will hopefully work.

      I honestly find it a bit too easy to blame this on people wanting the cheapest hosting (even though that’s part of the problem); because a lot of people I know would be happily pay a bit more for something that actually works (I know I did – when I switched to Mediatemple I ended up paying more than double of what I had paid earlier).

      Part of the problem is not only that people want the lowest prices, but also that there are all those tech “geniuses” who’ll advertize their fancy sites with a huge fluff of baloney (c.f. Mediatemple).

      But there is literally no quality control online for hosting. Nothing. You can look around and read reviews, but at the end of the day, all you can do is pray (unless, of course, you’re an expert who knows what company to go to).

      So what are people going to do? I know a ton of photographers who’d happily pay for hosting that works well – except that nobody has the slightest clue how and where to find it. So I’m a bit weary of blaming things on supposedly people not wanting to pay for hosting.

  52. Personally I don’t think that a blog in the higher traffic ranks should (or could) be operated on a ‘cheap’ shared host server.
    All those fancy php requests put a damned heavy load on any server.

    In addition, many hosts maybe ‘good’ on simple html or flash, but have weaknesses when it comes to databases (e.g. a blog).

    Btw, a blog is edited ONLINE, not offline. That could you drive nuts with a stalling server.

    I would suggest anyone to invest some time on a quick research how shared hosting works. And what’s the difference between shared hosting, VPS and dedicated servers. There are quite a few short and sweet explanations out there (www). Do yourself a favour and invest 10 minutes of reading.

    Next, when considering shared hosting ALWAYS check the provider’s TOS. There is stated when they start to suspend your site. Usually against the server resources. When you have high traffic spikes that eat up 15-25% of the CPU resources –> you’re fired.

    Be careful with shared hosts that offer unlimited space and unlimited bandwith. Think twice.

    (Managed) VPS solutions (the next step above shared hosting)will drive up your monthly costs in the range of approx. $ 40-60.

    That’s the price of beeing ‘famous’ :-)

    Dedicated solutions are in the $ 100′s range (monthly).

    Why do I mention it ? For sure most of us have seen those professional photographer’s flash websites. They are pretty fast and huge images are shown as quick as a flash.

    That can’t be achieved with shared hosting. When you like to do it on your own (hosting provider) –> check the prices above / year.
    Now do your math and consider ‘ready made’ solutions. Like APE, among others, do offer it (INCLUSIVE fast hosting).

    A lot of costs, all done just to save busy clients and busy (image) editors to save some seconds of their valuable time :-)

    ——-

    One important things to check when comparing hosts: many (in my opinion most of ‘em) do like to camouflage their monthly fee a bit in their advertisings.
    May read: ‘as low as $ 4.99 /month’. Sounds good ? Well, but often true only when you prepay some years ahead. When you like to pay monthly costs are very quick up $ 8.00 (or something like this)

    Just an example: Hostgator (a well known provider) offers their base shared host service for $ 4.95. That way they are always listed in the ‘good and cheap’ rosters.
    Now, go there and try to order. $ 4.95 only when you prepay 3 years ahead. A monthly payment schedule is close to $ 8.00.-

    I personally don’t see this as ‘serious advertising’.

    Viceversa, Liquid Web (one of the best hosters out there) starts at $ 14.95.- At first glance it sounds expensive. And they are always listed in the ‘very good but more expensive’ roster.

    Just because most ‘pundits’ out there don’t do their homework …

    BUT, that’s the monthly costs at monthly payment. Just as it is is advertised (and most people would understand it that way). When you sign up for an annual plan (or quarterly, or bi-annual or whatever …) Liquid Web prices will drop and be close to all the other cheap hosters.

    So, check twice when comparing web hosting prices.

    Btw, http://www.liquidweb.com/ is a ‘must’ on Rob’s list, imho.

    I recently run intos the same troubles as ‘Conscientious’.That’s why all that stuff is fresh in my memory. I didn’t like to waste my time on ‘host-hopping’ and did a very extensive research and comparision.

    I’m with Liquid Web now, so far the best web hoster I ever had in 15 years on the web. (And I’ve their cheapest package !)

    Although you always get what you pay for, they aren’t that costly as they may look at first glance. They are just serious. And I like companies that are serious in their advertisings.

    And about 15 years on the web teached my one important thing: nobody is perfect and even the best hoster can have troubles, hickups, downtimes, etc… That’s not the problem.

    The difference ? HOW its handled. In other word – SUPPORT.
    I like my tickets see answered within MINUTES (not hours or days … or never at all *smile). And I like to speak to a support member who is a real pro and knows (by far) better than I know :-)

    And I love it when the support asks ME (the client) if the problem is solved in MY opinion and if THEY are allowed to close out the ticket. A quite new experience to me.

    Best,
    Reini

  53. kristina

    I have used Lunarpages for 3.5 years with no probs. $4.95/yr now (24months). Tech support is usually instantaneous. I was recommended to them by friends who run two sites with over 1m visits a month (Italian football club fan site) and who have dedicated servers with them.

  54. I had to switch from Bluehost because of their 50,000 file limit. Simply not enough for a photo site if posting wedding photos and the like for clients.

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  57. I think the best value for money host out there is http://www.fusionhost.com

    When I say value for money, I don’t mean cheapest, I’m referring to the best quality of service overall for the best price possible. Their customer services is excellent and their plans are very feature rich and have lots of extras.

    There are other more expensive hosts that don’t offer half of what they offer and there are cheaper hosts that don’t offer half of what they offer. For me, they are best host I’ve used and they definitely tick all the boxes.