I’ve been in the web development biz independently since 2005 and have worked with a ton of different hosting companies in that time. Any of the major players – you name it, I’ve tried it. Funny thing about hosting is that it is difficult to find any actual good reviews of hosting companies because hosting is one of the most heavily promoted products via affiliates. Therefore, almost any site that offers hosting reviews has a vested interest in which products they choose to promote, as they ultimately stand to gain by directing consumers in one direction or another.

That’s what I aim to change. This post is going to offer information about each hosting company I have had experience with. Additionally, I am not promoting any of these products in any way, so you can be confident that you are getting good information here. Full disclosure – at one time I did promote Bluehost as an affiliate, but I am no longer doing so.

So Which Hosting Company is the Best?

Unfortunately, they pretty much all suck… Or you could look at it the other way and they are all pretty much decent – with a few exceptions. The reality of web hosting is, you are not going to find any company that doesn’t have a lot of pissed off customers and negative reviews out there. It’s just the nature of web hosting. A lot of time people hosting sites don’t know what they are doing, fuck something up and get frustrated if the host doesn’t answer to their every whim immediately. Conversely, there are some just plain shitty hosting companies out there.

Let’s take a look at each company I have had experience with in-depth.

Hostgator

One of the most popular hosts out there and amazingly one I have never tried or used. I promise I will give them a try soon and report on it. From what I hear, I would probably compare to Bluehost but with more coherent support.

Bluehost

I mentioned before that I used to promote Bluehost as an affiliate, and I did so because it was my favorite hosting company out of the many I have tried. It is probably still near the top for me, however, I don’t know if I would say it’s my favorite.

Positives:

The cost for a year of Bluehost hosting is around $70. The nice thing about Bluehost is you can host multiple domain names within 1 hosting account. They use a regular old cPanel style hosting admin area and everything is very straightforward. Another thing I like about Bluehost is that the speed is above average in my opinion when compared to other hosting companies.  I have been with Bluehost for a long time now and host some of my best sites there.

Negatives:

By far the biggest negative with Bluehost is they have very shitty support. If your site gets hacked, you are fucked. If you run into any kind of problem that requires any kind of technical skills to solve, you are probably fucked.  They will shut down your hosting account without any warning. Here’s an example – I had a site with a trademarked name in the domain name. Eventually, the party holding the trademark filed a DMCA complaint with Bluehost – which is complete to be expected. Bluehost reacted by immediately shutting off my hosting account. I didn’t find out until hours later when I realized I wasn’t receiving any emails. Of course, all I needed to do is call them and have them remove the problem domain from my account. This kind of shit really pisses a lot of people off. I know others who have had similar experiences if a site gets hacked. The least they could do is give their clients a heads up. I could say overall that is the biggest negative by far.

Conclusion:

Despite the fact that they will shut your ass down without telling you, the overall service is still good. I personally feel confident recommending it – but if you want a company that will hold your hand, you should look elsewhere.

GoDaddy

I have been hosting sites with Godaddy for a very long time. They are one of the largest registrars and hosting companies out there, and I’m sure a lot of people have had varying experiences with them.

Positives:

Unlike Bluehost, I actually think GoDaddy provides excellent support. Again, it’s all in the expectation – I’m sure there are a lot of pissed off customers who would tell you differently, but in my experience,  I have found their support to be extremely knowledgeable, fast and willing to help. As far as speed, I have noticed generally good load times, although I have had experience with some sites hosted there that seem to be quite slow, so it may vary depending on what server you’re on. Another huge positive – they will keep daily backups of your hosting account for 30 days and it is super easy to restore to a backup with a simple click. For this reason, I almost always recommend GoDaddy for my clients.

Negatives:

Cost wise, it is about $60 per year for an economy hosting account which in my experience works best if you are hosting just 1 site. So for you guys out there that are putting up hundreds of affiliate sites, this is not the way to go. The other HUGE issue is their shitty interface. Everything about it sucks. It’s slow, it doesn’t make sense and it takes way longer to do normal things that you can do in 2 seconds on a regular account. Setting up the account, adding a domain, installing WordPress, creating a database, setting up email – all that stuff has an indefinite waiting period attached which is just plain stupid and annoying

Conclusion:

As much as GoDaddy pisses me off sometimes, their overall service is pretty solid. I always recommend it to clients who only need to host one site. Once you get used to the quirks, it isn’t so bad. Speed is good, the cost is moderate and there are always coupons available. I host some of my best sites at GoDaddy.

Dreamhost

Another shared hosting company. Dreamhost is a little different than the average shared host. They have a lot of their own proprietary features and work slightly different. It is the second longest shared hosting plan I have had next to Bluehost.

Positives:

Cost wise, it is pretty cheap. I think it is around $120 for 2 years. I first signed up with them because I found a deal where I got the first year for like $20.00. They have a system that will allow you to automatically update your WordPress installs. I haven’t found this with any other hosting company before and I quite like it. They literally update your WP as soon as a new version is ready and send you a confirmation email. I have close to 100 WP sites hosted there, and this feature is absolutely great. I have never had to deal with their support so I have no idea how good it is. Their system is a little unusual, but it is still quick to get around – unlike GoDaddy’s.

Negatives:

The ONLY real negative I have seen is that it does run a little slow at times. Not terrible, but not as good as Bluehost or GoDaddy.

Conclusion:

Overall, a great service. If you are hosting a ton of sites, this would be my top choice if for nothing more than the auto WP upgrades. If speed is a super big issue, you may want a different provider.

1and1

An older company that also has their own proprietary setup. I first found out about them because one of my clients used them for hosting a lot of sites.

Positives:

None.

Negatives:

Wow, where do I start? Let’s see – for some reason, they don’t have an automatic WordPress install feature and we are in the year 2012. I once contacted support and their service was awful. Their custom system is slow and stupid. They send you invoices in PDF format several times a year, rather than billing like any other normal company would. If you make the mistake of registering a domain there, it is very difficult to transfer or cancel it. If you want to set anything up, expect to wait a minimum of 24-48 hours – for what reason? I have no idea.

Conclusion:

Absolutely one of the worst out there. They are so out of touch with their customer base, it’s shocking. You would probably get a faster response time if you typed up a letter on a typewriter and sent it to them via carrier pigeon. Honestly, this is one to avoid the plague. I still have a domain and hosting account stuck there and the only reason I haven’t done anything about it yet is that it will probably take me a full day of dicking around to fix.

Fat Cow/Netfirms

I started out as a Fat Cow customer before they were married to Netfirms. Having worked with them both before and after, I can say that not much has changed.

Positives:

None.

Negatives:

Boy, where do I start? Let’s see. First off the old Fat Cow was slow as hell. New Fat Cow, still slow as hell. Out of all the hosting companies, I have ever worked with, I have spent more time working with Fat Cow/Netfirms support than all the other companies combined, and it isn’t even close. Their support is inept. Here’s the deal – when you first enter live chat, you will immediately be connected to someone who does not speak English as a first language and is not able to do anything to help you. You then have to ask to talk to a manager. They will tell you the manager is not there. You have to then ask about 5 more times to talk to a manager and tell them you won’t leave the chat until you do. Finally, the manager will miraculously return. Unfortunately, they do not generally have any more knowledge than the level 1 support tech. They will try to give you the “we are submitting your ticket to our tech support team with high priority” routine. If you fall for it, your ticket will be submitted to someone in tech support who won’t even read it and then send it back to you as complete after you wait for about 24 hours. You will then have to go back into the live chat with a level 1 support staff, ask to talk to a manager and repeat the process.  This has literally happened to me multiple times and I have wasted countless hours. It is the absolute worst support EVER.

Conclusion:

Very slow, support is the worst. Absolutely avoid both of these companies. PLEASE!

iPage

I’ve been with iPage for a couple years now. I first started using them because I found a coupon that I think gave me the entire first year for free.

Positives:

Super cheap to get started with them. They have the same interface as Fat Cow, which scares me. If I find out they are connected in some way, then I would not recommend them. Overall speed is actually not bad c0nsidering the very low price.

Negatives:

No real glaring negatives I can think of. I have not used their support so I can’t speak to their competence.

Conclusion:

For cheap web hosting, they really are not bad. I would not use them as your primary hosting account, but definitely one I intend to keep using for the foreseeable future.

Network Solutions

A true dinosaur in the industry, yes, Network Solutions is surprisingly still in business.

Positives:

I guess I can say I have personally not experienced any speed issues. I only once had to submit a support request and it was resolved quickly.

Negatives:

They are super expensive for everything. I think their business model is to take advantage of seniors. Seriously, I really think that is their strategy.

Conclusion:

There is absolutely no reason why you should want to get involved with these guys. Honestly. You could try out 2 other hosting companies for the same amount of money. Everything about Network Solutions reeks of mothballs.

HawkHost

Probably a lesser known host, I started using them a while back after hearing about them in a forum.

Positives:

Good pricing – another place where I think I recall getting my first year super cheap. I host a pretty big site there and it handles the traffic pretty well.

Negatives:

They use a really basic cPanel setup. If you are not tech savvy, there may be better options.

Conclusion:

A very good host for a reasonable price. If you are comfortable working with a slightly ghetto interface, give them a shot.

MORE REVIEWS TO COME AS I TRY MORE COMPANIES

 


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