Of all things related to web design, hosting has quickly become my least favorite. In the past month alone, I’ve signed up with a handful of hosting companies (not all reviewed in this article) and have spent an overwhelming number of hours researching and testing available options. The reason for the change is simply growth and needing a better, more reliable home for both client and personal projects. Not everyone’s hosting requirements are the same so bear in mind, your experience with any of the following hosts may differ from my own.
I started my first hosting account with LunarPages around four years ago and have been fairly happy with their service overall. The main benefit of a low-dollar shared plan is they can usually offer quite a package for very cheap and, as long as you don’t mind the occasional downtime, it’s a great starting point for personal sites. Obviously, the downfall is you’re likely to outgrow the mild performance and cannot trust the reliability if you intend to maintain any important websites, such as a business. As far as support, grab a ticket and wait in line. The response is usually quite vague and clearly from a list of ready, generic answers.
(gs) – Personally, the Grid-Service is the ideal plan for my current needs. The package is right, cost is fair, and the control panel is intuitive and easy on the eyes. The pitfall is performance. Load times are comparable to cheaper hosts, at best, and from the short time I’ve been using their service, anything PHP or requiring MySQL is noticeably slower. My initial test pages were identical copies to those I had on LunarPages and the cheaper shard plan was quicker by at least a couple seconds. I turned to support for answers but, sadly, their responses were also slow and basically said, “We’re working on it.” Eventually, I found ways to tweak my page performance and now find the speeds livable. Another minor annoyance is you’re limited to just 5 cron jobs, which is barely enough if you’re hosting multiple sites and have any need for automated tasks.
(dv) – As expected, the dedicated-virtual is much faster than the (gs) or any other shared plan I’ve tried out. Unfortunately, my system resources were constantly pinned between 40-50% usage with no users or active websites. I can understand the server working to run Plesk and other installed software, but to find half of my resources maxed right out of the box was disappointing. Speaking of Plesk, the interface is straight out of the 90’s and ranks in my top ten for ugliest control panels available. I don’t expect my hosting admin to be the most beautiful site there is (afterall, I’m the only one who will see it), but I shouldn’t have to dread using it.
Finally, how hard is it to chase the rats out of the servers? I’ve experienced at least four different occasions in the last month where MT had posted an issue on their known System Incidents, all of them leading to a certain amount of unavailability to my websites.
Alas, a web host with an excellent reputation, great package, beautiful control panel, and even client billing! The load times were great, adding clients was simple, and support is 24/7 and fantastic. Let me say that again: Mosso’s support is by far the best you will find. You can call or chat online with a real person, anytime of the day, about any issues you’re having. The Achille’s heel? For me, it was pricing. There is only one rate at this time which is $100/mo. Also, there are many complaints over the recently implemented requests limit.
The control panel surpasses all others in looks and usability. However, I did find it very annoying that the client control panel lacked a billing area where the client could enter their credit card details. What this means is that after you add a new client onto your hosting, you cannot start billing them until a) you manually gather their credit card numbers yourself or b) send them the url for their billing overview which allows them to enter their data online. If you’re wondering what’s wrong with option b, try searching for said billing link. It’s simply nowhere, not in your admin area, not in the clien’ts control panel, nowhere. I only discovered it after bugging support for a couple nights and, even then, most of the Mosso staff were equally mystified over the missing link. Yes, I understand Mosso is a hosting company and billing services may not be their main priority, but if you’re going to offer that as a feature then it had better work.
The final verdict? If Mosso’s plan fits your needs and budget, do not waste another second hosting anywhere else. You will not find another company with such helpful support and so willing to listen to their customers. I was even offered an adjusted price by my account manager after explaining to him that I was having a hard time justifying the cost with my rather modest hosting requirements. You simply will not receive better support than with Mosso.