Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Brief web host review w/affiliate link goodness

I've been using Hostgator for years. How many years? I don't recall, but more than five.

They provide cheap, reliable web hosting.

I can think of two minor catches:

As you can see, the ad says "unlimited storage" and "unlimited bandwidth." Those are both true.

What you don't get -- with their "shared hosting" option, anyway -- is "unlimited resources" or "unlimited automatic backup."

Your hosting account will share a computer with other clients, and there's a percentage limit to how much of the CPU time your web sites can monopolize. My recollection (I could be wrong) is that that limit is 25%. If other people's sites are slowing down because your site hogs the CPU, Hostgator will shut you down until the problem is figured out.

Early on, I briefly got shut down because one of my WordPress sites was opening way too many mySQL database connections. That turned out to be an easy fix (installing a cache plugin so that WordPress didn't have to go to the database and generate a page "on the fly" every time someone hit the site).

Another time, a campaign site I was running (for Libertarian Party presidential nomination candidate Steve Kubby) got big traffic from Digg and the account shut down over what was the (not intentionally malignant) equivalent of a Distributed Denial of Service attack -- thousands of visitors in a matter of minutes.

So, if you think you've got the next I Can Has Cheezburger? on the drawing board, do yourself a favor and get your own server (Hostgator offers those, too), not a "shared hosting" account.

Similarly, once you surpass a certain amount of content -- as measured by number of individual files, not total file size -- Hostgator stops backing up your entire site automatically, They still do some kind of backup (the mySQL databases, I think, but not the site structure files), but not the whole enchilada. So if you've got an incredibly large site, you'll want to arrange other backup for it.

For most web sites, Hostgator "shared hosting" is more than sufficient. Their prices are good, their customer service is good, their admin interface (cPanel, with Fantastico for "one-click" installation of popular software like WordPress, Drupal, etc.) is fantastic. And if you sign up with them through that banner above, I get a little piece of the action.

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