What do hosting reviews have to do with carbon monoxide?
Not a thing – except we switched service providers, and that is the reason this website is still available.
In The Beginning – There Was Godaddy
Way back in 2007 we didn’t know any better and created our web site on Godaddy. Now, to be fair, they had the most to offer, a low price and a fairly good reputation. But, after two years of working with Godaddy and pulling our hair out over issues with account security, erroneous billed items, difficulties with web site security (someone hacked our email account and used it to re-broadcast a lot of spam email) we finally decided to switch internet service providers. (By the way, if you plan on creating a web site that will have a lot of traffic or will sell stuff, do yourself a favor and pick a different service provider.) Godaddy will kill your web site immediately after they receive the first spam complaint.
Then There Was Hostgator
After the bad experience with Godaddy, we got smart and started looking at reputation and reviews for web hosting firms. The outfit that continually came out on top of the lists was Hostgator. They offered the best combination of internet service, technical support and ancillary features.
After moving to Hostgator, we had very few problems with the web sites we run. Hostgator’s after-hours technical support was second-to-none and their billing department was actually available with warm bodies to answer questions. I’ve spent a number of late night hours in chat sessions trying to correct problems I either created or uncovered trying to push WordPress and HTML in places it didn’t necessarily want to go. The support people were helpful, knowledgeable and patient.
That all changed once Brendt Oxley sold Hostgator. Now … technical support has a new goal – get the customer off the phone. Their sales department also has a new goal – get more sales no matter what. For a while, you could buy Hostgator hosting for 1 cent.
The sorry thing they are not telling their customers is that they are packing more and more websites on the same hardware. The result is sluggish performance, more frequent outages and longer delays before a web site on Hostgator will respond to a browser request.
I spent a month trying to improve the performance of one of our WordPress web sites. It wasn’t a fancy site with a lot of plugins or exotic features. It was fairly “plain-jane” with a well engineered and popular commercial theme (Flextheme.) No matter what we did (we means the webmaster and me for support) we could not get the web site to respond quickly. We had disk caching, optimized images, minimal java script and an optimized MySQL database.
We finally moved the site from Hostgator to MDD Hosting (semi-dedicated server) and performance jumped dramatically. Same exact web site, same version of WordPress, same plugins, same content but response was 3 or 4 times faster. We went from a web site rating of “F” to a “B” simply by switching to MDD Hosting.
Finally There’s MDD Hosting
This is a plug for MDD Hosting, it’s not a scientific review, just a description of our experiences.
I ran across MDD Hosting from another web site’s reviews. The writer had problems with two different providers and ran across MDD Hosting and gave them a try. That’s also what I did.
Initially we put a small web site on the new server and noted a big increase in reponsiveness. The apparent increase in speed shows up in GTMetrix and Pingdom page speed tests. Since the web site didn’t get a lot of traffic, we figured it was because we had been put on an empty server.
Within the week we moved four more websites to MDD Hosting. Each site became more responsive. Their metrix (via GTMetrix.com) all improved, some very dramatically.
During our transfer, we ran across a couple of issues and had to contact their technical support. In most cases we had responses within an hour. In many cases, they had provided answers within minutes. This was all via email. They don’t do online chat, but are very quick to answer support emails and tickets through their support ticket system.
I had a brief email conversation with Michael Denney about their semi-dedicated servers and their “reseller” accounts. (My webmaster wanted to move to a reseller account because of the separate cPanels and billing software.) Michael said that their philosophy was to use the best equipment they could get and keep them reasonably populated. By limiting the number of websites on each of their servers, they are able to maintain the fast response that we’ve enjoyed.
Michael also said that the servers used for their reseller accounts were close to the same equipment used for the semi-dedicated servers and would provide close to the same performance.
I’ll find out for sure later this summer when we get a reseller account in addition to the semi-dedicated server we’re using now.
From my perspective as a quasi-power user, MDD Hosting provides the best value for internet service and support I’ve experienced. You should give them a try if you run a small business and need responsive and reliable web sites.
If you have questions or comments, hit the contact us page.