I received a lot of great referrals and have spoken to a TON of hosting companies over the past 2 weeks: BlueHost, MediaTemple, Choopa, DreamHost, SurpassHosting, GoDaddy, etc. The list literally goes on and on.
I contacted ALL of them. It took me forever but I did it. One reason was because I wanted to really get my feet wet and find out what was being offered but also because I wanted to understand what I needed.
I’m not the most technical person in the world but I can tell when someone is just trying to sell, so I contacted them all to ask them the same questions over and over again so I can hear multiple replies and learn about this stuff.
They say the only way to learn something is to ask questions; so that’s what I did.
The main thing I learned from all this: the web hosting industry might be very competitive, but it’s not very innovative.
What I mean by that is, they all pretty much operate the exact same way. It’s more or less the same technology, used in the same ways and only priced & marketed differently to drive competition.
They’re not setup to “think differently”.
Here are two small but important things I’ve learned about hosting:
There’s No Such Thing As “Unlimited” Bandwidth
“Unlimited” is just a sales pitch to attract people like me who don’t want to look at a bunch of technical specs but just assume that we’ll be covered.
There’s always a cap, but if you are on a shared account, chances are your website won’t see the type of traffic to ever see overages anyways.
Unlimited Bandwidth Does Not Equal Unlimited Resources
Given the fact that there is no real “unlimited bandwidth”, that still doesn’t make note of system resources.
On your computer, you might be browsing the net on Firefox, listening to music on iTunes, chatting with friends on AIM and typing a document in Word. Each of these programs uses up resources on your computer.
Same thing applies to web servers, but instead of just one person using these programs, it’s everybody who visits your website that uses these programs.
Not only that, if you’re on a shared account, you’re probably sharing that one server with about 700 other customers. So imagine all of your visitors, plus the visitors of all those other 700 customers.
That’s a massive flood of people.
So that entire audience is accessing your site and therefore using a piece of your server’s resources. On a shared account, you only get a certain percentage of those resources allocated to you. By adding resource hogging plugins or getting a spike in traffic, you can end up going over that percentage and your account will be temporarily suspended so that the other 700 sites on your server remain uninterrupted.
My account was knocked off for a good 20 hours as I searched for solutions while still doing my best to do my actual work, which at the time was managing 3 short-staffed events (hell on earth).
My old webhost, HostGator, continuously tried to sell me a $300/month dedicated server as a “solution”.
$300 a month?
I barely pay $300 a year right now!
I kept trying to explain to them that this was the first time my site has ever experienced that type of traffic and that I truly do not require a dedicated server.
This is a PERSONAL blog. I don’t update it multiple times a day or even daily.
Hell, sometimes I don’t even post for a week or two.
I don’t sell ads on here and I don’t put any budget into promoting it. Only word-of-mouth & word-of-mouse. That’s it.
Keeping that in mind, while my web traffic is decent for a personal blog, it in no way compares to NecoleBitchie.com or NahRight.com. So a $300/month dedicated server would be a little overkill for my needs; especially since I don’t run any ads on here like I mentioned.
Before I get a bunch of replies from tech folk breaking down all the technical reasons why most web hosting companies are set up that way; let me say this:
I don’t care.
People shouldn’t have to conform to technical limitations; technical solutions should be made to meet consumer needs.
So before leaving a comment or sending me an email telling me about how servers are built and why there is nothing on the market to cater to my needs; understand that I’m not the type of person to accept those kinds of limitations. That doesn’t make any sense to me.
As long as it takes, I will hunt for a solution.
All I wanted is a hosting account where I could be equipped with enough specs (bandwidth, storage, etc) to keep me running smoothly on a daily basis and also be equipped to handle occasional spikes in traffic like the one I experienced.
Is that too much to ask for?
Apparently, it is.
For the technical reasons I’ve specified above, no web hosts were able to attend to my needs and all started pitching me $300/month accounts or told me to take my chances with a shared account but will experience another suspension if I get any more Digg-like spikes.
So basically, pay a ton or hinder your site’s potential.
Luckily, I was able to find one company that works differently; MediaTemple.
Apparently, they created their own system to handle situations like this. Instead of being setup on a server with limited resources, I’m setup on a “cluster grid” with access to resources on other systems throughout that grid. So my site can access the resources it needs whenever it needs it.
Think of it like this: rather than only having access to the clothes in your closet (most hosting companies), you can have access to all the clothes in the mall (mt).
Interestingly enough, when I spoke with a few of the web hosts mentioned above, some of them even recommended that I go with MediaTemple. I didn’t understand why until a few of them began to defining me as a “prosumer with custom needs”, which they (and apparently 99% of the hosting companies) are not equipped to service.
Not because they’re not good; but because they’re not setup to serve this niche (even though I believe this isn’t as niche as they may assume).
Most hosting companies don’t create their own technology; they just buy, maintain and sell it in packages.
Luckily, MediaTemple is setup differently.
This isn’t an ad for them; rather this is my expression of relief that I was able to find what I was looking for.
Many people have been messaging me about this whole ordeal and asking which host I ended up choosing and why; mostly because they face similar issues and need answers.
Well, MediaTemple was my choice. So far, they’ve been great at helping me get all setup and I hope to see it continue down this lane.
Plus – their logo looks kinda cool on my blog :)