Monday, February 13th, 2012...10:13 am

Choosing a Hosting Provider: a Review

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I can’t help saying this: I just had a hosting experience of my life. I don’t do a lot of reviews on this blog but this experience was so good that I just have to post about it. But let me start from the start.
Recently I was forced to change a hosting provider for my reseller account. Changing a host can be quite a painful process, even more so if you need to move something large or complex, like the said reseller account. I don’t like switching hosts – I don’t think anybody likes it, regardless of your geekiness level. This can become even more painful if you are forced to do the transition when you are loaded with other things. For me, it was end of the month and end of the year – plenty of work in the form of client reports plus my internal planning etc. I would have never moved out of my own will at this time. What forced me was the continuously degrading quality of my old host and especially their support that got as far as ignoring customer complaints.
But how does one make sure you don’t run into something equally bad again when purchasing a new host? Here’s how I did it:
1. First I have searched for possible candidates providing what I need (in this case, reseller hosting plans compliant with my specific requirements)
2. I compared their offerings and shortlisted a few hosts with suitable plans in terms of space, bandwidth, features available and within reasonable price limits
3. Then I contacted the support of each host asking them the same set of a few questions related to my prospective order. This being a reseller plan and me being short of time (I had to move before my old host expired so I don’t lose anything and have no downtime), one of the things I asked was whether they assist in moving accounts from the old host. If you want to be sure you are making the right choice, you have to try talking to the host’s support, or else you can regret about your purchase later. How they handle you before the sale can tell a lot about what to expect in the future should anything ever go wrong.
Out of the 4 shortlisted hosts, here are the results for the support test I got:
– one host replied two days later via email, they did not have a live chat option;
– another host had a ticket system for all the questions customers might have, half an hour after I submitted my inquiry I got a notification by email that I cannot submit tickets unless I register first (what??? Register to ask a pre-sale question? – dohh!)
– yet another host (actually Bluehost – yes they have reseller plans as well) had a live chat option for contacting their pretty obviously outsourced support. The wait time to talk to the support was about 5 minutes and they didn’t seem to care much whether I would buy their plan or not. They also told me moving everything from the old host is my problem and ¬†they would not assist me with it. Oh well, maybe Bluehost is so big already they don’t need any more customers.
– the complete winner in this test was Site5. Not only did they reply in the live chat right away, but they had a very friendly and professional attitude. They have an option to move up to 25 Cpanel accounts from the old host to their server by their staff for free. They seemed to genuinely care about me – so my choice was made.
The sale and the security verification went through in a very customer friendly manner. As I was running short of time and this was around the Christmas holidays, I chose to move part of the accounts myself, which I was doing for the first time so I was pinging their support many times over the process every few minutes. They assisted me with great patience and in a very friendly manner. Everything went extremely smoothly. Then I ¬†sorted out with them the rest of my accounts that they were supposed to move for me. Out of the 6-7 tech assistants I’ve dealt with everyone was very skilled except for one – I guess he was a newbie or something, but even that didn’t spoil my experience. Differs greatly from those “SEO hosts” with no setup whatsoever where you have to explain their support what name servers are and how they are supposed to work (this refers to a previous real life experience I’ve had earlier – but that’s a different story).
Would I recommend Site5 as a hosting provider? – totally! I’ve been with them over a month already and there are no complaints at all. The link in this post is an affiliate link to make a full disclaimer, but it does not influence my opinion of Site5.

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