Tuesday, March 24

Hosting Options

My job recently fell fatal to the economic conditions that have become our everyday lives. (In writing that sentence I changed it from “I fell” to “My job recently fell”. I choose to do this because, despite the fact that I have recently joined the ranks of America’s Unemployed, I am doing rather well. The word “fatal” felt dramatic when speaking of myself; however, it feels appropriate when speaking about the job I am no longer performing. ) Since, becoming unemployed I’ve realized a lot of things that I over looked or took for granted before. (So many that I may dedicate a post solely on this topic.) I haven’t been “out of work” since 2001, when I first began my professional career and I haven’t “looked for” a job since 2005, when I left The Miller Group. One of the biggest things I immediately couldn’t ignore is that it is a much more competitive marketplace and finding a job isn’t as simple as looking in the classifieds and faxing a paper resume. Especially, when focusing in the marketing and advertising field; the earliest adopters of anything promotional. So over the last two weeks, along with applying to jobs I’ve been focusing 100% on giving my personal brand a face lift. One item that is part of this face lift is #6 on my 101 in 1001: to create, design and develop my professional website.

Last week I secured my domain names: jhawkw.com, juliannawittig.com, juliannahawk.com, and juliannahawkwittig.com from godaddy.com. I’ve decided to use jhawkw.com in all my branding efforts, being that it matches my twitter, gmail, and flickr profiles. All URLS will point to the same website for those people who are just doing a quick search on “Julianna Wittig” or one of my other aliases. Next item on my list is to secure hosting.

In the past I’ve always used Hosting.com for my hosting services both professionally (when appropriate) and personally. I’ve been using hosting.com for 8 years now, without ever looking elsewhere. I’ve never really had a reason before, and quite honestly they haven’t given me a reason now either. However, service offerings have changed greatly since I started using hosting.com and I’m in a place of change personally and professionally. In spirit of this place of change, I want to use a different hosting service for jhawkw.com. You are invited to join me while I narrow down my options for a new hosting service. Below are the steps I have taken to make my selection. Note: I am writing this post as I make my selection, so I don’t even know who I am going to end up with.

1. Recommendations: I employed my network for recommendations on ho
sting services. On twitter @dwplanit recommended myhosting.com and @briancrumely recommended MediaTemple. On facebook Shaun Ault recommended bluehost.com and hostmonster.com. So right off the bat I have been able to narrow down my options with recommendations from trusted resources. Resources that I can metaphorically say to: “I know where you live”.

2. Consumer Feedback: Now that I have narrowed my options to four capable solutions via the assistance of my direct network, I would like to see what everyone else is saying about these services. Once again, this is a question that twitter is perfect for answering. Simply by performing a twitter search on each of my candidates I am able to see real-time results on what other users are saying about the services I am considering.

  • #myhosting.com
    Overall positive conversations. A couple of complaints regarding service interruptions.

    Note: You have to search myhosting.com because
    myhosting has a profile on twitter for the company

  • #MediaTemple
    Overall conversations seem to be tech related. Indicates a higher usage by professionals? A couple recommendations for using other services.

    Note: MediaTemple also offers a twitter profile @mediatemple

  • #bluehost
    Mostly recommendations. A few complaints regarding service suspension and customer service.

  • #hostmonster
    Overall banter about service. No real hearty recommendations or complaints.
3. Feature and Cost Comparison: Next I compare the features and costs of each service. There is a plethora of options out there when it comes to hosting services. I need to make sure the option I choose is the best solution for this project. Although this site will be for professional growth and brand establishment it is a personal website. I don’t anticipate insanely high traffic demands or the need for especially large amounts of data storage space. I will be handling the design, production and testing of the website myself; so I’m not interested in any free site builder options.
  • MyHosting Cost: $6.45 a month
    My Hosting Features: Linux (Debian) platform, 5 GB disk space, 50 GB data transfer, 250 email accounts with spam filtering, 5 domain name aliases, Free web-based Site Builder, PHP 5.2.9 and Perl, Free MySQL 5.0.32 database 9

  • Media Temple Cost: $20.00 a month
    Media Temple Features: 100GB premium storage, 1TB network transfer, Host up to 100 domains, 1000 email accounts, Clustered architecture, Rails & Django Containers, MySQL SmartPool v.2, FREE Urchin Analytics, Money Back Guarantee.

  • Blue Host Cost: $6.95 a month
    Blue Host Features: UNLIMITED Hosting Space (NEW!); UNLIMITED File Transfer (NEW!); Host UNLIMITED Domains!!!; 2,500 POP/Imap Email Accounts; SSH (Secure Shell); SSL, FTP, Stats; CGI, Ruby (RoR), Perl, PHP, MySQL; 2000/2002 Front Page Extensions; Free Domain Forever!; Free Site Builder (NEW); 24/7 Superb/Responsive Sales/Support

  • Host Monster Cost: $5.95 a month
    Host Monster Features: UNLIMITED Hosting Space; UNLIMITED Site Bandwidth; Host UNLIMITED Domains; Unlimited Pop/Imap Email Accounts; SSH Access (Secure Shell); SSL, FTP, Stats; CGI, Ruby (RoR), Perl, PHP, MYSQL; Front Page Extensions; Free Domain Forever; Free Site Builder; Best Support in the Industry
4. Customer Service: Last but not least I take a look at the Customer Service offerings of each service. One of my biggest pet peeves is when working with a internet based company that only deals with service requests through FAQs and tickets submitted via an online form. Now, I certainly expect that each service is going to boast “Award Winning” and “Customer Satisfaction Guaranteed”. Which means I am going to have to read between the lines to ensure I am purchasing the customer service I will expect.
  • Myhosting: 24/7 Phone Support, Online Chat, FAQs, Email Support, and Call Back Request. Myhosting also has a presence on twitter as I mentioned previously, @myhosting. More and more companies are continuing to embrace this means of communication. I am glad to see myhosting adopting twitter; however, their account was just created at the start of sxsw this year and their tweets are regarding their sxsw participation. Hopefully, they evolve their usage to include customer support.

  • MediaTemple: Our Promise and 24/7 Support. MediaTemple also has a presence on twitter, @mediatemple. A pretty active presence, these guys are using twitter to its fullest for customer service. They are interacting and engaging with their users; becoming part of the solution.

  • Blue Host: Ticket System, Knowledgebase, 24/7 Phone Support & Live Chat.

  • Host Monster: Ticket System, Knowledgebase, 24/7 Phone Support & Live Chat.
5. Decision & Reasoning: My network was able to provide me with four capable options for my needs. I could have simply chosen the cheapest option or the most complex and went from there. However, I did not. I wanted to make sure the one I selected was going to meet and maybe exceed my needs as a consumer. In the end I've decided to go with myhosting.com. The reviews they have received were positive for the most part, their features and price were exactly what will meet my needs, and they show the potential for adopting proactive customer service techniques.

MediaTemple appears to be a great solution to meet the demands of a robust corporate website. I will probably refer back to thier service the next time I'm working on such a site.

BlueHost and HostMonster both lost points because if you look at thier customer support pages, it appears they may actually be the same company just branded as two different companies. I don't know this to be true, but there was just too many uncanny similarities. Check it out for yourself.

Well I hope I havn't bored you to death. I know this hasn't been the most entertaining post. I just hope the information, helps you make a hosting selection in the future.