I’ve been hosting my sites on GoDaddy for years, despite everybody saying that they suck and so forth. I’ve even defended them. Their interface is crap, but it’s not terrible once you get used to it. It works well enough. Their shared servers are indeed overloaded, but with a little super-caching they tended to work alright. Their new cloud hosting service is definitely faster.

But if there’s one thing I can not stand, it’s censorship.

I recently discovered that a couple of old posts of mine about decoding code used by hackers were no longer loading up. Everything else worked, but not those posts. I couldn’t even pull them up in the WordPress post editor.

After some trial and error and back and forth, I discovered that any HTTP or FTP request that contains the string “eval(base 64_decode(” or similar variants, is blocked. FTP just stops dead, as does HTTP requests, with a continual spinning loading icon. Apparently they have some form of filtering in the TCP stack somewhere that just stops those connections dead in their tracks.

(BTW, the irony here is thick. GoDaddy’s malicious code scanner was blocking my “Scanning for Malicious Code is Pointless” post.)

GoDaddy… guys, I loved your service in the past, but I have to tell you that this is a *shit* approach to security.

After some tweeting back and forth, I found out from the horse’s mouth that this is intentional and cannot be disabled.

And as much as they’d like to claim this isn’t censorship:

Guys, you’re wrong. It is censorship. I wrote that post content, and they’re refusing to serve it over HTTP. You can spin that any way you like, but GoDaddy hosting is now censoring me.

What’s more, this is a *new* problem. Those posts worked fine when I wrote them. What changed? I dunno. I did move to their 4GH hosting, but nowhere did I see in the documentation that they would be intentionally blocking my content.

Anyway, I’ve worked around the problem for now with a plugin to add spaces to the proper places in my HTML content, thus bypassing their filter. However, in the long run, this will not stand. GoDaddy thinks it’s okay to block my personal content. I disagree with them, and no amount of argument is going to make me change my mind on this topic. Blocking my own content from being served is NOT a security measure.

As you might be able to tell, I’m a bit angry.

Therefore, I am now looking for a new hosting service. Some requirements of mine:

  • Traffic-wise I serve about 6000 page views a day, all told. In terms of total HTTP requests, I’d say somewhere around 30,000 or so.
  • Bandwidth tends to be in the 1.5 GB per day range. So, 50 GB per month, say.
  • Obviously, any form of censorship or technical limitations is unacceptable.
  • SSH access is a must-have.
  • I don’t necessarily need dedicated hosting or virtual dedicated hosting, shared is fine if it can handle it.
  • Speed would be nice. GoDaddy has always sucked in terms of time-to-first-byte. Their cloud hosting made it better, but not great.
  • MySQL Databases. I need at least 10 of them.

So, not too heavy requirements, I’d say.

I’ve heard suggestions for DreamHost in the past, and A Small Orange has always gotten favorable reviews from people I’ve talked to, but what the heck, might as well solicit the opinions of the internets in general, yeah?

Suggestions are happily accepted. If you can provide estimated pricing or links, I’d love to take a look at them. :)

Shortlink:

61 Comments

  1. I recommends Host Gator. It’s a good hosting.

  2. I used Dreamhost for a while, but they forced you to use their DNS servers. Not something I could live with. I use Liquidweb now and they have been very good, plus I get to control my own DNS.

    • Oooh, yeah, that’s not acceptable. I have to own my own DNS, I’m not putting control over my domains into the hands of a web host.

    • Since when has DreamHost forced you to use their own DNS? I’ve been using them for 6+ years and even now I’m running sites with them that don’t require me to use their DNS.

    • I second Liquidweb. They do cost a little more than many other hosts, but they’ve been good to me for almost a decade now. Their Shared hosting should be okay with that, and their new VPS totally can (they have a ‘smart’ server which is like cloud light).

      http://www.liquidweb.com/cart/content/shared/
      http://www.liquidweb.com/cart/content/vps/

    • I’m also wondering about that DNS comment. I’ve had Dreamhost for a long time (lucked into their intro VPS offers too). Domains are hosted elsewhere, but I do use their DNS (It’s got basically 1-click Google Apps). I don’t host clients there because they have a very “open” hosting policy that would make some of my really conservative clients choke.

      My second choice is Hostgator, but I might be a little biased since a BFF :P is a linux security tech there. Just moved our emergency preparedness server to one of their VPS to save about $8k on a co-lo we had in Baton Rouge. So far it’s doing pretty good for a tertiary DNS and OMG-BBQ-WordPress site.

      Apologies, teen girl txting brought on by lazy Sunday morning.

  3. Well you can go for Site5 or Hostgator. Using Hostgator from last 2 years and did not find any problems with them.
    Hope you find a better host pretty soon…

  4. http://hostdime.com is our friend. I use a dedi box. Their VPS is great too.

  5. I use Linode. They’re great as far as VPS hosting goes. Really affordable and they let you just do your own thing.

    I’ve heard good things about HostGator, Site5, and LiquidWeb too.

  6. Otto,

    If you’re looking at breaking out of shared and are considering a VPS or dedicated, choose Wired Tree: http://www.wiredtree.com/

    It was a personal recommendation from Bryan Layman (a server-side genius) and it’s been amazing.

    • I switched from Bluehost to WiredTree a couple of months ago and I love their service so far. I have the basic package, $49/month.

      Their support is very respectful. They make me feel as if they have no one else to support but me. They take the time to write long and personalized replies even to my general questions, like “why is my server not fetching resources as fast as gravatar server?” Hehehe…

    • +1 for Wired Tree! Tried many of the popular shared and cloud hosting options; bad support, downtime, and lack of resources were always problems. I’ve had a VPS with Wired Tree for about six months and I’d never choose anything less than a VPS again.

      There are cheaper VPS options if you are bargain hunting, but Wired Tree has great customer service and has been very reliable so far. I haven’t run into any limitations so far, you can create all the sites, databases, or accounts you want to and handle the DNS however you want.

    • +1 for WiredTree as well!

      I have to use HostGator for work and it is so painfully slow, it kills me.

      I use WiredTree for my website and I’m very satisfied with its speed, reliability, and their support. I can run circles around the hosting I have to use at work. I’m tempted to create a separate account on my hosting and run the work site off of there just so I don’t have to deal with the oversold shared server at HostGator.

  7. Switched to Hawkhost 2 years ago after being unhappy with my previous hosting. Highly recommended: http://www.hawkhost.com/Shared/compare

  8. I recently moved from Godaddy – tried Coolhandle and Liquid Web but they both sucked for various reasons (especially Coolhandle). Anyway, I settled on Hostgator and I’m really happy so far. You probably don’t need it often but I find their live support chat to be really good. Also, I think they’ll migrate your sites for you.

  9. I sent you a mention on Twitter, but I’ve used MediaTemple for a while now and they’re awesome. The shared hosting plan (gs) sounds like it will do you well, and at 1TB bandwidth and 100GB storage at $20/mo, I think your needs will be more than met. Plus, their support is fantastic: they answer their phones 24/7 with minimal wait time.

  10. Hmm. Whenever one of these conversations pop up, usually the whole thing revolves around anecdotal stories of good and bad luck people have had with $provider. It doesn’t really provide the kind of information you want to base a decision that, as a professional, will be hosting a lot of stuff you deal with daily. You wouldn’t go just on anecdotal reports of positive or negative experiences for buying a computer, right? So why do it with the servers hosting stuff that has to work well?

    For issues like the one you’re describing, your degree of control over the host’s own decisions sounds pretty important. If you just move to another shared host, there’s nothing to say they won’t have one other little part of their configuration that drives you nuts- and usually not much flexibility to ask to have your account treated with any individual attention (for example, if they decide to do a major PHP upgrade that you need time to properly migrate.)

    If you don’t want to admin your own servers (unmanaged VPS or dedicated colocation hardware) then I would recommend a managed VPS provider who (a) gives you root control of your machine and (b) supports the services you don’t make any changes to yourself. Managed, dedicated VPSes start out of the box just like shared hosting with more dedicated resources, but provide so much more freedom to tweak the configuration yourself when you find yourself in a position where it’s needed. Make sure to find a provider that has a reasonable balance of what they’ll support for you and what you’re responsible for if you start making changes to the configuration. (I’ve had great luck with this on Media Temple (dv), and I’m sure someone else will come out with anecdotes about why (dv) sucks.)

    • Agreed on the reasons for using a VPS, but price-wise I don’t think it’s worth it. I mean, I don’t make any money off my hosting (well, not enough to matter.. the beer donation box in the sidebar basically covers the expense plus a little extra for beer), so I’m not sure it’d be worth the trouble.

      On the other hand, it might be worth it simply to gain the experience. I’ve admined many server boxes before, but not on somebody else’s network. Never done the co-lo thing, basically.

    • Yep, I could provide anecdotes about MediaTemple sucking. They were “the next big thing” at one point and I switched to them. They got too big, too fast and couldn’t handle things. The downtime was all too frequent. I left them for WiredTree and haven’t looked back. I’ve heard they’ve gotten better since the low-point, they just couldn’t scale up fast enough.

  11. Another nod for Site5. They actually do pretty decent shared hosting and the staff actually know their business.

    Not surprised at GoDaddy actions as they have been known to disable entire domains if they don’t like the content. (check the google)

    • The main issue I’m seeing on various packages is the limited amount of bandwidth. 50GB is not a bad estimate for average usage, but I don’t want to suddenly get presented with an epic bill for bandwidth if I’m suddenly slashdotted or something.

      I can put up with certain limitations as long as the available bandwidth on the package is extraordinarily high. Preferably “unlimited-within-reason” is what I’d like there. That may be asking a lot.

  12. as far as shared hosting goes, I’d say MediaTemple’s grid servers are the best

  13. You can look at webhostingtalk.com and lowendbox.com they have great offers there

  14. I use A Small Orange for all of my self-hosted sites. I have had a few issues over the past six years with them, but their support department is fantastic and always took care of the problems I reported within an hour, no matter how severe.

    I also have several friends on DreamHost who love their service, but I won’t be leaving ASO any time soon.

    • I like what I’ve heard about ASO, but their various packages don’t strike me as the right balance for my limited needs.

      DreamHost is bullish on WordPress, so much that they advertise the heck out of it on their front page and such. Even run their home page on it. That’s nice. :)

      Most common rec’y I’ve gotten so far on Twitter has been HostGator. Like 2x as much as any other.

  15. Otto,

    I’m a little biased (I work at iThemes), but BackupBuddy makes it super easy to migrate between hosts.

    On Thursday we moved our office assistant’s entire site from GoDaddy to HostGator in less than an hour.

    I realize your budget is an issue, so please email me and I’ll send you a complimentary copy.

  16. I was happy with DreamHost shared hosting until I started getting a LOT of 500 errors on some WordPress installs. It’s now common to hit a 500 on a WP or even plugin update, then find yourself in maintenance mode and have to ftp in to delete the .maintenance file. I’m not really technical but I tried everything they suggested and am running Super Cache. It’s a memory issue, but the problem is that none of the shared hosting companies will tell you how much memory you get. It would be awesome (and I’d be happy to chip in) if someone of your technical ability would test a bunch of hosting companies to find out where we can get the most WP ‘bang’ for our buck.

    • The 500 error thing is more common on Dreamhost as the number of installations you have on the same account increases. You can usually one one instance that does a decent amount of traffic as long as it’s cached and not run in to this. (Depending on plugin load.)

      • Looking at DreamHost, it seems that the shared hosting might be slightly overloaded in some respects. Their VPS seems pretty reasonable though. After a couple emails with their support, it seems like I’d probably have to install MySQL on the VPS myself, or pay extra for their VPS-MySQL server system.

        Any opinions along these lines?

        • Disclaimer: I do work for DreamHost, but you already know that =)

          First, it’s *definitely* the case that you can keep control of your DNS.

          If you do decide to go with DreamHost, I’d agree that a VPS is likely best given the requirements of your site.

          The good thing about using the VPS-MySQL instead of installing MySQL on a standard VPS is that the MySQL VPS machines are built with hardware specifically for MySQL performance, rather than to maximize storage (more specifically, this means they have a LOT faster hard drives). Also, since pretty much nothing than MySQL runs on the VPS MySQL machines, you’re using about the same amount of RAM as you would had you installed MySQL on your VPS, so it doesn’t necessarily save you money to go the local MySQL route.

          Feel free to ping me if you have any specific questions — just figured I’d pass on the information I knew.
          Either way, the best of luck in finding a host that works well for you!

          • Yeah, I’m just not real comfortable with having to pay extra, and separately, for MySQL services. That’s just weird, man. If it was like a bundled package, then I probably wouldn’t think anything of it, but the separation is strange and weird and it makes me reluctant to sign up for that system.

            Basically, it’s unclear as to what exactly you’re signing up for when you sign up for it. And to have to add on database services later is strange and weird too. I want to run a primarily WordPress based site. Database should be part of the package from the beginning, in whatever way you want to define the “package”.

            • You’re right. It’s a bit weird, and there’s been talk about changing how the plans are built for that reason.

              At the moment, the reason it’s separate is that a lot of people just host MySQL databases on their shared plan (because Shared MySQL is plenty for most sites).

              That said, if you don’t want shared hosting, it turns out to be cheaper just to have the separate MySQL VPS along with your normal VPS (because there’s a 20% discount from the top if you have one of each).

              Generally, most people are fine with the bare minimum of RAM for a VPS MySQL.

      • The 500 errors I’m seeing are on a single WP install with its own user. I noticed it at first on a WP install with what turned out to be a busy plugin. But subsequently I’m having issues on simple WP installs with only a couple of basic plugins running. If you want to know more: http://wordpress.org/support/topic/500-internal-server-errors-with-dreamhost?replies=22

        • From the little research I’ve already done: Turn off Super Cache. Super Cache caches the static HTML files to disk. Dreamhost uses NFS network mounted disks. So Super Cache won’t be effective there, since it’s causing network activity to write and clear files on the disk space.

          • Actually, we haven’t used NFS for some time now.
            You definitely do want to use caching — like Super Cache or W3. This is particularly if your site is busy, or more RAM heavy than most, of course.

            • I have been using a DH VPS for 50+ low-traffic sites for about the last 5 years – all together they probably get the same traffic as your site. I have the VPS set to the minimums, so I pay about $20/month for the VPS (plus $6.95/mo for the DH account)

              I recently went thru each and every site tweaking the account settings to minimize resource usage across the board (but mostly worried about RAM): all domains use php 5.3 CGI (not FastCGI, and not mod_php), and all sites run WP Super Cache. This is the most efficient setup I’ve been able to find.

              Oh, and DH has great customer service – on the more complex issues it may take a few emails to get the right question asked, but I’ve never encountered anything but friendly and helpful folks, even when I was getting a little frustrated :)

  17. I haven’t used shared hosting for a few years now as I’ve been totally happy for myself and low-need clients through ServInt. There’s $ 49/month Essential VPS and top notch support makes hosting with them a no brainer.

    Good luck!

  18. I’ve had a Linode for years and have been very happy with it. It’s a virtual server to which you have root access (which means you’re on the hook for updating and stuff as well). I pay $20/month for the 512 plan, which includes 20GB of storage and 200GB of transfer monthly. You can buy add-ons as well, so if the transfer’s good, but you want more space, you should be able to add space pretty reasonably rather than even bumping up to the next plan (which is a whopping $30). I’ve been very pleased with Linode; over the course of several years, I’ve had no downtime that was their fault. I haven’t really had to use support, so can’t speak to how good that is. My traffic volume has been low, so maybe the service isn’t as great for higher volume; I’d check on that before moving everything over.

  19. Quick warning about a small orange; they’ll disable your account without warning if you hit resource limits. They did a pretty decent job before that though.

  20. I’ve had great experiences with MDD Hosting for several years with a couple of different clients. They’re pretty great. The only issue we’ve run into was very recent, an important email about server migrations that mysteriously never got delivered, leaving us unable to log in until we contacted support. Weirdly, the household’s other account did get the message, so it seems to have been a random glitch.

    I’m on Joyent myself, and have been since it was TextDrive, but I don’t think they’re offering new hosting accounts now that their business has morphed into other things. Which is a shame, because they’re great about unexpected traffic spikes.

  21. Not cool. Check out Hostdime and Hostgator. I’ve been using Hostdime since 2004 with nary a problem. Great customer service too. Started using Hostgator a year ago for some other sites, mainly because they offer unlimited disk space, unlimited bandwith and unlimited domains for $14.95/month. No problems there either. You can’t go wrong with Hostdime or Hostgator.

  22. PS I pay Hostdime annually… I think I pay $220 per year for a reseller package. That gets me essentially twice what I’d get if I went with a regular hosting package. I can’t remember the specifics, but I get X disk space and X bandwith for my site and the same for hosting other sites. I don’t host other people’s sites, just my own additional sites and the occasional family or friend’s site.

    Hostgator’s unlimited domains are actually add on domains, but I haven’t had any problems with that.

  23. You could try NearlyFreeSpeech
    It’s pay as you go, and the costs go down as you use it more. It’s stable, fast and comes with SSH. Most importantly, no censorship.

    Try this: https://www.nearlyfreespeech.net/estimate

  24. Sorry, but I can only say what to stay away from, and that is JustHost. They suck, and I’m getting ready to move 10+ WP sites away to Media Temple.

  25. I can suggest http://www.server4you.com/vserver/
    I am using their dedicated server and its probably best quality/price hosting solution in world. ( I gave some information about why its best in there: http://www.webhostingtalk.com/showthread.php?p=7441198#post7441198 )
    About their vSERVER cloud; i didnt test it myself but you can test it 6 months for free.

  26. I sure hope you’ll report back once you’ve made your decision, and let us know how it’s going? I’ve been on GoDaddy for a few years (got there out of ignorance), and more and more find myself looking to switch.

  27. Ah, another satisfied hosting customer…it’s things like this that prompted me to write an article on my site about hosting. I primarily focus on Joomla and have for the last 4+ years and I remember seeing frustrated people who were on Godaddy. They have great pricing but I question their hosting. Of course, the planet is saturated with hosts that should be in the business, some that are just ok, and few that are quality all around. There is no such thing as a perfect host, but to be honest, it’s a very difficult ordeal to find that one that does well.

  28. If it’s not too late, I’d recommend looking at Lunarpages which I’ve used for 3-4 years. Aside from reasonable prices, their phone support has been excellent. In particular, one Monday when all hell broke loose for one of my clients hosted with them, the support person apologized and explained that too many people had called in sick. Instead of bs’ing me. Or pretending there was nothing wrong.

    I also like Linode.com where I have a small VPS that runs a software app and a high traffic blog. That I used to learn how to set up web servers (I still suck). And one of my clients uses Rackspace Cloud which is great but the price is way too high: basically for $150/m you’d have to have all kinds of paying clients or websites (which they do). I’d also second Wired Tree from what I have seen from others.

    It might be useful to hear what you choose, for what reasons, and how things turn out. At the least, thanks for a useful site.

  29. Hi there. You are an excellent developer, congratulations and thank you very much for your code.

    Have you ever considered to acquire your own server using Amazon Web Servers? I felt the same way you mentioned regarding
    the tradicional hosting models and decided to get my own server long time ago.

    For simple web hostingm all you need is an AWS small instance and install in it whatever you
    want, Apache, PHP, MySQl, etc…

    And I’m pretty sure that are AMI’s (OS disk images) available that already contains all the features you are used to (cpanel, ssh, phpAdmin, etc.)
    and the pricing is really, really affordable, pratically the same you are paying now, I mean, even cheaper…

    You will have no problems with disk space and storage (you use S3 buckets and EC2 block stores) and grows the space according to your needs.
    You can have as well as many IP/DNS using their Interstate53 solution, can start/stop new instances, memcaches, etc anytime to play a bit as sandboxes.
    You can install any MySQL servers database you want, multiple instances, multiple ports, multiple, etc.

    I have 2 servers there hosted by the past 3 years and never have any problem, one large instance for my production and one small instance for my sandbox.

    My sandbox (1Gb Mem, 1 CPU) has now 11 wordpress independent installations. I believe the cost x benefits of having your server “independence” is priceless. I never trust any host to hold my work. Amazon has thousands of machines and to hack one is to hack all of them…

    Once again, congrats and many thanks,
    Paulo Lellis

    • For a short time a couple weeks ago, I toyed with the free AWS instance to see how it works. I was able to set up a virtual machine and get it running a WordPress install relatively quickly, however I ended up not going with it for two reasons.

      First, their interface was a bit fruity. It was very much a roll-your-own concept, which I dig, but trying to figure out their weird terminology turned me off quickly. I’m sure I could figure it out though, given time.

      Secondly, their pricing scheme is bizarre. Obviously, you pay for what you use, but trying to figure out what you are going to use in advance and coming up with some set of decent ranges is amazingly difficult. Any service that doesn’t have a way to cap things at some price range is out of the question for what is essentially my hobby sites.

      So Amazon’s services are indeed amazingly cool, but they strike me as overkill and not something I could recommend to your average user for just creating a website. If I was creating large scale web services in a business situation, then AWS would clearly be a great way to go.

  30. Why dont you try virutal private server.

    You will get all these features at a cheaper price

  31. Pagematic is a pretty great hosting company, small team but gets the job done. If you like a company that can be personable, meaning if you have an issue you usually get the same person that you have already dealt with and that knows your specification and needs in an out, then its definitely worth it. They have been around since like 1999 and provide great service.

    http://www.pagematic.com/ they have good vps and dedicated packages. The only censorship they have is pornographic material. Doesn’t look like you are hosting porn here though. Lol

  32. My blog has been with Dreamhost for five years: they are nice people, moderately priced about $100 a year for as many sites as you like, with good support ( and I generally keep my domain registration far from the hosting company… ). They can be slow, but my blog is heavy ( which meant that their overly-generous disk space and bandwidth does get tested without complaint from them ); but annoyingly they have their own crafted panel and web structure, which made it nearly impossible for another host to move the site ( he very kindly refunded the putative hosting… ).

    Despite this I was planning to move it to the hosts of our forum, vBull specialists who have now sidelined into WordPress hosts and hoped for them to migrate it; except I am now looking to convert away from WP. They are stupendous hosts for forums and have been the best hosts I’ve known for reliability and speed, UrlJet . com — they even include free hourly backups, Their WP hosting goes from $16 a month 10GB/200GH, $20 15GB/300GB, $50 30GB/750GB. This is expensive for me, but based on their great hosting of the vBulletin forum, I think they’d be worth it for anyone who can afford the best.

    Still, Dreamhost is fairly good as well. Plus they let you alone mostly ( unlike a few hosts ).

  33. I attempted to sign up with BlueHost, and it turned into a nightmare! Every time I tried to move forward with setting up a web site with them, they would throw another monkey wrench in the process! Over and over and over again, they screwed everything up! I finally pulled out in total disgust, but they have failed to send my refund even though they assured me I would get it if cancelling within 30 days. Wow, what I nightmare! Just terrible!

  34. Yes man, I agree with every point here. Godaddy hosting sucks big time! Their DOM and connect time is well over 2 seconds, How can one expect to load under 2 seconds then!!

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