Seeking Hosting Advice

Published 14 years, 3 weeks past

A friend and I have decided to build a web service/site/whatever the kids are calling them these days.  A thing on the web to help you out from time to time.

As a result, we’re looking for a web host with great service, reliability, and scalability, and I was curious about your experiences.  Here are a few details on what we need:

  • A managed server where patches are applied automatically.  Neither of us are Linux experts, and we want something secured for us without us having to worry about whether some patch breaks the system. 
  • mySQL with phpMyAdmin.  (Don’t judge.)
  • PHP w/cURL, mySQLi, and mCrypt, as well as an editable php.ini file.
  • Apache!
  • Some sort of CVS (Subversion and the like) built in.
  • Bonus: some experience on the hosting side with the ability to escalate to Memcached and other noSQL techniques.

The mySQL and PHP bits are of course incredibly common, but still, no point not mentioning those requirements.  In our case, the bigger issue is really “Who can we trust to provide support for what may turn out to be a reasonably large-scale service?”  So the features aren’t nearly as important as the reliability and trust.

Thus: what say you, friends?  Who rates as a great place to plant a web service seed that could one day grow into a mighty forest?  Let me know!

Comments (59)

  1. I highly recommend LiquidWeb managed services.

    – I dont want to learn Linux
    – I have had many bad hosting company experiences

    LiquidWeb has the following:
    – Phone Support! (very huge)
    – Quick email support and very competent tech guys
    – They have installed anything I’ve asked of them on my server. mCrypt, git, ffmpeg, xcache (when it was still beta). All of this was included though they mentioned they couldn’t provide technical support for 3rd party addons. With Xcache, it caused problems, and they did discover the problem and change my server settings to fix it.
    – Their dedicated servers are inexpensive compared to the other big boys with such good support
    – And they do have cloud based managed servers via StormCloud.

    My two cents. Most of my friends use them and they’ve been our little secret (till now I guess =)

  2. I may have a friend who could help you with this – he hosts all of our clients’ sites (it’s not some basement / closet / backwoods thing when I say “my friend” but I don’t want to steal his thunder here), I’ve sent him a link to this post.

  3. Recommend WiredTree or Liquidweb. That’s where I host all my stuff, and have for a long while. ThePlanet is an option to, when you consider potential for growth, given they’re the company that hosts some of the biggest hosts (e.g. Hostgator)., though you’ll pay handsomely for their managed services.

    CVS doesn’t come by default with a lot of hosts, and certainly not preinstalled on most given not everyone wants it. However, anyone offering managed services should likewise be willing to install something for you as part of the managed arrangement.

  4. Try Liquidweb, support is great. A Linux server with cPanel will update itself and provide you everything you need by default except subversion but I doubt that will be a problem.

    Enjoy your day

  5. I would like to recommend MediaTemple (I use there services but other than that have no affiliation with them). There stability is great and their technical support is second to none.


  6. I really like WebFaction. I’m fairly certain that they can scale well, you can install just about anything you want on their servers (within reason), and their customer support is excellent. They do have a weird blend of supported services and stuff you’d need to do yourself (e.g., they’ll set up SVN and a bunch of PHP/Python/Ruby apps and frameworks for you, but you’re mostly on your own if you want to install memcached or redis). Feel free to hit me up if you have more questions.

    (The link above has no affiliate thing, but if you decide to go with them, feel free to reference “erikv”; if you decide not to use WebFaction, I’ve heard really good things about Slicehost.)

  7. I have been using Media Temple now for 3 years. The admin interface is one of the best I have come across, and I have tried a lot of them.

    They have full customer support and send you an email of your phone conversation when you call in. Its pretty darn slick. The phone waiting time is always minimal, and they speak my language, English!

    MT also has a great knowledge base support section that most often answers all my questions. In addition, they post a system status live online so you can see if there is any issues.

    The best part is you can host up to 100 domain on a single account. This makes it easier to manage all your ftp info for multiple sites.

    Can you install stuff on their servers, no idea, but you can call them. 1.877.578.4000

    Oh, and I think chicks dig Media Temple.

    “One of the Kids these Days”

  8. Another vote for WebFaction, top notch service from very friendly and accessible crew.

  9. Use one of the PaaS providers.

    I don’t know of one for PHP (there has got to be!) but Heroku for Ruby, AppEngine for Python are both excellent. You just deploy and forget the whole thing.

    Ruby & Python are both better than PHP anyways :-P


    I hosted all manner of static websites and web applications (running LAMP frameworks, Drupal, WordPress, etc.) with them for over ten years, and could not complain about the level of service, professionalism, and overall features one bit.

    They are a touch pricier than the mainstream, mega-hosting providers, but the old adage, “you get what you pay for” never rang more true than when I was enjoying their hosting services.

    They are also renown stewards of open source, and some very high level entities host with them. They offer shared hosting, and dedicated servers, so you can scale with them. I have referred almost a dozen customers over the years to them for shared and dedicated hosting, and none of them have since switched.

    Why did I switch? Simple, I own iron and buy bandwidth from a colocation facility now. While I didn’t really outgrow them per se, my situation changed such that I needed to have complete control down to the hardware level.

    Their Developer shared plan or dedicated servers could probably handle all you need. They’ve a nice set of custom web tools for managing most aspects of the server’s services, from database, to email and things in between as well.

    Check them out:

  11. Check out I have used them for many years (10+) for everything from tiny personal sites to managed servers, and have had outstanding service on the count-em-on-one-hand few occasions when I did have problems.

  12. Sounds like you want Media Temple’s Grid Service They offer everything you need except the memcached/nosql stuff, but they may be working on that for all I know.

    Slicehost is great, but only if you want to manage your own server.

  13. I second LiquidWeb. They are hands down the best provider I have used.

    Me: Front-End Engineer – not afraid to tinker with linux, but very far from an admin. I have used many hosting providers over the years and these guys are the only ones I would recommend (been using them for over 3 years now).

    SVN was not installed out of the box, but a quick phone call was all that was needed to get it up and running within an hour. In addition to phpMyAdmin, they provide WHM/Cpanel control panels which can come in handy.

    As already mentioned, their phone support is great. I have only needed to call a handful of times (usually because I broke something) and have never had to wait on hold to speak directly with the person who can help with my issue.

    They have multiple data centers attached to incredible pipelines, with great phone support. All of the requirements you have listed should not be any issue for them.

    I would even recommend starting with a VPS plan – You can save a few bucks and still have root access to tweak anything you need.

  14. I’ve had good luck with I’m not sure what you need in regards to CVS, but I think everything else is covered. They’ve been very prompt and helpful when I’ve needed assistance.

  15. +1 for WebFaction. They’ve been really good to me.

  16. GEORGE: My back is killing me.

    JERRY: You gotta go to my chiropractor, he’s the best.

    GEORGE: Oh yeah, everybody’s guy is the best.

    p.s. iWeb is the best. LOL.

  17. Check out – if they don’t have the right package for you, they can probably customize one. :)

  18. +1 for WebFaction. Easy to configure software bundles, that you can mix and match for each website e.g. the root of / can be PHP, /media can served statically by Apache and /svn points to a SVN+Trac installation

  19. I spent a lot of time last year researching hosts, I wrote about my frustrations looking for a good host. Biggest problem is finding a quality host that actually knows how to be responsive when problems come up. Most hosts are “fine” until something goes wrong.

    After a series of bad experiences, I spent more hours than I care to admit looking at hosts. The two I decided sounded genuinely good were and I ended up going with cartika and really think they’re the bees knees. Rochen I believe would have been good to but I could only choose one. Both have outstanding reputations. I’ve had lengthy conversations with the guys at Cartika hosting, at the very least, give them a shout and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

    I disagree with some of the commenters about Media Temple and would advise you to stay away from them. If you look at their actual reviews across the web, then tend to fair poorly (that is, not affiliate review sites). They have slick marketing but everything I have found suggests they have some serious problems, especially with their grid server.

  20. CVS? SVN? Apache? PHP? Mysql? Is this written 2010 or 1999? time to get updated on webtechnologies that are not css related :)

  21. – easily the best web hosting I’ve used in a long time.
    Phone support or email/ticket support. Turn around time is nearly always 30 minutes.

    They installed any php addon I wanted – even on a shared account.

  22. For the last 8 months I’ve had a VPS setup (my first) with–they seem to be a little cheaper than LiquidWeb but offer very similar options.

    Liza Daly (Bookworm/ibisReader) recommended them and so far I have no complaints.

  23. I’ve had great experiences with WebFaction – their customer support is by far the best of any I’ve encountered.

  24. My organazation has been searching relentlessly for a good hosting providor over the past 4 years. We’ve tried a lot. I can say now, with confidence, that Rackspace is the best option we’ve found BY FAR. They have tech support that actually answers the phone and helps.

    We use SVN, but it’s not tied into our Rackspace servers. Check Codespaces.

  25. mySQL with phpMyAdmin. (Don’t judge.)

    Lucky you put in “don’t judge”, otherwise you probably would have received 18 replies dissing PHP, rather than just the two :/

    Guys, it sounds like Eric wants to build something. Learning a new programming language is probably not the best way to get the thing built.

  26. have you taken a look at UK2 Group:

  27. If you want speed, reliability, and ridiculously awesome customer support, check out Servint’s VPS. seems good too. I have less experience with them but they host a few of my client’s sites and they seem very reliable and fast.

    Of course, wherever you go, avoid shared hosting at all cost… especially $5/m ;)

  28. I’ve been happy with Dreamhost for a good few years as has everyone I know. Very manageable backend that is custom. It has a great number of gimmicky things in addition to what you are looking for and a “Private Server” option if you don’t care for shared hosting where you get your own vritual machine.

    They are really nice people in all the dealings I’ve had with them and their custom web backend for little account nuances I found much more pleasurable than cPanel.

    Private server option is probably better for your porpoises. They are pretty inexpensive, but do great work. I believe everything is still on Debian and their servers are located in California.

  29. I have to say that EngineHosting are great people, with dedicated service, and Nevin Lyne is one of the few owners of a hosting company that I know I can DM with a question and have a response back quickly. Definitely shoot him a tweet!

  30. Just a thought: if you’re going to build something that needs to scale, particularly in combination with php and mysql, you should try looking into memcached as well. Any hoster that will deliver you a cvs, will probably help you setting this up as well.

  31. Check out ServInt. Nothing but high praise for their “Essential VPS” product.

  32. I had dreamhost for a while, they are great. They even have some version on git on there if that’s what you’re into. I’d recommend them to all my technie and non-technie friends. They have this wonderful thing where you can vote for new features etc. they’re definitely worth a look. I highly recommend! (and their monthly newsletters are funny too)

  33. I would +1 DreamHost, for a shared hosting. They offer everything you need (including one-click install of SVN), you don’t need to do Linux, but they offer SSH/shell, they have a fast, friendly support, they’re honest (blog listing all downtimes and problems), etc.

    However, on the servers I’m on, MySQL is SLOW. But as Timothy has mentioned, they offer an affordable VPS, separately for MySQL and Apache/PHP/etc.

    A friend of mine is working on a PHP hosting benchmark, but we don’t have enough data collected yet to go public. (Stay away from GoDaddy, though.)

  34. I have nothing but great great things to say about Rackspace. You pay a slight premium for it, but their service is just amazing. A small start up I worked for has managed to not hire a true sysadmin for 4 years because of how amazing Rackspace is, and the hoops they jumped through for us.

    Whenever I set up a new machine with them, I always make sure to ask for a Plesk installation. Whatever other control panel package they use just isn’t nearly as good.

  35. (Rackspace is managed hosting — if you want shared hosting, I love Dreamhost. Fantasticly powerful control panel.)

  36. @Tim Rackspace also has Cloud Sites, which isn’t a dedicated server option.

  37. I would go with MediaTemple. I’ve been a customer for several years and I’ve been super happy with the results. I have several servers with (mt) and they blow away the other providers I have used in the past. They are helpful and will work with you. I would suggest their (dv) servers. You can do anything you want with them and yet they still do some updates for you.

    If that sounds like too much work or you want some help – contact me and I can help manage your server.

  38. Hi,

    For me rackspace cloud has been awesome and worry free – allows me to run both Linux and Windows technology on the same account.

    The best bit for has been the totally awesome support – a quick live chat always results in me chatting to a tech expert who answers any query quickly and efficiently

    Its a little steep for running a single site so if you’re interested drop me a line and maybe we can sort something out for you


  39. Ughhh… LiquidWeb was really really LAME for us. Not nitpicky stuff either, but all our sites completely down, ongoing repeated problems, no solutions, attempts to shift blame to other companies, wouldn’t make a 2 minute phone call, etc etc.

    Been with since, couple years now. They’ve been great. They’ve been in the hosting business since 1996. No relationship with them other than happy customer.

    Best of luck!

  40. It’s too bad you’re not total do-it-yourself-er types. I understand wanting to get all the setup and whatnot out of the way so you can settle down and work, but for my main hosting stuff, I like to have lots of control, something I didn’t find with many hosting services.

    I use Slicehost, which gives you a virtual server and installs a fresh copy of whatever OS (it might be whatever Linux) you want on it and gives you an IP address to access it at. Perfect for me. I know it’s more than you need for this project, but in case someone else peruses the thread looking for something like this, here it is.

  41. I’d go with Liquid Web…Been using a VPS for 3 years now and I happen to be quite content…well…we had our “ups and downs” now and then but I’ll stick to them as long as the support keeps up the high level….good luck with your new project….

  42. Just started using InMotion Hosting. Not sure if they offer CVS, but I know they offer PHP Admin, appache, etc.

  43. I dare not say who I host with. It will sound cheap…..

  44. I’d highly recommend Layershift ( – Excellent service, good value and incredibly responsive to requests, tickets, etc.

    They are small(ish) but sometimes that is what you want, large companies tend to get customer service badly wrong.

  45. Hi Eric,

    I can highly recommend EngineHosting. My contact there is Nevin Lyne (@nevinlyne on twitter). They are the first host that made my site running great without me being worried each time they do something. Great and fast support as well.

  46. Hello! I can recommend you Their service is the best I have ever seen and they can offer you several locations. Good luck and best wishes!

  47. I’ve been a customer of for a while, and think they do quite well by their customers — as far as a VPS provider.

  48. I use for everything. Great support and many great features. Let me know what you think!

  49. I can also strongly recommend LiquidWeb. Great service and excellent support.

  50. Um, the winners so far seem to be and

    My two cents are not about the reliability or services of those two but about their transfer allowances. If you are going to put something together with any kind of throughput you will need to focus more on staying away from services with glass ceilings.

    Look closely at the price/space/transfer alotments at liquidweb… they MUST be kidding. I’m also not seeing anything even close to decent at mediatemple for what they charge.

    It may be laughed at by some but beats both of those hands down in not just price but they have unlimited transfer and their uptime for the last 5 years that I’ve been with them is superb. Also note… the first 3 months with them are free with no “subscription” fine print… ie leave when you want/need. Did I mention you get a free .com name from them that is free… FOREVER..? Not to forget that their datacenters are as up to date as it gets… ummhmm. Pay the other trendy hosts double for reduced features if you want but don’t say you weren’t warned before you get the extra chareges when you hit the transfer ceiling or run out of GB’s.

  51. Well, of course, I suggest my current webhost :D

    That’s BeKaWe Media, located in Leipzig, Germany. The owner is known to be idealistic, trustful and able to set-up both properly adminstrated shared hosting as well as individually configured managed servers. I’m with this company for approx. 5 years by now and am still very very happy with the choice to switch to BeKaWe Media I made back then ;)

    Official guaranteed up-time is 98,5% (as usual), but actually it’s somewhere around 99,7%, at least in my experience. If there ever was a bigger problem, it was quick and properly solved. Support by mail is available 24h a day, by local phone only during German standard working hours, but actually their reaction by mail has been quicker in most cases. Of course there’s a mobile phone number for emergency calls if something really ugly happened, but its only given out directly thanks to spam scanners and stuff wrecking havoc with privacy and data security.

    cu, w0lf.

  52. Westhost are great and very good value. Fantastic live support. All the apps you want are 1-click to install, except svn (which I found easy to install).

  53. Add another vote for Dreamhost ( if it’s not too late. I and my friends have had hosting there for close to 10 years now with maybe 2 minor instances of downtime, neither within the last 2 or 3 years, both being related only to email, and both lasting a very short time. On top of a great initial price, they constantly add things to your plan, and I think still give “slashdot protection” for bandwidth spikes. Also, their customer service is great!

  54. @Tim Dreamhost also has Dreamhost PS (“private server”), which gets you a private server with shell access. I haven’t tried that out yet (unnecessary for my own projects).

    However, I’d like to give DreamHost another +1. I can’t recommend any other web host I’ve tried any higher than I recommend DreamHost (I’ve gone through Pair, RackSpace, 2mhost ~shudder- and LunarPages). DreamHost has quick service, friendly folks manning (and womanning) the phones, good pricing – and a sense of humor to boot!

  55. I’ve used PlanetLogic for my hosting for about four years and have been very satisfied with their support and service.

  56. @#52 Your example for a web host is something extra-ordinary and that’s all it is.

    Main problems to that hosting company (if it is an actual web hosting company)

    1) Flash based – enough said, slow loading = loss of market client.

    2) All i could find was how to access pump rooms, which i could give a flying $#$& about. I pay a server to host my web pages not to give a shit about fancy engineering.

    3) Where the heck is the contact us page or login or for that matter the price listing?

    You know what I see here? I see some web designer who is trying to impress the web community with some flash new tricks.

    Nice try man but we go for accessibility not impressibility. Get real and try again

  57. I recommend MediaTemple, I’ve used them for a year and a half and they’ve been awesome. They have SSH access and configure your php.ini, and a custom back-end that i prefer over cpanel/plesk. You can install SVN on MT Grid also, it’s in their Knowledge Base.


  58. I found is a very good hosting provider with great customer support and provides managed and affordable servers.

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