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Find a Diamond in the Rough

[ Photo: Cut Diamonds ] Getting the best possible web hosting is for obvious reasons something that all website owners aim to do. However, you might know what type of web hosting you are looking to get but still do not know what provider to partner up with. Many of the web hosting top lists you find on the web today look the same as they all take the same things into account. These guides usually take into account similar factors and cost usually is weighted highly. While many people do simply look for the cheapest host with decent reviews, there are others who seek slightly more from their provider. Below are some of the most sought after hosting types (dedicated, shared, vps, green) and some of the providers within those categories who may be overlooked by users but provide some excellent service.

Dedicated Hosting – Steadfast

[ Logo: Steadfast Hosting ] SteadFast is a hosting provider that has put all of its efforts in the dedicated server market. Their aim is to be of service for small businesses but they can adjust and adapt to larger companies as well. When it comes to the uptime and features that are included in their hosting packages SteadFast is well above the overall average web host. They have in the past fallen short in terms of support but have greatly improved recently. We have at times experienced it to be a tad slow in their response-time but once you get a hold of them you will get all the help you need. And yes, there are dedicated hosting providers that have cheaper plans but SteadFast makes up for it in having fast and stable servers.

Some other Dedicated Hosting providers which may have been overlooked in your dedicated hosting search are: HostICan which is well known for their continuous optimizing of their servers which leads to little downtime or need to reboot their servers. Another to consider would be XLHost which offers some pretty affordable dedicated packages while losing little in terms of features.

Shared Hosting – InMotion

[ Logo: InMotion Hosting ] While not a secret, InMotion is mentioned in this listing as it is overall a great company and value for shared hosting. InMotion has proved to be one of the more successful providers when it comes to shared hosting, often topping all the major toplists and there is obviously a reason for this. To begin with, their support team is one of the most knowledgeable and helpful teams that we have encountered in the business. Unlike many other support teams, InMotion can boast a very quick response time. The plans consist of pretty much everything one can expect from a quality web host. You will get plenty of disk space, bandwidth, monthly transfer and an easy manageable control panel is included. One area however that we wish to see improvements in is the statistics. To some this may be a small detail but more complete statistics are useful to more savvy users.

Update: Check out more in-depth information about InMotion »

There are so many shared hosting companies out there and it can get quite cumbersome to keep track of what all is available. While many people are familiar with InMotion, Host Gator, GoDaddy, etc, it can be a daunting task to find a high quality provider who meets your needs and can still offer a decent rate. Some of the better up and coming providers are HostClear and Arvixe. Host Clear is relatively new, and so has yet to stand the test of time but Arvixe has been around quite awhile and both provide high quality services. There has been very little negative about their customer service which is typically the stumbling point for many companies as the basic options do not differ much and thus support is one of the areas a provider needs to shine to excel.

VPS Hosting – VPS Next

[ Logo: VPSNext Hosting ] VPSNext is web host with pre-configured plans straight out of the box. Having just one solution makes it very easy for the consumer, particularly if you not very experienced with hosting and are seeking a more secure solution than shared hosting but not wanting to spend the money on a dedicated server. However, the fact that VPSNext does not have a wide selection of plans can also be a downside as it does not leave you with many options. The plans are as one might expect: reliable, plenty of disk space and bandwidth which of course is essential if you want a fast and stable site. One are which VPSNext really excels is in their customer service. Apart from the standard live customer service options, they also have a strong and active online support community.

When it comes to VPS it is difficult to find quality providers outside of the big few providers as they are often lacking in customer support. As the prices are substantially higher than shared hosting, the consumer does (as well they should) expect quality. Not to be confused with the incredible Mozilla labs browser plugin of the same name, Ubiquity really stands out from other VPS providers. This Linux based provider has great features built into the packages and can be attained at a moderate price per month. The security built into their system is one of the areas of highlight as they use InterWorx which has a very extensive virus definition library and is updated daily.

Green Hosting – Green Geeks

[ Logo: GreenGeeks Hosting ] GreenGeeks is a very interesting company and very much concerned with their own carbon footprint and beyond. It is important to mention is that they do pull power straight from the grid but they make up for it by purchasing wind energy credits, replacing all the energy they have consumed and much more, they are 300% green (meaning they purchase 3x as much in credits than they use). The hosting itself is shared and even though you will have to split server with others we have not noticed any nameable downtime and the quality of the features that are included can easily match any of the other shared web hosts. This is even more so evident when you take a look at all the awards that they have received. Another big bonus with GreenGeeks is that they have an excellent “Help Center” where you will be able to find information on most of your potential queries. As the virtual world online takes up more space in the real world in terms of hosting companies, servers and all that go along with them it is important to consider companies like GreenGeeks who are working to keep the planet healthy.

There are currently not many options dealing in green hosting. Two others that have a more friendly impact on the environment are ThinkHost and SuperGreen. While these are not as green as GreenGeeks they still provide carbon neutral services that are of a good quality. If you are looking into green hosting, you likely want the company to have a positive impact rather than just a neutral impact but it is important to have options to consider as well. While a company may have an incredible environmental record, they may not have all the features you are looking for. Outside of the green aspect, these companies provide exactly the same services as others in the industry and should be held to the same expectations for your needs.

About the Author
Brian Franklin is one of the savvy bloggers on The Hosting Nerds’ Speakeasy, which is the blog part of the website, Web Hosting Search. Brian writes tutorials at Web Hosting Search, blogs about various happenings within the industry, and reviews web hosts.
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11 responses to “Find a Diamond in the Rough”

  1. Thomaso Mirodin 2009/07/06 9:16 am

    I have been using dreamhost for a while and been very happy with it. What stopped it from even being mentioned in this list?

  2. Everyone knows about Dreamhost. The goal of this article to help people discover some “diamonds in the rough” that provide excellent service but have yet to become super-well-known.

  3. Ben Caplins 2009/07/06 9:55 am

    I have no idea how well known it is, but icdsoft has been excellent to me. I don’t know how it stacks up for more demanding users, but from my personal site it has been absolutely perfect for about 4 years now — no perceivable downtime and extremely fast ticket servicing.

  4. @Ben: Awesome tip — that’s exactly the type of Web Host information I would like to share in the article and on this comment thread. Like many of the other hosts in the article, ICDSoft is new to me, so I will definitely be adding it to my list of potential hosts. Thanks for sharing your experience with everyone. Cheers.

  5. I am on hostmonster shared host. Not to happy about it. Thanks. will check some of the above mentioned hosts.

  6. Sounds like a plan, Nihar — there’s some great Hosts presented in the article, so hopefully one of them will help to improve your situation. Good luck :)

  7. Thanks for the article, Jeff! I find it really hard to look for good web hosts nowadays – Google is of little use because most of the results it churns out, I suspect, are paid reviews or articles that are similar in nature to the former. I’ve been finding out hosts based on word of mouth – GoDaddy was a big nono to be because my friend had problems with their payment methods (auto-renewal and all, and everything’s in fineprint). I tried to get HostGator but my bank rejects my offer to pay using their card because of “potentially fraudulent transaction”). Hmmm, that made me wonder.

    So far I settled with JustHost. Cheap? Check. Unlimited <insert everything you can think of>? Check. 24-hour tech support? Check. Secure? I doubt that. Unless I can make enough money to sustain my website, I’m stuck with these hosts who will, or current are, potentially overselling. I’ve checked out the hosts you’ve introduced, and they seem perfect :)

  8. Awesome Teddy, glad to hear the post was useful. I often find myself in the same boat when finding good hosts for clients — never quite sure which one is going to be the “best fit.” Each case involves different needs and different budgets, so it is good to have a “short list” of recommended hosts available to explore.

    As you suggest, finding good hosting through Google is next to impossible — you either get one of those generic, template-site resellers, or else you get one of the “giants” that are completely oversold. When Brian asked me about a topic for a guest-post in his area of expertise (Web Hosting), I explained this very same issue and told him that it would be great to find some hosts that were high quality, great service, and not something that everyone already knew about. I would say he did a great job, and hopefully the post will continue to help people find their ideal Web Host.

  9. Spot on in that reply you’ve posted, Jeff. I couldn’t find better words to say what you’ve said. Different clients have different needs – when my friends ask me for a good host to recommend (of course, they’re not my clients but it’s the same story), I find myself scrambling through my memory for a good one. I can only tell them my previous experiences with different host, and make it a point to advise them not to turn to Google for web hosts. You’re completely right.

    I only believe their service quality and etc by words of mouth. I’ll definitely be checking out the hosts Brian has recommended! Do help me say a big thanks to him for doing us a great favour – for giving us an unbiased view of different hosts :)

    And that is what keeps me coming back for more. Keep up the great work!

  10. Keith Wolf 2009/09/19 11:53 am

    After a falling out with my shared hosting on GoDaddy, I have now been using WiredTree.com ‘s VPS plan for about 6 months so far and I don’t think I could be happier with them. It was set up and ready quick, any time I have asked for assistnace (3 times so far) I got a response in about 20 mins or less.

    They recently emailed every one of their vps customers to let us know that our plans were being upgraded for free! So my previous plan of 384mb ram is now 512mb and it went from 600gb of bandwidth to 1tb / month at no extra cost.

    Their plans are a tad bit more than some other VPS providers (starting at 44/month) but I am thrilled to pay the extra 10 or so bucks for such a reliable host (not even those upgrades caused any downtime, as far as I know).

    Make sure if you use them, use a discount code (google wiredtree discount code), I think I’m paying like 39 instead of 44 thanks to that.

    – Keith Wolf
    Denver, CO

  11. William Vicary 2010/08/24 5:44 am

    Hi Jeff,

    Have you heard of TheCaringHost.com? They are a great host and what pulled me to them was that they are green, guarantee 100 sites max per server and they give $1-2 per customer per month to charity – I think that little bit extra makes a huge difference.



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