One of the most common question that people ask me after my talks is how should they go about developing & hosting their own website. I often direct them to a series of articles I wrote back in 2009 on ‘How To Create, Run & Manage Your Own Website Part: I, II, III‘. The most critical part of running any website is the choice of web-host; and I’ve learned it the hard way. The price I had to pay for choosing the wrong web-host was very high; both in terms of money & time. This is not your typical ‘technical’ review. I’m only sharing my own experience of being with LiquidWeb for the past few years. I hope you find it useful.
Yahoo Web Hosting – The Biggest Mistake Ever!
When I started; I chose Yahoo Web Hosting because Yahoo was ‘the Brand’ that just couldn’t go wrong. They offered unlimited hosting space and from my memory, I guess I paid somewhere around ~$12/month for hosting my site with them. My full time job allowed me to afford web-hosting and I was quite serious about my hobby (CrazyEngineers). Since it was ‘Yahoo’ – I believed I’d be with them for long time. But I was proven wrong. My site got hacked and the hacker left a nasty message on the front page of the site. Now, when you get hacked, you realize the importance of taking nightly backups of your database & files and testing them! I had a backup of my data, but it was at least 2 weeks old. Restoring my site would mean I’d lose 2 weeks of awesome data shared by our members and user registrations. Of course I couldn’t afford to lose it. I turned to Yahoo support and it was really hard to get them to respond fast. I remember I had to wait about ~6 hours to get an email response from them containing further questions. Finally, I had a direct call with them and that’s when the Yahoo’s admin dropped the bomb – He asked me to ‘delete entire database, clean up everything and start again’; because even my backup could have malicious code. That was it. I knew I had to do something and my priorities were set:
- Get my site back
- Find a new, reliable web hosting provider
I did manage to get my site back within next 2 days, without losing any data & I spent next 3 months searching for a good, quality web host. I wanted to go with *the best* available & yet affordable. My venture didn’t make any money then and I didn’t want hosting bills to burn my pockets. I decided my criteria for selecting a hosting provider as follows –
- Super amazing, extremely helpful, rockstar support team of server administrators & sales (you got the point, right?)
- Super fast response time for any support ticket I raised or direct phone call I made
- High quality hardware
- Ability to upgrade to better servers without having to leave the hosting company
In short, I was looking for a hosting ‘partner’ I could work for a long time in future. I was still on ‘shared hosting’, but I knew I’d soon require a VPS (I thought it’d be a logical upgrade over shared hosting) and then a dedicated server. I finalized ‘Rackspace’ & ‘LiquidWeb’ based on several reviews & recommendations. The whole process took me over 3 months! But criteria #5 led me to purchasing a shared hosting account with LiquidWeb. Rackspace only offered dedicated servers which were beyond my reach then.
Shared -> VPS -> Dedicated Server Hosting With LiquidWeb
LiquidWeb impressed me because their sales team was the quickest to respond to my ‘noob’ questions in great detail. I deliberately asked them basic questions because I wanted to know how they treat me. Their response was impressive! I bought shared hosting account with them and their Heroic Support Team helped me with almost everything I asked for – right from migrating the server, to updating the DNS to restoring databases and so on. What surprised me was that the support team was genuinely interested in helping me setup my site and optimize it. It felt like I was getting 10x returns on what I paid for. I became a LiquidWeb fan! Over a period of time, I’ve had VPS & Dedicated server with them and was also a part of the ‘Storm On Demand’ beta testing team. StormOnDemand introduced refreshing new twist to the whole ‘web hosting thing’ and I knew our site was ready to move to Storm On Demand.
Storm On Demand – Super Fast, Super Easy, Super Flexible!
After running the site on LiquidWeb’s Dedicated server for a few days, I decided to move the site to Storm On Demand service offered by LiquidWeb. It had a refreshing new UI and offered a great control over your hosting environment. The LiquidWeb team handled complete migration of the site and all I had to do was just log a ticket in the system. I’ve been on Storm On Demand for several months now and haven’t had any major issues. Yep minor ones did occur, but those were mostly because of the software I installed on the server. The LW Heroic Support Team handled everything with great care and ‘never give up’ attitude. LiquidWeb is run by young & dynamic team of professionals headed by Matthew Hill. I wish them success & luck and hope to continue to grow with them.
No review would be complete without the pluses & the
minuses suggestions. So here we go:-
Where LiquidWeb Excels
- Great support team! They do know what a ‘Heroic Support Team’ is. One of the support executives even offered to write a custom script for me to backup our databases; free of cost!
- Very fast servers. Appreciate it.
- Uptime is impressive.
- Shared, VPS, Dedicated server hardware is impressive.
- Storm On Demand server cloning, images, nightly backups & flexible pricing is super nice!
- New SSD based servers seems to be a great initiative! Yet to try out the bare metal server.
- They reduced the bandwidth pricing on their own!
- They own their own data centers!
Where LiquidWeb Can Improve
- Make Storm On Demand a ‘True’ Cloud! I don’t want the site to go down for a few hours when I resize my instance.
- Give us an Android/iOS app for the control panel. I’ve already communicated this to their officials and they said ‘they want it too’. Hope they release it soon!
- It’d be nice if you could offer SMS notifications whenever the server goes down.
I’ve been with LiquidWeb for long time now & definitely recommend them to anyone who’s serious about their websites – it could be a simple blog or a major eCommerce site.