ASO – A Small Orange

I’ve been hearing nothing but great feedback from a hosting company called A Small Orange. I’ve been curious about them for a few months now and this morning I created an account. I’m leaving Hostmonster because I noticed my websites have been loading slow. At work (different account), it has been slow as well. It turns out that other users (shared environment) seem to be hogging the resources – which leads to less resources for my websites, thus the slow loading. I have slowly moved my websites over (this one included) and have seen quite a difference. It feels like I just installed WordPress and it has no content yet – at least for me it feels that way. Hopefully it loads fast for you as well, or at least faster.

Once I move, I’ll be closing my account with Hostmonster and hope for a refund of unused services. This is not the first time I’ve moved out from them and they’re easy to work with. They are a great hosting company, it’s just this time I want something faster.

No more Hostasp.net

After a few days of playing around with their server and having some difficulties, I decided to cancel their service. I’m new to Windows hosting since I’ve always used Linux hosting, so I’m not that all familiar with it. A lot of my questions can easily be resolved if they had a better FAQ or knowledge base section on their website.

If they had a local US number I can call, it would make getting support a bit easier and faster. I used to complain that Godaddy has phone support but it was long distance, but it’s still a US number. Besides, long distance is a thing of the past within the US since it’s pretty much a local call with most cell phone plans. I just thought it was weird that they didn’t use an 800 number.

Instead, I had to create a ticket in their system, which isn’t bad but the response time averaged over 6 hours. They also had a chat software installed on their website but being located outside the US, the hours were different and most of the time it’s offline. At that rate, I figured a few weeks before I can get settled in and it’s unreasonable. Only solution I had was to cancel the service and find one closer to home or at least easily accessible within the US.

Don’t get me wrong, the features you get for the price they are charging are great. You get an IP address, unlimited databases (MSSQL 2008 and MySQL), remote connection to the database, web deploy compatibility, and refund any time. If my comfort level and knowledge with Windows hosting environment matched with Linux, I wouldn’t need that much support. I think this company is new and has a potential of becoming better. Once I get more familiar with Windows servers, I may look at them again.

Hostasp.net first thoughts

I’ve been looking around for a cheap host for .NET. It’s more expensive than Linux shared hosting. I didn’t want to spend too much being that I just want to play around with it to familiarize myself with the technology – so I’m not asking for much. What I do need is a plan where I can create more than 1 MSSQL database and support .NET framework version 4.

I found Hostasp.net from http://www.microsoft.com/web/Hosting/Home. This page has a large, extensive list but little feedback. I took a chance with that company for its price and features. It’s been a day and here are my first thoughts.

The company is based out of India. There’s a huge time difference so I was concerned about contacting someone via email and getting a response in a reasonable time frame. I sent a question using their ticketing system and the response took a little over 3 hours, not bad. I also found a 15% off coupon so it even made the already low price more appealing. So I figured it was worth a try. Here are my likes and dislikes based on a 24 hour period.

LIKES:

  • The deluxe hosting plan for Windows is $48 annually. This includes unlimited databases (MSSQL and MySQL), up to 5 domains hosted, a dedicated IP address, and a free domain name.
  • The set up took under an hour. I receive emails for every update on my account during the set up.
  • It supports up to .NET framework 4 (but currently have an open ticket regarding this)
  • You can request a month trial for .99 cents. You just have to submit a ticket.
  • You can request to cancel your account and get a refund, anytime.
  • The test pages I have created seem to load quick. Although I haven’t made complex pages yet, just simple ones for testing.

DISLIKES:

  • They have a phone number you can call but it’s long distance (international). There’s many different ways to provide phone support customers in the US even though a company is based elsewhere. VOIP is the number solution. They could at least use Skype to get a US number, whether 800 or any area code, and it would still be a local call since many cell phone plans include free long distance calls to and from the US.
  • There is a way to chat with someone from their website but during the day (my time) it’s usually unavailable or away.
  • The control panel is a little weird but I’ve been using cPanel and probably expect certain things or used to how things are. This might be a bias dislike.

So far I haven’t been able to test what I need to with this host. I checked out Godaddy’s plans. With any purchase of a domain from them, you can get free hosting, supported by ads. This didn’t work since the free hosting doesn’t support .NET framework version 4. So I ended up getting the low plan just to test things.

I’ll continue to play with Hostasp.net for a few more days and see if I can get it to work. We’ll see whether I keep this host or go with Godaddy.

New home at Hostmonster

Last year I pre-paid a hosting account from Godaddy and had my sites hosted there. The price for a shared hosting account is great. It’s been okay at first but then my needs grew and my sites started to lag a little. I thought it was my WordPress at first so I started disabling themes and plugins. That didn’t fix it. Then I went through the database to see if I can optimize it further, no go. I guess it’s a common thing to happen when you have a shared server that your sites may lag a little. There were times I get a timeout error though and that isn’t really normal.

Aside from the lag, I didn’t like how to access MySQL’s interface (phpMyAdmin). Every link I click on opens a new window/tab until I have like 3 different ones opened. There is also the possibility that your databases are in different servers. Also, creating a database can take up to hours before it is complete.

GoDaddy’s Hosting Connection is just horrible. Many of the add-ons are free but some aren’t. The selections aren’t that appealing nor many. After seeing that, I started to miss cPanel.

Finally, my year was up and I started to look for another host. After doing some research, I chose Hostmonster. The price is slightly higher than GoDaddy but I get unlimited storage and bandwidth. I also get my cPanel (hooray!) – amongst other goodies.

I’ve had them for almost 2 weeks now. There have been some problems. Last week my sites were inaccessible a couple of times on Monday but it was due to system updates. Kind of odd that they were running it during work hours. I’m used to seeing those done usually late at night or in the weekend. Now today same thing. This time they told me that someone else on the server was taking up most of the computer’s resources. It’s been a weird experience so far but for the most part my sites are loading up normal (faster than GoDaddy). I hope they can provide a more reliable service, consistently. I will see in the next week or two. If not, I’ll be switching to another company. What’s great with Hostmonster is you pay in advance, but if you leave early, they will prorate what you have already used and refund the rest.

I don’t think I’ll be using GoDaddy as a host again but I will continue to buy domains from them until some other company starts to charge less than they do. GoDaddy provides good packages for hosting needs. But as a developer, my needs can’t be met unless I get a more expensive package from them.

Nevermind on switching

After playing with a paid version Hostmonster, it didn’t meet my expectations. While using the demo I got an idea of the features and services they provide, it still lacked what I was looking for/expected.

  • SSH, though available, you cannot connect from your computer. You still had to log into cPanel and use its SSH interface. Not only that, but you have to provide a picture to Hostmonster in order for it to be enabled.
  • Pear libraries can be installed, but only stable versions. There were a couple of Pear libraries I’d like to use but are in beta (Spreadsheet_Excel_Writer and Calendar just to name a few).

Those two are the major things that stuck out. It wasn’t worth the trouble of switching if I couldn’t get those 2 to work the I wanted it to. So I called them up and cancelled the account. The experience was great! They asked for the domain and they refunded the full amount, no problems. If I didn’t already have a host, I may have gone with Hostmonster just because of the experience. I also used their online chat to ask questions before I got an account and during. They were helpful and efficient.

Switching host again

I’ve been using Godaddy as my host for a couple of months now and for the price, they’re not that bad. For $3.95/month, you can host numerous domains on 1 account. But there are a couple of things I wish it had:

  • iMAP support for email
  • a better online file manager (they have been working on this feature for almost a year now and still nothing)
  • allow remote access to the database
  • SSH access
  • PHP Pear
  • better support

Then I found Hostmonster. For $4.95/month (first 2 years pre-paid, then $5.95/month for the next 2 years pre-paid), I get what I’ve listed above, plus more.

  • bigger storage space
  • more monthly bandwidth
  • RoR (Ruby on Rails)
  • WebDav
  • each add-on domain can have their own separate FTP, login, etc. accounts
  • cPanel

And that’s just what I’ve noticed so far. I just created an account today and I’ve already set my DNS on my sites to point to the new server. There might be some down time, so bear with me please. I will keep the Godaddy account active until I’m sure the new hosts lives up to my expectations. If not, I can simply change my DNS settings back to Godaddy and get a refund.