Way back when I first got an internet connection I was with Demon Internet on their famous tenner a month account. The company was small, had responsive UK support from knowledgeable techies. Then they sold out to the telecoms offshoot of Scottish Power and things started to go downhill, eventually I got fed up and moved away. When I moved rather than take an e-mail address from my new ISP I got myself a domain name, so it then wouldn’t matter if I changed ISP in future, indeed I have changed ISP several times in the intervening years.
The company I chose to host the domain was again a small company, Gradwell Internet which was headed up by Peter Gradwell, at that time a student working his way through University. The support was excellent, at times you’d even find Peter Gradwell himself handling support calls. Then VOIP started taking off, and the company refocused slightly towards VOIP and businesses, and as time has gone on I’ve been increasingly feeling that the old small hosting customers aren’t really important, the quality of service has dropped. So for example e-mail went out for the best part of a day a while back, general performance of websites was sluggish, I had e-mail that just vanished, and then the real finale earlier this month was they had a fault in their hosting cluster that caused one of my sites to produce errors whenever that machine in the cluster was hit, and whilst they fixed the cluster Gradwell managed to propagate the copy of the website they’d corrupted across all the machines rather than keep the working copy, leaving me having to dig around and restore the site from my backup.
So finally after just short of ten years with Gradwell I took the decision to move on, and interestingly talking to friends who have also been long term Gradwell customers they’re finding the same thing, one is transferring sites away, another has already moved all his sites away and currently only has domains. Taking a look online again there are lots of disappointed Gradwell customers moving away, so the question is where to go?
Initially I took a look at one of the big namesFast2Host who have done well in things like the PCPro awards, and as I wanted the flexibility to host my WordPress based blogs, but also try out some ASP.Net stuff I opted for their Windows based package. That unfortunately didn’t get overly far as although it can host WordPress, it is problematic running scripts like that I use to keep regular backups of my sites. The support was really good, but ultimately suggested I needed a Linux account instead and swapped me over. Initially I didn’t think that would be too much of a problem, then I started moving my domains over to CPanel.
Now CPanel is pretty much the de-facto standard for many Linux hosting packages, but it has one fundamental flaw in that it was initially written to host a single domain. The way the developers chose to support additional domains is in my view a massive hack, what happens is when you add an additional domain it creates a sub-domain of your main domain, and then maps the additional domain onto that. What that does is put the additional domains into a folder beneath the main folder for your main domain, mixing code for the two domains together, it also means any additional domain can also be accessed as both a subdomain of your main domain, and also as a folder within it. Whilst with some hacking around of access files you can work around that it is still not keeping additional domains separate as I had been able to do on Gradwell.
So I took a look for other hosts that don’t use CPanel, and a name that came up several times amongst former Gradwell users was TSO Hosting. As a company they used to use CPanel, and indeed will still provide an account running it if pressed, but for most customers they recommend their own cloud hosting product. Alongside not being CPanel one of the big advantages of this from my point of view is it’s not tied to a particular platform, they support both Linux and Windows in the same account, so I can host my WordPress sites in Linux, but also play around with Windows and ASP.Net hosting all under the same account with no problems.
I did the changeover over the course of several days last weekend, and now all of my sites are running from TSO Hosting servers, and so far so good. The support has been excellent, even answering a whole load of pre-sales questions on a Sunday morning when Gradwell usually won’t answer an e-mail from a small user like me. I’d certainly recommend them as a good host so far, especially if like me you want the flexibility to work both with Linux sites, or Windows.
If you want to give them a go, they are great for hosting a WordPress blog like this, with a one click install to get you going, and if you enter EXIGENCY1 as a coupon code at the checkout they’ll give you 10% off the price. Click on the banner below to get to their site.