Looking for a host to call home

On September 23 2007 I started this lil’ol blog claiming that I would “tentatively” look to the future of local and regional newspapers.

How things can change in six months!

Now, and I hope this doesn’t sound too cocky, I feel like I’m pretty much immersed in looking at the future of regional newspapers in the UK.

It has been a rapid education. For example, things that I did for the first time at SXSW include:

  • Access Twitter over mobile internet.
  • Interview people on a camcorder.
  • Live stream video over a mobile phone.
  • Blog via live streaming.
  • Upload a video to Youtube.
  • Speak on a podcast.

I know, I know, these are things I should have been doing already. Well… you’re right. In my defence, it’s taken me a while to build up the right kit in order to do much of the above.

Anyway, now I’m getting to grips with new platforms, I thought it was about time to get a host for this blog. I’ve been doing on the cheap by having it hosted free by WordPress, but I would like to have more freedom to play with the blog and I’ve been told the best way to do that is get me a host and download the lastest version of WordPress. Plus, I kinda need to learn how to manage my own website.

If this is right, then I could really do with some advice on hosts. I’m looking for something that is relatively cheap and reliable. Any ideas?

15 thoughts on “Looking for a host to call home

  1. GoDaddy hosts JournalismEnterprise.com and has been pretty good with an easy automatic WordPress install – recommended by Andrew Dubber.

  2. On a Twitterer’s recommendation (wish I could remember whose) I tried LunarPages (http://www.lunarpages.co.uk/) and was pleasantly surprised. They don’t come across as the most professional, but their web support is good (thus far) and the control panel gives me everythig I need.

    Ideal for hosting WordPress blogs anyway.

  3. Given my recent experience with events outside my ability to control, I advise against going ‘cheap’. While you can get a reliably served domain & website for less than £5 a month, there may come a time when the extra resources and support you get for £20+ will keep your website afloat ay a moment of crisis.

    Furthermore, some or maybe all of your hosting costs are deductible, and I gather you have the income to pay for it up front, so I would have you think in terms of professional hosting and support.

  4. I tend to recommend http:/34sp.com to people as a budget option with the ability to grow. It can certainly run WordPress once you bolt on a MySQL database. But you’d probably be best asking Stef for advice, especially as you might be hosting large files and have the potential to get a huge audience with what you’re doing.

  5. I host http://www.mediaenterprise.co.uk with godaddy for about $4 a month. Works smoothly. I was a complete novice beforehand and have no problems with it. Having it hosted allowed me to tinker with an existing theme to make it my own and to integrate a survey from another platform.
    Dave

  6. You gotta love the blogosphere for coming up with suggestions. One I’d probably avoid is Easy Internet Solutions, easyinternetsolutions.co.uk, not becuase they’re rubbish (I set up Leith FM’s community radio station site) with them and am very happy, but it’s insanely complicated and not a ‘newbie’ solution. But for others browsing here looking for a lot of flexibility, it might be worth a look.

  7. There’s no need to host your own video and audio really (unless you want to) so don’t worry too much about the bandwidth.

    1&1’s basic (two MYSQL databases) business option copes very well with the 4/5 blogs I run on it (plus a good few other sites) and I never hit the limit.

    DC-hosting on the othet hand have stung me for extra bandwidth payments on thekittenchannel.com even though most stuff there is hosted offsite (flickr pics etc)

  8. Jon’s right about video – host it on Photobucket or somewhere.

    If you’re serious about learning website management, I’d look for a host that doesn’t have its own proprietary control panel. Some of the recommendations given here do (e.g. GoDaddy, 1&1).
    Find a host that uses one of the non-proprietary generic control panels. My favourite control panel is cPanel (http://www.cpanel.net), but Plesk is also good.
    My reasoning is that if you learn cPanel, you can transfer those skills to any one of the millions of web hosts who use cPanel. However, if you just learn the GoDaddy control panel, you’ll need to re-skill if you ever change hosts.
    Also, if you ever move up to your own virtual or dedicated servers you can use cPanel to manage them.
    My favourite cPanel host is HostGator (http://hostgator.com) – cheap, reliable, live 24/7 support and a nice community. Their ‘Baby’ plan at about 4 quid a month, allows unlimited domains and subdomains, unlimited MySQL databases, unlimited POP3 email accounts, loads of automatic script installers (including WordPress) with more disk space than you’ll ever need (350gb) and loads of bandwidth (3tb, yes terabytes!). Go for the Linux version.

  9. I’ve been using ICDsoft for several years on a range of personal and commercial sites. The universal package should give you all you need and more

    http://www.icdsoft.com/hosting.php

    The customer support is exceptional for it’s speed (about 5 minutes) and I can only recall one incident of down time and that was after an earthquake…

    Backups of databases and files are made daily and held for 7 days so there’s some margin for error whilst you figure out your transfers!

    Just email me if you want any more info, and a reseller programme means there’s scope for getting it a bit cheaper if you’re interested!

    Have you registered an URL yet? If not, don’t forget the basic rule of registering it through a different company to your hosting. I’ve used GoDaddy before which was cheap but non-descript. I quite like Telivo, for no particular reason other than just ‘cos.

  10. Reading through these I’d add / emphasize getting something that runs Apache on Linux and gives you Shell (SSH) access as well as the usual user-friendly control panel stuff. You won’t need it initially but it’s a cool thing to learn a bit about.

    For example, you too can waste whole hours exploring the fascinating world of .htaccess redirects!

  11. Guys, thank you so much for all your advice! I’m quite overwhelmed… and not sure where to start.

    So…in summary I think what you are all suggesting is:

    1. Get a user-friendly control panel, but choose a generic one.
    2. Have a host where it is easy to upgrade bandwith.
    3. Get something that runs Apache on Linux (eek!)
    4. Make sure customer support is good.
    5. Don’t get hosting from the same place that you have registered your url.

    At the moment my url is registered with 1&1, so I guess that rules them out. But I don’t think I’m going to satisfy all of these requirements.

    So the list at the moment is:

    1. ICDSoft
    2. GoDaddy
    3. cPanel
    4. 34sp
    5. dream-hosting
    6. hosting.media72.co.uk (from @aeioux on Twitter)

  12. Yeah! I don’t envy you – everyone you ask will have a different opinion!

    Here’s a bit more info regarding how ICDSoft squares up to your hit list (I’m not on commission or anything, I’m just genuinely impressed with the service!):

    1. I can understand where Paul’s coming from with his control panel comment and not getting sidelined by proprietary control panels, but I wouldn’t worry about it too much – on the few occasions I’ve had to use cPanel or Plesk I’ve found things quite transferable. You can try ICD’s control panel here: http://www2.icdsoft.com/democp/ maybe there’s something similar for cPanel somewhere too?

    After the initial set-up, you’ll probably find most of your day-to-day tweaking is done either through wordpress or your HTML editor of choice.

    2. upgrading is as simple as clicking a few buttons and then paying a few extra dollars http://www2.icdsoft.com/democp/order.htm
    With bandwidth you can upgrade your package for the remainder of your subscription, …or just boost your bandwidth for that month when you post that particularly contentious article!

    3. UNIX/Red Hat Linux I don’t really know what that means in more than the vaguest of terms – back over to Pete for that one! No SSH, but you can modify .htaccess like you would any other file. There’s limited cron job functionality though and this is the only short-coming that’s ever made me have to use another host for some projects.

    Anyway, you’ve got a range of recommendations based on people’s good experiences – you may have reached the pull-the-host-name-out-of-a-hat stage!

  13. Hay Jo,

    (mt)- media temple, have a great rep at the moment and have a very impressive list of clients. Ive seen them recommended and used by some really high traffic blogs so you wouldn’t really go wrong with them, we dont user them at the mo tho as there a little pricey..

    http://www.mediatemple.net/

    Dreamhost – Is by far the best deal ive seen in ages and they have one of the best online control panels ive seen for a long time. They have had a checkered few months most notably resonantly charging its customers early to the tune of $7.5m . Apart from that little incident with there billing software they have great technical support, more bandwidth and storage that anybody could ever user, SSH access and loads of one click goodies that would have driven the vision wild, SVN, Jabber, WEBDAV … the list is endless. Plus the US exchange rate makes it even cheaper ! :D

    http://dreamhost.com/

    Almost every host should have one click install for wordpress, but if you want a hand doing it the manual way let me know or just pop round the office on your travels :D

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