I could make this a lot longer, but I won’t. Here is my current feeling on hosts — and I’ve tried a number of them. If you want a lot of access and control for the price, I recommend Inmotion Hosting. Not coincidentally, this site is hosted at Inmotion Hosting. Most of my sites are hosted at Inmotion Hosting, and most of my clients are at Inmotion Hosting too, even though I’m not a reseller. What I am is an infamous tightwad. And Inmotion Hosting offers a lot of value for the dollar.
You can get fancier, higher endian packages than Inmotion Hosting. In fact, if I become a millionaire I’ll probably someday move my sites to 1&1, a hosting outfit from Germany that just entered the stateside market. And which is totally top-of-the-line. Sleek. Mercedes-quality.
But at the moment I’m not a millionaire. In fact, I need to be really conscious of overhead. Which means going for value plain and simple, which in my experience means Inmotion Hosting.
What do I like about Inmotion Hosting? They’re actually not for everyone. Those who consider themselves ‘rank beginners’ at webmastering will want a little more hand-holding. Inmotion Hosting isn’t one of those template-driven minisite style hosts that keep you and the back end as far from each other as possible.
No, Inmotion Hosting is more for the kind of person who dreams of having a dedicated Unix server on a really big pipe. The kind who’s comfortable slopping around in Unix, PuTTY, PHP and mySQL but has nowhere near the budget to pull off dedicated hosting. Enter Inmotion Hosting, whose virtual hosting packages are the next best thing. They give you total control.
What do I mean by total control? Well, I mean if you don’t like their standard applications, just install your own. I mean, you can mess with your entire ‘root system’ from the command line or the control panel, whichever you prefer. And if you want to stop and start your Apache or mySQL processes at any time, you just do it. And finally I mean that there’s no grief about giving you secure shell access and everything that goes with it.
Maybe you’ve experienced the other style. Getting ‘real’ access makes pulling teeth look pretty pleasant when it comes to some hosts. (I just now got an email back from one of those hosts. A Host That Shall Remain Unnamed. To wit: “You do not have to promissions [sic] to modify any of the configuration files.”)
Somehow, Inmotion Hosting manages to offer all that client freedom (it sounds like a nightmare from a management perspective when you think about it) and still keep really, really low rates.
Inmotion Hosting has been in business since 1998 and I’ve worked with them for a while, maybe about four years. They’ve had some bumps and growing pains along the way, don’t get me wrong. In the fall of ’93 they migrated to a more sophisticated architecture to serve their wildly expanding customer base and hit some snags during the transition. Inmotion Hosting settled in quickly, got back to their usual excellence, and keeps a verifiable uptime of 99.95%.
Inmotion Hosting customer service is good, too. They don’t ignore you, and they get back to you when they say they will. But to be honest, one of the best things about Inmotion Hosting ‘customer service’ is the tight community that’s grown up in their forums. There are a surprising number of people there who are really willing to help you out. You don’t even have to ask especially smart questions.
And there’s one more thing to keep in mind if you do any serious development. Inmotion Hosting’s special relationship with Miva. Not only does Inmotion Hosting offer Miva in some ridiculously low-priced packages, but if you get a medium-priced ecommerce package you get the Miva compiler and Limited Source Kit.
I can’t bold that enough. If you’ve ever worked with Miva, you know how incredible that is. I don’t think any other hosting company is offering anything comparable. Even if you have nothing to do with Miva (most of my clients don’t), you’ll be making a great choice with Inmotion Hosting.
Check them out. Check out their value packages. I liked them when I started and I still like them four years later because:
– Inmotion Hosting’s pricing models are great.
– Inmotion Hosting’s freedom and access is exceptional.
– Inmotion Hosting’s speed and uptime is above average.
– Inmotion Hosting’s communities and forums are unusually warm and helpful, with that “Unix coffee klatch” feel.
Which means you’ll never have that annoying moment where you tell your client (or your business partner, or your wife), “I can’t do that. The hosting company doesn’t offer/allow/understand it.”
Whoops, just got a few more emails back from tech support at Inmotion Hosting, and another hosting company. I was installing a light shopping cart on both hosts and had some questions about adapting it to the server. Let’s see what they say.
Other Hosting Company’s response:
Thank you very much for your mail. You can make a .htacess file but we can not do anything to the http.conf file. We apologize for the inconvenience.
If you’ve ever gotten under the hood of a web site, you know what not being able to “do anything to the http.conf file” means. It means you may as well be hosting with Geocities. Keep in mind that this hosting company charges over $35/month for this package.
Now here’s the reply from Inmotion Hosting:
Do you still have [ShoppingCart] set up on your account so we can take a look at it? If it is still installed then let us know where we can go to take a look at it. Let us know if you have any other questions.
Do you get the sense they actually read my email and wanted to resolve the problem? So do I.
Inmotion Hosting is the next best thing to your own dedicated server on a giant pipe that a telco forgot to bill you for. Until we’re all millionaires, that is. And even then you might find you prefer going with the ‘value package’ after all.