What web hosting company would you recommend?

The safe answer is always: "It depends on your needs."

It’s a tricky business recommending a web host, and I’m unfortunate enough to be asked that question frequently. I even have a ready script in hand, presenting 3 to 5 options to a client depending on their requirements, complete with a comparison chart, and a table of pros and cons.

There are instances when giving a hosting recommendation is not as risky, and in these instances, I won’t hesitate to mention the sites which come to mind everytime the subject of hosting comes up: I would personally recommend Site5 for Linux, and maybe Intermedia for Windows (not Linux). I know a lot of WiseWomen who swear by Pair. My brother is currently hosted on a Philippine-based webhosting company called Site.com.ph Digital Interactive, and is very happy with it.

I admit we host a lot of commercial websites in Intermedia. Some of our clients prefer LiveStats for viewing their website’s statistics, and their sleek DeskPilot for checking their emails from the web.

However, with big hosting companies, the impersonal attitude of the support personnel can be very off-putting, sometimes bordering on rudeness. For instance, I remember requesting SSH access for one of our accounts hosted in Intermedia. After filling in a request and providing them with the required information, the support personnel curtly replied that he cannot grant us SSH access on the reasons we provided. Period. (Ironically, they have previously granted us SSH access on our other accounts. Their client base must be so big as to bypass that information.)

Also, I’ve learned to be wary of hidden costs — in restoring from a previous backup, fixing a corrupted table in your database, DNS configurations, in upgrading/downgrading hosting plans, etc.

Thank goodness for hosting companies such as Site5. My feelings toward Site5 are very strong, and a bit personal. Back in 1999, when I was probably The Ultimate Newbie in their entire customer base, people like Matt and Todd were already there, patiently answering my questions — from Perl paths, to tips on backing up my database and DNS configurations.

I wasn’t actually the easiest (or smartest) customer in the world, but I have yet to encounter an email where they would refuse to give me any support because it was "beyond their scope of responsibility." In the rare case that I did ask a far-fetched question, they have always pointed me to the right direction, and even went as far as give URLs and tips on how to do things efficiently.

Fast forward to 2004, where thankfully, I don’t bug them as often:

  • I have finally gone past that newbie stage (even if, at times, I still feel like one)
  • Their NetAdmin leaves little room for questions
  • They practically have all the features I need. Do a comparison with other virtual hosting companies to see what I mean.
  • Most of all, they don’t forget their old customers. Did they implement a new pricing scheme that is better than what I originally got? No problem, here’s an additional 750MB space. I’m a little tight on cash this month, can I downgrade my plan first? No problem, consider it done.

Their slogan claims that they’re the most trusted name in hosting, and in my book, there is no doubt.

Check out their website at www.site5.com.

Formatting once more

I mistakenly installed one of those codec packs a few months ago.

To those who don’t know what a codec pack is, it is a program which installs in your computer the common audio and video codecs. These codecs enable you watch highly compressed videos from your computer.

I am very fond of my collection of videos. If others have their mp3s playing in the background, I have my videos. They are a necessary evil, and the only bearable thing which can shut down the noise in the office.

And so I installed one of ’em. I found it too inconvenient to search, download, and install all the codecs I needed one at a time (although come to think of it, I only needed 3 to 5, as compared to the 50+ that the codec pack actually installed).

Things worked well for a while. After a week or two, I noticed that although I can play my new videos perfectly, I cannot play any of my old ones without experiencing a drastic decrease in performance. My PC would either play choppy video/audio, or would simply show some registry reference error.

Things got nasty when I couldn’t even play my DVDs properly. I decided to go online to get the advice of the online codec gurus. They voiced out my greatest fear: "Do a clean reinstall of Windows 2000, earthling."

They were right, and yet I decided to put it off. I do a lot of reports from home, and couldn’t afford not to have my PC within ready access. After all, I can live without buying new DVDs, right? And who cares if I don’t have my videos. Silence might be a good thing.

Weeks turned to months, and even my "bitter half" was getting tired of the I-better-format-my-computer-soon remarks. I found myself spending a lot of time surfing, and, gracious, finally approving those Friendster requests. Working from home wasn’t just the same anymore.

Yesterday, I snapped. My bitted half got a new DVD, and innocently asked if I wanted to see it.

A:> FORMAT C:

May homepage ka ba?

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Even after years of developing websites for money, fun, sheer boredom, or blackmail, I had no interest whatsover in putting up anything about me.

And for many reasons:

  • I’m naturally paranoid. Nothing scares me more than the words: “So you’re Chette.
  • I was (un)lucky enough to have friends who happen to be strong privacy advocates. Google revealed more than enough, thank you.
  • I’m obesessive compulsive (wonders of wonders, I finally admitted it). It took me weeks just to decide on the font face, color combination, and table width.

    I am still having nightmares that someone changed all my fonts and replaced them with Comic Sans.

  • I didn’t know where to start.

Coward no more:

  • Maybe it’s because of Friendster, where old friends have been leaving persistent messages, asking why “my website is down.”
  • Maybe I just want to jump in the bandwagon — after all, every Pepe, Pilar, and Procopio have his own blog or personal website nowadays.
  • Or maybe I just realized I have to get over this. (Sigh. I hate growing up.)

Without further ado, allow me to present to you chette.com.

Ito na po. Gawa na po. And with all sincerity, I hope you enjoy your stay.

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