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.