WebHost4Life has been (mostly) good over the last 3 years, but it is definitely time for me to seriously start looking for a new hosting provider. About the same time last year, WebHost4Life shut down my sites without any notice, complaining that they were using 100% of the CPU. Turns out that I was on a very old server, and they should have just moved my sites to a new server (and gave me proper warning), but they didn’t do that and I had to bitch at them to get my sites back up. I was pissed for a while, but never really found another web hosting company that I was comfortable with, at a price I wanted to pay. For $20 a month with unlimited bandwidth, WebHost4Life was a hard bargain to beat. Oh, I tried not to abuse their unlimited bandwidth rule by keeping my feeds small and implementing RSS compression in .Text, but I knew my time was coming when they would pull the 100% CPU thing again.
Then at TechEd I was hanging with Peter Provost and he mentioned that WebHost4Life kept pulling the plug on both his and Brad Wilson’s site, saying that they were using too much bandwidth (how can you use too much bandwidth when WebHost4Life advertises “Unlimited/Unmetered Bandwidth” is beyond me). Now, I know that Peter and Brad are using a similar version of .Text, but without the RSS compression, but that still is no excuse to be pulling a site down for execessive bandwidth, when the hosting company advertises unlimited bandwidth. Truthfully, I shouldn’t even have added the RSS compression, and force them to do it the right way and have IIS handle the compression. But I figured it was easier for me to do it, then to convince them to do it the right way. The downside is that the compression takes CPU cycles that map back to my account, and they can always shut my site down for execessive CPU usage (which is different then excessive bandwidth). So, when I got back from TechEd, I had added searching for a new web hosting company onto my lengthy to do list.
But then over this weekend the folks at WebHost4Life really let me know how much I need to find a new web hosting company. For 7 hours (that I know of) the database server hosting all my sites (plus lots of other WebHost4Life accounts) was down. It wasn’t that the DB server was down and that they knew it was going to take a while and let us know it, it was that they kept saying it would be back up in 1/2 hour. Eventually they brought all the databases back up on a different machine, but they had us refering to the old machine via IP address (not the thing to do), so when they brought the databases up on another machine I had to fix all the web.configs. I do feel sorry for all the folks that were also on the old box, since WebHost4Life doesn’t bother to contact people when they make changes like that, and just wait for you to submit a helpdesk ticket.
The net result is that I really need to migrate from WebHost4Life. They are fine for a nice hobbist site, but as I’m trying to drive some decent revenue from my sites, I really can’t afford to put up with this level of service (which means I will have to pay a bit more). Since I’ve been pulling in about $100 a month in GoogleAds, I should take most of money and invest it in a better provider. What I need is a web hosting company that will allow me to have mulitple sites on the same account, includes ASP.Net 2.0 and SQL Server 2005, includes at least 20GB of traffice a month, and includes email for all my hosted sites, all at a price under $100 a month. My first choice is ORCSWeb, which has a shared plan (C) that fits my needs pretty well, with 400MB of disk space, 20GB in transfers, 150MB for SQL Server,unlimited domains, all at $65 a month. The only thing I’m not sure about is the email support. It states 30 pop mail accounts, but I don’t know if that is for one domain, or multiple. I’ve only heard great things about the service at ORCSWeb, so odds are I’ll be switching over to them soon. But, if you know of another web hosting company that has as good of a reputation at ORCSWeb, please add it to the comments.
Oh, and since I’ll be busy moving everything over to a new host, I think I’ll finally break down and migrate all my sites to CommunityServer. The only hang up I had with migrating off of .Text was the re-skinning of all my sites. I finally decided that I’ll never have the time to skin the sites myself, and the only way I’ll get to migrate everything is to either live with the free CommunityServer skins, or find someone that knows how to skin CommunityServer and pay them to skin my sites. Otherwise, it will be 2010 before I find the time to skin my sites myself. If you know of someone that would like to get paid to skin some CommunityServer sites, please leave a comment.