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Has anyone considered or used a commercial webhosting service? Someone like iPage, BlueHost, etc? We wouldn't be using it for our main page but for other projects. If so what has your experience been like and do you have any recommendations? 

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Of course I know everyone has different needs. For us it would be simple php, mysql with a cpanel style interface, great uptime and backups....

Hi Loren,

My tendency is to avoid shared hosting arrangements, and go for one of two alternatives:

  • For experimental or short-term projects, a cloud server like DigitalOcean (I'm just starting using them now) or Bitnami running on AWS infrastructure (Which I've used for a couple of years.). These are flexible once you learn your way around them, but you will be doing your own admin, so that has to be factored in. I generally don't use these for anything mission critical, but they are great for spinning up a new server you may only need for a few months.
  • Managed, technology-specific hosting. These are systems like WP Engine for WordPress hosting. These providers are specialized, efficient, offer great backups and admin interfaces, but are not cheap in comparison to commodity hosting.

I no longer use the typical cheap shared hosting accounts even for very minor projects, because of performance issues I've run into with these services. And with DigitalOcean droplets at $5 a month, it is easy to try the cloud servers out and experiment to see if they will meet your needs.

Thank you Dan for the terrific feedback.

I have been using a sandbox account on Pantheon: 

https://www.getpantheon.com/

It actually has a bunch of really nice features, like the ability to stage dev, testing and production as well as the means to have a software repository in git as well as automatic backups, quick access to the sort of weird stuff we actually use, like ssh and sftp. It feels like actual programmers designed it..it also seems pretty well provisioned for the realities of php dev.. I have not been so lucky with an unnamed large shared host, their ram limitations have proven to cause a lot of errors and a few tears...just kidding about the tears.

"just kidding about the tears" Still... I feel your pain! :)

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