Price, Quality, Service - Pick any two…

A toy cooker The title of this entry was suggested by the title of the “Internet Services Administration” lecture which I attended last friday. The premise is that while you can never have a low price, high quality product with good service - you’re always going to have to sacrifice one to get the other two. If you want a high quality product with good aftersales service, you’re going to have to pay for it.

When I started hosting websites with Ghoulnet back in 2000, they were selling hosting at what were then very cheap prices, with more bandwidth than a hobby site would generally ever need, and according to all the people that I’d spoken to they both had good uptime and quick turnaround times if you did need to contact them. They were even mentioned favourably in hosting articles in a couple of internet magazines.

I hosted my first site with Ghoulnet for about two years, and had a very good experience. There were a couple of minor hiccups with the service, but on both occasions things were sorted within hours with a quick email. Back then, Ghoulnet were a good hosting company and I told many of my friends about them. At the end of two happy years with them, I sold my site to a third party and went my merry way to pastures new.

For about a year after that I didn’t have any web sites to host. I had so many things going on in my life that working on a web site was the last thing that I wanted to do. However, as time passed I began to feel the need to get my hands dirty in some code again. It so happened that my father needed a website for his guided walks running up. I looked around to see what was new in the world of hosting, and after being given no firm recommendations by anyone I decided to go back to Ghoulnet. Boy, was I disappointed! The year that I hosted my father’s site with them was a catalogue of errors - web servers going down regularly; losing all data when they came back up; being expected to realise ourselves that the site was down and then ask nicely to have it put back up. If I remember correctly, at one point the site was down for about a week, with seemingly nothing being done to sort it out. When the year’s hosting deal was up, I quickly canceled the contract with Ghoulnet and moved the site onto one of my friends’ servers. Thankfully my father’s site was incredibly low traffic, otherwise I’d would have had to have gone through the whole looking for a new host thing all over again.

You’d think that after Ghoulnet’s demise into a decent cost, decent quality (when the servers were actually running), but poor after sales service company, I’d have learnt my lesson and wouldn’t host with them again, wouldn’t you? Well, if you read this blog at all, you’ll know that I am indeed still running my hosting with Ghoulnet. Why? Well, I hoped that in the 6 months since I’d stopped hosting my father’s site with them that they might have improved a bit. There were rumours that there was brand spanking new hardware on the way which was going to blow what they currently had (which was getting rather old) out of the water, and I wanted to get this site online fairly quickly. I thought I’d give them one last try.

Of course, it was a mistake. Relatively soon after obtaining the hosting from them it went down for a week. To their credit, they did give me an extra 6 months of hosting for free because of this, which appeased me slightly. The server has vanished for periods of more than 24 hours on more than a couple of occasions over the last year. Since 24th November 2004, I have had to open 8 different tickets on their “support centre” due to crashed servers, email username mysteriously resetting themselves, and web logs not being updated. I’ve just checked the ticket which I added to on the 3rd of February to find that it had been closed without being dealt with. I’m not a happy bunny.

Suffice to say, I’m now looking very seriously at moving the hosting elsewhere. I’ve had highly recommended to me by a couple of friends who have been using them for several years, and also by quite a few people in various other communities which I frequent. Apparently, they have the balance between price, quality and service just right. Does anyone have any recommendations for hosts? Likewise, if you have any hosting horror stories, I want to hear them!

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Neil Crosby now blogs at The Code Train and also runs, The Ten Word Review and Everything is Rubbish.