Over the many years that I’ve been involved with websites I have owned and used quite a few different hosting packages from a variety of suppliers.
I think the first one I ever paid for was a shared account with Webfusion and I don’t remember having it for very long really, my memories of it are that it was not very easy to setup and it seemed expensive. This was many years ago so things may have improved (or gotten worse!) since then.
Through some recommendations I eventually discovered CS New Media run by a guy called Carl Shepherdson.
I started off with a basic shared account and as my business progressed I moved up to one of their reseller packages, this lets you setup a few different websites through one simple control panel.
As my coding skills were in ASP it made sense for me to go with a Windows account. The ability to host up to 25 websites costs ~£150 which is pretty good in my book, it’s only £6 per year per site hosted.
When I launched Multiple Monitors, which is an ASP based shopping cart, I installed it on my reseller account and it performed very well. Based on that I’d confidently say the most basic shared plan available would have easily coped with it.
As time went on and traffic grew I didn’t really encounter any significant problems with it on a shared platform and performance wise it would have been good for a while yet.
Earlier on this year (2011) I did however move the site across to a Rackspace Cloud Server.
The main driver for the move was the launching of a new side project which required a few different sites that all shared a lot of the same base files, this is something that is much easier to do on your own server but is almost impossible within a shared environment.
CS New Media are the best shared hosts I’ve ever come across. Occasionally performance can drop slightly, and although uptime is generally excellent, the odd period of downtime can seem frustrating.
This is no slight on CS New Media, it’s an inherent issue with shared hosting accounts and trust me, you could do much worse. I still keep a reseller account with them and at the time of writing this the eCommerceBlog.co.uk is hosted there along with a few other sites of mine.
After migrating Multiple Monitors to Rackspace’s Cloud performance improved instantly. The site feels far more responsive and (touch wood) I have yet to notice any down time at all after 6 months of being live.
As I have discussed before, setup of the server in the Cloud was very quick and easy but there is a more involved process for managing the server.
The hosting bill for my Rackspace Cloud is around £90 per month but this does include regular backups and extra IP addresses. A basic Linux based cloud server costs as little as £10 per month and standard Windows accounts start from just £37 a month.
For anyone starting out in ecommerce then my advice would be to go for a cheap shared hosting account, you shouldn’t need to pay more than £40 or £50 a year for one.
If you think you’re outgrowing a shared account and feel a need to step it up a level then a Rackspace Cloud Server should be something you strongly consider as your next hosting solution. I’ve also heard good things about Amazon’s Cloud Service but have not used it personally.
Why not share your hosting experiences or recommendations in the comments?