As we passed 10000th download of the new version of MonoX this month, we got a decent number of user queries regarding installation problems on various shared hosting environments. You know the scenario: everything goes smoothly when you are installing it in your local environment, but things go wrong when the same package is about to be deployed to your shared hosting account. To make things really complicated, you usually cannot see the event log or anything similar, and your support contact is too incompetent, if not completely ignorant.
We did have a lot of experience with hosting MonoX in dedicated environments. Shared hosting is a totally different thing, and there are a lot of different issues causing a large degree of frustration for both us and our users.
It is obvious that something had to be done, and we got a few of our guys purchase standard hosting packages at more than 20 popular hosting companies, just to see how MonoX runs on their machines, what kind of issues could be expected and how to resolve them. It was quite an experience, and boy did we get surprised, especially by the quality of service from some big names in the industry.
Let us start with services you can use without too much trouble. Enter DiscountAsp.Net
, "a global leader in advanced shared Microsoft Windows hosting services". Their control panel may not be the last word of modern GUI design, but everything is clean, fast and well organized. We did not have to send a single e-mail to their support, everything went flawlessly and MonoX was up and running using the default settings in no time. In fact, most of the time was spent on the upload of the unpacked MonoX installation - we did not find the option to unzip the uploaded file in the control panel, so we unzipped the installation locally and FTPed it - it took more than 30 minutes for more than 1200 files that are included in the installation package.
After the package was uploaded, we visited the MS SQL Database Manager - Login Manager section and changed the default password for the Main SQL Login that was assigned to our account - we did not know its default value anyway. It is important to remember the database name (something like SQL2008R2_xxxxxx_monox if you entered "MonoX" when prompted for a database name) and the database login name and password. Additionally, you will have to have SQL Server name (it was sql2k8xx.discountasp.net
in our case) and you may enter your domain name in the browser, which will start the installation. MonoX will ask you for a server name and SQL Server login name and password (make sure that you select SQL Server Authentication, integrated Windows authentication will not work in a shared environment). Note that there are dozens, if not hundreds of databases displayed in the database name dropdown during the installation - that is the price you have to pay when using shared hosting services. After this, just check "Create a new database" and the MonoX will be ready for you in just a few seconds.
The base service comes at a very decent price: $10 per month for a hosting package, plus additional $10 for SQL Server 2008 database. It took us around an hour from the moment our credit card was processed to the moment we had a fully functional instance of MonoX running on their server. It was a very pleasent experience, so we can wholeheartedly recommend DiscountAsp.Net for smaller scale MonoX installations. We will continue to monitor the portal performance before we give our final word.