As you may already saw in the first part of this series
, we are searching for the best hosting services for our clients. One of our developers mentioned that a $20 price tag for a service described in the previous post may be too high for many people in a world of super cheap hosting solutions for the LAMP stack. So, before researching more powerful VPS and cloud based services, we made an extra effort to find a super cheap, yet reliable hosting service for every pocket. There is a large number of ads for this type of service, and you can never know what happen along the road after your order is processed. This is why we deliberately forced the interaction with support personell on such sites, just to see how long it takes to get around some basic obstacles.
To spare you all the ugly details, we will just quote a guy from another forum trying to solve what should be a simple installation task (and yes, we know how it feels): "... (all those cheap hosting services) are the hosting equivalent of the Taco Bell dollar menu: they look and sound tempting and kinda taste good, but once you need it to work for you in a meaningful way you end up on the toilet wishing you had not try it."
But again, there are some exceptions, and our favorite of the day is Arvixe
. They are breaking the rules with all their plans: we tried the cheapest one, PersonalClass ASP, which gives you unlimited disk space and transfer, along with unlimited number of MS SQL databases for only $5 per month. Of course, it sounded too good to be true, so we were a bit hesitant after being burned so many times during these tests. However, we had a very nice ride. Their control panel looks great and is very easy to use. It has all the features needed to make your life easier, including the unzip functionality, so we were finally able to upload the original instllation package without unpacking it locally and FTPing it file-by-file. After creating a new database and a corresponding database user, we noticed that SQL Server name (or a complete connection string) was nowhere to be found, so we used their chat application, expecting to get some clueless sales guy. Another surprise: the guy at the other end quickly reviewed our questions and told us "just put localhost
for the server name". And that was it - we used "localhost" in a server name field, and with username and password for SQL Server authentication already created in their control panel, we choose "Create new database" option and everything was set up in a blink of an eye. No silly, undocumented security limitations (we will talk about these in a later post), no problems whatsoever.
All in all, it was a very pleasant experience. Our site at Arvixe's server is now under stress testing, and we hope to get back with more good news.