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  1. #1
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    Need Advice on Web Hosting

    I have a handful of web design clients I manage websites for. Mostly friends of mine and a few additional smaller/nonprofit clients.

    I currently have all my clients hosted with Inertia Networks. The reason I've used them is they've provided me with a section in their billing/management system where I could directly handle all of my client's web needs (cPanel server, billing, invoicing, etc.) without jumping through hoops of going to multiple hosting providers, etc. It's like reseller hosting without my having to pay for reseller hosting (they just pay the hosting provider directly but I still manage everything for my clients).

    However, they've been plagued with some outages lately, causing my phone to ring off the wall with angry clients unable to access their websites. Most of the reliability issues have been ironed out with the migration to a new cPanel server. Unfortunately, with the migration to the new cPanel server, the company has also implemented some new "security" policies that has messed-up critical functionality to portions of my client's websites and access to some of their servers, causing them to jump through additional hoops (and causing my phone to ring off the wall) to attempt to access services/site functionality, and while I'm all for increased security across web hosting services, when it begins to cripple functionality and lead to angry clients because of a little "too much security" (issues I haven't experienced with other hosting providers in the past), then something's got to loosen up a little so my clients can actually use their web services and have full functionality to their websites.

    With the issues that's going on and with the boatload of phone calls I've been receiving, I need to look into alternative measures for hosting my client's website. Dealing with this hosting provider had added extra stress to my clients and to myself, and I need a break from it all.

    Here's a rundown of my clients:

    1. Most of my clients are paying $5/month for their small hosting package, some pay annually. A couple of my clients just renewed with them, so they may be stuck until their sites come up for renewal.

    2. One of my clients is paying $10/month for their medium hosting package since he has two websites and more infrastructure needs than most of my clients.

    3. I've been given a free hosting package with them for my website. I'd even be willing to go back to paying if I move providers.

    4. All my client's domains are with them, and I even have a couple "domain only" real estate clients who's websites are hosted internally from their real estate firm.

    5. Including my site, I have five WordPress instances at the moment, one Moodle instance from one of my clients, one live chat instance from one of my clients. These clients are currently on cPanel. Two of them are using cPanel email for their websites (they are nonprofits so I could move both to Office 365 Exchange Online). I have three other clients I need to build WordPress sites for, one client I need to also build a Moodle instance for, and one client I need to build an online eCommerce store for. I have another client with a few sites I need to migrate to another hosting provider, and a real estate client on IMAGEPRO who would like to migrate to a WordPress-type real estate site if possible, and another nonprofit client at another hosting provider who is locked in for a few years.

    Here are the options I've been looking at:

    1. I need a hosting provider to migrate all their domains to. I'm not a "huge" fan of GoDaddy. If there's another registrar I could use, I'd prefer it.

    2. I can keep my clients on cPanel or just migrate their instances themselves to another hosting provider. For emails, I could move my clients to Office 365 Exchange Online (I currently use it).

    3. I'm wondering if I need to keep my clients with a traditional shared hosting provider, or migrate them to "cloud hosting" such as AWS, Azure, or Digital Ocean. I need to keep their price range around $5/month for most clients and $10/month for the heftier clients.

    4. I need a way to centrally manage their domains and all aspects of their web hosting without jumping through a ton of hoops.

    Any insight on this would be much appreciated. I can chime back in with additional info if needed.

    Thanks!
    Nathan Parker
    President/CEO
    Mallard Computer, Inc.

  2. #2
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    I suspect you have a host that didn't keep up with security and had an issue. You have been migrated to the new "updated" system without testing and this caused issues - doesn't it always.

    The way I see it you have 2 choices.
    1. Do nothing. (Always the top option)
    2. Migrate.

    As you will have to test / fix all the sites on a new provider I'm inclined to spend the time fixing the sites on the existing host and not have the migration hassle.

    cheers, Paul

  3. #3
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    After the reliability issues this hosting provider has had, I need to seriously at least look into migrating to another provider. My clients have been unhappy with my provider for months (even before the security upgrades). Overall reliability has been an issue, plus my clients have been moved to multiple servers with them and have had to endue painful internal migrations. While it'd be a pain to migrate and test, if I can be on a "better foundation" overall moving, I'd rather put in the effort up front than live with the issues I've been having with my current hosting provider and how unhappy my clients have been (it hasn't been good for my company's reputation to remain with this hosting provider). I've talked with other clients of theirs, and they're just as unhappy as I and my clients are.

    So with that in mind, where would be a good place for me to start looking to migrate?
    Nathan Parker
    President/CEO
    Mallard Computer, Inc.

  4. #4
    Silver Lounger RolandJS's Avatar
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    If the folks here don't mind, I would post a similar thread over in bleepingcomputers -- they have a number of high-level server-gurus who might know of where to send you. If you do decide to post there, make sure both forums know you have posted in only two places.
    "Take care of thy backups and thy restores shall take care of thee." Ben Franklin revisited.
    http://collegecafe.fr.yuku.com/forum...-Technologies/

  5. #5
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    There are sites specific to hosting and you may get more well founded advice there. Here is one: http://www.webhostingtalk.com/
    Rui
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  6. #6
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    Sounds good. Thanks for the info! I've been conversing with some other techs I know on solutions, and if I still need further assistance, I'll check out those other two sites. Thanks for sharing them!
    Nathan Parker
    President/CEO
    Mallard Computer, Inc.

  7. #7
    5 Star Lounger Lugh's Avatar
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    Inertia Networks look fairly new at the hosting game, starting in 2012 and no prior experience visible for the owner. They're probably only starting to go thru the mill, and it'll be a while before they're a mature operation.

    That said, they should be able to deal with your collection of small sites without much trouble. The painful internal migrations you mention are not a good sign. When I used to do reseller hosting for my business and our clientele, we went thru a good few internal server upgrades without anyone noticing.

    All in all, sounds like IN have a lot to learn. It never looks good when an About page avoids talking about the principals.

    Migration
    If you do it right, you will be able to migrate all your sites without anyone being the wiser--essentially, you'll keep the old sites running until the new ones are live and working. Your new host should be able to do it all for you if you give them access to your cPanel accounts. All you'll have to do is change nameservers at your registrar when the time comes.

    Domain Registrar
    Advice until you know the hosting and domain world well: keep domain names separate from hosting--ie with separate companies. Companies have been known to keep sites 'hostage' when they have the domain names as well--you can't move sites anywhere unless you control the domain names. Domain names are a lot more valuable than hosting space, assuming you have a local copy of any web data like email and site files.

    Recommendation
    The only company I can recommend atm is NameCheap, their Shared Hosting plans should suit you--that's what I'm on currently. I moved my domain names from Go Daddy to NameCheap over a decade ago, and have enjoyed rock solid and easy to use service ever since.

    I mostly got out of hosting around 5 years ago. Then the company I had my remaining ~dozen sites with were bought by EIG, which has a reputation of grinding good hosts slowly over a couple of years. I knew the VP of hosting at NameCheap from an earlier hosting venture, so it was an easy decision to give them a shot for my small needs.

    Yes, I know that goes against my earlier advice, but I have confidence in the company and my acquaintance based on over a decade of experience.

    Rui's suggestion of WHT used to be a good forum last decade.
    Lugh.
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  8. #8
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    Thanks for the info! I had some of my clients' domains with NameCheap years ago and had a good experience with them. Only reason I moved them was to centrally locate everything with IN. I've put a ticket back into them to see what it would involve moving my clients over to them. We definitely need to do "something" to give my clients more reliable hosting.
    Nathan Parker
    President/CEO
    Mallard Computer, Inc.

  9. #9
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    Have you discussed this openly with Inertia Networks?

    Sometimes the whole "we are unhappy and prepared to move to another company" discussion goes very differently than the "we are unhappy and you need to fix these problems" discussion. The former tends to involve higher level staff and may get more serious treatment.

    The thing is, you need to be prepared to actually move before you have this conversation. Have an option or two figured out, a known hosting service. The rule is, be fair but clear with the old hosting company. If they get their act together you'll stay. If they do not or cannot, then you leave.

    I do have to say, at the business levels you are talking about, IN may not care much that they lose your business. These aren't big numbers and that weakens your case.

    Either way, good luck.

  10. #10
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    Sounds good. Yes, I've had the discussion with them numerous times. The problem is the company is small. I know the President of the company and have worked with the President from day one when we moved over to them. I and other clients of theirs have continually had the "get your act together or we're moving" conversation, but it doesn't seem to improve services. Until enough people actually pull the plug, I don't think it will.

    The good news is I am lining up options and now just need to consider what to do. NameCheap will migrate all my cPanel accounts effortlessly into them and allow me to signup for reseller hosting. I also talked with DreamHost who will let me re-sell one of their unlimited shared plans, but I'd have to download the data from cPanel and FTP it onto their servers. With either plan, I'd probably actually be making a profit off of hosting my client's websites since I'd be re-selling space to my clients instead of them going to the web hosting provider directly, and I may even be able to provide my clients with even more cost-effective hosting and even donation hosting to the really small non-profits.

    The other options I'm looking at are another hosting provider who was a reseller for Inertia who is also pulling from them and moving elsewhere. I could either host with where they're going or host with them (I know both of the owners personally). Another option is a local ISP here also offers web hosting service (and I know the leadership as well), and I would have physical access to their servers if I ever needed it.

    Overall though, NameCheap or DreamHost probably sounds like the better option since both offer 24/7 support, centralized client management, etc.
    Nathan Parker
    President/CEO
    Mallard Computer, Inc.

  11. #11
    5 Star Lounger Lugh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nathan Parker View Post
    NameCheap ... reseller hosting.
    DreamHost ... shared plans
    Fyi, "Reseller" usually comes with WHM [by cPanel makers], a centralized dashboard for managing all your accounts in one place. "Shared" may not, ie you only get one cPanel.

    I'm on Shared now, I have one cPanel and my sites are all subfolders and add-on domains of my main hosting domain. This is fine for me, as the sites are my own and small.

    When I hosted others before, I imagine it would have been tough to manage without the overview WHM provides--as well as individual cPanels for each domain.

    I advise you to read up a little on WHM so you can determine if you need it. You may not, if you plan to remain with not many small sites--but it's a decision to make in advance.
    Lugh.
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  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lugh View Post
    Fyi, "Reseller" usually comes with WHM [by cPanel makers], a centralized dashboard for managing all your accounts in one place. "Shared" may not, ie you only get one cPanel.

    I'm on Shared now, I have one cPanel and my sites are all subfolders and add-on domains of my main hosting domain. This is fine for me, as the sites are my own and small.

    When I hosted others before, I imagine it would have been tough to manage without the overview WHM provides--as well as individual cPanels for each domain.

    I advise you to read up a little on WHM so you can determine if you need it. You may not, if you plan to remain with not many small sites--but it's a decision to make in advance.
    Good points. I've worked with both WHM in the past and just using solely cPanel, so I could do either solution you're suggestion (having all sites on one account in subfolders or have separate cPanel accounts with WHM). I guess the big question I need to ask my clients is how many of them actually want access to a cPanel instance. If "enough" want to ensure they can login to their own cPanel in the event I would be unable to manage their website for some reason, then a reseller/WHM/separate cPanel solution might be best. If they flat don't care, then I'll manage everything in one account if it'd be easier on me.
    Nathan Parker
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  14. #13
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    Update on this: I decided to switch one of my clients (the one who's experienced enough issues with our current hosting provider) to another hosting provider. He found out quickly the "grass wasn't greener on the other side". The migration to the other hosting provider was a total nightmare.

    The end result was that he (and my other clients) decided we're all better off to remain with Inertia. Two good things came out of this experience: 1. My clients are a little more "content" with Inertia and not as complaining to me about service issues and 2. Inertia knowing that they lost one of my clients (for a couple of days) and had the potential of losing my clients was a good wake up call to ensure they're providing my clients with rock-solid service and support. They have promised to put my clients on a rock-solid reliable server, as well as increase the email and phone support options to my clients with faster service. I may also work with them to implement a status page system so my clients would know in the event there is ever an issue or downtime.

    In the meantime, I will likely be moving the one client's email to Office 365 Nonprofit. I'm not a fan of cPanel email, so moving to Office 365 would be a solid move for that one client.

    The good news is, we should be good to go and satisfied with continuing our hosting with Inertia from here on out.
    Nathan Parker
    President/CEO
    Mallard Computer, Inc.

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    I'm sure that was option 1.

    cheers, Paul

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul T View Post
    I'm sure that was option 1.

    cheers, Paul
    Pretty much. :-) A couple of my clients had to go through a little "fire", but it should finally reduce complaint calls to me, plus it was finally the kick it took to get our current hosting provider to offer rock-solid support to my most demanding clients and improve reliability overall. They even (finally) listened to backup plan suggestions I've given them in the case reliability becomes an issue and needs increasing in the future.
    Nathan Parker
    President/CEO
    Mallard Computer, Inc.

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