About two weeks ago I received an automated email from macminicolo.net to let me know that my hosting contract was coming up for renewal. For those of you who are unfamiliar with MacMiniColo, it is a business that places either a leased or owned Mac Mini into a secure datacenter. While customers don’t have physical access to their minis, they can do almost anything with them remotely. In 2009 I sent a mini to the datacenter so I could host several business websites and run my own email server.
The reason why I opted to use MacMiniColo in the first place versus using a more well known web host such as GoDaddy was because in 2009 there weren’t many web hosts that accommodated Ruby on Rails. My options at the time were limited to paying an exorbitant monthly fee for a dedicated server, or to buy my own server hardware (a mac mini) and setup the machine someplace where it would have an always on, super fast internet connection. I chose the latter.
Life hummed along just dandy until two weeks ago when I got that renewal notice and it made me think. I haven’t used Ruby on Rails for years. In fact, I probably didn’t need a dedicated server what-so-ever! It was time to reassess what I needed to run my business and personal web presence.
The first thing that I needed to do was to get in touch with the owner, Brian, of MacMiniColo and see if there was any room to negotiate the base price. Brian is a nice guy and if I could strike up a deal it would also save me the tedious task of moving 3 websites and a dozen email accounts to somewhere else. His response was pretty much what I expected, $31.50/mo was the lowest he could offer. I was confident that I could find someone out there that would meet my needs for less than $378/year.
I did *some* research and decided to migrate over to HostGator. They are like pretty much every other hosting company out there in that they offer shared, semi-dedicated, and dedicated servers. With the Mac Mini, I had a dedicated server and all of that machines resources were devoted solely to me. Generally speaking, a website doesn’t take many resources to run, so many small businesses and individuals (myself included) opt to save money by going with a shared server. It is exactly what it sounds like. Many different websites are hosted from the same machine. By switching from a dedicated server to a shared server and using a promotion that HostGator was running I was able to cut my yearly web presence cost down to $71.78, or $5.98/mo.
Unfortunately, the honeymoon didn’t last long. Within a week, both my brother, who piggybacks a website on my hosting, and myself noticed that our respective websites were loading far slower than when they were being served by the Mac Mini. I did some more research and discovered that Host Gator had recently been bought out my mega conglomerate EIG, Endurance International Group. EIG owns a whole bunch of web hosts, see a list here, and had recently been moving Host Gator customers from a datacenter in Houston to one that they owned in Provo. Their Provo datacenter had a major malfunction in early August, that took out HostGator, BlueHost, and HostMonster customers for the better part of a day.
Overcrowding of shared servers plus a spotty track record made me rethink the three year contract that I had just inked. Did I really want to risk spending the next three years with them?
Nope! There is a reason why money back guarantees exist. HostGator offered a 45 day return policy so after doing some better research and migrating to MDDHosting I took full advantage of it. MDDHosting is a smaller hosting provider and more importantly, the owner claims that he won’t accept a buyout from EIG. Switching from HostGator to MDDHosting was a breeze because they both use similar backends (CPanel). All I had to do was submit a transfer request to them, the tech that I talked to said they get tons everyday.
My websites, this one included, load much faster and more reliably now that I am with MDDHosting. The best part is that I saved even more money by switching to MDDHosting. I locked in a three year contract for only $37.38/year or just $3.12/mo.
If I had accepted the status quo, I would have lost out on $1,021.87 over the next three years.
Oh, and one last thing. Since I purchased the original mini, it is still mine. I should be receiving it in the mail/UPS/Fedex within the next week or two. At that point I can either sell it on eBay or use it to replace one of our home computers.
Are you hosting a website? With whom are you hosting it with? Have you ever considered getting your own personal domain name (e.g. andrewschenk.com)?