I don’t blog much about web hosting, mainly because it’s kind of boring and there just isn’t much meat to it. You get an account, you upload files, you hope you don’t need tech support. That’s about it.
I had an experience last week that I just felt compelled to blog about. It wasn’t life changing or anything, but I actually found a hosting company, actually they found me, that knew what customer service was all about. The company is InMotion Hosting out of Marina del Ray, California. One of their marketing people contacted me about placing some advertising on my site for their hosting plans. I was curious about the company since I had never heard of them and I issued a challenge to them. I told Darin, the marketing guy, that I would sign up for one of their accounts and if I was satisfied with the service and support, I would work with them.
I’m not one of those web marketers that just throw up the highest paying ad on their site. If there is no redeeming value to the visitors to my site, the company has no place on my site. If I haven’t personally discovered that a product or service excels above the rest, then I’m not going to link to it. So that was the premise behind trying out InMotion’s hosting services. I wanted to find out for myself if they were any better than any of the other web hosting companies I had used in the past, and there’s a lot of them!
Once I had signed up for my hosting account (I got the Business Class Pro account), I received all the usual emails with account information, temporary logins and site URL’s, cPanel info, etc. The account information email was exquisitely thorough, with all the links to the getting started guide, control panel help, the knowledge base, forums, help desk, how to build a site with Web Builder, transferring a site, creating email accounts, accessing email, configuring POP3 clients, webmail, instructions on setting SPAM filters, info for modifying DNS entries, and a lot more. Many web hosts I’ve used in the past just give the basic account information and link to their site for the details. I prefer to have everything in one convenient email as a quick reference. I don’t like to dig through a knowledgebase or support forum to find the answer to my questions.
Now that I had the info, I was going to register a second domain and park it on the account. I logged into the cPanel and easily found the section for domain management. But for some reason, my brain could decipher the “Add-on Domains” button as where I was supposed to click to add a domain to the account. I wanted to test out their tech support anyway, so I clicked on the Live Chat button. This was Sunday evening, so I didn’t expect a real top-notch support person to come on the line. I guess I thought maybe the cleaning personel might do double duty as support on the off hours. Believe me, this is not too far fetched for some hosting companies.
In a few seconds, AJ came onto the Live Chat and I told him what I was trying to do. I told him I usually use GoDaddy to register my domains, but InMotion was only $7.95 so I thought I’d register it with them (you can register domains in your cPanel). AJ informed me that my account included a free domain (I don’t read the fine print) and he could register the domain and link it to my account for me. I already knew the domain was available, so I told him to register it. In about 30 seconds, he had registered the domain WITH free private registration and added it to my account. Why private registration? One, because it was free, and two, I just don’t like all that privacy stuff out there. It’s kind of a moot point because about 3/4 of my domains aren’t private anyway, but hey, free is free.
At this point AJ and I said our goodbye’s and I jumped back into my cPanel, hit the “Add-on Domains” button, added the new domain to my account and everything was ready to go. I have yet to actually DO anything with the domain, but at least I can sleep soundly at night knowing where it is at all hours.
My hosting account uses the cPanel Pro ver. 1.0 interface with the x3 theme and the server is running Apache 2.2.8, PHP 5.2.6 and MySQL 5.0.51 (as of this writing). The server has the usual stats packages like AWStats and Webalizer as well as Spam Assassin, BoxTrapper, MySQL Database Wizard and Fantastico. I’m looking forward to developing sites in my shiny new InMotion account, as I have been thoroughly impressed with the level of service they’ve shown to this point.
At this stage in the game, there are unknowns like server downtime, but InMotion guarantees 99.9% uptime, so it shouldn’t be an issue. InMotion also provides website design and management, SEO, online business consulting and other services to get your website up and optimized. Tech support isn’t in India and they speak (type) good english. They’ve been around since 2001, are participants in the Better Business Bureau Reliability program, and are a CNET certified service provider.