Review Arvixe shared hosting package

After extensive research I picked Arvixe to host my site over the other dozen of budget hosting companies due to the good online reviews, their quick reply to one of my presale questions, cheap prices, the size of the company guaranteeing that they will not evaporate overnight, the host allowing adult content and because they are not part of the Endurance International Group (EIG), a big hosting corporation worth hundreds of millions of dollars that owns HostGator, BlueHost, iPage, FatCow and other 50 different hosting brands marketed as if they were independent to hide that they belong to the same owner.

I was unhappy the way HostGator had been dealing with my hosting account since they were taken over by EIG and I wanted to make sure that when I switched host I would not be using the same EIG parent company under a different brand.

Feature wise, Arvixe provides a cPanel account with the same unlimited space and bandwidth that all of the other big hosts, with the pleasant extra of a free domain registered under your own name that you get to keep without having to pay for it for as long as you remain with Arvixe, and if you move host, you can transfer the domain name to the registrar of your choice. This alone is worth $10/year.

Arvixe hosting custom cPanel
Arvixe hosting custom cPanel

The signing up process is straight forward, with automatic approval if they payment isn’t flagged as fraud. I used Paypal and within minutes account credentials were received in my email inbox with standard information on how to configure DNS servers and SFTP.

Support is provided 24×7 by live chat, US based phone number, online forum and email. I opened five tickets in total and they were replied to in an average of two hours, I posted a couple of complaints in their online forums and they replied to me in five to six hours. I don’t live in the USA so it might have been night there when I posted.

Arvixe support was always helpful, the email address of their Quality Assurance team appears next to the tickets and you are invited to contact them if you are not happy with the support you receive, and if Quality Assurance does not solve your problem, you can escalate it to the Arvixe management team. Their contact email address is found in the signature of all Quality Assurance email communications, with a sentence encouraging you to write to the management if something is not addressed properly.

I have been with six different hosting companies in the last few years and Arvixe is outstanding when it comes to customer support. This is the only big hosting company I know of where you can directly contact the top bosses.

Now comes the dreadful part where I suffered multiple server downtime during my first days of hosting with Arvixe (langur server), sometimes as much as eight hours of downtime straight, other times just a few minutes, random and unexpected, making it impossible for me to update my blog, feeling unsure if the next mySQL error would allow me to save the data or go belly up and lose everything.

I posted a complaint in Arvixe public forums, thinking that since everybody can read them, they would take it more seriously than a private ticket. Arvixe response was to apology, stand by their 99.9% uptime guarantee and refund me one month hosting fees within hours of me bringing up the issue.

I decided to remain with them because Arvixe seemed to really care about the customer and no host is safe from possible server problems, but lo and behold, for the next three weeks my Pingdom account monitoring the website uptime sent me more downtime notifications. At the end of the month Pingdom indicated a total of 11 outages with a total server uptime of 96.68%, well below my expectations even for a budget shared host.

I believe they would have refunded me a second month hosting fees if I complained again but I decided that it was not worth the trouble. I lose five times refund fees in missing advertising revenue with just one day of downtime. It rattled me that in just seven days I had experienced the same downtime than for the last two years.

Pingdom server monitoring Arvixe hosting
Pingdom server monitoring Arvixe hosting

I decided to call it quits when I received an Arvixe notification informing all langur server users that we were going to be migrated to a new server because of hardware stability issues and during the next few hours of hosting we could notice sluggish performance visiting the site.

I took advantage of Arvixe 60 days money back guarantee, double the length of time that other hosts offer. After moving my sites to a more expensive semi-dedicated server with HawkHost, I asked Arvixe to cancel my account and refund me the two years I had paid in advance.

Arvixe Quality Assurance team offered me to promptly move my sites to a different server  but I was too rattled about the time I lost moving sites and I already had a new host so I turned down their offer. In less than 24 hours Arvixe refunded me every single penny, they did not charge me any Paypal fee or domain fee, which according to terms and conditions, were entitled to.

I had a bad experience with Arvixe but I was only with them for one month and they acknowledged the problem. I think that they deserve a second chance to make sure that the awful server downtime was only an unlucky coincidence that happened right after I signed up. Had it not been for the downtime the rest of the hosting package was perfect and perhaps in the future I could be back with them.

They also have a BusinessClass Hosting costing $20/month, with less users per server and better hardware. But with the meager advertisement income I make here, this was not an option for me.

20% off Arvixe hosting using the code: hosting20deal

★ Review DreamHost vs HostGator

You will often see hosting companies claiming to offer unlimited space and unlimited bandwidth in their cheap shared hosting accounts, HostGator and DreamHost both claim this, as you probably guessed it there is a catch, you are allocated certain amount of CPU power and memory that you can use, if you go over those resources you will be asked to upgrade to a VPS or get your own dedicated server.

I have now two shared hosting accounts, one with HostGator and one with DreamHost, I decided to pay for two hosting accounts because my allocated CPU resources were reaching their limit at HostGator and it works out cheaper two have two shared hosting accounts than one reliable Virtual Private Server, backups were also getting difficult as there is a 4GB backup hosting panel limit, by dividing my websites in between two different hosting companties I am also making it harder to be hit everywhere by a single point of failure, I could have had a second shared hosting account with HostGator but I decided to try out DreamHost instead and see how it performs in comparison to HostGator.

DreamHost and HostGator common points

These two hosting companies and their servers are both located in the US, DreamHost and Hostgator have similar prices and seasonal promotions (discount vouchers) and they both advertise very similar shared hosting services, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited hosting space and unlimited number of hosted domains.

Both DreamHost and HostGator have reasonable terms and conditions that allow for free speech in their hosting accounts and pornography is allowed, copyrighted material and warez obviously are not.

DreamHost Strong points

With DreamHost you get a much better community than HostGator, they both have user forums but HostGator forums seem directed towards presales and not for existing customers to help each other out, with DreamHost you also get a Wiki that can be edited by users, a collectively voted DreamHost customer website of the month featured on their newsletter where you can nominate your site too.

The hosting panel has a suggestions option where each DreamHost customer is allocated certain number of points to vote for the implementation of new features, there is also an online shop where to buy DreamHost merchandising and besides hosting, for an extra charge DreamHost offers backup space where you can store digital goods an sell them easily with DreamHost managing the payments taking a percentage for each sale.

You can create a DreamHost URL link for your visitors to donate money directly to your hosting account expenses.

If you are a developer and need to run Python and Ruby on Rails applications DreamHost hosting panel has good support for this, much easier to implement than using cPanel.

 

DreamHost custom hosting panel
DreamHost custom hosting panel

 

HostGator Strong points

HostGator uses a customized cPanel to manage hosting, this is one of the most used hosting panels in the World and experienced users will feel comfortable using it with no learning curve, if you do not like the personalized Hostgator skin you can revert it to the original cPanel skin.

HostGator provides 24/7 support via live chat, phone and email, this is a big plus, but be warned that my personal experience with their tech live chat has been poor, I would advise you to always use email, this way you have the ticket number logged into your account for future reference.

DreamHost weak points

Full backups at DreamHost can only be done through the control panel once a month, I find this length of time far too long, you could back up too FTP any time you like but this is not ideal.

DreamHost Wiki is edited by users and information can be lacking and not accurate at times. DreamHost hosting panel is unique to them, it is easy to use but it has a small learning curve to locate everything, if you are used to cPanel you will have to retrain yourself.

I have not used DreamHost support yet, I can’t comment on this other than to say you contact their staff via email/Hosting panel only.

HostGator weak points

HostGator forums seem focused in making a sale to new customers and not in getting together a community.

When I have had to speak with their live chat support my chat got automatically cut off after exceeding certain designated minutes (this can be extended), the techs there were very slow replying which contributed to the chat being cut off.

I suffered a serious incident resulting in the loss of a website due to HostGator wrong tech live chat support advice, after I raised the issue with a supervisor four days later he claimed he could not find the ticket number even after I gave him the staff name and my domain name, incidentally that chat log played in my favour, he did however said he apologised if what I was saying was truth, I found it very convenient to place some doubts in my words while not being able to find the chat log.

HostGator 24/7 live chat support is a big selling point that no other host has but it will be of no use to you unless they can solve the problems, if your website is hacked for example, live chat will be unable to help and redirect you to email support instead, my overall impression is that HostGator live chat tech staff is not knowledgeable enough for advanced questions.

You rate HostGator tech chat once it is finished and that rating it is linked to their wages, the staff will do their best to please you and get good ratings, but this does not necessarily mean good advice, it is easy to make up something you don’t know so that it looks like everything has been solved, give it good ratings, and some days later disaster strikes and you realise it wasn’t that way.

I am not claiming this always happens, but it happened to me at the very least once, I am posting one of my HostGator ticket numbers that ‘did not go missing’ to prove that I am not making it up: OFH-14763732

If you are a HostGator customer representative be aware that I do not want to inquire about the issue any more and I will not erase this post, just saying because two times that I posted about it at two different hosting forums HG customer service was quick posting back offering me their help, which looks and is very cool but the case is now closed and I am done with it.

HostGator custom cPanel webhosting
HostGator custom cPanel webhosting

Conclusion DreamHost vs HostGator comparison

Both web hosting companies have very similar prices and allocated resources, the major difference is the hosting management panel, DreamHost hosting panel is ideal for newbies and experienced users might want HostGator’s cPanel.

Support is clearly quicker at HostGator, 24/7 through live chat, and the community feeling is clearly superior at DreamHost.

I can’t really side with HostGator or DreamHost, it is a very close call, every webmaster has different wants and needs, I think that there is not a clear answer in the DreamHost vs HostGator comparison and it will come down to personal taste other than features and prices.