In early 2005, my first hosting provider was a little company out of New Orleans. A one man show, it offered me a friendly deal the first year and I took the bate. By the second year, Katrina had devastated Louisiana and, hungry, my host inflated the rates. While sympathizing with disaster victims, I was also infuriated by poor business ethics, and, not being so rich myself, I bailed.

In urgent need of cheap web hosting, I did what most beginners do, I Goggled (not sure I trusted them yet) Yahooed “web hosting reviews”, read about all those incredible unlimited offers by hosting giants, found that GoDaddy was a strong contender, and signed up. Little did I know that these reviews are rigged, hosting providers treating the review sites like affiliates and rewarding them one way or another for their help.

For a few bucks a month, I got myself some space on an overcrowded server and began to practice my support request skills. One day, a nasty spamming attack overloaded my site so much that, to avoid impacting everyone else in a shared environment, GoDaddy, the McDonalds of web hosting, just kicked me out, no second chance.

I licked my wounds the best I could, counted my pennies and looked for another provider in the same dollar range. I found IX Web Hosting, i.e. Burger King. It must have been the same review. So I transferred all my files and my database, and resumed a worried webmaster existence, keeping a nervous eye on regular outages, slow page loading speeds and other miseries. One gets what one pays for.

Then two days ago, something broke, again. I still haven’t figured out what. But when I realized my site wasn’t loading, I investigated on multiple angles and found that, among other things, an important setting had changed in my account (my IP had gone from dedicated to shared). It might have been a breach, or a glitch or mistake at IX Web Hosting.

I immediately deactivated Cloudflare, to ease troubleshooting. So far, Cloudflare rocks, but they require me to use their own DNS and when something goes wrong, that complicates diagnosis a great deal. Eventually, after I restored my IP, the site came back online. But I had had it. The same night, I began a complete back-up of my files and jumped on Google. No reviews, no bullshit, I wanted the truth and a trustworthy host. I found the Web Hosting Talk forum. Lots of friendly, well-informed people there.

Based on multiple recommendations, I have now signed up with MDD Hosting, a smaller but hopefully better provider. It’s not top-of-the-line by any stretch. The rate is about the same, actually. I’ve lost my dedicated IP, but I was told it didn’t do much for me. I’ve lost my fabulously exciting “unlimited everything” and now have a quota in both bandwidth and storage space, but large enough that I won’t touch it. However at the server level, I have gained LiteSpeed, supposed to beat regular Apache. And even better, on the few occasions I already communicated with the company with questions or small support issues, I actually got a reply from the same person, and I’m pretty sure he was answering from the US, not India.

And so now, time will tell. I could hardly have fallen lower than I was, and in fact hope I might actually have climbed out of my web hosting hole. I am praying for less outages – they had become a daily occurrence with IX – and maybe even a speed increase, or rather speed consistency.

As of Saturday night, I am still in the process of downloading and re-uploading files between servers. The DNS propagation hasn’t happened yet, so you are likely to be reading this served from IX, not MDD. It can take up to 72 hours for the name servers to be passed on.

If this forced experiment goes well, I’ll be a happy camper and will advertise my new hosting provider loudly. But it had better work! In the meantime, I apologize again if in the near future, this blog behaves slightly erratically. There will be unavoidable issues when the transition happens, such as full http paths – which have changed – buried deep inside of configuration files, etc.

But all and all, knock on wood, there shouldn’t be a major interruption of service. Famous last words?