This past Monday I decided I needed to start moving my websites to a more permanent location. Before that time I hosted and maintained my own servers for both imagodirt.net and metaphysicalfarms.com. I've never dealt with a webhosting company before and so this was a new experience. I looked around and most sites seemed similar. I did some research, as much as I could, and was bombarded by fancy sales pitches and the like. I talked to a few sales reps via a web chat and I ended up settling on siteground.com. The sales rep was very nice and they offered to transfer my current website (they would do it) for free. The rep also showed me a demo of the interface I would have to interact with my sites. The thing that sold me in the demo was the ability to turn on ssh access.
Reality is always so much more muted than desire.
I purchased the service $84 for a year with a $10 discount for each domain. The total was $148/year. Not too bad for ssh access and ssl support I told myself... well when I logged in I discovered the horrid truth. I had no ssh access. I could only access my databases via some stupid web interface (pgsqlAdmin mysqlAdmin or some such nonsense). So, it takes them 3 days to transfer my site... apparently they NEED web interfaces to access databases and website files to do the transfer quickly. I sent them ftp logins and opened up the databases so they could use command line tools to dump the database. They were completely clueless on how to use postgres and I actually had to give them the commands to dump the database. Now, here comes the deal breaker. I can deal with incompetents in IT. I do every day. Google-Checkout, which I use for metaphysicalfarms.com to handle shopping carts, requires an authority signed SSLv2 certificate to handle callback and notifications between my website and the google. I purchased one such certificate and it had been working flawlessly. It cost me $30 for 2 years. I figured I wouldn't be able to use the cert at the new hosting site but when I was doing my research and talking to the sales rep they mentioned that there was a free shared ssl cert for all accounts. Come to find out the cert is self-signed and worthless. I'd have to pay an extra $75/year to get something that worked... or if I wanted to use my cert that I already had it would cost $60/year. Fuck That! I moved my sites back to where they had been happily and canceled my account (fortunately with my money back less setup fees).
There is happy news though. Determined to find what I wanted for a reasonable about of money, I went to searching the Internet again. I wasn't pulling any punches and I now knew some of the tricks the companies played to get you to make a purchase. I really just wanted a machine with power and internet. I could do the rest. Those were expensive. Starting @ $130/month, I didn't think I was going to get it. That is until I stumbled upon vpslink.com. They offered VPS (Virtual Private Servers) in which I had complete control! I could have root!!!! No one else was on the virtual machine but me! They offered almost every flavor of linux you could imagine. The pricing for such machines started @ $6/month!!!! Can you believe it?! I went with the $12.458333333/month package. I payed for my account and in 3 minutes I had a public IP address and a blank virtual HD. I logged into the website and selected to install Slackware 11.0. Another 3 minutes later I ssh'ed into my new vps. It took me only 9 hours to get the server up and running with my websites and ssl certs. I had to install mysql, pgsql, apache, php and then various libraries--usually downloading them at speeds I had never imagined possible (2.16M/s). In fact you are reading this post from my new hosting company. I love having root!!!! (for only 12/month)