Digitalfaq.com’s Top hosts of 2013 post claims to have the magic formula to spot a bad host. Never mind they have their own recommendations on who to host with. But do the hosts Digitalfaq.com recommends stack up against their advice? Not to mention is the advice valid.
There is a site that has their own advice; it’s a review site that does not always focus on who gives the highest payout. Instead this is one of the few “blog” review sites out there that Digitalfaq.com claims the FTC is after.
“I find those sites vulgar and unethical. Affiliate-driven lists are a cancer on the Internet, and to communication in general. In fact, that’s why the FTC has been more involved in blogging since 2009, to combat this nuisance.”
An inaccurate statement, designed to draw your attention away from digitalfaq.com’s lack of data on the hosts they recommend. But this post is not the only one I have found that does not deal in facts. I’ll cover that in my last post about digitalfaq.com.
Digitalfaq.com’s attempt at distraction, or what they claim makes a great host.
Most review sites I have encountered are not blogs. But hostingsthatsucks.com is one of the few exceptions. Sure they have their own top list of hosts. Yes all of the top hosts featured on the list are high payouts. But their approach is not to just focus on the high payouts, but any payout even if it’s a few bucks. The company focuses on being on the top of search engines for a specific kind of search. This is where the blog comes into play, with a theme of “(Hostname) sucks)”. But seldom do the hosts that show up there actually suck (though that seems to change based on affiliate commissions or their free hosting is shut off). They used to be pretty good at being in the top of that particular search engine result but lately their traffic has been taking a dive. Zyma.com got one of their “reviews”, which was also without fact. Not to mention their site failed to mention that this site was brand new. My counter posts earned me the title of Benjamin the Grumpy blogger because I had addressed why a brand spanking new company had no negative reviews.
Sure I was accused of not liking new hosts, but I am more hurt by the fact that this site was not referenced (ok not really). The fact that Zyma.com had no negative reviews (or any reviews) worked perfectly into Hostingsthatsucks.com’s formula. Which is to be on the first page, and better yet first result for when every you searched for “(hostname) sucks”, and than claim that the company has few negative reviews, or few valid negative reviews therefore the hosting company which they happen to be an affiliate for does not suck. Going through the searches myself I often found more than the claimed “few” results. It does not take a lot for them to make a page and spin the concept of less “sucks” results for a host = “good”, “so no need to look further click now, oh and we have coupons”. Hostingsthatsuck.com didn’t follow FTC compliance until I brought it up with Endurance International Group. But they are a blog, yet they don’t always go for the highest payout. But I will get into that with my last post.
Just like Hostingsthatsuck.com, they want you to see a lengthy post and than buy from one of the hosts on the list. But do any of these points have merit and/or do all the hosts live up to these standards?
Digitalfaq.com’s Points: Professional skills./ Wisdom only by age
The first two seem to be a knock against the young. Despite all of my years doing business online I have yet to come to a point where I suspected the person on the other side was a child. Though this may be an interesting point should Hostgator.com manages to find itself on the list. I have to ask is there anyone that knows the exact age of the person they are communicating with? There are times I don’t even know the gender on the other end. Decades of good living have people checking my id and doing a double take whenever I buy over the counter allergy drugs. I hope that they are not just flattering me and that I do look more than a decade younger than I am. Talking to your host generally involves dealing with them by phone, ticket, chat system, email, possible a forum, and maybe if you really like them their social media. You generally do not get to see how old the person is on the other side. While age is not apparent in communications, professionalism and skill are.
I got started in webhosting at a young age, and my current age is one of those facts I don’t care to share as its bad enough by this point I am reminded of my own mortality. My start came about from someone who had found my design work online he had helped me to get more clients and eventually to start 4 hosting companies. He was about 30. However it would be our other business associates that would be the road blocks to success.
If you read my blog earlier you will know about two of my business partners. The first of which was a man (age 52) who had 5 years of technical experience, 20 years’ experience of running his own company. We will call him Bob. However at the greatest hour Bob freaked out. In a mere week we had over 5000 clients. My first business partner and I were ecstatic, especially after months of work and spending our own finances it appeared we were near reaping the fruit of our labors. Not to mention this was miles beyond our expectations. For which everyone but Bob was working on how to adapt. Instead of remaining calm and hiring more people and buying more servers, Bob decided to lock us out. It was sheer lunacy. Talks of hiring more people and buying more equipment despite growing profits had alarmed him. He had never had an influx of customers on this scale before. The first Business partner held control of the domain. Two weeks after the site launched, it died. To this day my first business partner owns the domain, it’s a sad reminder of what might have been.
My first business partner and I went on to form 4 more hosting companies after that, to this day they are still around. Years later after launched a successful company he sent me an email wondering if we had a place for him. I blocked his email.
Due to a non-disclosure agreement I can’t discuss names. But I am not restrained from telling about our second business partner/CTO and how he almost killed our second attempt at a hosting company. We will call him Bruce. Bruce was 48, (64 now) more than double my age. He had 4 years of experience of running his own private hosting company and despite his failures continues to run it to this day. He also had 7 years of hosting tech experience. On top of that he had 7 years of software development experience. Despite all those years of experience, Bruce did not have the wisdom for success. Our CEO and I (CFO) had no idea how bad he was, because he appeared to be doing his part until a month after the launch. Between poor choices of script installment, bullheaded behavior towards hiring more techs despite a huge influx of customers, and apathy when it came to any form of a business meeting it was clear he was not someone you wanted in your company. Not to mention if he had been left unchecked he would have been cramming customers like sardines.
The nail in the partnership was when Bruce claimed to be taking time off for a funeral. Funny thing is his mom sent pictures of him para-sailing to the CEO’s mother
Putting that aside there are a lot of teenagers out there that have contributed to the internet, so before you go knocking them make sure you are not using any of their creations. Age does not equal wisdom. If anything Digitalfaq.com has alienated a demographic.
Digitalfaq.com’s Point: Ownership and investment
In short the claim is ownership equals a reason to stick around. This may be true for many hosts, however there is no true data available to make a rational grounds for holding against a host not owning their own data center or servers. After all hostgator.com uses softlayer.com (formerly theplanet.com). I have no idea if they lease or own the servers. Note: hostgator.com (a host that offers unlimited hosting) is a sponsor of Digitalfaq.com.
But while we are the subject of companies like hostgator.com that use softlayer.com’s data centers; the following hosts that appear on digitalfaq.com’s top hosting list are also with Softlayer.com.
- Site5.com (theplanet network info)
Furthermore the following hosts that do not appear to have their own data centers:
- Downtownhost.com – Delaware U.S. owner, server in Argentina
- Ninjalion.com – (belongs to downtownhost.com based off whois info) Delaware U.S. Owner, server in Buenos Aires
- Stream101.com – private network info
- Knownhost.com – private network info
- Hostv.com – Osogrande.com servers
I can’t say with 100% certainty that they don’t own their own data centers. Nor would I know if they are not if they own their own servers.
Needless to say there is one unifying factor that all hosts find a reason to stick around rather they own their servers and data centers, and that is reoccurring income.
On a side note, Hostgator.com is a sponsor of Digitalfaq.com.
Digitalfaq.com’s Point: Earned reputation
This is where I call bull shit, and yes I used a colorful metaphor. Reviews even with great detail may not tell the whole story. Just as all so called review sites may not be in it for large payouts.
One thing that I personally kills a review no matter how detailed as I have previously mentioned sif a domain is missing from the hosting review it is worthless. I see no data with this list of stereotypes that indicates any sites that are hosted with these “approved hosts” Domains give you a chance to look at the whois to see how old the site is and if they actually are hosted with whom they claim to be hosted with to see how long they have been hosted with the company they claim to be with. Not to mention actually looking at the site gives you some back ground into what kind of customer they may be. A just bought domain name, with a single page website can also make a review worthless. Another part to the domain is if the Whois info tells you that the hosting company owns the domain in the review (something I have caught some hosts doing).
Just as positive reviews are not an end all indicator of service; the same can be said of negative reviews. Happy customers are far less likely to write a review than an unhappy customer when it comes to hosting. A webhost is not going to get the same fandom like say Star Wars. Not to mention who is to say if detailed reviews are not being written by a host, and detailed negative reviews by competitors or customers that no one can please. Over the last few years I have found fivver.com, where surprisingly you can pay people to buy a cheap kindle book and give it 1 or more positive reviews. At the same time there are those that offer to buy your competitors book and write negative reviews. For that matter the amount of likes on Facebook, followers on twitter, or other social media that can be bought as well. I have seen 12,000 likes on Facebook for as little as $5. There are companies out there that specialize in nothing more than providing a false start, many calling themselves Reputation experts/SEO experts.
Speaking of companies that deal in providing reputation some of the companies on Digitalfaq.com’s recommendation list I have caught dealing with one of the worst hosting review sites out there, webhostingstuff.com:
These hosts paid not in affiliate commissions, but bid against one another for positions in a top 25 host list on webhostingstuff.com
Digitalfaq.com has no links to any solid reviews.
Digitalfaq.com’s Point: Successful longevity
As a general rule most businesses are likely to fail in the first 5 years, however that does not mean that a company will stand the test of time after 5 years. In my time hosting has greatly evolved. Social Media, Unlimited, Cloud and VPS hosting was not even a concept when I first started. FrontPage used to be something we highlighted to bring customers in. Making your site compatible for a phone would have been a laughable concept. But here we are.
What Digitalfaq.com seems to neglect here is that a new company may be eager to bring in new customers. They have more at stake than an established company with a steady source of renewals. So ruling a company out because they are less than 5 years old does not make a lot of sense. At the same time reoccurring income is a great motivator for any company to keep going, and eventually get their own data center and servers. I for one was guilty of loving the reoccurring customers more than new customers. Remarkable there are hosts out there that manage to scrape by on 10 year old concepts and terrible service. Like Burst.net.
Digitalfaq.com has another area they failed to disclose, and that is not every host on their list is 5 years +. One method I have to find out how old a site is by reviewing whois info. My preferred site is: http://centralops.net/co/DomainDossier.aspx
I have found many companies in the past that will try to claim they are a certain age. Like a company called mindshark.ca. They claimed that they started in November 2006, despite their domain being registered in 2010.
Based off the whois info I can often find out how old a company might be. There have been a few sites like iweb.com that has removed the start dates from their sites because I have pointed out their creation date was after their “start date”.
The following sites based off whois info did not exist 5 years ago.
- Ninjalion.com – created August 26, 2010
- Crocweb.com – created August 9, 2009
However domain creation dates do not always equal start date. I have 2000 + domains that clearly did not start when I got them, at best they have ppc page. Sites may start weeks, months, even years after the domain’s creation. Which is where another site called archive.org comes in handy. It gives you snap shots of how a site looked in the past all the way back to 1996. Using this site I found a few interesting points about the following sites.
- Froghost.com – Domain creation January 6, 2004. Froghost.com’s Facebook page says they were founded in 2009, they joined Facebook January 2011, first post was March 12, 2011. Their first tweet was on March 11, 2011. However archive,org shows a standard domain registration page launch page till February 18, 2010.
- Crocweb.com, while created in August 9, 2009, does not appear to have an actually hosting page till August 22, 2010.
- Futurehosting.com – Domain creation July 10, 2001, shows a coming soon page till December 8, 2008.
Froghost.com and Futurehosting.com could be classified as aged domains. Domains that are sometimes purchased for the sake of selling later. But are prized for having long creation date behind them. I have about 2000 domains that I have bought over the last 15 years. All of which I had planned to start something with. About 20 of them are hosting domains, all of which are 10 years or older. Currently I am cleaning house and I put sites up for sale to bring in new design customers. You would be surprised that one of the biggest selling factors is the age of a domain. Aged domains are the reason why archive.org is a very important tool when reviewing a host or any site claiming to have years of experiences, regardless if someone recommends it or not.
Digitalfaq.com’s Point: – Knowing the limits
When I first looked at this section digitalfaq.com was clearly anti-unlimited hosting. But now clearly they are not immune to the huge payout to companies like site5, Arivixe, Inmotion, and Siteground.com who I have found buying top spots with webhostuff.com (or what webhostingstuff.com likes to call ppc advertising), Details about the payouts for these companies and their affiliate programs in the next post.
Unlimited resource accounts are not for the serious site owner.
Digitalfaq.com’s Point: Transparency
If you think this is the point where you don’t have to read the TOS because Digitalfaq.com read it for you, think again. I cannot stress enough that you should read the terms of service with any company. What is really missing here is what to look for in the terms of service.
Since I don’t have a lot of time I am going to deal with one company I know that operates like many hosts that Digitalfaq.com considers the worst offenders. Which brings me to Siteground.com. What was it Digitalfaq.com said?
“A good host has easy-to-understand policies, rules and agreements.
A bad host tries to hide “gotchas” in their often-buried documents, which are written in butchered “legalese” English, and hide limits such as SQL connections, inodes, email I/O, and file usage that turn so-called “unlimited” accounts into highly limited near-worthless web accounts. Many times, these documents are buried on their site, and thrown in the face of customers as the basis by which to charge them fees or outright deny service or tech support.“
In addition this is what they consider unlimited space for “Unlimited web Space applies to your use of web pages only (html, php, etc.). All other files are considered as premium storage for which our Fair Use policy shall apply..“ The phrase “fair use” appears which translates to unspecified limits. :”Fair use” appears 20 times in 4 sections. Which translates to when you become no longer profitable they can give you the boot.
Digitalfaq.com’s Point: Upgrade paths
One of the big problems with hosts like many that appear in so called hosting review sites is they are very limited in their offerings. There is no way Endurance International Group (EIG) will allow you to host something on the scale of Google.com or Amazon.com with one of their unlimited plans. Never mind that’s the impression they want you to have as you look over their nutritional mock up on fatcow.com where it uses words like “oodle” and “free”. The sad truth is there are many out there that don’t even know that EIG has 40 + hosts, and leaving one in angst they may go to another expecting better service (never mind this EIG host may be cheaper than the last one). Considering how companies like EIG operate, you may have picked their most expensive host, but may very well be subjected to the same restraints/service as their cheapest hosting plan. The hidden limit at which they kick you off or put a bottleneck on your account is determined by profit. All hosting is about profit (well maybe except when it comes to charities). That is not to say making money is bad, but there is a problem when you don’t know how far you can expand. But if a host tells you they are not concerned about profit, I tell you don’t walk away, run.
With companies like Rackspace.com I know if I exceed my borders I get billed for it. Which to me seems better than wondering at what point I get the boot. I have design deadlines to worry about not rather my site will be up or not. No sorry that’s not a recommendation, as I myself have not prepared or kept enough data to make that recommendation. So no affiliate links, perhaps the stray Rackspace Google ad.
In short Digitalfaq.com’s recommendations fall short of what makes a great host
I don’t fault any one for recommending a host, and getting paid to do it. On other sites that’s how I make money. Making money is not evil, nor the root of all evil. The method used to make money is a different story. Digitalfaq.com uses sterotypes. Teenagers are bad, so they would not know how to operate a server and are dumb. In which case I ask, what hosting companies are employing teenagers, or better yet kids? Hosts that own their data center and servers ” For them, failing is not an option.”. Yet that did not stop companies like Enron and Hostess. Not to mention Blockbuster is just around the corner, seriously they are shutting down all over where I live, being replaced by competitor’s vending machines. Than your supposed to go by reputation, yet some of these companies have bought and paid for it, and some even build their own review sites like siteground.com.
In the end Digitafaq.com offers nothing but hearsay and stereotypes with hosts that fall at the standards that were set. Digitalfaq.com has done nothing to prove the hosts that they recommend are worthy of your patronage, just provide a distraction and affiliate links.