This all started because I've been meaning to move to the FunnelWeb blog engine for quite a while. It's awesome; I want it; it's open-source so I can customise it; and besides, Paul Stovell is a legend.

This means, however, that I need to move away from Google's blog hosting. Again, not a problem - I've been meaning to do that for quite some time but with a newborn in the house it's unsurprisingly been a little low on the priority list.

This weekend I've been sick. Nasty, nasty flu, which meant several things: I've been unable to leave the house; I've been unable to focus enough to code; and I can't go near my wife or baby daughter in case they catch the nasty thing.

Anyway, I've been meaning to write up a bunch of stuff about iPhone development using C#/MonoTouch and this seemed like a good time to do it.

Oh. Except that I want to post lots of code samples. And that's painful, even using Gists. So... off I went in search of a hosting provider that would let me move to FunnelWeb.

Decisions, decisions... Do I shell out for yet another web hosting account (there are several kicking around already)? Do I try to consolidate them all into one hosting account with multiple domains? What about a virtual private server?

Hmm... actually, that sounded like quite a nice idea. I hate (as in, would like to attach blowtorch to reproductive organs of designers of) web-based hosting control panels. I'd much rather set up IIS myself, thanks very much. So off I went in search of a VPS provider.

OzHosting

The jury's still out on this one.

The provisioning process took about as long as a web page refresh (literally) and I'd logged into my server under thirty seconds later. Wow.

Their web site promises "This system gives you the same level of root access as a dedicated server whilst sharing the cost of the physical hardware". Well, it mostly does, except that OzHosting disables Windows Update entirely, so I'm not quite a full administrator. Less wow.

Oh, and the .NET 4.0 framework uses .MSU (Microsoft Update) packages to install, which means it won't install. Much less wow.

I've lodged a support ticket but they're only open during business hours, which doesn't bode well - what happens if there's an outage over a weekend?

To be fair, I haven't yet communicated with a human so I don't know what the quality of their support is. I'll find out tomorrow, I guess.

VPSLAND (No link)

Don't go there. Just don't.

Live chat was helpful before sign-up. I asked specifically about Windows Update constraints as I'd already run into the OzHosting problem and apparently it's a common issue with Virtuozzo-based VPSes.

Provisioning took about 12 hours from signing up. Not too bad, but a little slow for an entirely automated process.

Live chat was broken after sign-up. Coincidence? Who knows? Or cares? It was broken.

I asked one simple question of their support people (via a ticket as live chat didn't work): "Which SMTP server should I use as an outbound relay?" Let's just say that the responses (back and forth, many times) were completely hopeless. I kept getting copy/paste responses from some muppet named Jordan who obviously didn't understand what I was asking and kept telling me about spammers and open relays.

Oh, and then they logged me off my own server so that they could start installing an SMTP relay on it for me. They did it without asking, without informing me that they were going to do so, without updating my support ticket - and they did it repeatedly even when I logged back on and kicked their support minion back off. Grr! Angry smile

It should be needless to say I've cancelled that account already.

Summary

So... Does anyone have any good experiences with virtual private server providers?

What I really want is simple:

  • Hosting for a respectable number of domains that I can commission/decommission at will;
  • ASP.NET 4.0;
  • SQL 2008 databases;
  • Support people (people! not droids!) who aren't idiots and don't treat me like an idiot.

I hate to say it but, right now, GoDaddy's unlimited-domain web-hosting package is actually winning as they provide all but the last. That's a sad state for the universe to be in Sad smile