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Choosing A Web Hosting Provider

My site had faced a big downtime last week - for 4 consecutive days. Thanks to the then hosting provider Powweb, I had to face this problem. As a matter of fact, I had sent them a mail immediately when my site went down. They took 2 days to respond and said that the problem was fixed. But even after an additional 2 days my site was still down. This along with the fact that even previously there were frequent downtimes (about 2-3 hours per week) made me switch my hosting provider.

To know which hosting providers are good, I started reading many reviews. But I soon realized that actually most of the review sites are affiliates and so give biased reviews. But there were four hosting providers which I've found had consistently good reviews (I was especially concentrating on those which provided SSH access) - LunarPages, Bluehost, Host Monster and Host Gator.

Lunarpages would have been the obvious choice if not for the fact that it did not provide SSH access (Lunarpages now provides SSH access on its shared hosting as well. But I was so impressed with my provider Host Gator that I continued with it). I had already used Bluehost and it was good but I found their servers a bit slow. Hostmonster, a subsidiary of Bluehost seemed to be having the same features of Bluehost but for a slightly cheaper price. I was not sure whether to go with Host Monster or Host Gator as they had almost identical features ( but finally I decided to go with Host Gator as it seemed to have marginally better reviews than Host Monster and also Host Monster did not support wild-card SSL certificates (or certificates for add-on and sub-domains) which I really needed. You can read independent reviews about both of them at and

And oh boy I should agree, this was perhaps the wisest choice I had made. Not that Host Monster is bad (I actually never used it) but that Host Gator is simply awesome. I AM BEYOND WORDS OF PRAISE FOR THEIR SUPPORT AND SERVICE. Actually a week after signing up with Host Gator I realized that Host Monster offers a free domain where as Host Gator did not offer any free domain but I am so immensely satisfied with Host Gator that this hardly matters. Also I took the 2 year plan rather than the one year plan as it was benefiting me considerably because of the 20% discount which is valid upto Feb 1st. Moreover Host Gator comes with a 45-days full money back guarantee and even later you can decide to opt out of their service any time (and you will get a refund on pro-rated basis). Most of the times, there are coupons available for the major hosting providers. Be sure to google and use such coupons for getting discounts.

Overall I am very pleased with Host Gator. They understand customer needs very well. The Live Chat responds in less than 2 mins and very courteous. They might not be able to solve your problem immediately but give you the right pointers. Keep up the great work Host Gator.

Visiting the sites of the above mentioned web hosting providers, should give you an idea about what you can expect from shared hosting providers. DreamHost and Site5 offer many more features for the same price but they had mixed reviews. Also I had few other doubts while choosing a hosting and I have mentioned these below. I have also stated their status with respect to Host Gator (I will try to keep this list as updated as possible).

  1. I already have a domain and I make a lot of modifications in DNS records of its sub-domains. I understand that cPanel does not provide me the facility to modify the DNS records of sub-domains. I would like to know if I can continue maintaining the domain at my current registrar and point the A record of the domains which I plan to host at your company to the IP provided by you. Will this work or is it mandatory that I change the NS records of my domain? If it is mandatory, can I at least raise service requests to change the DNS records of my sub-domains?

    Yes it is possible. Changing the NS records is not necessary as long as the A and MX record entries of your domain point to Host Gator. Also if you decide to set the NS records to that of Host Gator, you can always raise support tickets to change the A/MX record of any sub-domain.

  2. I have .name and .in domains. Can they be hosted at HostGator as well?


  3. Right now I plan to purchase the HostGator baby plan for one year which is about 120 USD. But by applying the new year coupon, I can get 20% off. After the completion of one year, I'd have to renew again. I'd like to know if there are any coupons like the current one next year, can I use it to avail the discount then? Or are these coupons only for new accounts?

    These coupons are generally applicable only for new accounts.

  4. Are the following supported on SSH?

    - rsync for remote backup
    - vim enhanced (I am especially looking for syntax highlighting / vim color editing)

    Yes. I had to raise a service request for installing vim enhanced though.

  5. Which of the following versions are offered?

    - Apache 2
    - Mysql 5
    - PHP 5

    Apache 1.3.39, Mysql 5 and PHP5. Be sure to first have mysql 5 enabled before configuring your account as this involves moving Mysql 5 to a different server.

  6. I shall also be using php5. Is it possible for having a custom php.ini file?


  7. Can I use any third party modules for php and perl? Do you support installation of some custom modules (which of course are not expected to consume any resources)?

    Yes. It depends upon the modules which you want to have installed.

  8. Is webdav supported?


  9. I understand that if I cancel my account within 45 days of activation, the entire amount will be refunded. But I would like to know if it is feasible to cancel my account after 45 days? Will there be some kind of refund (at least partial) be provided?

    Yes money will be refunded on a pro-rated basis.

  10. Are the following outgoing ports allowed access from SSH

    - HTTP
    - HTTPS
    - SSH
    - FTP
    - IMAP

    Yes. IMAP was originally blocked but when I explained to them that I needed it to be open for moving my mails from my previous hosting provider to that of Host Gator, they immediately opened it.

  11. Is there any process limit?

    There is a process limit of 25 per account. In case this limit is exceeded, you may get strange errors such as site throwing errors, ssh giving resource unavailable error. In such a situation you can kill the current processes by executing "pkill -u userid" from shell or raising a support ticket to do the same.

  12. Is Dedicated IP offered?

    Yes, for an additional price.

  13. Are Shared and Private SSL offered?

    Yes. Shared SSL is offered for free. Private SSL will cost extra.

  14. Can we use our own private SSL or should we mandatorily purchase the SSL from you?

    You would need to have your cert reissued if you want to use it here, but we can install it after it's been reissued for you. We can install it here for a $10 fee. As long as everything matches the certificate to your domain, any CA is alright. You also need to purchase a dedicated IP though.

  15. Could we use private SSL for an add-on domain or sub-domain or is it restricted to primary domain?

    It can be installed for an addon or sub if it's issued for it.

  16. Are wild-card SSL certificates allowed. Do they apply for sub-domains as well as add-on domains?

    Yes (One of the support personnel told me that the CSR has to be mandatorily generated on their machine but this is actually not necessary. You only need the rsa key and valid certificate issued by CA to have it installed on their server).

  17. Can I change my primary domain? Does it cost me extra?

    Yes. Please fill out the form at

  18. Do you provide backup MX service?


  19. If you provide SSH access, does it provide public key authentication?


As a small request, if you have found the information in this blog useful and have decided to buy an account, kindly click on Host Gator or on the Host Gator banner in this site just before you sign-up with them. This will help me make a few bucks through the referral program (you could consider this as a donation or incentive for sharing information like this :)). Also note that this does not have any effect on the sign-up offers (coupons) that you would like to avail.



I talked to them on their live chat feature... and they quickly and nicely installed the new version of vim enhanced for me.

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