One of the most commonly asked questions by both new and experienced webmasters alike is “what is the best web hosting company?”, I here it everywhere I go. Its been the topic of thousands of forum threads and blog posts. So what are the most important factors to you in a great web host? For me, its can they stand up to increased traffic, can I grow with them, and can they answer my questions and provide me with satisfactory support.

I am pretty tech savvy and often prefer to handle issues on my own as they arise, so tech support is of course important, but I do not probably concern myself with it as much as others, as I rarely use it. The ability to grow with a hosting provider is huge, I don’t want to grow a substantial reader base and have to transfer my files to another server. So one of the first things I look at when seeking a host, is their top tier plans, what can they give me in the future. And as for handling traffic, well I just found out that is crucial to my business.

Web Hosting ServicesThe idea behind this article stems from last week. I had a great week! In the course of two days, I had two articles hit the Digg homepage, one article go popular on del.icio.us and another article go popular on StumbleUpon. In the midst of all this I was linked to from the MSNBC blog and several other large, popular sites. Needless to say over the course of 48 hours I brought in around 200,000 people.

With all of this happening, my emails were off the charts, there was a constant stream of people coming out of the woodwork. I had people send me emails to congratulate me, some people had apparently done their homework on me and wrote to ask if I had any advice for them, and how I was able to build everything I have in a two month old blog. But one person wrote to ask if I wouldn’t mind sharing with them who I am hosted through. They said in the email that they had recently hit the Digg homepage and within a matter of minutes, their site was not only down but their account was temporarily suspended . What! Suspended for doing well?

That question got me thinking, a website, or blog is only as good as the company hosting it. Your web host, at the end of the day holds your fate in their hands, they have the power to take you offline in the heat of the moment, or insufficient equipment will leave you wanting more. So my big question for you is who are you hosted by and how happy are you?

I use and am very happy with MediaTemple.net. They are used by many large clients, including Mashable.com and Nike, which says a lot about the company. I always look at who else uses the business, and you may even consider shooting them an email and asking how they like the service. Anyways at the start of those two days when the first Digg hits started flooding in I received an email from MediaTemple which I have pasted below. This is what kept me alive through those two days, and I couldn’t be happier with their service.

Dear Patric,(mt) Media Temple’s automated MySQL monitoring systems have detected an increase in database activity for your Grid-Service (topsecretblogger.com). To help your web applications scale during this surge in activity, your databases are now served from a MySQL BurstContainer. MySQL BurstContainers, are an innovative new component of our MySQL SmartPool v.2, that allows your websites to instantly handle intense, temporary bursts of database activity.

Your databases will remain in the BurstContainer for up to 3 days (until 10/20/2007 03:04 PM). At the end of this 3 day window if your database activities have decreased, your databases will automatically be transitioned back into the MySQL SmartPool v.2. If your database activity continues to exceed the resources of the MySQL SmartPool v.2, you will receive an email with additional options.

During the next few days we highly recommended accessing the MySQL GridContainer controls that are temporarily available inside your AccountCenter (GridControls -> (gs) GridContainers). Tools like our Slow Query Log Analyzer and MySQL Statistics Report provide valuable insight into your database usage patterns. This information is essential if you want to optimize or troubleshoot your web application’s MySQL usage.

Please note, although the Burst Container does help your web applications scale, the isolated MySQL resources temporarily available to your applications are equivalent to our $20 a month 128MB MySQL Lite GridContainer. If your applications require additional sustained resources, please consider upgrading to a permanent MySQL GridContainer. Visit our MySQL GridContainer product page for more details on available options.

Mini FAQ
Q: Do Burst Containers cost extra?
A: No. Burst Containers are an automatic no-cost part of our MySQL SmartPool v.2.

Q: How long will I have access to a Burst Container?
A: You will have access to your Burst Container for up to 3 full days.

Q: What happens after 3 days?
A: You will receive an email with additional MySQL options.

Q: How can I purchase a permanent MySQL GridContainer?
A: Permanent MySQL GridContainers can be purchased and instantly activated 24/7 from inside your AccountCenter. Please visit our MySQL GridContainer product page for more details and available options.

Q: During peak usage, will (mt) shut down my instance of MySQL for my website?
A: No. Please note it is possible for your resource usage to exceed the limitations of your BurstContainer. The limits of this container far exceed traditional shared hosting and are comparable to hosting products costing 3 times the price of your (gs) Grid-Service.

Q: Where can I find more MySQL Container FAQs?
A: https://www.mediatemple.net/webhosting/gs/faq.htm#65

Best Regards,

(mt) Media Temple
Hosting Operations

Not once during this time did my blog so much as slow down let alone crash. I should also mention that I do not use the WP-Cache plugin, so this is all the servers doing. So how happy are you with your hosting provider, and what do you look for in a good host.