In August of 2008 Who is Hosting This.com, a site that automatically determines the host of a Web site, looked at the then top 100 blogs and answered the question “Who Do Rock Stars Host With?”
Predictably, there was a wide range of answers and many different hosts mentioned. There were some free hosts, including BlogSpot, others were self-hosted but most were on a wide variety of dedicated Web hosts that target higher-traffic sites.
The winner, however, was Media Temple, a well-known and respected host from Culver City. Second was Datagram, a dedicated hosting provider that specializes in larger sites. Though these two doubled their nearest competition, combined they only had 19% of the list, meaning that there is a lot of disagreement about who to host with among even top blogs.
Though it is interesting to see how large blogs host themselves and maintain their sites with both high availability and high traffic, is there anything that can be gleaned from the list for small to medium-sized bloggers looking for a good hosting solution?
The answer is yes, but only if one is willing to dig through the results.
Following the Leader
For the most part, the Who Is Hosting This list is a good place to look for reliable and stable hosts that have proved themselves both to provide a fast service, but also reliability. Large blogs are very demanding in that they require a lot of resources to maintain and any slowdown or outage is immediately noticed by thousands of people.
Because of this, there are a lot of high-quality hosts on this list, and nearly any of them should be able to host just about any site thrown at them.
The problem is that the needs of very large blogs are different from those of most bloggers. A smaller blog will only receive a fraction of the traffic of a top 100 blog and, thus, don’t need as powerful of a host. As a result, most of the hosts on the lists, which specialize in such large-scale hosting, are too large and too expensive for most bloggers, often charging many hundreds of dollars per month where a basic hosting account elsewhere might only be $5.
Though these larger sites offer a great deal more than an economy shared hosting package, most aren’t willing to shell out that kind of money and won’t be in need of that kind of power, if they are lucky, for quite some time.
So how does one find a host to look at using that list? Simply put, one looks for hosts that provide smaller packages for up and coming sites, the theory being that since the lower plans are hosted on the same network, servers and manned by the same support teams, that the service will still be very good.
Though there are many on the list, some of the highlights include the following:
- Media Temple: Media Temple provides a “Grid Hosting” service designed for Webmasters that usually only need a shared hosting but want to guard against traffic spikes. The service currently costs $20 per month.
- Liquid Web: Liquid Web provides shared hosting for as low as $15 per month and VPS packages beginning at $60.
- The Planet: Though The Planet only provides dedicated hosting, it partners with Hostgator, who uses their network, to provide shared hosting. Though the network is the same, support will be handled by different teams.
- Layered Tech: Also provides grid-based VPS hosting for $60 per month. May be worth considering for Webmasters with many domains.
- Pair Networks: Also provides basic hosting for $10 per month. Accounts better suited for blogging (includes PHP) begin at $20 per month.
Is this to say that you should definitely host with any of these companies? Not necessarily. But they might make excellent starting points for doing your own search and will likely be good candidates for serious consideration.
Given the huge field of hosts out there, sometimes narrowing the list is the most important step.
Again, none of this is to say that these are the best hosting companies or that they are the right host for every person’s needs. We all have to do our own research to find the host right for us. However, by studying the hosts used by well-established blogs, we can often get an idea of which companies have proved themselves and would be good “safe” bets.
Especially for those unfamiliar with selecting a host, these might make good starting points.
Though it’s never a good idea to blindly follow the lead of others, especially when it comes to picking something that will be as critical to your site as your host, getting recommendations of seeing what can help provide clues about where to go.
If these companies are good enough for the largest of bloggers, then they probably are good enough for us non-rockstars. The only question is whether they are a good fit and if they provide the same service to smaller bloggers that they do their major customers.