Selecting a Webhost

Another part of the process of selecting a new webhost and moving my WordPress weblogs to it that I’d have loved more help with was the process of selecting the webhost.  My needs for a webhost aren’t huge.  I run three weblogs, all on WordPress, each with their own SQL database, all under one domain name.  My needs for hard disk space and bandwidth are low.  Customer service responsiveness was important to me, as that’s the reason I left my previous webhost.  (More on that below.)

The webhost needed to support the minimum requirements for running WordPress and my preference was for site management through cPanel, as I am familiar with it.  And I do this as a hobby so I didn’t want to tie up a bunch of money supporting it.

I learned that those are very manageable requirements.  There are a LOT of choices for webhosts and I had no clue how to go about picking a new one.

I started my search several weeks ago when I saw an article on PC Magazine entitled The Best Web Hosting Services for 2015.  That seemed like a good start.  I guess it was, but I learned a lot while searching that led me to question that article.

My typical search for information about a webhost was a Google search for hostname reviews.  That frequently led to sites who post reviews of webhosts, but earn referral bonuses from those sites when people sign up for their service through the “review”.  That seems less than objective to me, to say the least.  The other thing I noticed with searches was that pretty much noone who is reviewing a webhost identifies the website they have – or had – hosted there.  That leaves something to be desired too, I think.

A general trend with many webhosts that stood out to me, however, was a frequent and significant decline in customer service quality at some point in the last two years.  I may have learned why from this next article.

One post I found that was of some use was this.  It appears to have been written in 2013 and updated since then, most recently in September.  One of the most useful things from it was a large hosting site called Endurance International Group (EIG) that has apparently been on a buying spree, purchasing several webhost companies.  This article suggested that customer service quality degraded quite a bit at sites after they were purchased by EIG.  I did see a lot of comments on the review sites about how customer service got a lot worse and expect it was tied to that.

I don’t believe my webhost was purchased by EIG, but they were sold a couple of years ago by the individual with whom I had dealt.  I believe it was sold to another person as the original owner mentioned that in an email.  I reached out to him with some support issues before learning that he no longer owned the service.  Customer service dropped horribly.  I ended up sending a letter through the US Postal Service trying to get an issue resolved a few months back.

Ultimately, I landed on a webhost named TMDHosting.  I can’t recall how I first found them but they seemed to lack the breadth of customer service complaints that many of the other webhosts had.  I couldn’t find anyone who identified their website and said they either liked or disliked them, mind you.  The biggest complaint I found was from someone who had a billing challenge with them and its details weren’t anything that were close to mine, so I wasn’t all that concerned about it.

Last weekend, I sent an email to their sales service asking a few questions.  I got a response back in less than 30 minutes, which I thought was pretty good for a Sunday afternoon.  The response suggested I use their live chat feature for further discussion.  I did that and they were able to quickly answer all of the questions I had then.  Among my questions was whether they were part of a larger company or independently held.  The representative with whom I chatted said they were fully independent company that had been in business since 2007.

Yesterday, also a Sunday afternoon, I got back on chat with a few more questions.  They answered all except one and I was actually pleased with their reason for not answering that one.  I asked if they could share website names of a few current customers on the hosting plan I was considering to see how responsive their websites were and to ask the people running the site questions.  They wouldn’t share names due to privacy concerns.  I was okay with that.

One other thing in TMDHosting‘s favor was their cost.  I had found a link on c|net for a special deal for a package that met my needs with an introductory price of $1.99 per month.  The regular price was $5.85 per month, which is about what I’m paying now.  Pay no attention to the countdown clock on the page at that c|net link, by the way.  I’ve checked on the page for several weeks and have always found it to be close to expiring, but it never has.  Marketing, I guess.

I signed up yesterday.

The signup offer had three pricing tiers.  The $1.99 per month was good only for one year.  The price for a three year commitment was something like $2.85 per month and the price for a two year commitment a bit higher per month.  I picked the one year plan to see how they worked out.  They also have a 60-day money back guarantee.

I received an email with information on how to connect and get started a few seconds after completing the sign up process.  I’ve had no issues since.

They have a lot of tutorial videos and articles on their website, which have helped.  I have found some contradictory information in them – a video pointed to cPanel to change the overall site password but the link they showed didn’t exist in their cPanel, for example.  A knowledgebase article had the process correctly explained.  I plan to point out inconsistencies like that when I find them in hopes of making the information a bit more accurate for others.

So far – and keep in mind that I’m one day into using their service – I’m pleased.  I’m running my countrykeepers.com website and WordPress weblogs there and have had a good experience so far.

Disclosure: I do not receive anything from TMDHosting for this review.  I didn’t ask them if I could post it and was not asked by them to do so.  I don’t know whether c|net gets a referral fee from the link above.

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