While photography and video services are the primary thing I try to concentrate on here at Confluence Visuals, my goal is to get them those products on to digital platforms, so I consequently end up doing a lot of work on web development as well.   (Not too many people on this planet have been doing this longer, professionally, so I’m pretty comfortable with the work.)

I host a bunch of websites and I’ve spread them across a few different hosting providers.   I’ve only had bad luck with a couple of them and only one has stood out as being phenomenally great.

I’ve been using Lunarpages since 2005 and, until recently, they were a great service.   Last year things started to get a little dicey with them (performance was getting pretty bad) and I started looking around for alternatives.   In the past few months I’ve noticed a significant improvement on the sites I host with them so, while they are still on probation, I’m hoping they will continue to be a good service for me.

I started using FatCow for a few clients a couple of years ago.  To be honest the main reason I chose them was that they appeared to be a local company, based in Burlington, MA, and they were buying wind power electrical credits.  The client was a local municipality so that all felt like good karma.   And for the first year, everything was great and then it slowly descended into performance hell.   They are nice people and all, but they are obviously over provisioning their shared servers and no amount of feedback seems to help.   So I switched to my “go to” hosting provider: Liquid Web.   The difference was remarkable:

Now, the first thing to note is that Liquid Web costs a fair bit more on a per-monthly basis so I’d expect better performance.  But the time saved in not screaming at the screen waiting for a simple edit to happen, nor the near daily outage reports from Pingdom, more than make up for it.   Another thing: Liquid Web support is, without any reservation, possibly the best I’ve ever seen.   They are competent, diligent, and you rarely wait on hold for more than a couple of minutes.   Most shared hosting companies either don’t offer phone support or you can plan on waiting a long time on the phone — and when you get through they tend to be low-level tech people.

I’ll also write more about Liquid Web’s Storm on Demand service in a future posting, but the company has every tier of service you could possibly need.

I should note that I also have a number of sites hosted by Dreamhost and I’ve been very happy with their shared services as well.  They are right up there with Lunarpages in value and flexibility and they try to push the envelope a bit more on the technology goodness.

So while there are good value shared hosting plans out there (Dreamhost and Lunarpages), if you want performance and great service, pony up a few bucks more and go with someone like Liquid Web.