And I’m likin’ it. I spent many years at Pair. No complaints, really. I had a commerce account for around $50/mo. It was always up; it was always fast. It came with a shell account, rare for a webhost when I first signed up in 1996. They run their own news servers and the community there is top notch and knowledgeable. A lot of old timers there. In the end, my ecommerce sites were getting busy and I felt that I really needed to run database-driven sites. I mean, one of the sites I had on Pair had 5000 products in it. All static HTML!! Updating? Can you spell nightmare? I knew you could. Trouble is, I was afraid my account on a shared server might not handle the extra cpu cycles that databases would incur. I kind of needed a VPS or a dedicated server. Those options on Pair cost a fortune. Plus, Pair didn’t offer as many bells and whistles as other hosts, even though they were top of the line in 1996. I understand they have greatly upgraded their offerings, so it’s worth checking them out; they’re a real good company.
My first search ended up at Cloudweb.com. I liked them a lot. Their shared hosting seemed undersold, so I tried that at first. They had a good-sounding Reseller plan where I could put a bunch of my different accounts on, and it was quite inexpensive, with a lot of disk and bandwidth, whm, cpanel, lots of bells and whistles. Support was great. They’re a small company and easy to work with. My first database shop was for my big-un, the one with 5000 products and I tried Prestashop (continuing to run my html site while I built the new one). Unfortunately, it ran slow. They had some good prices on VPS hosting, but they were unmanaged. I can work with “unmanaged”, but if I screw something up and my $-making site is down, I want SUPPORT!! I’m not that much of a gambler on my dark-side skills.
Next stop, Hostgator. Scary sounding “commercial” name, but they got rave reviews (along with Blue Host) in the Prestashop forums. With Prestashop, the best (and free) ecommerce software I’ve ever seen, a big site like mine needs occasional server tweaking, and the people at Hostgator know Prestashop inside and out.
Anyway, at Hostgator I first tried a Business account on a shared server. A lot of Prestashop users use this extremely affordable hosting ($10/month) with no problems. It comes with super bells and whistles, whm, cpanel, shell account (I think on the shell acct – memory could be wrong). Lots and lots of support How-Tos for all you nervous web developer types (you know who you are!) Everything was great. My ecommerce sites which ran fewer than 100 products, (custombelt, lizardonline) were super fast., except as I got more and more of those 5000 products added to the big site, it slowed down.
Support is really great at Hostgator so I stayed there and moved over to a VPS (virtually private server for those of you…oh you know who you are…), which was very affordable. Geez. I’m really happy there. (I’m easy. Give me a good server and I’m happy, don’t need no pills er therapee.) Anyway, all my sites were super fast there as usual, except for the big-un. Grrrrrr. I’d better do a long-story-short here. That big-un was slow, it turns out, because Prestashop has a Category module which tries to load every product in the category every time you click on a different one. I found that when categories got to more than 100 products, it started to crawl. I tried a lot of work-arounds, but as it turned out, the very smart developers at Prestashop changed the core so that the category slowness didn’t happen. For those who want to try Prestashop, the Very Excellent Version is 1.4.9. I have tried the new upgrade in the 1.5 series and it’s really a great upgrade, but so far I’ve tried it on 1 shop, a small shop. I’m leaving the Big-Un on 1.4.9 because it ain’t broke, so it don’t need fixin’. 1.5 is pretty cool, but I’ll get into that in another post. One of the cool things is, you can develop several different shops with different domains and only one back end. You can even use the same categories and products on each of the several shops. Very, very cool, but I’d better quit before boredom sets in.
That’s all fer now folks!