The following is part two of the original review of Site5 web hosting. As the owner of Themebot and a Site5 customer, I will be sharing my personal experience using their web hosting services. Does Site5 provide the best web hosting when it comes to shared hosting? Keep reading to find out what is good and bad about their service offering. Also stay tuned for the eventual web hosting review roundup to find out which web hosting company is the best.
Themebot was originally hosted on Site5 until the traffic become too much for a shared hosting account to handle. At that time I moved Themebot to Liquid Web where the website is currently hosted.
Site5 is one of the first web hosting companies I signed up for. After using a few web hosts with terribly slow page loads, I was looking for a good shared hosting company that could deliver snappy performance for database driven websites. Site5 claims that they do not overcrowd their servers. Also, I read many favorable opinions of Site5 in both the Drupal and Joomla communities. After quite a bit of research, I signed up for an account. The difference in page load times between Site5 and the other web hosting companies I had used was like night and day. The whole site was very fast.
After several days of testing, I was impressed with the control panel and performance and decided to keep my account. The web hosting service with Site5 has been a bit of a mixed bag. I will describe both the positive and negative aspects below. First, the bad news.
There is no phone support.. All technical support is handled via email. If you need to contact support with any issues, it isn't instantaneous. You must submit a ticket and then wait for a response. If you are a seasoned webmaster and you don't need support this isn't really an issue, unless your website goes down or there are other server issues affecting your website. Support response time is generally good, but I like to have the option to call in and get an immediate remedy.
Slow to update server software. PHP4 is still the default for Site5 servers. If you want to run PHP5 you need to add a handler to your .htacess file. And, once you have PHP5 running, it is an older version (5.2.0). The latest version as of writing is 5.2.6. Also, the entire fleet of Site5 servers is still running MySQL4. Apache on my server is version 1.3.39 and has yet to be upgraded to version 2.
Hardware failures. I experienced three hard drive failures in less than a year with Site5. Each time, the websites I had hosted on the account were down for two or more days. Fortunately I have a good habit of making regular site backups to my local computer. One of the failures was irrecoverable and if I hadn't had my backup, it would have been a catastrophe. Also, there were periods of slow performance and downtime for a few months. Perhaps I got an unlucky server. It is hard to say. However, if Site5 had configured their RAID array using RAID10 instead of RAID5 this wouldn't have been an issue. Perhaps Site5 has fixed these issues, because uptime has been very good since the last hard drive failure and I haven't had any issues.
Anemic control panel. Site5 has wrapped their own control panel for managing hosting. At first, it seemed like a good thing. However, cPanel has made many improvements over the past couple years and keeps getting better. Web hosting companies that use cPanel are able to offer much better adminstrative tools, whereas Site5 is stuck with their homebrew.
High Performance Servers. I can attest to the fact that Site5 does not overcrowd their servers. After the third hard drive failure with them, I decided to move Themebot to another web host. In fact, I ended up moving to three new web hosts before putting Themebot back on Site5. You can read more about the ordeal here: Roasting in Hosting Hell - Tales from the Server Side.
This was no fun at all, however it ended up being a very unique opportunity to test the exact same site with three different web hosting companies. I learned that I am able to get much more mileage out of a high traffic website with Site5 than any other shared hosting. Both LunarPages and HostICan were quick to suspend Themebot due to resource over-usage. At the time, traffic had dropped to only 400-600 daily visitors due to prolonged downtime and this was too much for either of new hosts. So, I put Themebot back on Site5 and decided to find out what kind of traffic levels the site could grow to before being suspended. (This also bought some time to research and find the best web hosting for virtual private servers.)
The amazing thing is that Themebot was not suspended until traffic reached 1,500 unique daily visitors. That is about 3 times the traffic of the other two shared hosting accounts that suspended Themebot. Site5 is definitely more generous with server resources than any of the other shared hosting providers I have used.
Shell access. It is very easy to enable shell access for your account with Site5. You can do this from the control panel and you don't have to send in a photo ID. Shell access is useful for advanced server administrative tasks.
Server uptime. Site5 provides server uptime stats with two minute checks for every server in their fleet. Very few, if any other web hosting companies provide this information publicly. They will also compensate you for downtime exceeding their guarantee, although it is hardly worth trying to get the compensation considering what the amount ends up being.
Cheap Web Hosting! When it comes to affordable web hosting, Site5 is one of the cheapest, especially if you use the Site5 coupon.
Would I recommend Site5? Yes. If you don't need a lot of support and are looking for cheap web hosting that will give you a lot of mileage, Site5 is hard to beat.
Does Site5 provide the best web hosting? This question will be answered in the web hosting review roundup after all of the companies listed in the best web hosting article have been reviewed. Check back later for the next review and to find out which company receives honors for best web hosting.