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What do you want from a web host? (+ free hosting)

Solidus

Well-known member
#1
Hey everyone.

I am launching my own web hosting business this weekend. My goal is to provide a faster and more feature rich experience than the competition, as well as much better services.
Better speeds start at using the best software. Instead of using the generic PHP/MySQL (often outdated) setup, I will provide an nginx-backed Apache server with MariaDB, Zend OPcache, and memcached.
cPanel will also be ditched for a choice of Plesk or Virtualmin Pro.
What else do you want/expect from a web host?

I intend to offer free services that most web hosts will make you pay for. Website installation, plugin setups, helping with theme issues, nearly everything. I will go the extra 10 miles.

This is my first venture into this business, but I am very confident in my abilities. If you have any protips for me though, let me hear them. Any questions regarding my server setup or my background are welcome too.

Also, I'd like to offer free hosting (for 3-12 months probably) to some members here to get things going. If you are interested, send a PM or respond here.

Thanks for reading. :)

(p.s, it's called hostmelon... juicy! :D)
 

WSWD

Well-known member
#2
Instead of using the generic PHP/MySQL (often outdated) setup, I will provide an nginx-backed Apache server with MariaDB, Zend OPcache, and memcached.
There are many hosts who offer that. Wouldn't really differentiate you that much.


cPanel will also be ditched for a choice of Plesk or Virtualmin Pro.
BIG mistake. The very good majority of people looking for hosting do not want Plesk and especially don't want Virtualmin. They are familiar with cPanel, and that's almost always what 100% of the people request. In fact, I've never had a request for Plesk or Virtualmin, and we're going into our 19th year of business in just a couple months. We offered DirectAdmin at one point on shared/reseller hosting just as something different, and literally nobody wanted it. We had maybe 3 or 4 signups a year, and that was only because it was cheaper. Everyone went for cPanel. You can see over on WHT the hatred people have for other control panels, custom control panels, etc.

If you have any protips for me though, let me hear them.
Being a successful host is not that difficult. The problem is that all sorts of summer kiddie hosts open their "businesses" every year and don't have the capital to sustain a quality host in a quality datacenter. The majority of people looking for hosting don't give a damn about nginx-backed Apache server with MariaDB, Zend OPcache, and memcached. In fact, they have no clue what it is. They want their site to be reasonably fast and they want their site to be available 24/7. That is especially true for businesses. We have hosted some major businesses over the years, and I assure you not a single one has ever asked for a nginx-backed Apache server, or MariaDB, or OPcache. They just don't care. They want uptime. If you can't provide 100% uptime or darn near close to it, you aren't going to be around long.

Good luck!
 

Solidus

Well-known member
#4
There are many hosts who offer that. Wouldn't really differentiate you that much.
If there are, they don't mention it on their websites.

BIG mistake. The very good majority of people looking for hosting do not want Plesk and especially don't want Virtualmin. They are familiar with cPanel, and that's almost always what 100% of the people request. In fact, I've never had a request for Plesk or Virtualmin, and we're going into our 19th year of business in just a couple months. We offered DirectAdmin at one point on shared/reseller hosting just as something different, and literally nobody wanted it. We had maybe 3 or 4 signups a year, and that was only because it was cheaper. Everyone went for cPanel. You can see over on WHT the hatred people have for other control panels, custom control panels, etc.
Yeah, I thought this would be the case. If only more people knew how good Plesk really is.
I guess I'll have to offer cPanel, but I'll make Plesk selected by default.


Being a successful host is not that difficult. The problem is that all sorts of summer kiddie hosts open their "businesses" every year and don't have the capital to sustain a quality host in a quality datacenter. The majority of people looking for hosting don't give a damn about nginx-backed Apache server with MariaDB, Zend OPcache, and memcached. In fact, they have no clue what it is. They want their site to be reasonably fast and they want their site to be available 24/7. That is especially true for businesses. We have hosted some major businesses over the years, and I assure you not a single one has ever asked for a nginx-backed Apache server, or MariaDB, or OPcache. They just don't care. They want uptime. If you can't provide 100% uptime or darn near close to it, you aren't going to be around long.

Good luck!
I know, I see these hosts you mention, but I am serious about this. I'm making investments in top quality hardware, backup servers, power redundancy, RAID controllers. I want to do this right.
The point of using better software than your typical PHP/MySQL setup is so the customer can actually see their sites are quicker than on other hosts. I'm not trying to appeal to the clueless, I want people who are actually interested in buying from a host who uses these things.

Thanks for the comment.
LiteSpeed web server.
Ah yes, I will look at that. :)
 

WSWD

Well-known member
#6
Yeah, I thought this would be the case. If only more people knew how good Plesk really is.
I guess I'll have to offer cPanel, but I'll make Plesk selected by default.

Yeah, I've always been okay with Plesk. People are just so used to cPanel, you're really going to be losing sales if you go Plesk only. You might want to offer both if you can afford to do it.


I'm not trying to appeal to the clueless, I want people who are actually interested in buying from a host who uses these things.
Just be careful. It's okay to appeal to a certain niche, but you want to reign the clueless folks in as well. :D I don't know that it's the best idea to intentionally limit your client base to a small group of people. So do what you can to appeal to both.
 

Solidus

Well-known member
#7
How are you doing support? Is it just you? Do you have it outsourced?
Support is handled by myself. My partner will be handling invoices and other sales questions. That's all is needed for now. I can get a couple others when needed.

Yeah, I've always been okay with Plesk. People are just so used to cPanel, you're really going to be losing sales if you go Plesk only. You might want to offer both if you can afford to do it.

Just be careful. It's okay to appeal to a certain niche, but you want to reign the clueless folks in as well. :D I don't know that it's the best idea to intentionally limit your client base to a small group of people. So do what you can to appeal to both.
I've decided to go with cPanel primarily, no matter how much I dislike WHM and how it locks down your server, it will result in more sales.
 

SneakyDave

Well-known member
#8
So what happens if somebody's site goes down while you're sleeping? Is this a hobby or your full time job? You might want to have more shifts to handle support
 

Solidus

Well-known member
#9
My partner is in a different time zone, nearly all 24 hours are covered. Why would a site go down anyway? If it's server related I get emails and wake up to fix it.
 

Tracy Perry

Well-known member
#10
My partner is in a different time zone, nearly all 24 hours are covered. Why would a site go down anyway? If it's server related I get emails and wake up to fix it.
A lot of times the site will go down and the server not (due to a screw up on the clients part) and said client will think it's the hosting and not something they did... or depending on the level of service offered expect it to be something the host is to help troubleshoot.
 

SneakyDave

Well-known member
#14
What if you have 20 clients that want things fixed in that 3 hour span? Sometimes the analysis can take a long time, especially when there is more than one issue

If you want more technically advanced customers, then you're going to have to beef up support, they are the most demanding.

Do you plan to offer shared hosting, VPS, and/or dedicated servers? Do you own the hardware and rent out a colocation facility, or do you have your own?

Why would a site go down anyway?
You'll probably find out that there are hundreds of ways.
 
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Solidus

Well-known member
#15
What if you have 20 clients that want things fixed in that 3 hour span? Sometimes the analysis can take a long time, especially when there is more than one issue

If you want more technically advanced customers, then you're going to have to beef up support, they are the most demanding.

Do you plan to offer shared hosting, VPS, and/or dedicated servers? Do you own the hardware and rent out a colocation facility, or do you have your own?



You'll probably find out that there are hundreds of ways.
By that point, there will be more support staff. I will adjust the amount according to the number of clients. I have a few friends willing to help when needed.
This isn't something I just thought of. I have planned this for a while and done my research.
 

Tracy Perry

Well-known member
#16
By that point, there will be more support staff. I will adjust the amount according to the number of clients. I have a few friends willing to help when needed.
This isn't something I just thought of. I have planned this for a while and done my research.
That would be what bothers me. A business should not be relying on "friends" to help out... but employees. If appropriately thought out one would imagine there would be 24 hour coverage at the start.
 

Solidus

Well-known member
#17
They will be employees. I don't expect them to work for free, they just get the job first because 1) they are my friends, and 2) I know they can do the job.
 

Tracy Perry

Well-known member
#18
They will be employees. I don't expect them to work for free, they just get the job first because 1) they are my friends, and 2) I know they can do the job.
Ahhh.. but that's not what you said. You said
I have a few friends willing to help when needed
That statement leads one to believe that they would help out as needed, not that they were going to be hired to perform the duties. There is a whole world of difference. Not trying to shoot you down, but trying to emphasize the importance of being exact in your statements, especially if starting up a business. Improperly worded statements could lead one to have a false sense of what is being promised.
 

Solidus

Well-known member
#19
Gotcha. What I meant was.. when I >need< to hire my friends, I shall, and that they have already said they are willing.
Must be the UK/US typography differences, because that makes sense to me.