And by this I mean which control panel?

Experience tells me that most small businesses use a Linux or Unix platform of some kind (collectively called *nix), but I know that many people also use a Windows server because they have some app they want to run that needs Windows.

So if you’re on a *nix platform, which hosting control panel do you use?

My personal choice is cPanel.

#1 – It’s probably the most feature full hosting panel there is.
#2 – It’s the easiest to use.
#3 – If you’re not happy with your host, it’s a piece of cake to move to another cPanel host.

But even though the cPanel software is cheap at only about $100 per year per server (to the web host, not you), some hosts insist on writing their own server software. Maybe if you have at least 500 servers at $100 giving a total of $50,000 / year, then it’s tempting to spend the money having your own platform written, or at least find a cheaper one.

But I strongly believe that this policy damages their business. There are tens of thousands of people in the know who wouldn’t touch a non-cPanel server purely because of the reasons above. Especially people who need a dedicated server.

The problem I think for many users of these hosts is that they don’t know any better.

Think about this one for a moment. When you first looked for a web host for your very first web site, you didn’t have a clue what to do did you? No, nor me.

So you first have to do some research. For many people this consists of nothing more than going into their favourite forum and saying “anybody know a good web host?” – and this is where the problem lies.

People who have an opinion without a rounded experience are usually the most vocal.

The people who know that a cPanel host is the way to go may just about be bothered to say “any cPanel host” which doesn’t help the guy or gal looking for the information.

But the “newbie” users will jump forward and say “I use 1and1″, or “I use Yahoo”, or “I use GoDaddy”. For the majority, that’s all they’ve ever used, and they’re not offering good advice either, all they’re doing is saying what they use.

In marketing this is called “social proof”, and so the poor new guy goes and buys the appropriate hosting depending on what’s been said. Usually, social proof is a good short cut to the right answer, but quite often (1 in 5) it’s not the best method on which to base a decision.

So then the new guy uses the host and thinks that’s what web hosting should be like, and that it’s supposed to be really difficult.

With a cPanel host it’s much much easier to do most things, and often there are things you can only do on the cPanel hosting platform because of #1 above.

And of course once you’re using a host that has their own control panel, they make it very difficult for you to move. Many of them will even offer a free domain for 12 months, knowing that it will be even more difficult to get rid of them once you have both your domain name and your web hosting with them.

In fact, I made the same mistakes when I set up my very first web sites, and I’m pretty much stuck with domain hosting by a company who charge $25 just to look at allowing you to transfer your domain away from them.

I’m not kidding.

(UK2.net will take online sign ups and take your credit card details without a problem. They charge TWICE the domain registration fee per year that NameCheap.com do and their admin panel is dire.

If you want to transfer to another domain host, they require you to send a FAX to their billing and accounts, and also a cheque (check) for £12.99 (approx $25) to them in the post. They only guarantee to look at your transfer, not to actually do it. If it’s disapproved, then you have to start all over again.

You can’t find the pages on their site that explain this, you have to contact them first before they’ll give you the link to the page. That’s what I found out when I tried to move a while back.)

I think that’s sharp practice don’t you?

And I wonder how many other companies do this?

Anyway, we all live and learn.

Hosts that YOU would have to pay ME money (about $1,000 per month per domain is worth the pain) to use are:-

UK2, 1and1, FastHosts, Yahoo, GoDaddy, Dreamhost, and any Helm based host.

(I believe, but don’t know for sure, that UK2, 1and1 and FastHosts are run by the same parent company. I think this may be the case because I used NetStat to look at the connection when I’ve used live support and found I was connected to a 1and1 domain. Maybe they were just buying support services from 1and1, but I think not.)

If you want to know where I now register all my domains, it’s with NameCheap, and my recommended web site hosting is Hostgator, purely because they fully load their servers with just about everything you need to get any script to work.

-Frank Haywood