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Reader Question about Hosting

Published by Chris Coyier

A reader (who wishes to remain anonymous) wrote in asking me about web hosting. They had a bunch of requirements:

  1. Wishes to resell hosting to clients and charge them monthly (currently charges $50/year).
  2. Clients need access to their own hosting, e.g. add email addresses or FTP users.
  3. He isn't good at server stuff. Needs a GUI for admining whole server and clients need their own GUI admin tools also.
  4. Wants to spend less than $100/month.
  5. Wants to be able to scale up to more powerful hosting easily.

I use Media Temple (dv) for my own hosting and I like it. So based on my own experience, I'd probably get one of those (which scale up well) and just manually invoice clients when I add their sites to that hosting. The weakness there is that you can't give sandboxed access to them for adding emails and stuff like that. But honestly, I'd rather just get them set up on Google Apps anyway, which they can control themselves.

Or, if giving them true hosting admin access is imperative, buy an inexpensive shared hosting plan (e.g. BlueHost, HostGator or Digitalfyre) just for them, and then invoice them for that cost + markup. That might be a little tacky since they could easily see how much that service costs with trivial investigation. And I'm not sure how well scaling on those services works either.

Another consideration: do you even want to deal with this? Now if their website goes down (which of course you know about right away) it's your problem. If they have their own hosting which they purchased, they might be more likely to deal with the host directly.

Unfortunately, I don't have a perfect answer for him. Hence the post. If you have a great solution in mind, leave it in the comments below and I'm sure he'll appreciate it.

Comments

  1. Permalink to comment#

    I’d recommend VPS.net. It’s not truly your own server, but it’s still good in a lot of ways – you can scale it up instantly, you get to choose the software that runs on your server, and it has reseller options.

  2. Permalink to comment#

    I have a hostgator reseller account and love it.

    • Arkitekt
      Permalink to comment#

      Same… cant go wrong with HG… i have loved mine.

    • Alaa Nayfeh
      Permalink to comment#

      i have a Host Gator account with whm (Web Host Manager) and i am very happy with them.
      their support is awesome, and live chat agent are available 24/24/7
      i can create a sparate account with separate cPanel for each customer
      and they can do whatever they want with their host..
      they can edit dns zone
      and they can create emails and do whatever they want..
      i highly recommend them..
      but whatever your choice is.. never go with web.com as they dont have live support.. no cPanel
      and if your site gets hack and need them to restore you site, they’ll charge you 100$

    • Permalink to comment#

      Dito, excellent servce and support :)

  3. Leigh
    Permalink to comment#

    http://www.liquidweb.com/ may be a good middle of the ground solution for wanting to make extra income without the reseller hassles. They have a preferred partners plan where you get money for referrals rather than dealing with being a reseller, They have a very easy to use interface, and outstanding customer support . Speaking from experience you really don’t want to deal with reselling hosting unless thats what your business is. 99.9% of clients are going to balk if you bill them for time for helping them diagnose and correct hosting issues because as the reseller they assume YOU are responsible. The time you spend troubleshooting could be much better spent on billable projects in the end.

  4. karamel
    Permalink to comment#

    I use jaguarpc.com. Their reseller account let you set up your clients with CPanel. Works great for smaller clients, and scales with larger clients.

  5. Matthew Davis
    Permalink to comment#

    I’d recommend Storm on Demand… Their support is amazing, their servers scale and it starts at $35 a month (although you’d then pay for bandwidth and a cPanel/WHM license).

    They don’t charge anything for support and tickets are usually answered within 10 minutes or so, and there’s always someone on the end of the phone.

    I use them myself and have been nothing short of amazed by them – the best hosting I’ve ever used!

  6. Matt Banks
    Permalink to comment#

    I gave up hosting any sites for clients. I still maintain my VPS server with Wiredtree that I use for all development and playing around with new things (I find having a VPS helps a lot so have full control to install Ruby Gems, Apache and PHP tweaks, etc that you can’t do on most shared hosting packages). For all clients, I set them up with their own shared hosting account, usually at HostGator.

  7. Permalink to comment#

    I don’t find much with which to disagree with Chris, especially the part “do you even want to deal with this?”

    However, even though I know Media Temple is big, well-known, and recommended by many, my personal experience with them is slow technical response, and a non-intuitive portal. After several disappointments, I dropped them. That was two years ago, so maybe they’ve improved since then.

    I found a company called ServInt, and have been extremely happy with them. They help me within 10-15 minutes if I do something dumb like screw up my DNS zone, or MX entry, or really any server help at all. The plans are very competitive, and for as little as $50/mo you get a reseller account with unlimited accounts, generous disk space and monthly bandwidth, and the normal full suite of GUI tools to help you administer accounts. I know I may sound like a company shill, but I am not. I write complaints on blogs for bad products, so it is a nice change to write something positive for a business which has served me well. The other thing these guys will do is quickly increase your bandwidth, space, and any other performance needs, up to a dedicated co-located server as your demands increase.

    The other option I would check out is all the CDNs out there. If you have clients with a lot of traffic, or serving large files, I think that may be better than a single shared-server, but I personally have not had experience with any one of those.

    • Permalink to comment#

      Co-sign, Servint has the best support ever.

    • Permalink to comment#

      Have to agree here. Recently picked up a ServInt Essential VPS for a client of ours and have been extremely happy with them. Like these guys said, their packages are scalable and $50 a month you can get started with a pretty decent package. You can also give each client their own cPanel for creating their own email addresses, FTP users etc. The same cPanel functionality that you get when you buy shared hosting.

      Since we are not in the business of managing and troubleshooting server issues, ServInt has been great because they monitor the server themselves to circumvent any forseeable issues and yes, record response time when opening tickets and friendly customer service. Highly recommended!

  8. Permalink to comment#

    “Another consideration: do you even want to deal with this?”

    One thing to note – if you aren’t, and others freelancers/firms/agencies area, that gives you a disadvantage and your competition an advantage. If may not be a big deal, but I wouldn’t write it off just because it’s a headache. Most clients (in my experience) don’t differentiate between host, website, email – it’s all one auto-magical package that just “works” for them.

    • Permalink to comment#

      I agree, clients just want all this to magically work for them. And rightly so, as long as they can afford it.

      WHAT ABOUT UPDATING WORDPRESS?
      One thing that hasn’t been mentioned here is the cost of keeping your WordPress sites up-to-date. This is manageable when you have 3 or 4 sites, but what about when you have 15 or 16 sites? It doesn’t take long for one site to require 6 or more plugin or wp core updates? How do you handle (and charge for) updates? I’m currently working on a dashboard to help us manage this, let me know if you want access to it.

  9. Permalink to comment#

    Funnily enough I was recently wondering this kind of thing myself the other day (and set it up on my server earlier today!). My solution isn’t GUI friendly, but I don’t think there is a good solution that is – it doesn’t take much to figure out the basics of setting up Linux servers anyway (I’ve gone from knowing nothing, to having setup a few websites with tight security very quickly).
    I found the best (remember, best is a subjective word) solution for me to be getting a Linode VPS, sectioning off different folders to different users using suPHP, restricting the users to their directories (using some basic Linux/UNIX commands) and then simply managing each site from the different user directories. This system also allowed you to be reasonably safe (with some extra precautions) with allowing the client SSH access into their user area.

  10. Eric
    Permalink to comment#

    For me, Rackspace Cloud. Hands down. Great price, blazing speed, and integrated CDN and load balancer tools.

    http://www.rackspace.com/hosting_solutions/

    • Eric
      Permalink to comment#
    • Binyamin
      Permalink to comment#

      I would suggest Rackspace Cloud Servers too. What means – your own server that you will need to configure and to setup. For GUI admin tool I’ll suggest Usermin.

    • et
      Permalink to comment#

      While a rackspace cloudsites account is a bit more than $100, their support even fir setting up or anything is the best i’ve ever seen.

      I have a few clients sub-hosted on my account, where i can set their cost and rackspace handles the billing.

    • I originally thought $150/mo was out-of-control, but after using cloud sites for about 3 months now (with my day job), I would also recommend Rackspace for the reader’s purposes. It is a good place to start, and scales up when they need more bandwidth/storage.

      I like it. Much better than shared hosting.

    • Binyamin
      Permalink to comment#
  11. I too now avoid using shared hosting for clients – too many cases of one client’s site affecting the speed and flexibility of others. So now I just use our media temple shared (dv) for emergency or dev hosting, and set up separate hosting for each clients. The savings gained by splitting a virtual server aren’t much now hosting is so cheap. Better to have independent accounts, and that also means you have the option of giving clients access directly to the ISP’s tech support telephones, so they can sort out some technical issues directly.

  12. Permalink to comment#

    I bought a Rackspace Cloud Sites package a few years back for $100/mo – it’s a bit more now but it allows for all of that – a web control panel for me, a web panel for the customers, automated recurring billing for the clients as if it were my company, etc. It’s worked out really well. If you can get five clients at $20/mo then you’ve got free hosting.

  13. Permalink to comment#

    Wow, I guess I didn’t know so many people chose to do re-seller hosting. It’s always seemed like much more hassle than it’s worth to me. I love that once I’m done building the site it’s no longer my problem =)

  14. Marc Behiels
    Permalink to comment#

    I run a hosting company in Canada as a sister company to my development company.
    It has its drawbacks as yes I have to be first line support – but it also gives me more control over the development environment, and becomes part of my vertical approach to my business marketing.
    Also – we are in Canada – so work within the privacy aspects of Canadian law as opposed to other countries….
    all in all its worked well over ten years – now for the next hardware upgrade :)

    Marc Behiels

  15. Permalink to comment#

    I recommend Eleven 2. They have a great prices, great customer service and a great admin panel for your account (which also gives you access to cPanel for your site). And their reseller prices are pretty comparable to Host Gator’s.

  16. Wylie
    Permalink to comment#

    I use WebFaction. They have cheap plans and have never been any trouble which are two things I like in a host.

  17. Permalink to comment#

    As the president of DigitalFyre, I want to thank you, Chris, for mentioning us in your post.

    The hosting industry is like the fruit market, there’s a million stands, and all look the same! It sure will take a lot for a company to stand out from the crowed compared to others, and we’re trying to do so! Our prices might not be the cheapest, but our goal to maintain 100% uptime and never overload the servers by not offering massive “Unlimited” everything does help a lot!

    I hope everyone who reads this article find the hosting they are looking for – from a provider that will meet and exceed their expectations.

  18. I recently posted on Forrst asking a similar question as I’m outgrowing my long time host. I like the sound of Linode but will dig through here and see what other suggestions are like for sure.

  19. Permalink to comment#

    I use VPS.NET for this exact purpose. It has some large pitfalls though. I wrote a blog post just a week or so ago about my experiences with them here.

  20. Permalink to comment#

    I went through hours and days of research about this when starting my agency this year. To resell or not to resell? My answer: do not resell. Instead, use an affiliate link with a shared host (I use HostMonster) to get a kickback. Here’s the math:

    RESELLING
    1 client @ $5/mo = $60/year. If the client breaks the site, it’s your fault. As soon as you get their email or pick up their phone call, you start losing money (time). Let’s say you spend two hours in a year fixing their problems. You can’t bill for that support because a client won’t stand for it (it’s your fault it broke, after all). If you typically bill at $50/hr, you’ve lost $100 in productivity, which means you’re at at net of -$40 for that year. Not counting what you’re losing in that time spent troubleshooting by not working for a paying client. Multiple that loss by 10 clients in a year.

    AFFILIATE
    1 client @ $65 per sign-up via your affiliate link (set up a branded redirect from your company site, refer potential clients to it). If the client breaks the site, you have the option of referring them to their web host (which they know is responsible because that’s who’s on their bill every month). While you may still lose productivity by troubleshooting something for a client–and you should do minor troubleshooting for clients, since they are your best referrers–you can now run the quarterback option if things get too hairy. Note: it’s possible that a client will use the host you recommend, but forget to use the link you send them. I find it helpful to explain that I get a kickback when they use my link. It’s transparent and clients don’t mind at all. A branded redirect to your affiliate page is a big win, too. For example, mine is http://www.fittedwebdesign.com/hosting-referral. I also made a short screenshot walk-through of how to sign-up, because clients are easily confused by all of the jargon. I suppose you could throw the hosting site in a frame and keep your branding around, if you’re sneaky.

    COMPARING
    The shiny lining of reseller hosting is the residual, yearly earnings. Unfortunately, those troubleshooting woes are also yearly. The affiliate payout comes 45 days after account creation, goes in your pocket, and never leaves.

    However, I do recommend reseller hosting if you’re going to be making and supporting websites for your friends and anything pro-bono. It’s a little more per month, but it avoids the huge headaches that rain down when your little pro-bono site gets hacked and your shared hosting provider shuts down your entire shared hosting space.

    ***

    Thanks for the awesome venue for conversation like this, Chris. Keep up the fabulous work–I’m a big fan.

  21. Paul B.
    Permalink to comment#

    Dreamhost.com is very reliable service for a very good price.

    • Permalink to comment#

      Dreamhost may be cheap, but reliable they are most definitely not. I’ve had multiple, mutli-hour long periods of downtime in the last year, which also took their support/web panel down too.

      There’s nothing quite like having 20 clients phone you at 10am on a Monday morning asking why the heck their site is offline and what you’re going to do about it, and having to tell them there’s nothing you can do because you can’t even contact the host.

      If you decide you really want to sell hosting to clients, avoid the super cheap end of the market, find someone with decent support, spend a little more and sleep a little better.

    • Permalink to comment#

      I’ve found DH to be reliable, and their support is always decent. People’s experiences of web hosts are always completely different though because there are so many factors involved.

    • Permalink to comment#

      I have had a good experience with Dreamhost.com and have about 1/3 of my clients using their services. When I have a client who is ‘penny pinching’ or I know I may not want to deal with down the road, I just help them set up their own Dreamhost account and keep hosting totally out of the equation.

      My word of advice is to be up front with folks about what you are charging them for. Design, consulting, development or whatever else you’re doing. Trying to create a recurring revenue stream off web hosting just isn’t worth it. The best way to make recurring revenue is to offer a recurring service such as SEO or site maintenance.

      I either set people up with their own hosting or charge them to host on one of my Mediatemple (dv) servers and break even internally.

      Maybe I’m just not that great of a businessman. :/

  22. Permalink to comment#

    Chris mentioned manually invoicing, which is an issue. I use FreshBooks for my accounting ($19/mo) which offers, among other things, automatic recurring billing. When I setup a client for domain reg and website hosting, I create the bill and tick the box for recurring billing. It emails my client again this time next year. It’s always nice to get a check in the mail I didn’t expect.

    If and invoice went out and I didn’t receive payment, I’ll see the unpaid invoice in the list so I don’t miss it.

  23. Permalink to comment#

    I have a grid server from The Agathon Group, http://www.agathongroup.com/ and I’m reselling hosting. It uses Webmin for the admin, which works fine, I give access to clients for their own email management etc. The guys there are great and very sharp.

    It starts at $50/mo and then you can incrementally move it up as your needs grow. I think I’m at $200/mo right now with about 40 sites on it.

    I highly recommend it.

  24. Brian Howard
    Permalink to comment#

    Site5 has resell hosting and I have been really happy with their customer service. http://www.site5.com/resellers/

    Although, I would have to agree with Kenny. Stay out of it and be an affiliate.

  25. mary
    Permalink to comment#

    I have not tried it myself, but have it bookmarked in case I wanted to resell hosting at some point: http://hostdeploy.com/ . You can brand it yourself, invoice clients, and they handle client support too.

  26. Permalink to comment#

    Alright, so I can understand where a lot of people are coming from on not having it be your problem. But let me give some suggestions on MY financial math:

    I don’t charge 5/mo. I charge 50/month to my clients. But I do so as a package deal. An hours worth of text edits are included, tech support is included, and a host of other reasons I give them as to why they should go with me. On top of that though, my clients would prefer working with me than with an outside company. And so far, of all my clients, only one of them have ever taken me up on the edits thing. What’s ended up happening is that I get a lot of recurring income for VERY LITTLE work.

    Clients feel better when they know they can count on me, and they are willing to pay for that added sense of security. Don’t discount it. At the same time though, I have a contract I wrote up that tells them that if they need to make more advanced edits, or something that requires more of my time, they’ll be charged hourly for that.

    I’ve never once heard a complaint, or even been questioned on it.

    And as for having to get in there to fix a hacked website or a problem… I keep good backups and update regularly. At 50/month/client I can easily afford to spend my time on that.

  27. There are several ways to go about this. One would just to get a reseller account with a cPanel host. This would allow you to resell their services without you having much knowledge of server administration. There are a lot of people who have white-label services so it is harder for them to figure out that it isn’t you (average user would probably never know).

    The other option is to get a managed VPS with cPanel. There are several good providers who could do this for you. Look at http://webhostingtalk.com. They have lots of reviews about different providers. If you don’t want to go the managed route, you can look at http://buyvm.net or http://hostigation.com. Both of these hosts offer very stable VPS at great prices.

  28. Permalink to comment#

    I like VPS.net. If you need a GUI, you can always buy a WHM/cPanel license and install that.

  29. I can’t recommend Vidahost http://www.vidahost.com highly enough. Great pricing, re seller model with branding, CPanel interface for managing, great support, very accommodating and will help you grow.

  30. I have to agree with the numerous people who’ve spoken against reseller hosting. I run a business/developer-centric hosting company and one thing I can say for certain after dealing with huge numbers of web developers: most of them (even the good ones) don’t really understand hosting, or the myriad of technical details that surround doing it correctly.

    Consequently, I don’t even offer reseller plans, and I’ve never been asked to do so. My developers simply pay for their clients’ hosting and then resell that to the client as part of their web development services. We white-label the whole thing so they (the devs) can call me when they have problems and end up looking like the heroes to their clients who aren’t aware (or don’t care) that the actual hosting is being taken care of by a 3rd party hosting company (me). It’s a win-win, and the devs get to spend their time at what they’re good at – making great websites.

    On a side note, I’ve gotta give some kudos to DigitalFyre as well. I’ve used Ahmed for the acquisition of numerous high-end dedicated servers. He’s easily one of the best UNIX server ops I’ve run into in a very long time.

  31. rick
    Permalink to comment#

    @Rob – but do your clients get $50/month of value? I’ve hosted folks at Webfaction and they have good support and very reliable, fast servers for $10/month. Now, the extra $40/month would be worth it if they use some of your time per month as support… but honestly, any hosting that needs regular support is suspect. I want the sites to Just Run; they shouldn’t generate regular support issues.

    For the person who wrote to Chris… Don’t do it. Here’s the thing… You aren’t good at server stuff, but you want to provide services that are really all about ‘server stuff.’ This seems like a red flag to me.

    One issue for solo people (or small companies with just one person who does the hosting support stuff) is this – what happens when you’re on vacation or sick as a dog with the flu? If something does happen, what do your clients do? Sure, you can find someone to backstop you and pay them an hourly fee for any support they provide, but…

    Finally, let’s take Rob’s pricing above… at $50/month, you run 10 clients on Linode or other virtual server. THough Linodes start at $20/month, let’s go with a beefier one that’s $50. So you’re grossing $450/month. Now, this isn’t bad money… but it’s not really a lot of money either. Get to 50 clients and you’re starting to talk real money ($2450 gross after the Linode’s cost if you can run them all on the one beefy Linode). If you can do that without any significant support costs, that’s interesting money, but much less than 30-50 clients and… meh.

  32. Permalink to comment#

    I’m a small timer, way out of the ordinary compared to what I’ve read here. I put together very small static websites of only a few pages for small “mom & pop” businesses and sole proprietors. I have a simple Grid-Service account with Media Temple. I offer hosting and merely add my clients domain to my account and take care of everything, and they have no access to the account. So far this month I’ve used 777Mb of my allotted 1024000Mb so I have no danger of coming anywhere near the limit. I charge my clients $199/year for the hosting which is only $19/year more then they would be paying for their own account and they don’t have to deal with the admin them selves (which after installing a static site, as you guys know, is almost nothing).

    So far all of my admittedly few clients are very, very, very none technical. My last doesn’t know how to take a screen shot or any of the most rudimentary geek stuff. It’s not that she, or any of the others are stupid ( she’s a Professor of Literature at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and has a Law degree to boot, can type at a seemingly unimaginable speed, and knows programs that she needs to use, like Word, inside and out) they have no interest in computers outside of what they need to do for their work and are happy to pay me the extra twenty dollars a year to relieve themselves of having to deal with a hosting account.

  33. Permalink to comment#

    I run my own hosting server and resale to clients. It is running VMWare so I can create dedicated VMs when needed. Install one VM with CentOS running apache and another running MySQL plus a Zimbra server for email, calendar, etc. I used to pay $69/mo. plus $10/mo. for every account I resold. I worked out the numbers and found it was cheaper to purchase a server and upgrade my internet connection. Doing this allowed me to give my clients more options / features. Plus if something went wrong, made for much faster response times as the server is right behind me.

  34. Permalink to comment#

    I’m using JustHost since last 3 years for me and for my clients. Honestly, I find it very affordable (Less then $42) and reliable. I’ll recommend it to small businesses and new bloggers! +1 for shared hosting plan.

  35. Permalink to comment#

    I run a small web design studio in Toronto and offer hosting to our web design clients as a value add service. We’ve been using a local hosting provider, SiteAction http://www.siteaction.com/ for the past 7 years and have had no complaints about their hosting, reliability or support. Very flexible packages that can grow with your business. The hosting comes with H-Sphere control panels so each of our clients gets their own panel, webmail and more.

  36. Ben
    Permalink to comment#

    I’ve never been more impressed than with Rackspace CloudSites for speed, reliability, flexibility, support, and control panel but it takes several hosted clients to justify the price.

  37. Permalink to comment#

    I would rather go with BlueHost. I have used it for 6-7 months and till now I found their service is quite notable.

  38. Permalink to comment#

    I’ve got a $40/month VPS at GreenGeeks.com. I can create as many reseller account as I want and everybody gets their own cPanel access with full control and the ability to create emails, databases, sub-domains and FTP accounts as they please. I can create different packages depending on clients’ needs so as Rob mentioned, I can create higher priced packages that offer more support. It was a bit of a learning curve but GreenGeeks support is always available if something goes terribly wrong. Upgrades are also available as needed. The only pain is billing so I just create recurring subscriptions through Paypal and I never have to worry again.

  39. good place to ask, what do you think about iPage hosting? I did some online research and I’m still not sure which one to choose. (currently I use hosting in Poland, this is where I live – but I need more space for my websites and no monthly limits for transfers)

    Maybe some of you already purchased hosting from iPage and could share your opinion? Thank you!

  40. Permalink to comment#

    I personally use SoftSys Hosting (softsyshosting.com). I have been with them for about 5 years now. They have really affordable reseller plans with a simple web-based control panel that allows you to give separate control panel access to your clients. It even allows you to set a price and have it charge the client just as if you were the original vendor.

    Also their support is awesome. I have submitted support tickets at all hours of the day, including in the middle of the night, and they have always responded in a matter of minutes.

    Great folks. Check them out.

    BobTheGeek

  41. (mt) provides dedicated virtual hosting starting at $50/month and is scalable. I highly recommend it and you can manage the server with parellel.

  42. I think the key here is not to treat reseller hosting as a direct income stream (unless you’re willing to put in serious effort on support and also to push the sales volumes as high as possible), but rather to use it as a value-added service exclusively for your design/development clients (not Joe Public).

    I offer resold hosting at minimum cost-price to my clients. The value I get from doing this lies in the speed and ease of implementing and maintaining whatever it is I’m building for them. Having a high quality, reliable and repeatable technology platform is critical – the time I save by not having to deal with poor quality hosts means I can build better stuff and do it more quickly.

    Depending on the client I also often recommend that they host their email on a separate dedicated Exchange service. Aside from being generally good practice, that also minimises support requests. Setting up FTP users, databases, sub-domains, parked domains etc etc is something that I would usually be doing myself as part of a chargeable development service, though they can also do this themselves via cPanel.

  43. Lori
    Permalink to comment#

    Until 2 weeks ago I used Bluehost and simply added client sites to one of my accounts. ONE of my several accounts. 2 weeks ago Bluehost sent me an email out of the blue (ha, pun not intended) saying effective immediately my account was deactivated and my sites were down. I called and while on hold I listened to their ad describing “unlimited domains” and “no charge for this or that”. They said one of my wordpress sites was “too large”, not too much traffic but too many sql tables and it was hogging the cpu.

    And just like that, after 9 years, I was cut off.I spoke to 3 people and got nowhere. Each of them said “the sysadmin won’t reactivate no matter what”.

    Also was told there was no account I could upgrade to that would solve the issue.

    I am now with hostgator, paying them 3 times what I paid bluehost. HAPPILY paying them 3 times what I paid bluehost. With noticeably faster response times…. Can’t believe I defended bluehost for as long as I did when so many recommended other hosts.

    Also very happy with nexcess who host 2 magento sites for me. Very snappy response, etc.

  44. Permalink to comment#

    I’m another user of Hostgator’s reseller accounts with WHM, I find its good for people that do want to manage emails, ftp, etc. and give them access to cPanel. But as most of my clients don’t know much if anything about hosting, WordPress and the like. I manage most of the accounts, do WP backups and setup emails for them. HG live chat is pretty good and can access from anywhere so when people have a problem I just get on the blower to them and the client is none the wiser. I feel that as I’m the first person my clients come to its better for me to act as the middle man as a lot of other hosts will not provide the level of support expected or give users a load of jargon that is just confusing. The Hostgator reseller accounts start at $25 a month.

  45. Permalink to comment#

    I offer resellar hosting through hostgator and have been really impressed with their support and reliability.

    While I agree with many of the comments above regarding what a hassle and money losing proposition it could be, I find that in order to offer my clients a complete, turnkey website solution it is necessary to control the hosting for them as well. I charge a bit more than most cheap hosts and offer the value of being the go-between for them on support issues. With hostgator live chat support is available 24/7 so I can take care of it while working on other issues. I don’t see it as a money maker, although for some clients it really is, but a value-add to set my firm apart from the web developers who get your site going and then say “give me a call next time you need a website”. My customers appreciate that level of support and subsequently are willing to pay a bit more for my services. I look at the hosting component as a loss-leader type expense.

    Thanks Chris for this invaluable site. I have learned a lot from you.

  46. Tbone
    Permalink to comment#

    If you use a host using a shared server, be aware that you may run into issues with email being blacklisted. You never know who else you are sharing with on the same IP address. I would recommend leasing a dedicated server from Godaddy. They also offer a support plan to take care of any issues or problems that you aren’t comfortable with. You can allow each user access to set up their email accounts, FTP, etc. You can choose to give them access to their DNS or not.

  47. Permalink to comment#

    I’ve been using GoDaddy shared hosting (Deluxe/Linux) for years and its always been great. Reliable, secure and they have a great control panel. Another amazing feature is the built-in restore feature. You can restore any file to its state, from any of the last 30 days.

  48. Jason
    Permalink to comment#

    I have done exactly what your reader is looking for for the the past 6 years. The solution I found was with Westhost. They offer basic hosting, cloud hosting, and cloud VPS hosting with a reseller platform. Further they have a back end where your clients can log in to change email, etc, which is unbranded, and they have wonderful 24/7 support. You can have unlimited accounts so expansion is really cost effective. Here is a link to their site:

    http://www.westhost.com/reseller-hosting/

  49. Vic
    Permalink to comment#

    Okay, so Im almost expecting all the geeks in here to flame my meringue for saying this, but GoDaddy is the cheapest, most reliable , easiest to scale, easiest to resell, etc service out there. Plus I like things in places where there is never daylight savings time. Biggest problem is the embarrassment that youre reselling accounts for a company called GoDaddy (client: “No, no, I dont want to start THAT KIND of website…”).

    PS: Chris, you’re a god. I never posted on here before, and just found this site a month ago, but I have since been inspired to completely rewrite 2 sites. Thank you a million times. Keep up the good work.

  50. Jason
    Permalink to comment#

    You can resell godaddy services. They call it wildwestdomains.

    Also Westhost offers a more unbranded solution

  51. Permalink to comment#

    @rob – but do your clients get $50/month of value?

    @rick – My clients feel that way, and so do I. As an industry sometimes we forget how scary it is to deal with tech support when you’re not tech savvy. It’s so much easier to call someone you know and have them take care of it for you. 50 dollars a month is totally worth it to them for a turn-key solution like that.

    Oh and by the way, they rarely ask me for updates, and the server has never gone down in the last 3 years. They are very happy with my service.

    The math: 120/month in combined hosting. 50 per client: that’s 360 a month in profit at 10 clients, 860 a month in 20 clients. If that’s not a money-maker to you then I’d love to know what your doing for your money-maker.

  52. Gareth
    Permalink to comment#

    I cannot recommend Webfaction highly enough either after trying 2-3 others over the years.
    As some of the others mentioned above I get support replies within 10-15mins as well as a good community. They are very scalable including load balancing large traffic sites.
    I don’t use it but hey have an affiliate system also, so you will earn a revenue but without the pain of support. Ssh/Shell access if you need it.
    They have there own control panel also which in my opinion is a lot more intuitive than cpanel.

  53. Webfaction for me too! was recommended it on a CMS forum just to test out and I’m so impressed with the speed and level of configuration you get for prices starting at $11 /month, I find that amazing value.. for root/shell access to your own space on what is a shared hosting platform. Difference is, they don’t overload the servers with accounts so you always get optimum performance!

  54. Jake
    Permalink to comment#

    I have been hosted by FreeResellers since 2008 and I am still hosted with them even now under their new name http://LunarCP.com. It is all free and has amazing uptime.

  55. I’ve always used and always will use Media Temple’s services. For this application, since you’re not good at server stuff as you say, I’d get yourself a (dv), base package will cost you $50 monthly and it’ll have everything you need to get started. As you grow in clients, definitely grab yourself an extra bit of RAM and such. Probably some more storage wouldn’t hurt either.

    Why (mt)? They leave everyone else in the dust as far as hosting is concerned… they’re the “Apple” of hosting. A bit pricey, but they’ll give you kickass features and some crazy support that you’ve always dreamed of. Should your client’s site go down, give (mt) a call and they’ll get everything back up for you. HostGator’s okay, and so is GoDaddy for this kind of thing… But honestly, if you want a company that will truly care about YOU, make you feel like you’re part of a family, and give you truly personal support, than (mt) is a no-brainer.

    Hope I helped!

  56. David Higginbotham
    Permalink to comment#

    I’ve been using HostGator for many years now and they would be my recommended choice for anyone who doesn’t need a very resource intensive site or anything that’s super fast… However for my basic to moderate business uses I’ve used them and have a Reseller Account with them that gets lots and lots of use for my few shillings each month. Their tech support is usually happy to do many of the things I’m too lazy to deal with which is super nice — bit of free help when I can’t deal with writing a script they probably have on hand for shuffling my files around.

    However, if you’re in need of something powerful, and not so rediciously cheap as HG, I’d say Rackspace or MediaTemple (mt) can cover your bum like no others.

  57. Permalink to comment#

    Hosting websites for clients, as freelancer, is ticking bomb imho. I did that before and once I got decent number of clients (10+) I got so many headache from various problems with upgrades and maintenance. There were times when I would spend whole day fixing problems. Eventually I managed to move all clients to their own Host Gator accounts I setup for them.
    Now I’m happy designer + front-end developer and I never looked back. I wouldn’t recommend this to freelancer but development company with 5-10 employees could pull this out.

  58. Think you

  59. Permalink to comment#

    I’m on Rackspace Cloud Servers and it’s easily the best hosting I’ve ever had. Probably not the right thing for this reader because you have to set the entire server up yourself, but if you know how to set up a web server it’s amazing. And you can scale it up super easily – literally with one click. I promise I don’t work for them ;)

  60. Kevin Vance
    Permalink to comment#

    I just recently switched to Eleven2 (e2) for hosting my personal sites. (www.eleven2.com) I’m using their one of their shared hosting plans since that’s all I really need right now for my personal stuff, and their support is KILLER. Super attentive, and the price was great, especially after using one of the coupon codes I came across.

    Although I’m not a reseller, with how much I’m loving them as a company I’d venture to say the experience would be just as good. I’d feel comfortable using e2 for either setting up shared hosting for clients because the price is right and their support and sales teams are excellent; could be especially good for those clients that don’t know much about how all this works and need great support.

  61. Permalink to comment#

    As I am involved in internet marketing and web design for a 7 years now I have tried many top hosting providers and I can say that their offered services are very similar. So far my favorite is Bluehost and Hostgator.
    I was really concerned about the quality of hosting once I started my business but right now I place all my websites on cloudflare and it reduces bandwidth and increases the speed for the website. And speed is one of the most important things that matters for me and my clients

  62. Permalink to comment#

    I recently noticed Weebly ( sounds bad I know… was just making fun of them ) recently launched a CMS for designers (with control of HTML/CSS) with pretty reasonable hosting features. Just curious if any tried it and if it’s reputable at all?

  63. Dave
    Permalink to comment#

    Best option is to buy a Reseller Hosting package. Most big hosting companies have these packages and they are mostly based on DirectAdmin. With a reseller package you get a certain amount of hdd space and bandwidth which you can divide into your own packages and “resell”.

    All packages have the DirectAdmin control panel (if the main reseller package is based on this), so the client has control over MySQL, FTP, E-mail accounts etc.

    Only problem is scaling. Scaling the hdd size/bandwith is doable, processing power is not.

  64. Permalink to comment#

    I have been using Media temple for long. I love it, but it is pricey.

    I have been considering GatorHost, but have not made my mind yet.

  65. Permalink to comment#

    is there free Game Hosting ?

  66. I second the Eleven2 recommendation given above. I currently subscribe to one of their reseller plans and have moved all of my clients over to their platform. With WHM and a free WHMCS license I can set up recurring billing, build specific packages for each client’s needs and if I have an issue that I can’t resolve on my own, they’re fast to solve the problem, with excellent response times and an extremely friendly support staff.

    They’ll also set you up with a domain reseller account for free, which is a huge boon.

    I highly recommend E2.

  67. Ingrid
    Permalink to comment#

    Yeah! What they said. Eleven2 is excellent. Always willing to help, and great prices, great coupon codes. They’re gonna be my choice of web host for a long time to come. They have a sweet custom skin for cPanel that makes it really nice, and that goes for the client dashboard for reseller hosting as well. Eleven2.com all the way! Being a reseller is already kind of a pain as it is, so such a great company and interface makes it suck less.

    Honestly, even though it has it’s ups and downs, IMO the benefits of being a reseller outweigh the suckiness.

  68. There isn’t a way that you can serve as a proper web host without dealing with the nitty gritty of hosting. When your customers break your server or have questions about how to do something technical, you need to know how to deal with that. As a plug, I own a small webhosting company and we sell hosting that you can resell. Check it out: http://www.jsithosting.com

  69. At one point I tried getting setup with osmething like WHM to bill clients and everything, but it’s such a pain to setup and isn’t really worth it for only $50/year, because at the point that you break even and scale up, you’ll end up having to deal with a ton of support.

    Instead I’ve gone down the route with teaming up with a host that I personally trust and refer all clients to them. While I know the owner of the company personally and we don’t really do anything right now in terms of referral fees, I know a lot of hosts will do that and you can end up getting hosting for your own site for free for life which is pretty awesome.

  70. Permalink to comment#

    I’m currently hosting with Fastdot and it’s pretty damned fast. Although you’ll need to manage the VPS yourself, it’s fairly easy if you chuck on Webmin or cPanel etc…

  71. John S.
    Permalink to comment#

    Probably a dumb question, but with HostGator, can I upload a custom WordPress theme?

  72. I host a fair few websites for people, and plan to increase the number… been looking at other potential options: Heart Internet, DigitalOcean, Eleven2, MediaTemple etc

    But at the end of it all, I decided to stick with my current host: DigitalFyre! They are awesome, fast support, plenty of storage and bandwidth!

    They were even kind enough to move my site (and other hosted sites) from their US data centre to the UK based one… no fuss!

    Love them!

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