Why does UK hosting suck compared to the US? Part One

This is a bit of a rant really, I’m just wondering when are the US companies going to come and give the UK hosting scene the shake-up it needs?

If you use US based hosting you get the following advantages:

  • Cheaper prices
  • Much bigger bandwidth allocations
  • Much bigger diskspace allocations
  • All inclusive features
  • Great tech support (on the whole!)

My Hosting history

I started using a Fasthosts reseller account which I’ve now had for the last 6 years or so. It’s quite a good service, I can host as many accounts as I want, Windows or Linux, no bandwidth or disk space limitations. It’s a service that has been very useful. The downside to it is that I have to pay extra for features like Spam filtering or virus protection, these features are also enabled on a per mailbox basis so it get’s expensive very quickly for clients who have a lot of mailboxes. MySQL databases, Visitor Statistics, user control panels, password protected folders are all additional costs to have on a site too, so adding all these costs onto a site really mounts up. On the plus side though is that Fasthosts Tech Support is very good, they offer 24/7 support and they do the job very well. I’m always confident they’ll get any problems sorted very quickly. In addition to the Reseller Account I also have a Dedicated Server which I use to provide live audio and video streaming for a client and also to host some additional MySQL databases.

Too much, not enough…

Due to the high price of all the additional features on Fasthosts and also the inability (at that time anyway) to use Apache .htaccess files for mod_rewrite I had no choice but to get an additional hosting account elsewhere. I’ve used two different VPS accounts since then, the first with Designer Servers and the second with Webfusion.

The Designer Servers VPS was reliable but had an unrealistic and unusable diskspace allocation of 300Mb which for a reseller VPS was just way to small. In this age of GMail accounts approaching 3Gb it wasn’t enough. The cost involved in getting a more expensive account just wasn’t worth it.

I then switched to Webfusion as the price was a bit lower and had a much better disk space allocation of 10Gb. The VPS comes with a 100 domain Plesk Control Panel which is quite easy to use and provides a good interface for clients to use to manage their own email etc. It worked quite well until late last year (2006) when it started to run quite slowly, and despite my best efforts to optimise what’s running on it and moving most of the MySQL databases over to my Fasthosts Dedicated Server it’s still not running very well. It kind of feels like a Windows machine does when you know it’s time to reformat and get a clean install and start fresh. Only this is a linux server hosting several of my clients so there’s no way that’s an option.

What’s so good about the US hosts?

So that kind of brings me to where I am now, frustrated with having to deal with three separate hosting setups to get what I want. In the midst of this frustration I noticed a lot sites using US companies like MediaTemple for their hosting so I started to check out the US companies some more, and I was really surprised by what the features were.

I’ve already mentioned some major benefits in my previous bullet points, besides the cheaper prices and bigger diskspace and bandwidth allocations there is the actual technical setup of the hosting itself. There’s just nothing like it available based in the UK, not really for any price at the moment!

In the second part of this series of rants posts I’ll take a closer look at the following US hosting setups:

End of part 1


13 Replies to “Why does UK hosting suck compared to the US? Part One

  1. US Hosting Companies can charge less as the biggest costs for hosting companies are power costs and salaries, both of which are much less in the US.

    Bandwidth is also cheaper in the US compared to the UK where BT own most of the UK backbone and charge hosts through the nose to allow their traffic to go across their network.

    Even software and hardware costs in the US are much lower.

    This means that UK hosts are not playing on a level playing field with US hosts.

    The problem with using US hosts is that you have a US IP meaning local UK searches will not rank your website as high as those with a UK IP address.

    There are also very different laws in the US like their DMCA which means that as soon as the host gets a DMCA notification they have to immediately pull the plug on your website.

    There are pros and cons of hosting in both the UK and US and the lower price is just a small part of the bigger picture.

  2. Avoid Webfusion as best as you can. Glossy and sugar coated on the outside, fart stink and business death ray on the inside. They care only for profit. As soon as something goes wrong they pass blame and run for cover. No ownership of problem or management to make good.

    I have yet to find an affordable Reseller who walks the walk and talks the talk.

    When I do, I will post it up here.

  3. I was a FastHosts for months, until I realized they were
    taking a lot of extra money out of my bank account for no reason!!

    They threatened and blackmailed me, threatening to cancel my Hosting if I reported the theft and made a big deal out of it. :(((

    So far, FASTHOSTS have taken an extra £1600 out of my bank account for no reason!!

  4. "Cheaper prices"

    Well, Rackspace are in the UK these days and looking at dedicated servers, their entry level dedicated server starts at £270 a month, that's for one of an unbranded server, they have some of these then go into Dells.
    WebFusion dedicated servers are £60-210 a month.

  5. @vger: i realise my post may seem to emphasise 'cheapness' rather than 'better value', that's not what i intended. when i refer to us hosting i'm really targeting the higher end providers, not the cheap accounts you'd find with dreamhost etc. my followup post will go into a bit more detail about this. thanks for the comment though! :)

  6. @matt: i think the service from fasthosts in regards to quality is very good, i'm not happy about the additional costs for things like virus filtering etc, but as far as tech support they are very good in my opinion. just wanted to clarify that point!

  7. you obviously haven't heard the saying "you pay peanuts – you get monkeys".

    you have my deepest commisserations on having a fasthosts reseller account – but there's no need to take it out on everyone else. yes, another deeply satisfied ex-fasthosts reseller here!

    i'm sorry but you can't have "cheap" and top quality at the same time.

    some of the big usa based hosting companies have been operating for years and running at a loss every year – which is why they keep merging and getting ever larger hoping economies of scale will bail them out of their financial mess.


  8. thanks for the comments guys!
    it's good to hear more about other good uk companies. one of my main gripes is the lack of availability of technology like clusters / grids etc in the uk, nobody is providing that kind of technology on anything close to a cheap basis.

  9. us companies oversell to the heavens, meaning service lacks quality.

    uk providers have more integrity, they are not out to rip anyone off, they just price services realistically without factoring any overselling.

    in the uk you get a superior quality of service, as long as you stay away from the likes of fasthosts, 1&1 and the other crappy big ones.

  10. philip;
    you did not read the introduction:
    # cheaper prices
    # much bigger bandwidth allocations
    # much bigger diskspace allocations
    your unitedhosting.co.uk do not provide any of the above. i'm sure they do not suck, but they still do not address the main issue of why uk hosting in general sucks.

  11. hi rick,

    i was a fasthosts user for a few years but their limitations finally got me down too. i tried a few other services after closing my fasthosts account and finally i settled on a small uk firm called united hosting [unitedhosting.co.uk]. that must have been about 3-4 years ago and since then i have seen their service grow from strength to strength. they offer great support and they are constantly investing in their business by adding more servers and services – and always without additional cost to their users. anyone that is interested in finding a uk based hosting company that doesn't suck should certainly consider checking them out.


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