Quick Hosting Reviews

Over the last few years I’ve used quite a few different hosting providers, so I thought I would give a few quick reviews of them all, so I can share my experience with them.

Silentflame Web Hosting

During the time I was with Silentflame during 2007-2008, I was very happy. Although the service was a bit slow for me, I suspect that this was purely because I was on the other side of the world. The novel thing about this service is the fact that it gives away all it’s profits to charity. It’s a great idea, and one that I think we should see in more businesses (perhaps a tithe would be better though). No native IPv6 on their services yet, unfortunately.

DirectSpace Networks

I only had a VPS with DirectSpace for about a month or two, before I switched to a different provider. I was fairly happy with these guys, never had any issues that weren’t resolved promptly. The biggest criticism I had with my service was that the CPU allocation was too low. I had severe speed issues from the lack of time my processes had to run. No native IPv6 either.


I had a dedicated server with ServerPronto for around six months this year, and although I no longer have it, this server performed very well for me over the time I was with them. They do have a somewhat convoluted exit process (it involves filling out a paper form and sending it to them snail mail along with a copy of some ID) but this is no problem to navigate, and unlike what others are saying on the Internet, does not result in your identity being stolen and your credit card being abused. The main selling point of ServerPronto is the price, they are extremely cheap dedicated servers. That said, quality does not appear to be an issue. No unexpected restarts, hardware never failed, and the network is very fast. No native IPv6 here either.

The only reason I got rid of this server was that it was costing more than an equivalent VPS and I wasn’t really using it. I’ve since turned the money over to other VPS services, increasing the number of services I can test.

Nullshells Networks

I’ve used Nullshells Networks’ web hosting for a few years now, and I am extremely happy with the service. All the services I had with them (web and email hosting) have always worked flawlessly, and if I’ve had any queries, the owner of the business has been more than happy to help out. I have only two nitpicks; one is the lack of IPv6, and the other is the fact they use a self-signed SSL certificate. While the lack of signing of an SSL certificate is no technical problem, and while I’m savvy enough to check the certificate and add an exception, it is a bit unprofessional. I’m still using Nullshells for my web and email hosting.

For my full review of Nullshells from around a year ago, click here.

Mammoth VPS

Overall I’ve been very pleased with Mammoth VPS, which is an Australian-owned company with servers located in Sydney’s CBD. While they are more expensive than other offerings, this is simply because the bandwidth in Australia is much more expensive than it is in Europe or the USA, so this is no fault of Mammoth. I have had a few issues with unexpected reboots, but apart from messing with my uptime statistics, this is no real problem. It’s always nice to support local businesses, too. No native IPv6 yet, but almost nowhere does.


I’ve only had a BuildYourVPS (actually TOCICI) VPS for a couple of days now, but I wouldn’t recommend them, based on what I’ve experienced so far. When I first signed up, it took 4 rebuilds of the VPS before I could even log in via SSH. I’m assured this is not a regular thing, but I’d take care. After it was set up, the VPS did work very well. No CPU cloggage issues like on most other VPS providers. The network was extremely fast (as you’d expect from having the servers located in a US west-coast Internet exchange). One thing I did notice is that the server is behind a NAT. Fine, I guess, except that it makes some network configuration tasks a bit more confusing, and that the gateway IP they use is actually a special-use IP reserved for testing. Ouch! Zero marks for that one. On the up side, they do support native IPv6, albeit on request.

Edit 8/10/2010: After playing around a bit more with BuildYourVPS services, I’m happy to report that the issue with server builds has been fixed. All my other complaints were simply OpenVZ issues. Pending a few more weeks with the server, I’d be happy to give them a thumbs-up.

Nullshells Networks

About a month or so ago I investigated replacing my extensive collection of virtual private servers, free web hosting accounts, SSH shell accounts, and so on with a single managed server account. The reason for this is that the time taken up with managing these various accounts and servers was starting to chew up more time than the money I was saving.

A couple of friends had free accounts with Nullshells, and had positive things to say, so I thought I’d give them a go. I chose the “Value” ($7 USD / month) web hosting plan based on the number of domains I planned on hosting. All my websites are fairly low bandwidth and low disk usage, so this was the only one of the listed specifications I really cared about.

I have to report that the signup process was fairly simple, and the setup process was completed quickly. The only thing I found slightly confusing was that (for some odd reason I can’t quite fathom), there seems to be a separate user account for the billing system and the system logons. While this doesn’t really matter (I set them both to the same password and just ignore the fact), it does puzzle me.

The web hosting plan I chose gave me access to one of Nullshell’s servers on the East Coast of the USA. I have had no problems so far with the speed of the server, nor with the speed of the connection. I live in Australia (basically the other side of the world), and was getting ping replies in 250msec. Not quick, but that’s not the fault of Nullshells. Transfer, however, was no problem. It fully saturated an ADSL2+ connection I tried a transfer speed test on. I have no doubt it’s a lot faster than that too.

As with all modern hosting plans, a user control panel is included. The one Nullshells uses is called ISPManager, and everything about it is very nice. It’s a lot easier to work with than CPanel, and makes a lot more sense.

As for the actual plan’s features, well, they’re pretty nice too.  $7 a month buys me 1GiB of disk space, 5GiB of data transfers, 10 MySQL databases, and 100 email accounts. As well as that there is the previously-mentioned 5 domain limit. Available for use are PHP, Python, Ruby on Rails and Server-Side Includes. Compared to the larger ISP hosts, this is brilliant value. Even for some of the comparable smaller hosts, it’s still rather outstanding. But there’s one surprise up Nullshells’ sleeve that I haven’t talked about yet.

The service is amazing. I’m yet to have a problem resolved in an unsatisfactory way. The staff are always ready to help. In addition to this (and this is the first time a commercial company has impressed me in this way), I’m asked occasionally if things are working fine and given notice of recent improvements the company has made (I’m interested in such things, which is why they tell me).

Overall, I’m really pleased with Nullshells. For the cost of 3 bottles of Coke a month, I have a web hosting service that’s much more reliable than anything I could do myself, with great service and more features than I’ll ever use. 5 stars.