Selecting A New Host

November 02, 2011 by Gabe | [mmd] |

As I mentioned previously, I’ve been on the hunt for a more reliable hosting solution. I really want to go with SquareSpace for a couple of reasons.

  1. No hassle site management
  2. No concern about up-time (pretty much 99.9% up time)
  3. They support a bunch of podcasts I like and it would be great to reward that behavior

Unfortunately, I really need code syntax highlighting since I post a lot of python, AppleScript and shell scripts. SquareSpace does not provide native code syntax coloring. That means I only have a couple viable solutions.

I can post code as formatted text. MarsEdit should make this pretty easy but it would be a pain to post from the web or by email.

There are a couple of JS libraries that work for automatically formatting code and pre encapsulated text. They work ok on SquareSpace but with annoying caveats. Some break the post by markdown and would then require all posts to be made by HTML. That removes a compelling reason to use SquareSpace. Other solutions wreak havoc with the site formatting. I’m sure I could tweak the site to rectify the issue but part of this initiative is to reduce the effort of maintaining the site.

Lessons

Here are some quick tips for anyone researching a new host.

  1. Try emailing their support group before you signup. It’s a good indication of how good support might be after you pay for a year of service
  2. Ask for their SLA (Service Level Agreement) in writing. How much downtime do they allow? What is the maximum continuous downtime? If they have 90% up time but all the downtime is contiguous, then that means they could be down for over a month a year.
  3. Try to get a trial period. SquareSpace offers 14 days but most hosts do not.

What have I learned so far? SquareSpace support is great. They are fast and honest. Their responses included reference links to help me understand what the limitations of the platform are.

Many other hosts never responded to my questions. Of the ones that did, most could not or would not give an actual SLA. Some responses effectively said “we’ll do our best, but there’s no guarantees.”

Now What?

I’m following up with a couple other hosting services but for right now, I have three viable options.

  1. Stay with Bluehost
  2. Figure out how to format code on SquareSpace
  3. Migrate to Kahuna Wordpress hosting (best and most honest responses to my inquiries. 90% up time)
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