10 Reasons Why MediaTemple Rocks

I understand that I might be coming a little late to this party, but I thought it deserved a post anyway. A little background first, up until about a week ago I had a virtual private server (VPS) with HostMySite.com (HMS). I had been a customer of theirs for about 2 years and was pleased with the service and offerings. But recently I wanted to try some new things that required an updated version of PHP. HMS said I couldn’t get the newer version of PHP without upgrading my account and changing control panels over to CPanel. Needless to say I was saddened by this news so I started shopping around.

Below are my 10 reasons why I switched my hosting over to (mt) Media Temple:

1. More Bang for the Buck

Let’s face it, web hosting has become a commodity. There are so many providers today that you can always find one that does it cheaper or gives you more for less. The only true litmus test that I have been able to find is the companies reputation among other developers and who their customers are. I’ve heard a lot of good things about (mt) for a while, they almost have a cult following among certain bloggers. I even  gave them a serious look two years ago when I was shopping but their lack of “hold my hand” support scared me away.

This time however I took a look at their (dv) Dedicated-Virtual numbers and was very pleased. I need at least 512 MB of ram because of what I run on my server so their Rage offering caught my eye, 40GB of disc space and 1.5TB of bandwidth for $100.00/month. It was $40 more a year than HostMySite would have been but (mt) had the version of PHP I wanted along with Plesk. I called their sales team and was sold the next day.

2. The Right Version of PHP

Those of you that don’t use the Plesk server control panel won’t have much of a reference, but for those of you that do will probably understand. Plesk ownes your server. You have to be very careful when making changes via SSH to make them in such a way that it won’t break Plesk or be overwritten the next time Plesk reboots Apache. So when HMS told me I couldn’t install the new version of PHP I sort of understood but was bummed all the same. Then I found (mt) and they claimed to have the new version of PHP, MySQL and running Plesk. This was a major selling point for me.

3. The Right Kind of Support

Ask anybody and they will tell you that Chris Monnat is a software person… not hardware. So when it comes to server administration I am very leary. In the past I have always looked for hosting companies that offer what I refer to as “hold my hand” support. Whether they are supposed to help me or not I can call them up with a question or request and they are able to assist me or at least point me in the right direction. I guess in the industry this is referred to as completely managed hosting. But over the years I’ve learned some things about server administration and have become more comfortable with doing things on my own.

(mt) comes right out and says they are not a managed hosting provider. They will make sure your server is running, the hardware is working and that it is connected to the web… the other things are pretty much up to you. That concerned me in the brginning, but then I saw their Knowledgebase and user forum. The Knowledgebase is full of step by step how-to’s on topics I would used to call support to help me with. Now I just bring up the instructions and do it myself. In the end (mt) offers less support than I’m used to but I feel better about it because I’m learning more and getting more experience myself. It’s totally cool!

4. Backups and a Firewall

When you talk to most people they have their own system setup for making backups of their sites. Whether it’s automatic or manual they each have a way. With the version of Plesk I have through (mt) the backup utility is enabled so now I can have Plesk take care of all of my backing up on a scheduled or manual basis. I can even have Plesk FTP to backup to another account or server for off-site storage and it doesn’t cost me anything extra. For those who need a little more, (mt) also offers Snapshot Backups for an extra $20/month.

Firewalls are another one of those things that most hosting companies try to charge you extra for. The Plesk install on my (dv) came with a software firewall module available and (mt) provides isntructions in their knowledgebase to help me configure it. So right off the bat I can have a more secure server with a software firewall I can configure myself without spending any extra money.

5. Update Option Program

This was the #1 thing that made me sign-up with (mt). Those of you who use Plesk can probably share my pain when I talk about updating the Plesk control panel software. Parallels, the makers of Plesk, provide an automatic updater within Plesk to help with updating the software but my fellow Plesk users and I know it doesn’t work and potentially leaves your server in a diminished state. (mt) knows this and that’s why they offer the update option program (UOP) which will automatically upgrade Plesk for the servers that are enrolled. (mt) goes to great lengths testing and configuring new Plesk versions to make sure it doesn’t break anything before pushing updates out. So you get the benefit of running updated Plesk software without the hassel of doing it yourself and enrollment in the UOP is free of charge.

6. Simple Account Center

You don’t really know how important an easy to use account management tool is until it’s gone. (mt)’s AccountCenter (where you go to manage your billing, contacts, etc.) is very nicely designed and super easy to use. You can use the AccountCenter to manage your domains host records on their name servers, add new domains, manage your server, manage billing, manage account contacts and request support from (mt)’s support team. It’s very well done.

7. DNS Done Right

Using (mt)’s AccountCenter you can purchase new domains and add existing domains to your hosting account. Once they have been added you have the ability to modify host records for each domain hosted with (mt) so it’s simple to add txt records and setup Google Apps. The nicest thing I noticed with (mt)’s DNS tools is the ability to manage reverse DNS for each domain. No need to call or e-mail support to make a modification to the reverse DNS, you can now do it yourself all through their AccountCenter.

8. Recovery & Issue Management

“Server administrator heal thyself!” (mt) makes it easy to help yourself when disaster strikes. Using the AccountCenter you can revert your (dv) back it it’s original state when you first purchased it with the link of a link. You can also reset the firewall rules on your server in the event that you accidentally lock yourself out. And one of the most useful things is the ability to add additional disk space temporarily. If your server fills up you can temporarily add 1GB of disk space to the server so you can get in and fix whatever went wrong free of charge.

9. Containers

Another cool thing (mt) has is different isolated hosting containers for different technologies like Django, Ruby on Rails and MySQL. These containers are hosted on their (gs) Grid-Service which is a cloud hosting environment to help handle high traffic and storage needs. So if you wanted an isolated little database server you could setup a MySQL container for $20/month on a cloud hosted environment quickly using (mt).

10. (mt) Labs

Something that I noticed that (mt) does that other hosting companies don’t is they tell you what they are working on. (mt) Labs is where they talk about what new and exciting things they are working on and open the floor to beta testers and users for discussion. They have really taken the web 2.0 company approach to hosting and I think that is totally cool.

Media Temple is not your regular stuffy old hosting company. They seem to have an intimate understanding of their audience and as a result have developed some very nice hosting packages. The next time you are in the market for hosting be sure to check out Media Temple!