Webhost Review: StableHost (vs Justhost, vs Godaddy)

stablehost

Author’s Note: I have recently become a StableHost affiliate after several months of using them. You’re welcome to use my affiliate link to sign up and use my 40% off coupon (AJCOUP) if you’re interested.

I’ve worked with several different shared webhosting companies in the past couple of years. From clients hosted on GoDaddy to my own sites on Justhost and finally on the topic of my review: StableHost. So who the hell is StableHost and how do they compare to GoDaddy and Justhost?

StableHost is a new kid on the block that even hostingsthatsucks recommends, that’s a huge thing, at least it was for me. StableHost looks like any other hosting company from just up front:

  • offers shared and VPS hosting
  • uses Cpanel
  • has 1 click WordPress install

So what makes it special? What makes it worth signing up for? Well, let me tell you about my own experiences.

My Issues With JustHost

So, I had a huge dilemma with Justhost last year. They shut down my account out of nowhere and disallowed my access without even contacting me. Let me just say how fucking stupid that is and how glad I am about having backups for everything. My site went down for a total of 3 days right after I posted a really great article.

Last year, in August I believe, I posted an article about bootstrap which blew up over HackerNews and Reddit. Hell, I was getting tweets and retweets, included on lists, and everyone wrote about me. Well, at least it felt that way. So I had a huge spike in traffic, one that I was not even expecting. You see, I was getting a hundred people a day and I spiked at twenty five thousand.

Traffic started dying down the day after and I averaged only about five hundred a day. The server went down. Now, you’re thinking, “Ahh, well that’s why your host kicked you out.” and you’re right, partially.

You see, when I signed up for JustHost, there wasn’t a policy of “overuse” in today’s sense of the word. Simply, if your site used up too many resources, you weren’t booted, you were automatically upgraded to a better system. So my worry wasn’t, “Oh shit, they’ll shut down my account”, my worry was “Oh shit, they’ll throw me on a VPS, gotta find a place in my budget for that”. Hell, they advertised it all over the place.

I’ve also used JustHost previously when I built my Quotes website a few years ago which routinely got 25K hits and it was not an issue.

My bigger issue was the account lockout and the fact that I never even received an email. Kind of sucks, right? Anyways, I went to search for a more reliable host. I didn’t pick GoDaddy however, one of the frequently cited cheap shared hosting companies. Hell, all my domains are registered with them so why not GoDaddy?

Why Not GoDaddy?

First off, I never had any direct issues with GoDaddy. The guys there always nice and polite whenever I worked on a client’s site. They didn’t even bat an eye at hearing a developer calling them instead of a site owner. Their secure pin usage ensured that the right person was contacting them.

I’ve heard horror stories but never experienced it. So why not?

Well, a few things:

  • Price - yes, GoDaddy is cheap as hell ($4.50 a month) but I was used to $3/month from JustHost and when JustHost booted me, I had little cash in my pocket to prepay for a whole year, and I didn’t want to do monthly.
  • Lack of CPanel – THIS was the big deal. I like CPanel, I like the way it works, I like my access to PHP Pear Packages, easier database management, more options with one-click installations, cron jobs, etc. It’s pretty badass

I couldn’t shake the CPanel thing plus, their entire image is “people friendly”, not “developer friendly”. Then I stumbled on StableHost, so what impressed me?

What’s so impressive about StableHost?

For one, I’ve never heard of them and they seem to have a ton of clients and be well established. I liked it. No PR is better than bad PR. But let me give you a quick rundown of what got me to switch:

  • Pricing – they’re dirt cheap. I paid a whole of $12.50 for an entire year via someone else’s affiliate code. On top of that I got SSH access for $2.50 (one time fee).
  • CPanel – yep, so they have Cpanel

Already, I felt like i was a step up from JustHost who left a bad taste in my mouth and who made me turn away from its sister-hosting companies (like BlueHost). But from there, I realized a few more things. So let me just give you a break down of what I’ve learned about StableHost over the past six months.

Customer Support

Customer Support is damn superb. Whenever I submit a ticket, I always get the same guy, the senior administrator. Yeah, I actually remember his name (Mau something) which is pretty badass because I’m not dealing with faceless online agents with stereotypical American names. The guys are really quick about what they do and actually explain what happened. As a developer, that helps. Before I let them off the hook as to why I contacted them, let me tell you:

  • had an issue because I had PHP 5.2.X running instead of 5.3.X that I needed to run MediaWiki and some other software. A simple .htaccess change to request PHP5.3.X needed to be made
  • server kept restarting. After my ticket was submitted, I was moved to a different server that had no issues.
  • Softaculous could not recognize the PHP version. This resulted in faulty upgrading of MediaWiki. StableHost updated my install and informed me what the issue was.
  • [edit 4/30] Tech Support installed emacs on the server at my request and without an issue. I’m on shared hosting so this is something that I would definitely mark as tech support going “beyond what was necessary”

Sounds good right?

Featureset

There are some great features which initially attracted me to JustHost and StableHost has them as well:

  • unlimited subdomains and add-on domains (I have 4 addons right now)
  • unlimited emails
  • cron jobs
  • one-click installer (Softaculous) that has more than the average one-click installer and includes PHP frameworks (such as Laravel)
  • Support for Ruby and PHP
  • MIME type editor so you can add support for .APK files and .AIR files
  • DNS Zone Editor for any domain point at the server

On top of that, StableHost has CloudFlare integration so you can set everything up from the comfort of your CPanel.

Technical Stuff

serverinfo

StableHost is a bit different than other hosting companies in that it doesn’t run on Apache but rather uses LiteSpeed. LiteSpeed is pretty much the same as Apache except that it includes a bunch of built-in features and performance enhancements. They boast of being scalable unlike apache. So why is this?

Litespeed’s model is different. Apache works on the Process/Thread model and has some outdated parts that have been in play for more than a decade. LiteSpeed touts its Event-driven/Asynchronous model.

Here are the stats on my shared hosting. I’m currently running:

  • PHP5.3.16
  • MySQL 5.5.29
  • Apache equivalent of 2.2.23

This allows me to run any modern PHP framework (including Laravel) and WordPress with ease.

My Current Load

traffic-breakdown

To understand if this hosting is enough for you, you should see my stats first. I currently use CloudFlare for caching, and what have you. I also pull some JS files from CDN’s and run MaxCDN myself. This helps lessen the load considerably. MaxCDN emailed me recently to tell me I pull about 30gb a month through them. On top of that I use W3TC cache plugin. You’re welcome to review some of my basic recommendations for a shared hosting setup. Anyways, so how much work does stablehost do for me?

  • Disk Usage: I’m only at 500mb of disk space usage but I am allowed up to 7 gigs
  • Bandwidth: 13.3Gigs for February. This includes 10.44 Gigs just for HTTP usage on antjanus.com and another 2.08Gigs on my secondary blog renewlifebalance.com (which currently does not use MaxCDN and needs a little spanking for being wasteful). Right now, I’m at 925 Megs for the month and am being told it’s just 1% of total allowance of 150Gigs.
  • Addons: I’m at 5 add on domains
  • Databases: I have 23 databases installed. Most of them remnants of my old sites from another server

So what is this in terms of traffic?

  • 14K unique visitors on my main site
  • 23K page views
  • average duration of 3:43 minutes

These were my numbers for February, my peak month in January consisted of:

  • 27K unique visitors
  • 45K page views
  • average duration of 2:47 minutes

Those are some nice stats right there. The load and bandwidth usage would be considerably higher if I was not using MaxCDN; however, most of the hits on MaxCDN were cache hits over non-cache hits. I also was not utilizing all of the W3TC functions due to possible conflict.

So anyways, outside of that. StableHost should be able to provide for most bloggers out there. Let’s see some downsides

Downsides

There are always a few downsides, StableHost isn’t perfect and that became apparent several times through the course of my usage of them. So what did I encounter?

  • Server Issues – StableHost had some server issues a couple of months ago that I was not aware of. My site kept going down and would not work. I wondered WTF was happening. I had to email them and they informed me of the problem. Some bug or technical difficulty that forced the server to continuously restart. They fixed it quickly enough but the timing was bad with a release of my article.
  • More Server Issues - StableHost also informed me about server maintenance which would cause dropping out of my site occasionally and/or slow downs. This was due to hardware upgrades. This time, however, they sent me an email a few days prior so I actually had time to inform them and have them move me to another server without a problem.

But that was it so far. Their customer service always handled things quickly and efficiently which I was glad about.

Is it for you?

I don’t know, you tell me! Well, first of all, I became an affiliate at StableHost a few months after being with them. I liked them and I was in a need for affiliates. This puts me in a unique position. They offer coupons and referral links. The coupon I currently have ANTJCOUPON will take 50% off your order. Here’s what the pricing is right now:

  • Basic plan costs ~$45 a year which would put you at ~$20 with the coupon for the first year to try it out
  • Plus plan (the one I have) costs ~$60 year which would put you at ~$30 with the coupon

That’s a relatively safe bet for a new comer. Give it a shot!

Screenshots

softaculous

one click installer

cloudflare integration

cloudflare integration

some of the cpanel options

some of the cpanel options

more cpanel options

more cpanel options

usage data

usage data 5 days into the month

Comments

  1. I’m using same package with you. And I think stablehost makes no different with free web hosting. I’m better using free hosting than stablehost.

  2. What are you talking about? Godaddy has CPanel for a long time.

    • Antonin Januska says:

      Sorry, had no clue. I’ve worked with GoDaddy in the past and none of the hostings I’ve worked on have had or have used CPanel. If they do have it/use it, they don’t make it blatantly obvious, unfortunately.

  3. Looks like your coupon expired. Any chance you have a new one?

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