Can anyone recommend a user-friendly (I'm new to website development) and inexpensive web host (my websites are simple and small, so no need for a beef-eating server) that will allow me write access to the file system from PHP? My current web host won't allow me to write to the file system, and keeping everything in the database is slow, and a pain.
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My sites are on Dreamhost. It is inexpensive and you get quite a bit of control over your options, and even get shell access (not root, but you can SSH to the server). DH has had uptime issues in the past, but they haven't caused me any problems (knock wood). You certainly can have write access on a DH server.
The likes of Slicehost and Linode (which I am currently tinkering with) are more involved, as you have to install and configure the server setup you need. If you are new to the web, these will be too much for you right now.
This is my vendor list.. never had problem with write access on any host that i can remeber including these... Out of curiosity who are you using now?)
DreamHost is going to be your cheapest but beware they have had some serious prolonged uptime problems in the past although i havent had any bad experiences recently. MediaTemple and ServerGrove are pretty much tied in cost. Linode and SliceHost are probably more than you need right now so you can kind of ignore those.
Well, I am myself a stake holder in a hosting company. But I am sure I shouldn't be recommending myself :) Here are some providers I have used before moving over to dedicated servers.
Depending on your spending capacity and revenue, you can consider any of the following options: 1. Reseller hosting 2. Managed VPS 3. Managed Dedict
I am personally not too fond of DreamHost due to their control panel.
I suggest following reseller hosting providers.
You can also consider using a managed VPS or a managed dedicated server. You will enjoy dedicated resources and also root access.