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My client is a startup and he needs a world-class website on some of the best hosting providers in the world. Page loads should be fast, we can't have servers not responding and going slow, support must be great (like a Live Chat or similar SOS system), and everything else like custom apps should be supported. Any "Unlimited plans" would give us fewer headaches.

I've heard of Engine Yard, Blue Host and Dream Host but I want to know the ground realities instead of simply reading reviews. Do you have any experience? What would you host on if you wanted a world-class datacenter behind you?

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closed as not constructive by womble, Chris S, Mark Henderson Sep 17 '11 at 22:55

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Most of the "best" hosting companies (in terms of the quality of support) tend to be single-technology (eg Engine Yard are Rails-focused -- so if you've got a Rails site, you'll get good support from them, but a Tomcat site you'd host somewhere else).

For me, I want someone who will provide a solid, stable network, and good hardware maintenance and rectification with fast rollout of new hardware when I needed it, and then I'd manage everything from there up, because I'm a sysadmin at the core and I know how to do all that stuff. I would much prefer to in-house sysadmin work, as having an internal sysadmin team to work closely (in the same room) as the developers is the best way to ensure that the needs of the hosting environment match those of the application.

Failing that, you'd be best off talking to other developers who use the same technologies as you do, and find out who they use and if they would recommend them. Be sure to talk about all of the areas of the technology stack that you're not familiar with, and see if they've had experiences dealing with getting support for that.

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National Net is the host that I recommend for non Rails applications. I have hosted very large scale sites there while working at two different positions. Their service is excellent and they just moved to a brand new upgraded top of the line data center. They have multiple Tier1 IP providers available and their customer service is unmatched in the industry. My experience with them is only high traffic sites with many servers in a co-lo setup or many servers managed hosting, so I'm not sure if they're the best for a little guy.

As far as the hosts that you mentioned, Engine Yard has an excellent reputation as a Rails host, but they're expensive and I have constantly heard bad things about Dream Host. They seem to have a lot of downtime. I had one small project that was hosted there but I wouldn't count on them for anything big. Not very familiar with Blue Host.

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