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  1. #1
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    Multi-Domain Hosting; HostGator; alternatives
    I want to move my web hosting, and ideally I would really like to find a hosting solution that handles multiple domains efficiently.

    I currently use eApps, which requires a lot of manual steps to set up and configure a new domain. And I keep forgetting all the special steps and actions needed to get stuff done. And nothing is documented.

    Based on the many recommendations here on ABW, I opened an account at HostGator.

    Alas, I've now concluded that HostGator, too, requires a lot of special steps for each new domain, and I'd need to make a series of special requests for configuration (starting with manually requesting enabling of 'catchall' emails). And nothing is documented. And guess what -- if I want to use one of their advertised features (such as Chilisoft ASP), my account would have needed to be set up on a different server (oops, let's start over...)

    Eventually, I concluded that learning the HostGator system, and rearranging the directory structure of my web sites to match its configuration, would take some time, and then I'd need to create a detailed list of "special steps" which appear just as complex. It appears that if I migrated from eApps to HostGator, I'd just be switching from one complex system to another equally-complex system.

    I've just spent nearly an hour with HostGator staff, only to learn that I'd probably need to spend more hours with their staff in order to configure the account. They have no migration guide of any kind. Multiple staff people offered to "transfer everything for me," including domains, content, and settings -- but when I pressed, each acknowledged that they couldn't transfer most of my settings, and there would almost certainly be special complications.)

    I'd really like to find a solution that actually anticipates the bizarre concept that someone who owns 5 or 50 or 500 domains would probably like them all configured the same way, and would probably not enjoy ten or twenty manual configuration steps per domain.

    I don't mind paying more -- in fact, I should have seen HostGator's pricing as a warning sign. I want something scalable.

    Any suggestions?
    Last edited by markwelch; July 15th, 2009 at 01:32 PM.

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador writerguy's Avatar
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    I've never had much luck figuring out the sort of "add on" hosting for domains using a Hostgator account.

    I have a VPS account with KnownHost.com. I've had it for about a year now, and it works fine for me. Of course, I have to manage nameservers at my domain registrar, then create the account for that domain on my VPS. But it's all pretty straightforward using cpanel and WHM. The support people at KnownHost are excellent, very responsive via email. (I don't know about phone support, as I've never had to use it?)

    Just a suggestion.

    I do like the way each domain has its own FTP structure/hard drive space on the server, rather than that confusing co-hosting or add-on way Hostgator does it (or at least used to do it?)

    Ramble ... ramble ... ramble ...

    Sorry about that. Take a look at KnownHost and see. They've been good for me.
    Generate more fake news.

  3. #3
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    Sorry about that. Take a look at KnownHost and see. They've been good for me.
    Me too. I have 2 VPS with them and had one put on an entirely different physical machine to spread my risk a little.


  4. #4
    Newbie Greg-IntraHost's Avatar
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    You might be better off with a reseller account, or as others have suggested, a VPS so that you have more control over your domains and the features associated with each package. Of course, if you go with a reseller account/VPS, you'll want to be sure that Chilisoft ASP is pre-configured on your server, or go with Windows hosting where that's included already.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the response, Greg, but I'm already using a VPS and previously I've used dedicated servers and a variety of shared hosting accounts. (I've used single-domain hosting accounts for a few special projects, but since 1996, 99% of my activity happens in multiple-domain hosting accounts or dedicated servers.)

    I'm focusing right now on the software interface for managing multiple domains. If I add 20 domains next week, I don't want to be forced to walk through the same "simple yet not idiot-proof" 12-step process (where a mistake may be difficult to diagnose) to set up the domain, and then another 8 steps to configure email (catch-alls, forwarding to my primary domain).

    Instead, I think there are probably tens of thousands of people like me who would like a solution that allows one-time selection of settings and then easily apply those settings to all existing domains and all new domains. (Sure, even better to define "groups" with all domains under the group sharing settings, but allowing multiple groups which might have different settings.)

    My domain-name registry provides easy ways to perform multiple actions on many domains; yesterday, I updated the DNS for 3 dozen of my domains (adding two extra nameservers to the existing two for each). Likewise, I can click and renew a bunch of domains at once. The registries recognize that we want to manage a bunch of domains together, and not walk through the same series of manual steps again and again. Surely there's a control panel or proprietary solution that provides this for domain management within the hosting environment (whether that's shared hosting, VPS, or dedicated server).

    I suspect that there is software out there to do this, but I just don't know the right "buzzword" or jargon to search for.

    On the issue of a "reseller" account, I'm pretty sure that this would be the wrong strategy -- the whole idea of a "reseller" account is to create and maintain a bunch of discrete accounts, which is the exact opposite of what I want (although I suppose that next year I'll decide to sell one of my sites and will wish I could easily carve the domain out into a separate account that clones all the configuration settings).

    And I don't actually need Chilisoft ASP (when I moved to a LAMP VPS two years ago, I culled out all ASP code on all my sites -- though it would be nice to fix the old .asp pages to use an ASP redirect instead of "meta refresh") -- it's just that HostGator advertised it as a feature, and I was surprised to find that this was a restricted feature requiring that my account be moved to a separate server.
    Last edited by markwelch; July 16th, 2009 at 09:30 PM.

  6. #6
    Newbie Greg-IntraHost's Avatar
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    Mark,

    What control panel are you currently using?

    Depending on the backend software, it probably wouldn't be too much work to create a script, automating the catch-all configuration, and modifying other settings on a global level.

  7. #7
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    > "What control panel are you currently using?" >

    Whatever eApps provides ("Parallels Busines Automation" is the heading on the login page).

    > "Depending on the backend software, it probably wouldn't be too much work to create a script, automating the catch-all configuration, and modifying other settings on a global level." <

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    Are you $&%*#&$ kidding? I've heard this before. I suppose that the developers of one of the control panel solutions might be able to do this, given enough time -- but if it were "not too much work," why hasn't someone done it before?

    Sorry to be a little bit rude -- you're new here, and I know that you're trying to be helpful -- but you clearly don't know about my very long, very painful recent history working with developers who said the work would be easy, took lots of my money, and then walked away.

  8. #8
    Newbie Greg-IntraHost's Avatar
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    Eek, I'm sorry I asked!

    The control panels I've used (DirectAdmin/Plesk/cPanel/Helm) are geared more toward providing web hosting to multiple clients, not single clients hosting multiple domains. On your next VPS, have a look at cPanel if you haven't already. WHM is really nice for setting up multiple domains, and the end-user cPanel makes changes such as updating catch-alls extremely easy.

    Best of luck in finding an honest developer.

  9. #9
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch
    people like me who would like a solution that allows one-time selection of settings and then easily apply those settings to all existing domains and all new domains.
    That would be a very desirable feature for cpanel. I always use the same setup and having a one button push to give the desired defaults would be great.

    I think I'll go over to the cpanel forum if I can find it again and see what they have to say about it.


  10. #10
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    HostGator used cPanel; I've used it elsewhere. It definitely does not provide the feature I'm seeking. I'm not sure where WHM fits in all this, but I know it's been advertised by some of my hosting providers in the past, and nobody has suggested that it would address my need.

  11. #11
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    I'm not sure where WHM fits in all this,
    WHM is used to configure and control all the accounts each of which has a cpanel to control it.

    I took a stab on the cpanel forum


  12. #12
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    Thanks, John -- I also posted a more detailed query on the cPanel forum. Earlier, I also posed the question on the WHT forum, but haven't yet had any replies there.

    Maybe this is going to turn out to be like my "datafeed project" -- maybe there are a bunch of people out there who've done all the work but in order to keep their competitive advantage they just maintain it as a private, proprietary solution.

  13. #13
    ABW Ambassador PatrickAllmond's Avatar
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    I've read this in more detail now Mark. You can ignore my PM if you want.

    I've been working in the hosting world for awhile and not heard of anything that does what you want. The whole point of multi-domain or reseller accounts is to be able to control them individually. It sounds like you want some multi domain features, but you want to make mass changes at once.

    I understand the registrar analogy but to me that is a little different. Making mass changes to DNS information is very common. That is probably not the case in *most* situations.

    I also concur with the custom script options. That is probably what it is going to come down to find a solution that you are going to be 100% happy with.
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  14. #14
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    I'm certainly not impressed with the responses on the cPanel forum -- a two-word (incorrect) response to John's post, and a longer but equally non-responsive and unhelpful response to mine. It's pretty clear to me that cPanel and WHM do not provide the solution I'm looking for.

    No responses so far on WHT; can anybody suggest a direction I might take to try to identify a resource that might help me?

  15. #15
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    a two-word (incorrect) response to John's post,
    Yes not much detail, but found something interesting after a search on "Packages whm" Creating Account Packages - WHM

    Might not be what you where looking for, but it will be a big time saver for me when doing a new account.


  16. #16
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    It's pretty clear to me that cPanel and WHM do not provide the solution I'm looking for.
    You are right. After looking harder at "Packages" I can see they are almost useless when created accounts for yourself. I need to slow down.


  17. #17
    ABW Ambassador PatrickAllmond's Avatar
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    Yeah - packages are more for reseller type features.

    With the things he wants to do there is going to be some custom scripting involved. Can cpanel do it? I have no doubt. Can it do it out of the box? No way - Mark wants some extremely custom stuff done.

    For just about everything Cpanel/WHM does there is a script someplace. That script add/removes entries in the email configs, the apache configs, mysql configs, DNS configs, etc. Mark wants custom stuff done in each of those processes.

    Something else to look at Mark - and you will probably not like it. There are some control panels out there (I think some of the cloud hosting companies have them) that give you full API access to do everything that is done in the cpanel. So they are built for someone to customize.
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  18. #18
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    FYI, I decided to try HostGator again for Joomla hosting, and today I learned that there are a number of services which they promise as included in the account, but which require "special requests." One of those benefits is a dedicated IP address -- I paid extra for a "business account" so I would have a dedicated IP address, and then discovered today that my account is on a shared IP address (and the IP they assigned puts me in some very bad company).

    It took three contacts with support (two through the trouble-ticket system [which draws incompetent responses], and one phone call) to get the right instructions to "properly request" the dedicated IP address which was promised, and of course this means DNS will be changing so I can't trust the server to be accessible for another day or two (again).

    I am also experiencing lots of timeouts for page requests to my account on the HostGator server. They claim, of course, that they don't see anything wrong (but in fairness, nobody ever does, until I provide iron-clad proof). I don't know if this is an issue with their network capacity, or CPU usage on either the web server or the database server (I'm using Joomla so the content is in MySQL). I've signed up for an external monitoring service, but of course if it reports problems in the next 24-48 hours, it might be because of the IP/DNS change, so I won't know until Thursday or Friday if there are pervasive server problems.

  19. #19
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    Heck Mark ... why do you always want to re-invent the wheel. Just do each domain individually. Doing it any other way is dumber than dirt ... one day after you have it all fixed the way you want, your hosting guy will go belly up and you will be OTL big time.

    Plus, unless you can figure out how to work 48 hours in a 24 hour day, having a zillion domains defeats the purpose of being able to focus.

    It is not rocket science to simply have one domain for each simple one page or three page site, then just deal with each one in a sequence each day or every other day or once a week.

    Obviously, the multply domain idea is to get better SE listings, but I have not had any problem using sub domains to do this trick. Once you set up the sub domains it's easy to deal with them one at a time.

    Seems to me, since you are looking for a job and all, you are grasping at a making a living straw because it's tough times.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch
    I want to move my web hosting, and ideally I would really like to find a hosting solution that handles multiple domains efficiently.

    I currently use eApps, which requires a lot of manual steps to set up and configure a new domain. And I keep forgetting all the special steps and actions needed to get stuff done. And nothing is documented.

    Based on the many recommendations here on ABW, I opened an account at HostGator.

    Alas, I've now concluded that HostGator, too, requires a lot of special steps for each new domain, and I'd need to make a series of special requests for configuration (starting with manually requesting enabling of 'catchall' emails). And nothing is documented. And guess what -- if I want to use one of their advertised features (such as Chilisoft ASP), my account would have needed to be set up on a different server (oops, let's start over...)

    Eventually, I concluded that learning the HostGator system, and rearranging the directory structure of my web sites to match its configuration, would take some time, and then I'd need to create a detailed list of "special steps" which appear just as complex. It appears that if I migrated from eApps to HostGator, I'd just be switching from one complex system to another equally-complex system.

    I've just spent nearly an hour with HostGator staff, only to learn that I'd probably need to spend more hours with their staff in order to configure the account. They have no migration guide of any kind. Multiple staff people offered to "transfer everything for me," including domains, content, and settings -- but when I pressed, each acknowledged that they couldn't transfer most of my settings, and there would almost certainly be special complications.)

    I'd really like to find a solution that actually anticipates the bizarre concept that someone who owns 5 or 50 or 500 domains would probably like them all configured the same way, and would probably not enjoy ten or twenty manual configuration steps per domain.

    I don't mind paying more -- in fact, I should have seen HostGator's pricing as a warning sign. I want something scalable.

    Any suggestions?
    I have similar problem with HostGator, it's very complex and time consuming

  21. #21
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    I've been using HostGator for a few years now and at first I was a little confused on setting up new accounts and new domains but after a few go-arounds it only takes me a minute or so to have it all setup. I have a dedicated server so I have quick access to the httpd.conf file to make my manual changes.

  22. #22
    Full Member iolaire's Avatar
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    Paralles Plesk and VirutalAdmin "domain templates"
    http://www.hostmysite.com/support/plesk/domaintemplate/
    http://www.howtoforge.com/virtual-ho...n-centos5.1-p6

    Many times I think with these version you need to be a higher level Admin than the VPS will provide. But I do know that the virtualmin template is just a text file so you probably could edit that.

    Regarding needed multiple contacts to make something happen, I find that web hosting companies that offer Webmin/Virtualmin sites allow you to do more things, just Webmin is less complex looking to the causal user.

  23. #23
    Affiliate Manager Steven.C's Avatar
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    Mark - not sure what your budget is for hosting - but I tend to shy away from shared hosting for anything outside of personal projects. Anything that I rely on for income or that is mission critical, in my opinion, should not be placed in a shared environment.

    Yeah, you can get a dedicated IP address to try to mask the fact that you're sharing a server with several hundred other domains/sites, but you can't easily escape the other cons:

    -Lower Level Security - the servers are secured to benefit the masses. Security is not geared towards your specific needs. I've seen tons of shared servers taken advantage by hackers, such as Jamaycka, of because of unresolved exploits. That hacker would replace every index page on the server with a defacement. Just one example of tons of hackers that attack random shared servers.

    -Resource Limitations - sharing the CPU, Memory, etc of one computer/server. Any one site can start to hog the resources and drastically affect the performance of your site. Yeah, hosts tend to suspend those that use too much resources, but with a host that has thousands of servers they may not notice right away if they don't have proper monitoring in place.

    -Generic Software Settings - software and services such as php, apache, mysql, etc on LAMP servers are optimized for the masses and may not necessarily be set for optimal performance of sites, scripts, etc that you're trying to run.

    The above is just my recommendations as to why shared hosting may not be best if your websites are your bread & butter. I'd say go with a managed dedicated provider or unmanaged provider + server administration service.

    ------------

    I read what you posted on cPanel forums. If I'm understanding correctly you're looking for a one/two click solution for managing your hosting accounts/domains in bulk. Much like you can change nameservers in bulk.

    So for example, you want to setup a domain, a mark@thatdomain, a blog, and other things all with the ease of one / two steps? If I'm misunderstanding, can you give a simple but specific example as I couldn't find in your posts.

    If that is pretty much what you're looking for I'll let you know now that it definitely does not exist, at least not from what I've seen. It is certainly doable, with the cPanel/WHM api but the cost of developing such probably makes it an expensive luxury.

    The complete process of registering a brand new domain, setting nameservers, creating the account on the server, creating email, and installing some scripts - with all the automation nowadays takes me no more than 10-15 minutes at most...depending on the speed of the net.

    Anyway, if you could detail briefly the steps you're looking to automate I can tell you how difficult it would be.

  24. #24
    Affiliate Manager Steven.C's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andreyk
    I have similar problem with HostGator, it's very complex and time consuming
    Can't say it gets much simpler than HG for shared hosting - should be pretty easy & very automated. If you're having issues with things that you feel should be simple - their support team is pretty responsive.

  25. #25
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    This weekend, I am finishing up the process of migrating the last of my domains from eApps to HostGator. Of course the last two to transfer are the most important.

    If past experience is any guide, I expect some problems. On the other hand, I'd like to believe I've learned from past experience, so maybe this will be a smooth transition. Either way, I won't really know until tomorrow (DNS propegation being a gradual thing).

    (If you send me email and get a bounce message, or if you can't access my web sites, you'll know why.)

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