On the 8th August (if my billing records are to be believed) I signed up to be part of the Lunarpages web hosting family, and nearly five months on, I feel qualified to write a post about my experiences.
Before I get too far into this post, I’m going to be completely up front. If you sign up for lunarpages using this link I will supposedly get money.
I say supposedly because I never have yet.
So. I hear you asking “how can you be unbiased if by signing me up, you get money?”
The answer is simple. I can and will. I’m all about honesty and openness, so at the end of this if you want to sign up with lunarpages, then I would appreciate you rewarding my work by using that link. But if you don’t want to, then that is a great choice also.
Ok, let’s get started.
Lunarpages is very controversial across the web because of a) their marketing strategies and methods and b) the service they provide or don’t provide and some of the rules and decisions they’ve supposedly made in regards to their service.
I’ll quickly outline what the web says about these two points, and then go into my experience.
http://www.diagnose-me.com/sucks/lunarpages.html – Early 2004
This is the second ranked page when searching “lunarpages” on google, so is a pretty serious problem for lunarpages. So it’s important that we look at their complaints. They are:
- Emails disappearing – They claim to have lost between 1% and 3% of the 1400 emails per day being generated from their site.
- Threats of service termination due to two out of three thousand emails being marked as spam
- Complicated story about how lunarpages ran various scripts which ultimately “crippled” and then “deleted” their website. Supposedly this action occurred due to a site that shared their server breaching terms.
Other interesting points from that page:
- Lunarpages owns “typo” versions of the site including dignose-me.com and diagnose-me.net.
- Lunarpages are accused of creating pro-Lunarpages sites, and posting false reviews on review sites.
http://www.dawodu.com/lunarp1.htm – August 2005
This site is slightly lower ranked in google, but still significant, so worth looking at. Their complaints are:
- Was accused of ‘spamming’ (seemingly in error) and ultimately had his account canceled.
Ok, so having heard all of that, the author’s goal has probably been achieved, why risk going with them? However, I want to share my experience.
Again, this is just my experience, the experience of someone who has relatively low traffic, and doesn’t use all the features.
I came from a site (2mhost) that was useless. The support was appalling (hosted in India I think and never able to answer my questions helpfully) and the site was almost always down.
So when I signed up with lunarpages I had high expectations of the quality of service. Initially I was not completely impressed. I had my site availability monitored by siteuptime which I can definitely recommend. Here’s the results.
So, I went through a patch during the middle of September that was pretty unpleasant. But importantly, no emails seemed to get bounced, and the outage times were relatively low. We never had outages in a single day of more than three hours, and when you look at the outages as a percentage of the whole, it works out that the site has been up 99.48% of the time. I don’t think anyone should complain about a statistic like that.
I’m on the “basic” hosting plan, which is $6.95 per month (important to note that to get this price you have to pay for 24 months in advance, a risky proposition).
For this $6.95 you get an impressive array of services, including; free domain name, unlimited number of MySQL Databases, 35000 Megabytes Storage, 800 Gigabytes Data Transfer and 1 Addon Domain. plus a whole lot of services I don’t use and add questionable value.
It really was like Christmas when I signed up and was promised 35000mb of storage. I had been trying to live within 50mb at my previous host, so was stoked. The 800gb of transfer data was also a weight off my mind, and started me thinking of ways to use it all.
Since the move, all my sites have shown strong growth. I believe it’s a combination of the increased uptime, and the mentality I have now of publishing anything and everything I can, as I’m not constrained by storage limits or bandwidth problems.
But I should address my thoughts to the concerns expressed above.
Firstly, to their experiences with lunarpages support. I think in both cases, it would appear the lunapages may have been a bit overbearing and rash (bear in mind we’re only hearing one side of this story). However in the first case, I wouldn’t be surprised if the actions of the webmaster in question were quite suspect. Also, I would hazard a guess that in both cases, the communication from the webmasters was less than positive.
We’ve all heard the saying “you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.” This is the way we should all interact with support services.
Helpdesks are not there to give us whatever we want. They sit in between two parties, the customers and the management. They’re responsible for implementing the companies policies, and try to support customers in using these policies as best they can. If you seem to (or are) breaching a companies terms (no matter whether you agree with them or not) and you attack the helpdesk staff, then you shouldn’t be surprised when you don’t get what you want (i.e. your account gets canceled).
I also wonder whether lunarpages had the “live support” they do now back in 04/05 as this makes a huge difference.
A few times when something has gone wrong, I’ve jumped onto the live support and had an answer in a few minutes. This is hugely preferable to communication by email, which can never beat live support, no matter how fast the responses are.
The other complaint they had was about the advertising methods (i.e. false websites and reviews of themselves). If they do indeed do this, then I would consider this to be unreasonable promotion, and I wouldn’t attempt to justify it.
However, in some situations I can understand it. This may not apply to them, but when a new company or website is just starting up it can be pretty tough to get enough critical mass to make it in the market. With a few of my websites, I’m guilty of self promotion on various forums and websites, so I can’t really bring myself to be too critical of lunarpages for self promotion.
The important point though is whether what they’re saying is true. If they’re saying “great service, and greater than 99% uptime” and aren’t delivering it, then this is inexcusable. If they’re saying it and it’s true, then it’s still not excusable, but perhaps a bit more understandable, at least for me.
I’m quite aware that the last section was quite positive towards lunarpages, but that’s just how it is. My only qualm was the outages, and these (now that I’ve crunched the numbers) seem very reasonable.
Some may accuse me of being an employee of lunarpages or friend or whatever, but it’s not the case. Look up my phone number and call me, I’ll be happy to talk to you about my experiences.
So should you sign up? Having read those negative reports, if your site is going to be similar to those sites (i.e. many emails, scripts sending emails etc) then I would have some serious, written discussions with lunarpages before getting into bed with them.
I believe it’s quite possible that due to some of their policies and relationships with other companies, they may be more likely to overreact to some situations than other web hosting services.
However, if you just run a normal site, with the desire for freedom from storage and bandwidth limits, then I would definitely recommend you give lunarpages a go. If you do, then I would again request that you use this link and that you chuck me an email so that I can check that lunarpages are actually paying out when they’re supposed to.
Finally, I hope this post has been of help to you, and rest assured that I will keep this post updated as my experience with lunarpages continues.