At www.collectiveray.com, our effort to produce quality actionable content, has allowed this website to go from strength to strength - in terms of traffic. We set our sights on an InMotion VPS account when the amount of traffic grew, we outgrew the plans we initially were using to host our site - so we came at a point where we had to look at better options for traffic.
We got our hands on VPS-1000HA-S which is one of the new Virtual Private Servers available for our review. It’s very nicely specced, so we were confident this would be plenty of power for our site.
Why do we go for an InMotion Virtual Private Server hosting account? This is why:
See that incredible loading speed scores? Those are only thanks to our fast hosting account!
CollectiveRay is a large, heavy website. We’ve got hundreds of large articles, many components and thousands of visitors. But we still want a fast website. And that's why need a Virtual Private Server.
Incidentally, if you think you don't need such power, we've also done a review of shared hosting for the same company here: https://www.collectiveray.com/web-design/web-hosting/inmotion-hosting-review.html
Our journey towards a VPS
CollectiveRay has been around for more than 10 years. During that time, we’ve experienced a lot of different hosting companies. This is our journey towards getting a Virtual Private Server for our website.
When we first thought up CollectiveRay (in those days, DART Creations), we registered the domain with GoDaddy. We were young and we had little to no experience with web hosting - so we got caught in the marketing hype which is GoDaddy and registered a hosting account with them.
Within a few months, delivering excellent content for Joomla which it was in an extreme growth phase, we got literally kicked out from this hosting account for consuming too much server resources. It was good riddance truth be told. The performance was horrible and support response rates were dismal taking typically more than 24 hours to reply to an urgent support email.
Next up was HostGator. We had had personal recommendations about them, so we thought we should go for them - and we did. We had a fairly good run, but need the service started getting flaky. There were months when we had several severe service outages for hours at a time. It was time to go.
Next up was SiteGround. It’s a niche Joomla hosting site, which sponsors lots of Joomla events so we were intrigued. Really and truly, their service is fine, but we never managed to get the performance to the levels we desired. We just wanted to push the envelope and the shared hosting we were on was not able to deliver the performance we required.
Enter InMotion hosting
When we performed our initial business hosting review, we already knew that this hosting was a cut above the rest, and we were sure that their servers would be an excellent choice.
Let’s just go through a few of the specifications of the Virtual Server accounts available from this highest-rated company.
- Free Solid State Drives (SSDs) which are much faster than normal drives which power most other hosting accounts
- High availability - your site will never go down
- Server snapshots - when you are performing drastic changes to your account you can take a snapshot of your current working state. In case anything goes horribly wrong, you’ll be able to go back to the previous server state
- Resource Monitoring Dashboard - you’ll want to know if your site is about to run out of resources, this dashboard keeps you in the know
- Available RAM (4GB | 6GB | 8GB) - most large sites need plenty of RAM to be able to perform optimally
- Monthly premium transfer (2TB | 3TB | 4TB) - high traffic or download sites need to know their bandwidth limits are not going to go hit
- Fault-tolerant disk space (60GB | 130 GB | 200GB) - your disks won’t go down even if they are failures, and there’s plenty of space for all the files your site may generate
- Free domain
- 2 or 3 dedicated IP addresses (essential if you plan to have such stuff as SSL or any other need for static IPs, you typically only get 1 dedicated IP with most VPS hosting accounts)
- Full CPanel License worth $200/year
- Unlimited domains / websites allowed
- Powered by CentOS 6: Enterprise Class Linux
Besides the above, you’ll get the following with the account
Custom Advanced Policy Firewall
Optional Root Access
Unlimited Email Accounts
Unlimited MySQL Databases
Reseller Access with WHM
We haven’t come across something which was not fulfilled by the above specifications.
Pricing - You can’t beat these prices and specs for a Virtual Private Server account
Sometimes, it’s the pricing structure which will deter us from actually using such an boosted virtual server configuration, when many times, just simple things as the speed boost you get with a VPS is well worth the money spent.
These accounts are very very good. Where most companies packages start at around $50, VPS accounts start at just under $30 per month. We believe this is an excellent price to value ratio. Really and truly, $30 per month is a price which anybody running a business via their website can afford.
Even the higher tiers are extremely well priced. Given that they are offering such an excellent feature set which we described above, we believe the prices of the services are excellent and very very affordable.
Setting up our VPS account
Once you’ve got your account, you’ll get a nice intro email which leads you to your AMP or Account Management Panel. The first thing you need to do is set a good password.
Once we logged in, you’ll find the AMP, which is mostly about managing your account - it’s the accounting part so to speak. You’ll find functions to manage your Credit Card, Reset account password, purchase additional hosting, upgrade your account, ways of purchasing stuff such as an SSL certificate for your server, update it and plenty of others.
Once we had a bit of a spin through the available functions, we got down to the dirty work, the actual setup of CollectiveRay on our VPS account.
To migrate our site, we used the excellent Akeeba Backup. This makes it very very simple to transfer your site. Given that our site has been growing over a number of years, and we have quite a complex setup, complete with full https, an external Content Delivery Network (CDN), a migration is always a bit of a hassle. But we’ve done so many of them at this point, that the task has become somewhat less scary than it used to be.
Here’s a quick screenshot of the CPanel, mostly normal stuff, but we really like the theme used, much more refined than the older style available with most hosting accounts.
We uploaded our Akeeba Backup file to the new hosting server via the accounts CPanel File Manager.
In the meantime, as the upload was going on (it’s large!) we made sure the database was fully setup via the CPanel on the MySQL Databases.
Once the database was fully setup, we ran through the Akeeba Kickstart procedure. Essentially, Kickstart is a small file which is used to extract all of the backup files, and then run through the restore procedure.
The restore procedure simply involves accessing the kickstart file, which will pick up the archive, restore it and ask for database access to restore all the tables.
Once access to the new database has been specified, the tables are restored.
Once this is done, of course you’ll need need to change any hosting account specific information. Primarily, the change we needed to do was in the mailing account details.
All in all, migration was very simple.
The results, our very first speed test run can be seen below! Very good stuff we must admit.
Support - Excellent Response Times and Resolutions
When you are going for an advanced server setup such as this, you’re clearly very much interested in the well-being of your site. And that, of course, means that inevitably you’re going to run into issues which require you to get in touch with support.
One of the key performance indicators we measure for any hosting company which we touch with is their levels of support.
First of all, the levels of documentation which they have are second to none.In fact, if you run any Joomla or WordPress website, you’re bound to have come across resolutions to common problems on the support website. That means that the level of the articles is the best around.
Second, the response times are excellent. When you are in trouble and need access to support stuff, the last thing you need is a long waiting time. The longest wait times we’ve experienced have been measured in minutes. Most times we get through to chat in seconds.
Third, the support staff are clearly not beginners who are there to handle mundane support calls. These are well trained people who know their stuff and are able to quickly find solutions to issues. We are quite technical here, and we were pleased with the level of support we got when we were on support chats.
Fourth, and this for me is the clincher. When the issue is deeper than the current staffer can handle, they will NOT disconnect. They will get in touch themselves directly with a more advanced tech guy, so you know you’ll get resolution there and then. Sometimes, you even get passed on directly to the advanced technical support. This means, that you won’t have to wait to get support via email. Your problem WILL get resolved on the same call.
Of course, support is available round the clock. Support is also based in the US, so you’re not getting support outsourced to some 3rd world country - which is something which happens often in the hosting biz.
Advanced Server functions
Once we were done with the transfer and restore, it was time to move ahead with some more advanced functions. First up, setting the SSL on the site. This, of course, includes the installation of the SSL certificate on the server.
Usually, in most cases, this is something which is handled by the Technical departments of your hosting company at an additional charge. But of course, this is something which can be done quite simply.
Whilst we show you what we did, you’ll also see some of the other advanced functions available as part this InMotion VPS review.
These advanced functions are available through the WHM also known as the WebHost Manager. Here you are accessing the physical machine directly - although since this is a Virtual Server, we are not really accessing the physical machine.
As you can see there are several advanced functions, such as restarting services, changing DNS functions, checking the server status and so many more. Describing all of these functions is simply beyond the scope of this InMotion VPS review.
Installing our SSL certificate on our Server
If you want to enable SSL, you’ll need to have purchased a certificate. Once you have done this, you’ll get a number of specific pieces of information which you need to install on your server including:
Certificate Authority Bundle
You then insert these pieces of information into the following screen in the WHM panel, and your certificate will be installed.
Get experts to manage your site with Managed Hosting for your Server
Although a few of us are more than happy to manage their own site, there are many of us who simply don’t have the time or the technical know how to keep their site running in top-notch shape all the time. Running a business typically involves much more than managing a website, and simply put, there are things which tend to get higher priorities.
Given that the website is still a critical part of your business, it makes lots of sense to get the hosting experts to actually manage the site for a few more dollars a month. You’ll get access to hosting experts - simply put it’s a personal support team for your website. Let’s just point out a few of the benefits we’ve experienced with Managed Hosting.
A fully optimized website platform
Given that we are fixated on having a fast website, we wanted to make sure that our site is fully optimized. Managed hosting experts will fully optimize the LAMP stack for your website to make sure the site is always running at it’s best. Implementing Varnish for static caching, APC (Alternative PHP Cache). Whatever you think you need to fully optimize the site, you can get through Managed Hosting.
Fully secured website
One of our nagging fears has always been that of getting hacked. With Managed hosting, you’ll get custom solutions necessary for ensuring your website has been fully secured against potential hacking attempts. Custom firewall rules, OSSsec implementation or setting up CSF/LFD, installation of patches or security updates - advanced security solutions will all be done for you.
Custom solutions for you
Need an NGINX server instead of Apache? Done. Need custom configurations for specific optimizations. You’ll get set up immediately. Whatever your specific hosting requirements are, they will get it done for you.
Even things like migration, transfers, installation of SSL certificates, specific types of custom backups or restores which you may need, anything can be catered for by the Managed hosting experts.
Most of all, the real benefit is that you save plenty of time by focusing on managing your business rather than your website.
Pricing for Managed hosting is not just affordable, it’s excellent value starting at $40 per hour.
Conclusion - give your website the boost it deserves with InMotion VPS Hosting
All in all, we’re really thrilled with the service we’re getting on our InMotion VPS account. The site is now ticking away nicely, doing its thing, we don’t need to touch anything or worry about performance, backups, security or anything else we’re typically worried about.
If you’re looking for a VPS solution which is affordable, performant but still fully secure you should definitely investigate InMotion’s Virtual Private Server hosting packages.
InMotion VPS Hosting David Attard Rating: 4.9 out of 5