New Web Provider - UKShells

After my bad experience with WebFusion, we’ve finally found a new web provider for ProFactor’s web siteUKShells (who are part of UKSolutions).

It took a lot of phoning around to find a rational, sensible hosting solution. You’d think it’d be easy to have a site where we can quickly and easily host our little web site and our executables, wouldn’t you?

Freedom2Surf

First up I tried my own personal ISP, Freedom2Surf. They were very helpful on the phone, but their T&Cs explicitly state that EXE and ZIP files can’t be hosted. When I pushed them on this, they said realistically we wouldn’t be reprimanded as long as the bandwidth we used was sensible. Their point was that usually ZIP and EXEs end up being bandwidth hogs, but of course it’d be much better if they just measured the bandwidth we actually used regardless of the file extension of the file! I wasn’t happy hosting with a provider which could, at any point, say we were in breach of T&Cs and stop our service. Shame, but there you go.

FastHosts

Next recommended to us was FastHosts, where a friend has a reseller account. They seemed ace, and most importantly we could get a top deal through our friend. However, they wouldn’t allow EXEs or similar either. What’s the world coming to?

Demon

My first ever internet access account was at Demon Internet; indeed I’ve had two accounts there over the years, and they’ve always been a good service provider. I eventually dropped them, fairly reluctantly, when I got wind of the 0800 number BT were rolling out. Anyway, I rang and spoke to them, and after a lot of to- ing and fro-ing their very non-technical sales staff finally put me through to a techie who could answer my question. Yes, they would allow us to host EXEs! Right, at last, a rational sensible provider which allows us to host our own data! Job’s a good’un…until…we found:

UKShells

UKShells were just that much ‘cooler’! We get a Unix command prompt (via ssh!), access to daemon processes, MySQL databases, PHP, cgi-bin scripts, email autoresponders and mailing lists. Best of all, as it’s a really techie service anyway, the tech support people are (a) clued up and (b) expect you to be too! No more convincing Raj the call-centre-slave to transfer you to the techie people instead of following his monotonous pre-ordained scripted response path. The UKShells guys are top, and the transfer was utterly painless (once I’d chased up WebFusion to change the IPS tag).

Just being able to ssh in, and tail -f the log file to get a handle on traffic is great. It’s geeky I know, but I do like it.

So, UKShells are recommended, as long as you know what you’re doing. Or don’t mind finding out!

Update 2012/12/26

UKSolutions have been acquired by Six Degrees Group. I don’t use UKShells any more, so can’t vouch for how good they are any more, but they asked me to update this page, so I have. Check them out at http://www.6dg.co.uk/

Filed under: Blog
Posted at 16:59:57 BST on 12th May 2005.

About Matt Godbolt

Matt Godbolt is a C++ developer working in Chicago in the finance industry.