After my previous post on hosting, here are some quick notes on some other essential bits of online technology and favored/hated vendors, from the perspective of a small business looking for solid but very cost-effective solutions. I tend to pick vendors really good at one thing, rather than those mediocre across a broad range of services.
Domains. I’ll admit that I still have domains at Godaddy out of laziness, but I plan to migrate them eventually since they’re expensive, they keep trying to upsell me stuff I don’t need, and they have demonstrated a range of unsavory behavior over the years. I tried Moniker for a couple domains, which I found horrendously slow and complicated. John Resig gathered some useful notes on registrars who offer cheap renewal costs including with privacy, in order to weed out teaser pricing hiding high charges on the back-end. Several people mentioned NameSilo, which does look straightforward enough. Any other registrar I should consider?
DNS. We happily payed Nettica $50 a year for several years. Then DYN bought them in March 2014, proceeded to ignore existing contracts, and expected people to migrate to their much more expensive services. My experience trying to get DYN to acknowledge and stick to the terms of our prepaid 1-year contract with Nettica established beyond doubt that they had no intent to do so. Thanks but no thanks! I’ll never patronize these slimeballs, and you should avoid them at all costs. After some research I migrated to DNS Made Easy, which is slightly more expensive than Nettica used to be but their service resolves faster and has a pretty good admin interface. Good job DNS Made Easy, please never sell yourself to DYN! For higher-end needs, I’ve read good things about NS One, though I never used their services.
Email. Finally, over the past years I’ve used Fusemail and Fastmail as dedicated email hosts. Fusemail is affordable, but we run into performance issues a couple times a year that they are slow to acknowledge, if they even do so. Meanwhile costs at Fastmail add up as you create new inboxes, and their admin interface takes some getting used to, but the performance has been rock solid. I haven’t heard of new vendors emerging in recent years that may combine affordability, ease of use, performance, and reliability. Corporate email remains essential, but it’s not a hot category attracting a lot of new investment or interest these days.
No matter what, do not run your own DNS on your web servers, and do not mix your email with your web operations either. Ask Stratfor. Even if you don’t think you’ll be the target of that type of high-profile hacking, whenever your web server crashes is when you need email most, so do isolate vital functions from each other.
See also Hacker News’ humongous list of tools of the trade by function – which still misses some categories, and a lot of players. I plan to cover some of these categories in future entries.