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Hosting is a tough business, you almost can't load a page on the internet without running into adds by hosting companies. Yet, on average hosts do pretty bad job in customer satisfaction. It is especially true for those of us looking for cheap affordable solution for blog or family website with low-end requirements. Unfortunately, with low-end requirements and price, comes low-end service.  I used quite a few and came to expect it "out of the box", this is why when things look unexpectedly good you start feeling an obligation to spread a word.

When saga with GoDaddy trying to move my site to IIS-7 was about to get into second week, I decided to look around for someone hopefully a little more responsive. I wanted either free trial or short term service to check things out. If I don't like it - will walk away in a month, no hard feelings. I thought by then GoDaddy will get my site working. I picked a small start-up specializing in Windows hosting only, with just 2 packages in portfolio. This minimalistic approach and monthly payments looked as a safe bet to me.

On the surface, GoDaddy is a winner in most important categories:

GoDaddy | WinHost
Price | $4.99 | $4.95 |
Disk Space | 10 GB | 1 GB |
Monthly data  | 300 GB  | 50 GB |
MS SQL | 200 MB | 100 MB |

But I'm switching to WinHost anyway. If you wander why:

Easy to use

It looks like few things WinHost does, it does well. Half an hour after I signed up my blog was completely up and running. The admin console interface is clean, simple and professional looking, everything is fast and works flawlessly. In a few clicks I found all I needed and felt myself right at home after just few minutes of use.

Fit my needs

Giving you large quotas is a good move on GoDaddy's part, most will use only tiny portion of it. My usage was under 100 MB and I'm not expecting it grow over 1 GB any time soon. Same story with bandwidth - I was using just a bit over 3 GB  out of 300 monthly limit! So, although fair share of resources supplied by GoDaddy no doubt generous - it is too big a bite for me to swallow anyway. As limited as WinHost numbers can look compare to competition, it is a perfect fit for me, and I'd guess for most out there.

Developer friendly

My account was ready as soon as I got email couple seconds after hitting "submit" button on sign-in form. I was a bit puzzled - usually it takes a while to start a scheduled job and set a sandbox for new website. Turns out, they give you full control from the very beginning. There is not much to set up - you get remote IIS-7 access, remote SQL access, FTP etc. You can go and set full trust level for your site if you wish, change from classic to integrated mode, refresh application pull - control completely in your hands. This feature ROCKS. Usually it comes only with dedicated hosting, and if you are ASP.NET developer and use your site to experiment - you should get it for this thing alone.

Built-in reports

Yes, you can use Google Analytics, I use it and it is good. And you'll be able still use it regardless. But built-in statistics that WinHost provides is a totally awesome Silverlight application that looks and works superbly good and a joy to use.

Open ended

No one is trying to get you in for 3 years and you can use your existing domain name. Monthly $4.95 payment, if you don't like it - stop paying and get out. It always good to feel yourself free.

Conclusion

The host is new and it is hard to tell how things will roll out in the future, it is too early to call. But I really like what I have seen so far and will keep my fingers crossed. What I like most is that it puts you in full control, you can connect to your site directly with VS/express, SQL management studio, IIS – you name it. Looking for a place to put your blog on? Give it a shot, you might like it as much as I do.

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