I’m Chanpory, and this is my site on how to live and work better as a designer.

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Media Temple Grid-ServerMediaTemple, the web hosting service favored by designers, has finally announced their new Grid-Server (gs) hosting plan. Unlike other shared-hosting plans, Mediatemple’s Grid-Server eliminates the “bad neighbor effect” by distributing the load over several servers instead of confining it to one machine. This redundancy means more stability and virtually no downtime.

After testing the new plan for several weeks during its beta period, I’m proud to say this plan delivers the best bang for the buck out of any hosting service I’ve tried in the past. $20 a month will get you loads of features, including the following:

  • 100GB of storage
  • 1TB of short-width bandwidth
  • Multi-domain hosting for 100 individual sites on one account.
  • Ruby on Rails
  • 1000 email accounts
  • 1-Click install for WordPress, Drupal, Gallery, and ZenCart

Before you sign-up, here’s what I like and don’t like:

What I like

Digg defense
Before Mediatemple, LifeClever was hosted on a Virtual Private Server (VPS) plan at Rimuhosting for about $40 a month. The service was excellent, but once articles on LifeClever started getting Dugg, the server would crash because of sudden traffic spikes. Even a $20/month memory upgrade couldn’t handle it. Mediatemple’s Grid-Server (gs) alleviates this problem with Grid Performance Units (GPUs.) I don’t know what it means technically, but practically, it means the server can handle occasional traffic spikes caused by sites such as Digg, Slashdot, and BoingBoing. This feature alone is made it worth switching to the plan.

Real people and real service
Many other hosting plans are quite shady. You have no idea who the owners are or where they are located. Often, they are just resellers with no real support team of their own. In contrast, Mediatemple is a real company located in Los Angeles with a live human staff and support team. You can actually visit them if you’re in the area. Customer support isn’t outsourced and is available 24×7. I’ve run into some hiccups where Mediatemple’s support team actually called me to let me know. This kind of courtesy is rare among any service provider.

Usable control panel
Mediatemple also takes pride in their control panel, and deservedly so. I recently tried out the control panel at another popular hosting service, Dreamhost. It’s atrocious both visually and functionally. Mediatemple’s control panel, on the other hand, is clean, logical, and organized well. This elegance is probably why designers in-the-know prefer MediaTemple.

What I don’t like

Crippled web stats
Mediatemple has built-in web traffic analysis via Urchin. This is fine if you have one domain. However, if you host multiple domains, stats for all sites will be rolled into one set of reports. Mediatemple also doesn’t allow you to install AWstats, a populr traffic log analysis application. :-(

No user forums
While customer support is speedy, no official user forums exist for customers to ask each other for help or to discuss hosting tips and tricks. True, MediaTemple has a public KnowledgeBase, but it’s slim and doesn’t allow users to edit or contribute. In short, Mediatemple needs to foster more community for its customers.

Where is Jason McVearry?
After being so impressed by Mediatemple, I emailed Jason McVearry, Mediatemple’s Partner Director, to ask about a possible partnership with LifeClever. I noticed some other design-related sites display an “In Partnership with Mediatemple” badge, and I wanted in. Sadly, after about a month, there’s still no response from Jason. I’m sure he’s a busy guy and perhaps LifeClever doesn’t get enough traffic, but I feel a little burned to not even get a rejection letter. Oh well, life goes on. It still hasn’t stopped me from recommending Mediatemple to friends, colleagues, and readers.

Update (Oct. 20): Jason McVearry has just kindly emailed me. It looks like he was travelling at the time and thus my email got overlooked. Here is his response:

Hello Chanpory,

I see you’re trying to make me famous on your blog. In my defense:

I was in route to the Carson workshop “Future of Web Apps Summit” where I was in charge of organizing and throwing a party for the speakers for (mt) and completely over-looked this email..my mistake.

Understand the amount of partnership emails that come across my plate is not small and it’s extremely difficult to 1. make an immediate assessment of a project and 2. respond to all of them in a timely manner. Truth be told, it may take a follow up email to get enough attention to start a dialogue. I agree with you that a rejection email is better than none. We do not have a rejection letter unfortunately (putting on to-do list)

We do have a system in place where-in sales sends the prospective partnership candidate a more -or-less qualifying form. One of the general prerequisites is the partner candidate become a client and establish a business relationship prior to us considering partnership (you are already a client…something I did not get immediately from your email). We do consider non-clients, but these relationships are typically sent to us by current partners, are considered because the site/brand is on our radar or we seek them out.

Regarding Partnership: Absolutely.

Jason

Yay!

The bottom line

For sites with moderate traffic and occasional spikes in heavy traffic, Mediatemple leaves the competition in the dust with effective load-balancing, real support, and an elegant control panel. For $20 a month, it’s not perfect and has a few minor issues and annoyances. This, however, won’t prevent most customers from making the most of Mediatemple.

Note: Mediatemple did not pay us to write this review.

Of course, if you do decide to go with Mediatemple and would like to help float our hosting bill, just enter “lifeclever.com” in the “Referral domain” field when you sign-up. It’s definitely not required, and we”ll love you either way.

Are you a Mediatemple customer? Are you pleased with another hosting service? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Please no spam. It will be deleted.

29 Comments

  • Alex DeLarge

    gravatarOct 20, 2006
    12:19 pm

    I think, but am not 100 percent certain, that the “In Partnership” with thing is their affiliate program. However, like I said, not 100 percent on that.

  • Chanpory

    gravatarOct 20, 2006
    5:16 pm

    Alex, looks like Jason McVearry just clarified some of the partnership process with Mediatemple. I’ve updated the post with his response.

  • Damer

    gravatarOct 22, 2006
    12:13 am

    I signed-up with MT a little over a month ago, on a Shared Server plan, and I was pleased to get a free upgrade to the new Grid Server system. Your comments are all on the mark. The stats are indeed poor (I miss Reinvigorate!), and conversely, the control panel is really well done.

    For existing Shared Server plan customers, who were paying $7.95/month, we don’t get the full $20/month Grid Server plan. Instead, they have a special “Grid Server Lite”. Makes perfect sense. However, the upgrade actually cuts the bandwidth in half! I used to have a terabyte on the Shared Server plan, and now I only get 500MB! But in the end, I don’t come anywhere near that limit, so I’ll take the extra disc space and new features and be on my merry way! Especially the addition of free spam filteringm which was long overdue. I definitely recommend MT for anybody looking for fast servers with all the bells and whistles you’ll ever need.

  • Ross

    gravatarOct 23, 2006
    5:57 am

    Much better than their old shared hosting platform but they are overselling even more which scares me.

    http://www.thehostguru.com

  • John

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    10:17 am

    too bad they don’t have any .net plans…

  • Mimoun Raddahi

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    2:45 pm

    A big down point about this is if your website uses more than 1TB per month it will be shut down. If it’s impossible to buy extra bandwidth then the grid-server is not scalable which is the most important point to be using a grid-server.

    I have a grid-server account and was very disappointed when they told me it was impossible to buy extra bandwidth. It’s all good as long as your website doesn’t use more than 1TB.

  • Mimoun Raddahi

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    3:21 pm

    It looks like the support team got my message wrong they thought I wanted more than 1TB of disk space.

    Here is the price for extra bandwidth: “The rate of 2.56 per GB or if you purchase netflow packs in advance for the price of 1.28 per GB.” This is more than most dedicated server porviders charge which is $1 per GB.

    The point that you can’t buy more than 1TB of disk space still makes it not scalable which is very sad for a grid server.

  • Chanpory

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    4:07 pm

    Mimoun, 1TB of disk space seems like quite a lot. I could see it useful for sites that host video, but at that point, it may make more sense to pay for their dedicated plans.

  • nolawi

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    6:44 pm

    I had a bad expereice with media temple… they are horrible… they dont have 24 hous customer support!

  • Chanpory

    gravatarOct 25, 2006
    7:15 pm

    Hi Nolawi, sorry you had bad experience. My experience has been the opposite. They do have 24/7 support, and I’ve gotten responses to support issues very late in the night. What hosting plan are you using now instead?

  • Bergo

    gravatarOct 26, 2006
    7:12 pm

    I have been using MediaTemple for my blog (brooders.net) for the past 20 months.

    At the time it seemed the best, and was still competitive. I haven’t yet upgraded to Grid (mainly to try some ruby stuff). I believe current customers (shared server) might be able to upgrade for free to grid?? I still need to check this out.

    One other bad thing – You lose your IP address. I don’t think that they provide an IP address for your primary account anymore. I don’t know if this will actually affect anything. Most hosting only do name-based virtual hosting anyway.

    I haven’t had any real gripes, other than the occaisional maintenance window I forget about. Their base plan is now $20 per month, in the past you could get $8 if you paid in advance. It’s still a good service.

    I do agree with the comments on the all in one urchin stats. It’s a pet peeve, and they don’t archive much in the line of raw logs .. about a day.

    All in all, I have recommended them to friends. I still plan on using them for a while. The addition of Ruby on Rails means that I can start another project without getting an additional host.

  • Jason (mt)

    gravatarOct 29, 2006
    5:34 pm

    Bergo,

    Yes, you can upgrade at no cost http://mediatemple.net/webhosting/gs/faq/sstogs_migrations-faq.htm

    yes, you still get a dedicated ip with your primary domain

    Cheers, Jason@mediatemple.net

  • nolawi

    gravatarOct 29, 2006
    7:02 pm

    chanpori; i am using lunar pages which is by far and cheaper…

    they do not have 24 7 tech support over the phone….i was trying to figure out something over the weekend.. anyways i was down for about 3 days…

    the great thing about it that they atleast gave me a feedback….

  • Bergo

    gravatarOct 30, 2006
    12:04 am

    Jason (mt),

    Thanks for the prompt response.

    Good to hear about the IP address and the pricing.

    I was not expecting to receive an answer to those questions here. I am impressed with your commenting on blogs customer service !

  • DT

    gravatarNov 1, 2006
    12:07 am

    Does anyone know if their servers can be accessed from china, malaysia, singapore and many other parts of asia?

    Often these countries have strict regulations on web content, and if hosting providors cannot give assurance on the content that they host, these countries often block the entire ip range, as they did with godaddy hosting.

  • Brajeshwar

    gravatarNov 6, 2006
    3:51 am

    About the forum, we have one dedicated to Media Temple at http://mtforum.org/

  •  

    gravatarNov 16, 2006
    10:12 am

    LOL LOL, OVERSELLING, THERE IS BIG PROBLEM ON MT’S GRID. MANY OF THEM LEFT!

  • DT

    gravatarSep 3, 2007
    11:58 pm

    God I dragged my heels on this one. I’m finally on MT, almost one year since my comment!

  • Jarlath

    gravatarOct 10, 2007
    2:50 am

    I am experiencing many problems since I ‘migrated’ to the grid. When I was on (ss), I never experienced any problems.

  • Chris B

    gravatarNov 9, 2007
    5:36 pm

    I just got word from Arman @ MT and they have a forum now: http://mediatemple.net/labs/grid/mt-forums.htm. I’ve only been with MT for a few months now however, as mentioned in the post, the support is great and I have been personally contacted, more than I can say with other hosts. Previously I had Site5, who overall we not bad, I found the monthly bandwidth too low for the price. I also have had quite a few issues with moving domains in and out of Site5 (not within though).

  • Dmitry

    gravatarJan 26, 2009
    1:48 pm

    I have 1 VPS on MT and asked many my clients to host there. So for now we run 5 servers at MT and we are very happy with it. Support was always fast and professional. The bad side is that grid service plan is sucks. Yes it can fight this dig spikes but it become more expensive then VPS if you will buy additional server time. Also i really love their control panel design.

  • PZ

    gravatarMar 20, 2009
    9:34 am

    I love MediaTemple.

    This is really important for people who want to run a big blog or multiple blogs. Signing up for one of these cheap, “unlimited” web hosts is a complete waste of money and counterproductive. They’ll crash your sites, be unable to handle the load, claim you are using too much CPU, etc. I set up a blog that became extremely successful at Blue Host, and they kicked me out. Seriously. Their “unlimited” was just a sad joke because they gave you so little processing power. Same thing at other hosts I’ve used like PowWeb, which is really great to work with as far as customer service goes (as opposed to Blue Host), but they just can’t handle complex dynamic sites.

    If you are really serious about running a site or multiple sites, pick someone like MediaTemple, pay a little extra, and be with a host that can handle not only what you want to do today, but what you can dream up doing tomorrow.

  • Jesse

    gravatarApr 15, 2009
    1:46 pm

    Don’t sign up for them unless you get a dedicated server or if it’s for a personal site. Their grid service goes down at least once a week and their “scheduled maintenance” emails that I get all the time are like spam now. I wish I never signed up any of my clients with them.

  • cc

    gravatarMay 5, 2009
    7:06 pm

    Our 3 sites, all hosted on Mediatemple, have now been down for 26 hours! no sites, email, http://ftp…nothing. This is unacceptable for $200/year. If youre running any kind of e-commerce site, DO NOT USE MEDIA TEMPLE!! Aside from the big 48 hour crashes, they often go down every week for an average of 15 minutes ++ and at the worst times…lunchtime etc. Sure, they have a flashy c-panel but THATS IT.
    MEDIA TEMPLE IS OVERPRICED CRAP! We just signed on for a new server company. hope they dont suck as bad.

  • Gary Sanet

    gravatarNov 29, 2009
    5:35 am

    Can anyone tell me what would happen if you run out of the 1 TB bandwidth Limit???

    What’s the additional costs involved for extra bandwidth ????

  • CG

    gravatarDec 2, 2009
    9:43 am

    I have been using MT a little over a year now. I started with the 20USD gs service. I also use lunarpages (which I love as well). What happened to me is I had gone over my concurrent MySQL connections and was using a lot of resources so I updated to a MySQL grid container, I went over that and had to upgrade to a dv. (This is all in a couple months- Aug had to upgrade the grid container and Nov had to move to a dv) When I upgraded my grid container I had my databases trashed during the changeover so I had to rebuild the database from backups. It was for the best anyway, I think.

    I am not sure I assume they changed how the gs works or my site got an unusual spike in concurrent users but my gs at 20USD a month had the same concurrent connects as my lunarpages- which is ridiculous at the price. I will say, being with lunarpages for 6 years now and MT for over a year both have exceptional support. With regret I will move my lunarpages domains over to MT to consolidate my hosting but will always recommend lunarpages as a great low cost hosting for sites that aren’t as heavily trafficked as mine.

    But I am super happy with my dv, my only concern is the setup of CentOS is a little different than what I normally deal and such is life when you don’t do it yourself but it has handled my site well.

    I will say there’s a strange buggy issue with the dv, regarding apache as sometimes apache will stop running after I get an error in the error logs. The mediatemple forums that they have set up has info about it and a bandaid to combat the issue. Anyway, that is my experience with MT. Both the good and the bad.

  • James Rayers

    gravatarDec 3, 2009
    12:05 pm

    A nice article. I’m doing some research in finding a new host and Media Temple looks like a great option. Just out of interest what are the benefits of your partnership with Media Temple?

  • Michael Stark

    gravatarMay 23, 2010
    10:36 pm

    CG

    What do you mean ” When I upgraded my grid container I had my databases trashed during the changeover so I had to rebuild the database from backups” *

    Did you actually have to restart/dump the data in your database before switching over to dv?

    ALSO does anyone know their downtime – ‘ scheduled maintenance time ‘ now? ALSO do they still have traffic analytics available

  • Wallace

    gravatarJun 30, 2010
    4:49 pm

    i owned a blog cssjuice dot com a few years ago and get digg and delicious very often, site5 cannot handle it and advice me to switch another hosting vendor, i chose mt, but it’s definitely wrong due to the slow and poor customer support, i ask for refund $50 to my credit card, but i never get this money until now. Think twice you should before use MT.