Over the past 10 years, I have tried at least 25 different web hosting companies. From ultra-cheap, 1-dollar-per-month shared hosting to expensive dedicated servers to the latest technology- cloud hosting. A few of the hosts have impressed me, while others have made me pull out my hair and scream in agony.
For the past four years (Started in 2013), I have been with Media Temple for all my requirements, and frankly speaking, they have blown me away. This media temple review will cover all the positives and negatives of media temple hosting. This is a review of media temple grid hosting which is very similar to standard shared hosting.
My Personal Experience with Media Temple
As you can see from the images below, they have a pretty solid uptime and blazing fast response time.
The only time I had to open a support ticket was when there was some cluster-wide outage and my site went unresponsive for about half an hour. The support team was quick to identify the issue (they knew about the issue even before I had raised a ticket and were actively working on it).
Speaking of support tickets, one thing I liked about their support system was the fact that they are available 24X7 and they provide a time estimate for ticket response (check the top right corner of the image below).
What I don’t like about their support system is, you can’t reply via email if there are any updates to your ticket. You have to log into your media temple account center every time to respond to a ticket.
How Does Media Temple Handle Sudden Surge in Traffic?
Just because media temple grid hosting is a type of shared hosting, don’t think it can’t take a sudden surge in traffic. When one of my posts got viral, the traffic spiked as you can see from the image below. Hundreds of people started coming to the site at the same time, but the site never slowed down or crash.
If this happens when you are with shared hosts like HostGator, BlueHost or any of the typical branded shared hosting companies out there, it’s almost guaranteed they’d suspend your account. Even if you hit 2500 unique visitors a day suddenly, they’ll suspend your account. Talk about three times that threshold!
If I had been with regular hosting companies and they had suspended my account, there is no way I could continue using it unless I moved to their VPS hosting which is several folds costlier, and is unmanaged unless you opt for a higher plan. Not to mention the several thousand visitors I would have lost and the headache of sorting all of this out.
Note that most shared hosting companies do not have VPS hosting plans, so you are stuck with moving to another host.
How is Media Temple Grid Hosting Different From Typical Shared Hosting Companies?
If you do a high-level overview, Media Temple grid hosting is very much similar to shared web hosting packages offered by companies like HostGator. However, what you don’t realize is that when you take a closer look, it’s different. Here’s what makes it different:
#1: CPU Utilization vs. GPU
Most shared hosting companies take a look at what % of the CPU resources you are consuming, and if you consume too much for a period of time of time, they’ll shut you down. Typical cases when this happens is when one of your article goes viral, or you run a paid campaign which brings in a sudden increase in traffic.
With Media Temple, they calculate GPU’s. You have 2000 GPU’s to start off with, and it does not matter if you have sudden spikes now and then. As long as you stay within the 2000 GPU cycle (which is way more than enough for a typical business website), you won’t be charged extra.
Another thing to note is, media temple will not shut you down for consuming more GPU cycles. They’ll just bill you for the additional usage you make (which is very reasonable). That’s extremely powerful- especially if you are a business that wants to be available all the time for your customers.
As you can see from the image below, even with the viral post, I have still not used even 10% of the allotted GPU.
If you want to tweak things further, they have a more granular report which shows you usage pattern and performance tips. If any of your individual pages have high GPU usage, you can optimize them to bring down your utilization.
#2: Cpanel vs. MT Custom Control Panel
If you have been using shared hosting for a while, chances are, you are familiar with Cpanel- the control panel which comes with most shared hosts. However, Media Temple comes with a custom control panel.
Although you’ll find almost all the features you need in this control panel, it will take you some time to get used to it, especially if you have been a long time user of Cpanel.
The truth is, most of us won’t log into the control panel for more than 2 or 3 times a year once the site set up is complete. So it’s not that big of a deal breaker even if you are not familiar with MT control panel.
#3: One-click install scripts
While Cpanel usually comes with tons of one-click install scripts, media temple comes with only 3- WordPress, Drupal, and Zen Cart. While it covers at least 70% of the use cases, I’d like to see more 1-click-installs.
It’s worth noting that you can manually install any application you want; you could even get their CloudTech support to install custom applications for you (for a nominal fee).
#4: Premium Support vs. Normal Support
While official support is same across most website hosting companies, media temple offers additional premium support (paid) on top of their already good standard support. This will come in handy for most non-technical users. Below are the list of services offered by Media Temple (Pricing and services current as on March 16, 2014)
- Set up secure local backups- Useful if you need someone to set up a local backup system which you can access whenever you need to. This is less efficient than having an off-site backup but much better than having no backup at all. This should complement your own backup mechanism and never be the sole mode of backups. Cost of this service: USD 39
- Disaster Restoration- You never know how and when things can go wrong. The MT CloudTech support team will restore the data from the disaster recovery system. Cost of this service: USD 79
- Move your website- If you are currently hosted with another web hosting provider, they will move it to media temple for USD 150. This is different from what most website hosting companies provide- they offer this as a free service. The main reason such hosts can offer it for free is because they can do a Cpanel to Cpanel backup which is pretty easy and straightforward. However, MT uses a custom control panel and backend system due to which, such easy one-click backup is not possible
- Front End Site Review- Surprisingly, Media Temple offers a 100% free front end site review that will point out issues like faulty code, outdated plugins, and how to make your site faster. I have not come across any hosting company offering it for free
- Database Administration- Even though I am a computer science engineer by education, I still cringe when I have to do anything related to databases. It is complex and making silly mistakes can mess up the whole website. Fortunately, MT staff will help you manage and optimize your database if required for a USD 79 fee
- Script/Directory Permissions- If you are installing custom scripts or even some premium themes, they’ll have requirements for setting directory permissions. Unless you are familiar with Linux/setting directory permissions (Do you know how to use CHMOD command or the difference between 666 and 777 permission?), it can turn out to be quite a painful task. Not to mention the security risk if you set the wrong permissions. The CloudTech engineers will help you out on this one for a fee of USD 39
- DNS Configuration- Unless you are a techie, this is going to sound Greek and Latin to most business owners. You might want to set up custom DNS configuration, especially, if you are using CDN to boost your website loading time. The CloudTech engineers can help you in configuring DNS the right way for USD 39. Messing with the DNS configurations could result in your sites getting unresolved
- SSL Installation- Do you run an online store or have a website that requires users to give you sensitive information (like passwords)? In most cases, you’ll need SSL for your website to ensure that the data passed between the user and the server is secure and cannot be intercepted by anyone. However, installing a SSL certificate on your server can turn out to be quite a daunting task if you are not familiar with it. MT will do it for you for a flat fee of USD 39
- Web Application Setup- As I mentioned, one of the shortcomings of media temple is the fact that it does not have as many one-click install software like most shared hosts. If you have a custom application to install, you can get it done for USD 79. Of course, you can always do it for free if you know your way around installing such software using command line
- WordPress Plugin Setup- If you are a complete newbie to WordPress, you can pay USD 39 to have someone install the latest plugins for your WordPress installation and configure it to work optimally within the media temple grid system. Even though this is available, I’ll recommend learning to do the basic things in WordPress like installing themes and plugins on your own
- Email Client Setup- Do you use outlook, thunderbird, or any such desktop based application to retrieve and send emails? If you are using the Media Temple email system for receiving emails for your domain, then, the CloudTech team can remotely access your computer and configure your software to properly work with MT email system. Even though MT does have a good email system, I’d recommend keeping hosting for website and email hosting different. Try Google Apps or Rackspace for email hosting
- FTP Client Setup- Sometimes, you might need to connect to your website via FTP (For transferring website files). If you are not familiar with configuring FTP clients, one of the MT engineers will remotely connect to your system and set it up for you for USD 39. If you do not have a FTP client, I recommend using FileZilla
- Application Security Audit- Most of the times, even experienced webmasters make the mistake of leaving loopholes in the system that malicious hackers exploit to hack into your system. For USD 79, a CloudTech engineer will audit your server for issues and recommend fixes. This should be mainly applicable if you have your VPS/dedicated server with them as opposed to a regular grid hosting
- Emergency Malware Clean-up & Blacklist Removal- If ever you get hacked or have malware on your server, the CloudTech team will help you to remove malicious code, clean up your site, and help remove you from any blacklist. This service will set you back by 99 USD
- Monthly CloudTech Security Pack with Active Monitoring- This is a monthly package that comes for USD 49 and includes automatic monitoring and removal of blacklists and malware cleanup (up to 2 a month). If you believe in proactive security rather than reactive one, you might want to give this a shot- most cases, you don’t even realize you have malware on your site, unless it’s too late
- 1:1 Consultation- This is a service which I have an issue with. My philosophy on running a business is, clients should not have to pay you for learning to use your application. Media Temple should make the product so easy-to-use that this service becomes redundant. However, if you still need 1 on 1 consultation, you can get a 1-hour session for USD 79. I recommend going through their exhaustive support session to find your answers instead of paying for this consultation
Quick Overview of Media Temple Hosting Pro’s and Con’s
- Expensive than traditional shared hosting. The grid hosting comes at 20 USD/month.
- Custom control panel- For people who are too familiar with Cpanel, you’ll have some learning curve
- No free site migration- If you need to move your site from another host to media temple, you need to pay a 150 USD fee or do it yourself (which will require some technical know-how). It’s not too complicated (I did it for this site)
- Limited one-click install apps- MT provides only 3 (WordPress, Drupal, and Zen Cart)
- One-click is not exactly one click- Even though MT claims it’s a one-click process, it really is not. When I tried to install WordPress, it first asked me to create a database and then only I could proceed with the installation
- Amazing uptime and response time- Media Temple provides blazing fast load time. If you really care about your site being available to your users 24X7 and as fast as possible, this is a lifesaver
- Won’t shut down your website for bringing in more visitors- The GPU based allocation ensure that your site won’t get shut down- even if you constantly get a flood of traffic
- Tailored for WordPress- If you have a WordPress installation, Media Temple systems are tailored for making WordPress more efficient (Others also work very well)
- No false sales pitches- I really hate it when companies offer “unlimited” everything for a small fee. There is no free lunch, and there is no unlimited everything. These are sales pitches designed to make you think it’s the best. Media Temple exactly tells you how much you get for what you pay
- 24X7 support that’s responsive- Even though many hosts claim round the clock support, some of the bigger ones take forever to connect you with a technical rep. I have seen wait times as high as 45 minutes to talk to a technical person for HostGator
- No Reselling- Media Temple is not a reseller like some of the hosts out there. Media Temple has qualified people managing thousands of servers in their data centers. This means that you get direct support as compared to a reseller
- Secure- Since Media Temple is on the higher side of pricing for shared hosting, it typically does not have servers loaded with spam websites. This significantly reduces the “bad neighborhood effect” and your site is more secure
- SSH Access- You get full SSH access with Media Temple and can also run secure FTP
- SSD Hosting- Since media temple hosts websites using SSD instead of traditional hard disks, the failure rate of sites are low and the I/O operations are extremely fast
- Big Brand- Media Temple of owned by Godaddy, one of the biggest players in the hosting a domain business. This ensures that they are not fly-by-night companies and you can stay with them for a long time. Even though Godaddy owns them, the two companies are completely separate concerning technology teams and how they operate
- Host up to 100 websites- That’s a lot of websites under one account
Conclusion of this media temple review
I recommend media temple to almost everyone, and I am personally moving all my sites to Media Temple. You won’t go wrong with them.