Media Temple Review: What You Ought to Know About Performance Focused Shared Hosting

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.
media temple review

For the past few months, I have been with Media Temple for my own hosting requirements, and frankly speaking, they have blown me away. This media temple review will cover all the positives and negatives of media temple hosting. Please do note that this is a review of media temple grid hosting which is very similar to standard shared hosting.

If you are looking for media temple coupon, use my exclusive coupon code- conversionchamp- for a 20% discount on MT 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.

mediatemple uptime

media temple 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).

media temple support ticket

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 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.

sudden spike

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 3 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 certain period 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 sudden increase in traffic.

With Media Temple, they calculate GPU’s. You have 2000 GPU’s to start off with and it does not really matter if you have sudden spikes every 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 extra 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.

GPU usage report from media temple

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.

granular performance reporting

#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.

media temple 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.

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).

once click install options

#4: Premium Support vs Normal Support

While standard 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 effective 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 doing 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 own VPS/dedicated server with them as opposed to a normal 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

Cons

  • Expensive than traditional shared hosting. The grid hosting comes at 20 USD/month. Use my exclusive coupon code- conversionchamp- for a 20% discount. You’ll end up paying 16 USD/month (Around 5-8 USD higher than traditional hosting companies)
  • 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

Pros

  • 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 actually 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 centres. 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 neighbourhood 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 a 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 in terms of 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. Quick reminder: If you decide to go with them, do remember to use the coupon code, conversionchamp, to get 20% discount.

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this review of media temple are affiliate links; if you buy clicking on this link, I get a commission. However, that has in no way influenced this review. I only recommend services I personally use and love.

marketing automation plugin

Comments

  1. Ross says

    Adarsh- wonderful review of mediatemple. I was using them for over a year and decided to switch to bluehost because I thought that I am not using as much resources as mediatemple was providing and that I could save a few dollars a month since blue hosts annual package seemed close to 80 dollars less than what mediatemple was asking for.

    Right now, I am still with bluehost, but I am not very happy with their speed and uptime. I am not very concerned since the site I am hosting is a test site I use only when I have to test something (I am a designer- tinkering with code is what I do these days). Once I have my portfolio site ready, I am definitely not going to go with bluehost. Mediatemple is going to be my primary choice.

    What do you think of Hostgator? I hear good things about them. Not sure hoe hostgator would compare to mediatemple.

    • Adarsh Thampy says

      Thank you for your comment Ross.

      I have tried BlueHost shared hosting and felt that the service was OK. However, recently, it seems they have introduced several add-on’s to their hosting package- security, backups, SEO, and what not. They also seem to have a PRO option for around 20 USD a month which seems to have 5 times the server performance, and a few other features. For 20 USD, I’d rather stick with Media Temple rather than go with BlueHost.

      Regarding HostGator, are you aware of the fact that both HostGator and Bluehost are owned by the same company Endurance International Group? One look online and you’ll hear horror stories for hosting owned by EIG. Some of the other popular brands owned by EIG are
      1. iPage
      2. FatCow
      3. Ipower
      4. A Small orange
      5. Reseller Club
      6. Just Cloud
      7. Big Rock

  2. Jamaludin Rauthar says

    I want to start a website. Will not do any business using it. Just my personal website. My main page is on Facebook where I have a lot of photographs. Will want to start a blog to talk about my life experiences and possibly post photographs as well. Is this hosting company good for me? One of my friend suggested to go for hosting that is managed. Is this managed? What happens if I choose a company that is not managed? Please suggest.

    • Adarsh Thampy says

      Hey Jamaludin,

      Good to know that you are planning to start a new website. Hopefully I can guide you here.

      From what I understand, this is going to be mostly a personal website, quite possibly the first one you are building, and would want to keep as a personal site with minimum or zero business use case. The way I see it, media temple is going to be an overkill for your use. I would not recommend you buy it.

      Media Temple is the right choice if you have commercial intentions for your website- one where response time and website availability is of critical importance. Even if you are running a blog where you have affiliate programs running, or have consulting services (like mine), you’ll need an always available website.

      For personal use, you can even straight away go to wordpress.com or blogger.com and set up a free website. Use their custom domain mapping functionality if you need a custom domain for your website like JamaludinRauthar.com instead of JamaludinRauthar.wordpress.com. It will be much cheaper.

      As for managed hosting- that’s definitely an overkill for you if you are talking about managed VPS/managed servers and not about shared hosting. Managed hosting, by definition, relates to hosting where the web host will take care of a lot of things like web server OS, hardware issues, security patches for server software, providing you with a control panel, and so on. Shared hosting is sort of managed hosting. For advanced users, you have VPS which comes in managed and unmanaged flavors. That’s a bit out of scope of this article; will definitely cover in a later post. I’m pretty sure, at this stage, you wont have to worry about that.

  3. Sam says

    Thinking of buying their hosting. Not sure if it will work for me since I am a developer who would need the server on a on-demand basis. Do they have the option of switching it on and off and billing only for the used time? I am using Amazon EC2 now and it’s a bit messy to handle. I need something which is easier to manage and doesn’t need constant attention. MY budget is around 50 USD a month.

    • Adarsh Thampy says

      Sam,

      Unfortunately, MT is not the solution you should be looking at. For developers who want an on-demand instance, Amazon is the king. You can also try digitalocean (they are pretty good), and have on-demand pricing. 50 USD is a good budget and should get you at least 5 good unmanaged instances with digitalocean.

  4. says

    Just switched in the last few months… I could tell you a few not to use. When a few of the sites I am developing reach a certain traffic level, I may look at this more as 20 (16) bucks a month is way cheaper than the VPS solution that so many others insist you move to in order to have 99% uptime with any kind of traffic. Nice find.

  5. says

    I am looking to merge two hosting accounts into MediaTemple using their 50% off promo http://mediatemple.net/landing/sweet16/ but am wanting to get a second opinion.

    One host is HostGator (4 WP multisite installs – 14 sites total that are for clients) and the other is GoDaddy (1 MS – 4 sites and a bunch of old stuff files for my biz).

    Reasons:
    On HostGator I want to use a plugin to clone sites but it needs 60sec max execution time and HG only gives 30sec but the sites seem slow even in the backend.

    On GoDaddy, I haven’t really had any problems and have had it since 2007. I do want to upgrade my account to the new one that’s faster with CPanel but that requires a straight up transfer so if I’m going to transfer I might as well combine my hosts as to not be paying two small amounts.

    Most of them get minimal (less than 1000 hits a month) traffic but one gets a lot though I don’t think that its enough to justify VPS.

    What do you think?
    Aug 2014
    Unique Visitors: 10,164 17,820
    Hits: 1,177,966
    Bandwidth: 53.04 GB
    Full stats are on http://i.imgur.com/bEMDouE.png

    I haven’t ever transferred servers so I am going to do it myself though a little unsure about how complicated this may get in dealing with the databases.

    What would your recommendation be?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>