Will "the Mighty" Strohl

About to Embark on a New Hosting Adventure

Applied Innovations I was recently offered sponsored hosting from Applied Innovations.  As much as we all pay for hosting solutions, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity.  As the word “sponsored” implies, while I may not be paying for this account monetarily, I will be in other ways.  During my transition to move to this host, and during my time using this host and their features, I will be blogging, tweeting, and otherwise voicing my experiences.  It goes without saying that Applied Innovations is very confident about their product and services.  That much confidence really intrigues and excites me!

I am hoping to provide you all with a very good look into this web host, as I feel that I am a very critical and objective person is nearly all areas.  So I should be able to provide you with the best inside look into this host that you could possibly have before purchasing their services.  I will of course continue to look at this from a DotNetNuke® perspective, hopefully adding value to your hosting investigations for your DotNetNuke® sites.

First Impression

My first impression when looking at the Applied Innovations website is nothing spectacular.  Unfortunately, there is nothing on their homepage that really jumps out at me and shows me why they stand out above the rest of the web hosts out there.  Now, I know that everyone out there will look at that last statement and most will disagree with me.  So I will elaborate by saying that the homepage looks like everyone else’s in terms of it looking like a giant advertisement.  Being that nearly all other web hosts out there do the same thing, this is certainly not a deal breaker, much less something to fix.  But for someone like me, I will miss the valuable messages in the areas that look like ads, since I generally do not see online ads.  I have some kind of talent, in that I mentally skip over any content that looks like an ad.

To me, the next logical step as a customer would be to look at the hosting plans.  Personally, I hate having to switch between hosting plans to see why and how they are different.  So I normally look for a comparison chart to visually compare the plans side-by-side.  I was very happy to see that the default plan view when you select a type of hosting is the comparison chart (when applicable).  I was surprised to see that the comparison chart for shared hosting didn’t have the prices.  Although it will be necessary in many hosting queries, I wouldn’t suggest you venture outside of the comparison chart, as the individual plan features for the shared hosting can appear to be overwhelming.  Also, the left navigation inconsistently reacts to your page choice.  That is being nit-picky though.  There is a ton of information for you to look at to determine if Applied Innovations is right for you.  That is a good thing.

I was very pleased to notice that the entire site was very easy to navigate and information was easy to find, despite me being finicky about how things work and look.  I must admit that I am much more difficult to please there than most folks.

Pricing

Since I have first begun to seek hosting services, I have noticed the same thing about all hosting companies.  Some prices are more expensive, and some are less expensive.  Most hosts that have prices that are much cheaper need to be watched though.  Normally, they make up the difference in set-up fees, features, overages, and add-ons.  Once again, there are no surprises here.  Applied Innovations has some very competitive options, and their shared hosting plans come packed with features.

The name of the shared hosting accounts are not clear.  I am a big fan of “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug.  We should not have to think about the names of the hosting plans.  But once again, this is a problem with many web hosts, so I would definitely not point this out as a weakness or problem, much less a reason to look elsewhere.

A key feature to most DNN folks is the number of domain names you can have on a single hosted account.  Applied Innovations makes it clear in the comparison that you can have as many domains as you want, but I did notice in other areas where the sub-domain limitation might be confused for a TLD limitation.

DotNetNuke®

There is an area on the Applied Innovations website that is dedicated to explaining their dedication to hosting DotNetNuke®.  That is becoming pretty standard for many web hosts out there now.  Not all of these hosts have a one-click DNN installer, but this host claims to have one.  I never use such an installer though, as I want to have full control over what I am doing.  Unfortunately, there is a “Sign Up Now” link that takes you directly to some kind of check-out process, which is confusing.  What plan are we choosing, and how much will it cost?

There is a question that this page doesn’t address though.  DotNetNuke folks typically stick with their host once they launch their site.  It is not only a pain to move the site, but if you need to, the original host usually offers little to no help in migrating your site to the new host.  I would love for this page to address this concern in two ways.  First, do they offer migration services?  Second, how much do they cost?  Finally, are they willing to contact the original web host directly?

Summary

I am going to begin with their VS-2 shared hosting account, and later begin using one of their VPS accounts.  I will continue to let you know how it goes.  So far, I do not anticipate anything that would be a deal-breaker or any worse than any other host.  My overall first impression is very positive.  I would already recommend this host to people – but the true test will come the first time I need support.  We are all aware that there is no such thing as a perfect host, even if we are hosting ourselves.  Things simply go wrong.  That being said, most times the value of a web host to me is defined by it’s customer service and support team.

I am very excited to continue this adventure, and I am very grateful and honored to be chosen for this.  I will not be posting updates on this topic every day, but I will be keeping you updated.



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