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CrystalTech Web Hosting Review

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I was looking for ASP.NET hosting for the project I built to learn C#/ASP.NET.  CrystalTech isn’t the cheapest host or gives the most features for your dollar but I decided to sign up because it is the host used and recommended by Jeff Atwood.

Background

I signed up for the .NET Value plan at $7.95/month.  I got the following for my $7.95/month:

  • Hosting for 1 site only
  • 500 MB disk space
  • 50 GB bandwidth
  • 2 GB mail disk space
  • 10 mail accounts
  • 100 MB MySQL database

I paid for 3 months in advance so I didn’t have to pay the setup fee.  I was a member from July 2008 through February 2009.

Sign-up

Signing up was easy.  I filled out the online form, entered my credit card number, and they started on setting up my account.    I finished applying at 8:18PM and had my account information at 8:58PM on the same day.

Control Panel

CrystalTech’s control panel is the worst I have used.  They make you log in with a hard to remember customer number instead of a easy to remember user ID.  Instead of giving you a overview of your site, the main control panel page is a massive advertisement for their services.  I am logged in now and I see ads for Paypal and virtual servers – and this is for a service that I’ve paid for!  Even worse, the control panel has poor support for non-IE browsers, I cannot access any of the settings in the control panel with my daily browser – Opera.

Hosting

Visual Studio has a great GUI for transferring websites and I was easily able to use it to upload my files after I managed to set up a FTP account.  Their uptime isn’t too great, I get maintenance notifications 1-2 times a month alerting me that my site will be down for a couple hours.  Their last downtime notification was about 2 weeks ago, compare this with my linode virtual server that has been up for 46 days!

Account Cancellation

Unlike all the other hosting companies I have used, CrystalTech makes you call in to cancel your account.  Canceling online is not allowed.

Final Thoughts

I was very disappointed with CrystalTech’s hosting experience.  Their constant downtime, poorly designed control panel, and ads are a pain.  In addition, they’ve graciously decided to spam me with their monthly newsletters.  Their poor service is apparent when a little while after I signed up, they lost all the data that Jeff Atwood had stored on their servers.

Since then, I’ve moved my site to Linode and set it up to serve ASP.NET pages using Mono.  For about $12 more (1.5x more), I get a shell account, dedicated memory, 4x more bandwidth, 32x more disk space, and the ability to host unlimited websites.  I would not recommend CrystalTech as a host.

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Written by M Kapoor

February 18, 2010 at 5:34 am

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