Friday, April 16, 2010

Finding a Great Windows VPS Host

I have been hosting my web sites on WebHost4Life for a long time, and they have served me well for years. However, after they recently migrated to a new infrastructure I have experienced problems. They still offer a great budget hosting alternative for ASP.NET/SQL Server sites with lower system requirements, but I decided to take my business elsewhere.
I evaluated Windows VPS hosts that offer an isolated hosting environment for a good price. Here are the shortlist of the Windows virtual private servers that I considered:
I immediately recognized the brand from magazine ads. Their Windows VPS offerings are very attractive on paper, but their system specs seemed somewhat outdated, especially their choice of database server. They offer MSDE 2000, which Microsoft stopped supporting two years ago. I didn’t really see this as a showstopper, and sent a message to their sales department to understand if I would be able to upgrade the database server myself. After over 2 business days I am still waiting for a reply to this inquiry, or indication that they are looking into it. Needless to say, if this is the response time for sales requests, I don’t want to even think of how tech support works.
This host has great reviews and they support Xen technology, which prevents them from overselling RAM – a common practice in the VPS space. Their prices are attractive, but a bit steeper than 1and1. I went ahead and decided to pay more for better quality and support. But, as I checked out my order I found out that they require a credit card to be associated with PayPal, a practice that most other online merchants don’t follow. This was a no go for me.
VPSLand offers great prices for great system specs. I was very close to choosing them, but then I read several online reviews about how they consistently suffer from downtime and slow pings. Perhaps they could have been a good host but I didn’t want to take the risk.
KickAss VPS
KickAss VPS has a great reputation in hosting forums, and good system specs to go with that. Their prices are a bit above the previous hosts, although they have a price guarantee. If you find a cheaper service with the same specs they match that price, and give you and additional 10% off. Also, they replied very quickly to my e-mail questions. This is the host I finally went with and I hope it will serve me for a long time.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

No More Attachments?

The last couple of months have proven hectic, as Mainsoft pushed out Harmony for both Google Docs and SharePoint. Harmony is a free product that lets you access your online documents from an Outlook sidebar. As Harmony’s product manager it’s been one hell of a ride defining and seeing the product through to launch. You can see (hear) me presenting a video for each product on the respective product pages for Google Docs and SharePoint. After all the hard work it is great to read the write-ups in TechCrunch, Lifehacker, and other sites.

So what is Harmony in a nutshell?

Having your shared documents available in Outlook enables some cool new features which changes the game for how you think about e-mail and attachments. You can drag attachments from incoming messages to the Google Docs or SharePoint, where they are easily shared with anyone.

And when you send a message, linked documents are automatically shared with recipients, regardless if they have a Google account or not. And when you send an attachment, Harmony suggests that you replace it with a link to a shared document instead. Hence, Harmony’s tagline: “No Attachments”.