Ultimate Reseller Hosting Guide
One man’s quest to find the best reseller hosting with free SSL certificates.
First things first, let me clear the air and say I do not work for any hosting companies, nor do I have any plans to make money from referral links or any of that garbage.
My name is Dave, I design websites and other things. Naturally this has led me also into the world of boutique reseller hosting. The idea is that you purchase a shared hosting “reseller” plan from an online host. You then charge your customer $10 a month to host the website you built them and spend countless hours helping them make minor changes, trouble shooting when they mess things up, and apologizing for downtime you cannot control. It is a great gig.
It was during one of these hours of reseller headache that I had my epiphany. My customer had called me devastated that their customers were getting a Google Chrome “Page Not Secure” error. This of course is due to not having an SSL (basic security measure) on a website that collects information. Mind you, I had explained to this customer a few weeks before that they needed this and that it would be $50 for the SSL plus installation (I wasn’t even going to charge labor, they just needed it)
Then I got to thinking…with my 25 or so websites at $50 (the standard SSL option from my host, I’m aware there are better prices) I would be looking at 50 times 25 ……..**opens calculator app** $1250
It was after this calculation that I decided I needed a new host. After reading for weeks about Let’s Encrypt, an organization that provides free SSL’s, I absolutely had to find a host that could support it… And meet my other criteria.
It was 11pm. I’m in my boxers. Headphones are cranked to loud. I am in the zone.
I assume that in 20 MAYBE 30 I’ll have this wrapped up with the migration process begun.
Oh, how naive I was.
Cut to 2:30am. My 11pm sleeping pill has officially peaked. I’m scanning every hosting ranking, personal review, and fake referral-link bait article to find what I need. My criteria isn’t even that strict! I host a couple dozen simple websites!
Here is what I was looking for:
1. Solid Hosting:
Multiple data centers (1 near me), no major speed or downtime complaints on the web. A reasonable amount of reviews on the web.
2. Decent Support:
Live chat/phone, as long as I can talk to someone within 5–10 minutes.
3. The Reseller Stuff I Use
WHM/CPanel because that is what everything is on currently. Pricing based on data usage/storage not the number of accounts (I have a few small customer sites that literally have no traffic)
4. “Let’s Encrypt” Support:
The whole reason I started this journey…
Seems simple enough right?………right?
The Major Players
So immediately what I noticed is that the majority of big names in the world of reseller hosting do not support Let’s Encrypt.
Green Geeks (my current host), InMotion, Hostgator, Bluehost, Namecheap are not on the Let’s Encrypt bandwagon yet. Though a few are working on it.
The majority of big name hosts that do support Let’s Encrypt only sell dedicated server space or VPS solutions.
Also there were a few major Wordpress specific managed hosting sites. However only 80% of our sites are Wordpress.
The Little Guys
The other thing I found out is that virtually all of the smaller name hosting sites that supported Let’s Encrypt did not meet my other criteria. Many of them looked totally nuts. Their websites looked like something you have designed for $100 on Fiverr… where the SMALLEST FONT is 24pt.
Not to mention most of their support options were trash, with just a simple ticketing system.
Very few could boast multiple data centers, or had customer reviews elsewhere on the web. This led me to believe that many of them are resellers theirselves!
The Runner Up : SiteGround
SiteGround checks all of my boxes. Great support. (I spoke with them for about a half hour asking them questions) Awesome reviews for uptime. Let’s Encrypt support. The whole 9
So what makes them the runner up?
No, they aren’t wildly expensive. Instead they have this weird credit program. Essentially they sell reseller hosting at $50 per year, per account. Which, isn’t that bad. Assuming I resell each account for about $10, I’m still making over 50% profit margin.
However, I had no interest in fronting the cash for $1250. Especially when I currently pay around $30 per month.. $360 a year total. With that math they are a bit pricey… But once you factor in the free SSl’s it is worth it.
That is, until I found the winner.
WINNER: A2 Hosting
Bravo, I mean BRAVO to A2 hosting. When I found them I had thought i was too good to be true. All of the things I was looking for, and MORE? I would have been happy with the bare minimum!
I immediately picked up the phone (it was now 4am) and called support to confirm it wasn’t too good to be true. To my surprise, they did it again… A real live American answered the phone, the guy happened to live a half hour away from me. (I later found out the company was headquartered only an hour from my phone)
I’ll break down what I have found to be the biggest benefits so far:
- US-based tech support — I don’t care where people are from, but the lack of language barrier is extremely helpful.
- Way faster than previous host — I didn’t know this was even an option from a shared host. Apparently A2 is well known on the web to be the fastest shared host, with up to 10x speed of regular shared hosting. I didn’t believe it until I tried it… Unreal
- Met my criteria — Free SSLs for all!
- Above and beyond support — When it came time to migrate my current sites from Green Geeks to A2 I found that Green Geeks wouldn’t support Cpanel backups (the industry standard for migrating sites between hosts). To say the least I was furious. This would turn a weekend project into a week-long project. I had no intention of personally moving 20 full Cpanels accounts to a new server, and to be honest I wasn’t really sure I would know how. So, I called A2, they walked me through what to tell Green Geeks to do for a work around. I still had to pay Green Geeks about $100, but it was worth it.
PS — Do not use Green Geeks. Downtime was frequent, with only canned responses as to why things would be down. That paired with the lack of Cpanel backups… They are trash.