Q&A: Elliot Pearse Talks About HostPresto and What Makes a Good Web Hosting Company



Good web hosting can be an art form, like a fine wine, where only the highest quality ingredients and knowledge gained through experience can create a perfect blend that will provide you with the high quality product you expect, and deserve.  But trying to read between the lines to find a good, affordable web hosting solution can be a challenge.  CloudCow recently spoke with Elliot Pearse, managing director of HostPresto to learn more.

CloudCow:  How long has HostPresto.com been going and how did you get started?

Elliot Pearse:  In 2006 I left Uni after a year and was in a full time Web Development job, a colleague had been running a small hosting company on the side called dream-hosting.co.uk since 2002. It wasn't making much at the time, a few hundred pounds a month I think. My friend, Nick, whom I had known since middle school (who also happened to be a dev in the same office) and I bought the business from him in June 2006. Once we got to grips with it, we began to grow it. The competition in this industry is really high, so there are no fast tracks - it was slow at first, but we learned early on that by providing a top notch service and really looking after the customers was the key to keeping the customers we did have, while acquiring new ones in any ways we could. This mentality has stuck with us all of the way through.

CloudCow:  Where is HostPresto located and how many employees does it have currently?

Pearse:  We're in the south, half way between Portsmouth and Southampton in a town called Fareham. We have 8 employees, plus myself and Nick. The business balances quite well because Nick and I are both highly technical. Nick handles development of our management systems, I handle the infrastructure and system administration. My wife handles the accounts and admin, and another long term friend, Paul handles marketing. The rest of the team are technical support.

CloudCow:  What sets HostPresto apart from other web hosting companies?

Pearse:  Price and quality of service. Although I'm sure every host says this, I think few can really pull it off to the level we can. A lot of other hosts will appear to be cheap, but when you get to the end of the checkout, either you're paying three times what you thought because of all of the addons that aren't included, you're tying in for a long term deal to secure a cheap price, or the 'intro offer' will expire in a year and your bill will jump 3 fold.

We don't work like that, the price you see on the site is what you pay, and that includes all of the extras a lot of hosts charge additionally for, things like daily backups. We also keep our prices the same year on year, no hefty increases after an initial period is over. I don't think there are many hosts you could simply pay £24.00 year after a year for the quality of hosting we provide.

At this price, quality is very difficult to get right, but we do it excellently. It's taken the last 12 years to learn what works and what doesn't, with our experience of hosting now we know what hardware to buy, how to configure it and how to deliver it so it performs, in terms of reliability and performance, but it's economical enough we can charge as little as we do but still know we provide an industry beating service.

CloudCow:  HostPresto offers a lot of different services, what is your best selling service currently?

Pearse:  By far the most popular is the Starter Hosting package, which is £24.00 per year including VAT. This is great for SMBs and personal users, it comes with 1GB of webspace, unlimited email accounts, daily backups and all the extras you need to get your website and email up and running. We also offer easy upgrade paths for when the time comes that you've outgrown it.

CloudCow:  At the moment you're solely based in the UK - are there any plans to break into the United States?

Pearse:  It's something we've considered several times, the problem is that if we do it, we want to do it right - we need to be able to provide the hardware and support levels that our customers have come to expect from us. I'm confident it will happen in the future, but it's not in our immediate plans.

CloudCow:  Can you tell us more about the hardware you're running and where are your servers housed?

Pearse:  We've gone through many iterations of hardware over the years, we're now at our most optimised setup yet - as I said before, experience was the key to finding a balance of hardware that works best, meaning minimal power usage and highest density to lower overall TCO - savings that we then pass onto our customers. The best thing that happened to the industry was reliable and reasonably priced SSDs. Historicity the problem was always to do with disk read/write contention, never CPU or memory - 90% of our racks would be filled with hundreds of 3.5" drives. Now we've moved over to full SSD, our power and rack usage has shrunk considerably. We can pack so much more into the same power and space that we used to. This has allowed us to hold our pricing over the last 10 years, and become one of the cheapest, but most respected UK hosts today.

CloudCow:  Finally, in your opinion - what makes a good web host?

Pearse:  Consistency - in all areas. We focus on providing a robust service to our customers that they can rely on day in day out. Consistency in terms of support and service, consistency in terms of reliability and performance, consistency in terms of communication and management. Our customers know they can trust us and rely on us to deliver 24/7/365, and this works for both parties, for them because they get the service they need at the right price, and for us because they stay with us, and tell their friends too. All in all, I know for sure we wouldn't be where we are today if a consistently good service wasn't at the core of our ethos.

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