Thursday April 23, 2020

There are many companies out there, which compete with one another by offering greater parameters of their services - or multiplying the latter. It’s easy to overlook a real person behind “a customer” label, whether an entrepreneur taking their risky first steps into the uncertain future or just an average user who often is not so much into information technology and, therefore, is not in the know of many technical nuances which may pop up underway. How many companies take this into consideration, by really caring about their customers, keeping in mind their real life concerns and challenges? It might take various forms, from not forcing customers to oblige to fixed time spans or contracts to provide them with price-lock guarantee, content-rich how-to’s library and really good technical support. How all of this could change the picture? If You are considering which web hosting to choose, I’d like to share one such an example, which fits that “human-friendly” scheme, so to speak.

Quick survey on what’s coming:

  1. What Drew My Attention Regarding My Pick?
  2. The Story Behind InterServer.
  3. First and Foremost: How About Technical Support?
  4. Let’s Have a Website.
  5. Get Reachable - Create an Email Account for Your Website.
  6. Websites Are Only the Beginning - Let’s Play With the Apps! :)
  7. Spread the Word and Earn Money via Recommendations.

Once You need a website - provided You are not a webdesigner or a developer - the first thing which comes to mind may be “Who would be the right person to care about all that behind-the-scenes stuff?”

What if, however, that stuff wouldn’t be so scary, or so complicated? What if it would turn out to be quite doable? I’ve decided to take a closer look on one of commercial services out there to find out whether it could indeed provide a friendly service (so to speak) for a customer who is not necessarily so much into the technical matters.

What Drew My Attention Regarding My Pick?

First and foremost I needed to pick an offer out of the great many out there, to use it as the test ground. Here it came a surprise: one company has reached me before I even began my research - it’s called InterServer. I was invited to throw an eye on their offer, which seems to be quite interesting, especially due to the following things:

  1. Price-lock guarantee. The price you sign up at is the lifetime price of your account, unless you add or upgrade services.

“Not only does InterServer offer competitive prices on hosting, they don’t believe in bait-and-switch pricing that skyrockets every time a customer renews.” ( » )

  1. No long-term contract required. You are not forced to commit to a certain amount of time or a contract.

Those two factors I find crucial because it really makes a difference when a) You can be sure that You indeed can afford the service, especially in the long run - and b) that You are not obliged to use it for any particular time span, which lets You breathe easily if You would prefer to take a shorter investment, at least for the beginning.

Another thing worth noticing is

Free Migration Service.

A majority (70%) of the company’s customers have already had websites and, therefore, moved them to their new place at InterServer. The company provides a dedicated service for such cases, regardless of where Your website has been previously located - You can rely on an expert team to perform the whole process seamlessly and carefully for You.

And finally, here it comes perhaps the biggest surprise:

The Story Behind InterServer.

Back in late 90’ies there were two competitive websites about AOL, which authors, Mike and John, high schoolers at the time - living in different states and met online - routinely chatted about how awful their hosting providers were. Their both recognized that there is a niche in the market, the opportunity to provide users with, finally, decent set of quality services and features, at affordable price. Then Stacey came in, accompanying the guys who seemed to be pretty determined in launching and developing the company. From a young age she was always heavily interested in Fashion, which resulted in “a long career filled with great personal achievements”. On the other hand she took the corporate path, diving into upper management positions. All those experiences gave her “a well-rounded outlook on how different businesses operate and ultimately succeed”.

“(...) when you have a firm grasp of business and leadership that recipe can well serve you in a variety of different settings.” (Stacey Talieres, Director of Marketing)

While boys were doing their “geeky stuff”, Stacey were unofficially helping the company for years, till becoming its Director of Marketing. It wasn’t a surprise that the transition into InterServer’s specifics went relatively seamless for her, with one biggest challenge: learning and understanding the hosting industry landscape. At* InterServer* she focused on “building strategic marketing partnerships along with other growth opportunities.”

“I also focus a good amount of efforts on ensuring we provide excellent customer service across the board and work with a wide range of customers quite closely. I would say that if you want to learn about your business listening to your customers is the key to doing so.” (Stacey Talieres, Director of Marketing)

From the very beginning it was a definitely well-set course: Mike, who seemed to be absolutely committed to this idea, instead of keeping on a more classic and predictable path, i.e., going to college - John, who also finally resigned from college once more work turned out to be required - and Stacey, who “upgraded” the company with her corporate management experience. It’s an interesting result that they could take the advantage of the corporate world, staying aside from it in the same time.

“(...) we like being able to really make adjustments to the business the way we see fit without the pressures that come along with corporate governance.” (Stacey Talieres, Director of Marketing)

One of the things which draw my attention is the motivation underlying all of that:

“(...) they founded InterServer out of frustration with their hosting providers (...).” ( » )

You might therefore conclude that chances are well for this service to be significantly better and competitive at least in several ways. I was curious of what particular drawbacks the founders wanted their offer to be free of - Stacy pointed out “limited resources, high costs, and last but not least BAD support.” Therefore:

InterServer’s core foundation was built on the premise of running a streamlined hosting company that provided quality service at affordable price.” (Stacey Talieres, Director of Marketing)

Given how much their success relied on self-teaching skills, they might treat the results - and the whole company - like something more of a private nature, so to speak, than just another successful enterprise. I wondered have they indeed had (or still have) any emotional approach toward it?

“I think it is safe to say that we are all very vested in this company and take a great amount of pride in what we do. It is our life's work after all and we truly do our best to serve our customers and provide a solid service at a reasonable price/value offering. In life it's important to constantly want to improve and strive towards the next level. I think we are constantly looking at ways in which we can improve and continue to reinvent this business within a rapidly evolving landscape.” (Stacey Talieres, Director of Marketing)

First and Foremost: How About Technical Support?

Regardless of how well-facilitated the process of establishing Your Own hosting account would be (especially from a non-technical user perspective), there are still many potential situations which may pop up and provide a little bit of confusion. In such a case it’s crucial to know can You rely on technical support - and to what degree?

I can share with You with three examples from my own experience with InterServer 30-day trial.

The first example refers to the address I’ve picked for my website. I’ve chosen a more unique one to find out how it could handle in practice, with the .xyz ending. Soon after I’ve registered the domain I received an email with the subject “Error Registering Domain (...).”.

Although the message provided a link to a page where I theoretically should be able to fix the problem - nothing helpful had been pointed out there, therefore I didn't know what particular information should be corrected. I’ve reached technical support and about two hours later the issue has been solved.

Another example was an FTP-related issue which finally has turned out to be caused by something on my side (something wrong with my FTP client). This time I’ve received the response even faster: about one and a half hour later. It’s worth noticing that I was provided with well-detailed instructions with screenshots, regarding the particular software I use. to help to troubleshoot the problem.

Finally, once I’ve reported a small mailing-list-related issue, it has been resolved within an extraordinary time of five minutes! :)

These examples lay a positive picture on how much You could rely on the technical support here. Quick responses, detailed step-by-step individually-tailored instructions and patience with non-technical customers :) - all those things I highly value.

Let’s Have a Website.

So let’s go back to the very beginning of my adventure with InterServer: establishing a website. The very first thing You need in this case, is to have an idea on what address You’d prefer. Note that it has to do not only with a name of Your website, but with “a domain” under which You’d like to put it. The most common-known domains are .com, .net, .gov, etc. Like in case of, where “.net” is a domain and “InterServer” is the website’s name.

Here You can easily check if Your name is available and how much it will cost (prices depend on what kind of a domain You choose). If the address is already taken, You’ll be provided with some alternatives. If the address is available, You’ll see right off the bat both how much does it cost and how much will its renewal cost (the registration price often differs from the renewal price).

Note the domain list under “Suggestions for you”. You’ll find a wide spectrum to pick and choose - each variant equipped with both prices, so You can explore every avenue.

Once You’ve decided what domain You are interested in, be careful on filling its registration form: for example, I entered my phone number without an international prefix, which caused the problem mentioned earlier on.

Once You’ve ordered the domain, You need to buy a place for Your website: “web hosting” - which You can do here. I’ve decided to choose Standard Web Hosting to find out how well it will do regarding average needs, especially from a non-technical user perspective.

There is one particular thing which intrigued me: Standard Web Hosting comes with unlimited space, transfer and email with the price of $5.00 per month (if You choose monthly billing cycle) - whereas there are more expensive plans within InterServer’s offer, with limited disk space and bandwidth. I wondered how come that the very basic package seems to be fully unlimited. One clue may be the following quote from the InterServer’s “Frequently Asked Questions”:

“At InterServer we offer the Standard Web Hosting package with Unlimited Space, Transfer, and Email. To fit the needs of about 99% of our customers. Typical sites that host with us are bloggers, small business owners, e-commerce websites and more.”

My personal conclusion is that there is no need to put data caps on the service for average customers because they usually don’t exhaust the available resources - and this is a very good news, since all the offers I’ve been using so far were limited one way or another. How far high one could go till “exhausting the resources”? The standard Virtual Private Server comes with 30GB of storage and 2TB of transfer. Another hosting package, called “RS ONE”, features 80GB disk space, but 500GB of monthly bandwidth. Although those numbers are not necessarily the official boundary for the Standard Web Hosting, it gives some approximate idea on possible limits.

Once You have both web hosting and address (domain), You can create the actual website. There are several ways to do that, all of those usually pretty friendly for non-technical users, meaning You should be able to create a decent website without a need to learn some “geeky stuff”, programming languages, You name it :) .

Let’s take a look on two specific and alternative ways of creating websites at InterServer.

1. SitePad.

I find great that even within the basic package You receive a powerful tool to create websites in a WYSIWIG manner (“What You See Is What You Get”) - thanks to which You can build a website step by step, playing around with various bits and pieces, applying them on Your project simply by drag’n’drop with Your mouse :) . Really, it’s that simple. I was impressed when I first saw this in action, because I haven’t expected such facilities. I thought that probably there would be some themes to pick and choose, with the ability to make some final touches ‘here and there’. The reality gives You much more: there are many details which You can adjust to Your Own taste and needs - thanks to which You can use any of available themes as Your starting point rather than the base - ending up with a totally new - and much Yours - website.

To access SitePad:

  1. Log-in into Your InterServer account.
  2. Click on the number under a large “WEB HOSTING” title.
  3. Click the gearwheel icon on the right, next to the package You’ve ordered (e.g., Standard Web Hosting).
  4. Scroll down the page a little bit and You’ll find one of the boxes titled as “LOGIN TO CPANEL” (“CPanel” = “Control Panel”) - choose it.
  5. Locate the “Software” bar and click “SitePad Website Builder”.
  6. From this point forward things should go seamlessly and smoothly :) . Have fun :) !

2. WordPress.

If You’d like to conduct a blog rather than a regular website, You might consider WordPress as a better choice than SitePad (although business- or other matters-related websites are also within its reach). It requires a small extra step to enable it, but fortunately it’s still pretty easy.

“Although it was originally intended for blogs, WordPress supports all types of websites. You can use it to build a small business website, an e-commerce store, a forum or pretty much any other type of website. Just disable all the blog-related features, such as displaying a post feed on your homepage, after which you can build your desired website. WordPress might be recognized as a blog-building tool, but it’s a versatile CMS that supports all types of websites.” ( » )

What is the Difference Between WordPress and SitePad?

With SitePad You can build a website virtually by dragging, dropping and modifying several blocks of various kinds - something of a pretty good fun :) - while WordPress seems to be a little less facilitating in this respect. Although You can still design a website without programming, it’s more filling various forms, choosing options, etc. - than building from blocks per se.

To access WordPress:

  1. Log-in into Your InterServer account.
  2. Click on the number under a large “WEB HOSTING” title.
  3. Click the gearwheel icon on the right, next to the package You’ve ordered (e.g., Standard Web Hosting).
  4. Scroll down the page a little bit and You’ll find one of the boxes titled as “LOGIN TO CPANEL” - choose it.
  5. Locate the “Softaculous Apps Installer” bar and click “WordPress” (under “scripts”).
  6. You’ll see a new page - click “Install Now” button.
  7. Pay attention on the “Choose Installation URL” field - which probably is already filled with the domain You’ve ordered, and some additional text under “In Directory” field. If You want Your WordPress website simply available from Your domain, i.e., without anything added to its end, remove “wp” and leave this field empty.
  8. Set Your admin username and password which You’ll be using to access WordPress admin panel.
  9. Enter the proper email address as “Admin Email” (a good idea is to enter an address which already exists because You may receive some important info there).
  10. You may select a theme, but You will be able to do it later anyway, so one way or another You can finally click “Install” on the bottom.
  11. Once the installation is completed, You’ll see a message consisting of “Administrative URL” - this is the address under which You can access Your WordPress admin panel. You can go there right off the bat and log-in using username and password You’ve chosen a moment ago.

Here it comes another great value of InterServer: there is no need to reach some other place to learn more stuff on WordPress, and other matters as well. On the company’s website You’ll find about 1000 support articles, including how-to’s explaining how to achieve or set up various things. It was a very nice surprise for me once I’ve realized that they explain both general basics and more complicated matters. When it comes to WordPress, You have a nice set of tutorials, thanks to which You can find out how to create a multi-lingual website, how to change WordPress site URLs, how to add Google Analytics to WordPress, how to create a WordPress theme, and many more. If You’ve had a website on Google BlogSpot, You can find out how to migrate from BlogSpot to InterServer WordPress and leave a redirection at the previous place. And if You’d like to take first steps in creating websites based on WordPress, here You are examples of tutorials: Create Local Restaurant Website without a Developer, Create Local Business Website without a developer, and How to Create an Art Portfolio Website Using WordPress CMS?.

And in case Your audience would grow significantly large over time, there is a special dedicated package for You: the WordPress VPS (Virtual Private Server). It takes into consideration that the more popular a website becomes, the more traffic it generates. There is some point, I suppose, at which Your Guests may need to wait a little bit longer for it to be loaded. To avoid such delays, the company has harnessed several measures to speed-up WordPress-based websites: from a dedicated IP address (which increases page rank, SEO and security - when combined with SSL) to nginx, FastCGI, Xcache php accelerator and optimized WordPress cron, However strangely it may sound, it seems to make up a decent “NOS effect” on Your website :) .

“As opposed to a standard VPS, the resources allocated for the WordPress VPS maximize website functionality and efficiency. Enjoy another level of WordPress experience!”

Get Reachable - Create an Email Account for Your Website.

One nice thing about web hosting is that it usually comes with a dedicated mailbox. At InterServer You can create many mailboxes, although often a single one will do. Similarly to web addresses, an email address has Your domain attached at the end, for example “”. You can easily create a mailbox the following way:

  1. Log-in into Your InterServer account.
  2. Click on the number under a large “WEB HOSTING” title.
  3. Click the gearwheel icon on the right, next to the package You’ve ordered (e.g., Standard Web Hosting).
  4. Scroll down the page a little bit and You’ll find one of the boxes titled as “LOGIN TO CPANEL” - choose it.
  5. Choose “Email Accounts” under “Email” bar.
  6. Click “+Create” button.
  7. Choose Your domain, set the username and password.
  8. Confirm by “+Create” button.

Now, there are various ways You can access Your mailbox:

1. Through a Website.

You are probably familiar with accessing emails via a website like GMail,.com, for example. Here it won’t be much different, although You may notice that it works much faster than the Google’s :) . Moreover, You have two alternative systems to choose, thanks to which chances are higher that it will fit Your needs.

To access Your mail via a website (so-called webmail):

  1. Log-in into Your InterServer account.
  2. Click on the number under a large “WEB HOSTING” title.
  3. Click the gearwheel icon on the right, next to the package You’ve ordered (e.g., Standard Web Hosting).
  4. Scroll down the page a little bit and You’ll find one of the boxes titled as “WEBMAIL” - choose it.
  5. Note that at this point You have access to the two alternative webmail systems called Roundcube and Horde.

2. Through an App.

Alternatively You can access Your mailbox via an app. Here You’ll find instructions for several apps - or a handful of universal data to apply in all the rest:

  1. Log-in into Your InterServer account.
  2. Click on the number under a large “WEB HOSTING” title.
  3. Click the gearwheel icon on the right, next to the package You’ve ordered (e.g., Standard Web Hosting).
  4. Scroll down the page a little bit and You’ll find one of the boxes titled as “LOGIN TO CPANEL” - choose it.
  5. Locate the “Email” bar and click “Email Accounts”.
  6. Click “Connect Devices” button next to Your email account.
  7. Scroll down the page a little bit to find “Mail Client Manual Settings”. Here, under “Secure SSL/TLS Settings (Recommended)”, You’ll find all the information You need to manually configure Your mail app of preference.

Care About Typos.

How many times someone misspelled Your email address, therefore had not been able to reach You? Or maybe You Yourself received a strangely-looking, filled with technical jargon message saying that “Your message couldn't be delivered.” or something in a similar mold?

What if You could make Your audience, clients, customers - 100% sure that they will reach You, even if they did a typo within the address? How could this be possible?

One of interesting features You can find within InterServer’s CPanel is the ability to automatically forward all the messages of Your domain to one particular mailbox. If my address is “” - it is possible to set up a feature which will deliver messages sent with misspelled address, like “” or “”, even “” ;) , etc. - as long as the typo lays before the “@” sign. To enable such a feature:

  1. Log-in into Your InterServer account.
  2. Click on the number under a large “WEB HOSTING” title.
  3. Click the gearwheel icon on the right, next to the package You’ve ordered (e.g., Standard Web Hosting).
  4. Scroll down the page a little bit and You’ll find one of the boxes titled as “LOGIN TO CPANEL” - choose it.
  5. Locate the “Email” bar and click “Default Address”.
  6. Under “Send all unrouted email for the following domain” choose Your domain.
  7. Select “Forward to Email Address” and enter the address to which misspelled messages should be redirected.
  8. Confirm by “Change” button.

Websites Are Only the Beginning - Let’s Play With the Apps! :)

We are well used to app stores whether on Android, Apple or Windows 10. Choosing InterServer, however, You will be for a great surprise... :)

Playing around with CPanel I’ve discovered “Softaculous Apps Installer”, which You might consider yet another app store. No big deal, but... the thing is that the apps it allows You to install could otherwise be out of Your reach, especially if You are a non-technical user. There are many so-called web-apps out there, but when it comes to their installation, it’s often pretty much hassle, even for more skilled users. Little wonder, given that those apps are usually quite sophisticated.

Here InterServer comes in, with its “Softaculous Apps Installer”, which allows You to astonishingly easily install many such web-apps. If You’d like to install those apps on Your Own (i.e., without the “Softaculous Apps Installer”), You would need to take many more steps and would have to possess particular area of expertise. Let me give You one example. Suppose You’d like to establish a chat alongside Your freshly created website. You could choose Ajax Chat as the app for this purpose. To make everything up and running You need:

  1. Find Ajax Chat website › find the download link › download the app.
  2. Extract the app on Your computer.
  3. Locate the installation instruction (it may be present among the extracted files - or only on the app’s website).
  4. Follow the instruction, which often incorporate:
  5. Creating a MySQL database and a user ascribed to it.
  6. Creating or modifying the app’s configuration file.
  7. Uploading all the files to the FTP account (which You need to create first...).
  8. Run the installation from Your web browser.
  9. Provided that the installation went well, it’s often a good practice to remove some particular files from the server...

Sounds terrible? What about that:

  1. Enter “Softaculous Apps Installer”, find Ajax Chat and pick it.
  2. Click “Install”, enter username and password.
  3. Click “Install” again.


Even for more advanced users this approach may be significantly competitive, given how much time it saves (!). Time and trouble, because it’s not a rare occurrence among IT specialists that “something goes wrong” and needs an extra time and attention to troubleshoot or even back-engineer the issue. None of those You’ll experience with “Softaculous Apps Installer”. Moreover, similarly the thing goes with software updates, which also can be managed via SAI. No need of know-how, just relax and focus on what’s most important: what You need. Need a chat? Need a blogging platform? E-learning system? Podcast management? Your own music streaming service? Your own self-hosted calendar? Image gallery? Polls, mailing lists, on-line store (e-commerce)? These and many, many more You’ll find within SAI app catalog.

Spread the Word and Earn Money via Recommendations.

On top of everything described above, there is one more interesting thing which You might consider a cherry on the top :) . Being InterServer’s customer You can earn money through their affiliate program - simply through recommending their service to other people. Every time someone orders a service using Your recommendation link, You will be paid $100 once the sale is considered verified (which takes 90 days) - which makes it one of the highest paying Affiliate Program out there.

“As many hosting companies are owned by major corporations, InterServer is not. Therefore we make our decisions based upon the customers we serve and not for our board of directors.” (Stacey Talieres, Director of Marketing)

This article has been based on Laura Bernheim’s “InterServer: How High School Co-Founders Built a Business — And Their Own Datacenter — On Their Own Terms”, information provided by Stacey Talieres throughout an email exchange, as well as the company’s own website

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