Monday, 22 January, 2007

Pondering a hosting change

I mentioned last week that I'm giving serious consideration to moving my Web page to a different hosting service.  I've done a little research and have found a dizzying number of providers, all offering similar services for similar prices.  Some give more bandwidth or disk space than others, but their limits are so far beyond anything I envision needing right now.  The dizzying part is trying to figure out which of the provided software tools are best.  Everybody has different Web mail programs, blogging tools, site designers, etc.  It seems like most provide access to WordPress for blogging, and my experience with WordPress shows that one could use it for an entire (simple) Web site.  Beyond that, though, I'm lost.

My primary concern is with the Web mail software that the host provides.  It didn't take me long at all to get used to checking my mail online, and I rather like the idea of keeping everything there so that I can check mail from any computer connected to the Web.  If I store all my messages and keep my address book online, I can do stay in touch anywhere.  But the email client has to be reasonable.  Certainly it has to be better than the new version of SmarterMail, which has so many little annoyances that it's almost unusable.

Yahoo's new Web mail client, on the other hand, is just amazing.  Of the few Web mail clients I've used, it comes the closest to acting like an installed mail client.  The interface responds quickly, the commands are mostly intuitive, the calendar and address book are well integrated, and--perhaps most importantly--the program doesn't surprise me, natter at me, or get in my way.  It's a simple but powerful mail client, and has gone a long way in changing my opinion of Web applications in general.  Unfortunately, the only way to get Yahoo mail would be to have Yahoo host my Web site.  That's not completely out of the question, but there are other, better, hosting options.

Lunarpages, for example, offers Horde's IMP, and something called SquirrelMail.  Both look decent (I think SquirrelMail looks better), but that opinion is based solely on reading their descriptions and viewing screen shots.  Other providers supply different mail clients.  Which one is best?  Can I test them out somewhere?  I've been surprisingly unable to find reviews of Web mail clients.

Another option, I suppose, would be to use a Yahoo mail account and have all my mail forwarded there.  That's certainly an option that I'd consider, although it wouldn't be my first choice.

Any ideas?  I'd like to hear about your experiences with other hosting providers, opinions on different Web mail clients, or pros and cons of using Web mail rather than a traditional client application.