TMD Hosting – lightning fast web hosting using SSD drives.
TMDHosting company entered the web hosting market back in 2007. It is located in Orlando, Florida and provides a gamut of hosting services out of six data centers worldwide, which include Chicago, Phoenix, London, Amsterdam, Singapore, and Sydney. Having multiple datacenters worldwide can make billing simpler – you can have the same company host your websites worldwide instead of choosing multiple providers.
This review summarizes our experience with shared hosting in their Chicago datacenter.
When trying out a new host, it’s important to take advantage of any free trials they offer. Unfortunately TMD Hosting does not currently offer free trial accounts (many other similar web hosts have stopped providing that). On the other hand, TMD does offer a 60 day money-back guarantee, which should be plenty of time to migrate and test your site should you not go ahead with the free trial.
The pricing of the shared hosting package you select varies based on your upfront payment. For basic shared hosting with one domain, it will cost:
- $8.95 paid monthly
- $3.85/month if you pay annually or biennially.
- $2.85/month if you’re feeling adventurous by paying for three years up front.
If you find their service meets your needs after a free trial, jump for the three year plan – it only costs $10 more than the 2-year plan upfront, for a total of $102.60. Not bad.
You can also get business-class shared hosting for $5.95/month paid upfront for two years ($142.80). Business hosting offers unlimited domain names in addition to unlimited disk space and bandwidth. It also includes a 128MB memcached instance and standard SSL certificate.
Professional shared hosting is available for $12.95/month for two years upfront ($310.80), and includes the business-grade features plus a dedicated IP. You’ll also get a 256MB Memcache instance and wildcard SSL support (rather than the standard SSL on the business plan).
Memcache reduces the load of your database by storing commonly-accessed data in RAM. So it is often used to speed up dynamic database-driven websites by caching their data. In this case, these hosting plans allow for up to 128MB or 256MB of data to be cached outside of your database which can be helpful for websites with complex or busy databases.
If you’d like a dedicated IP address but don’t want to jump to the Professional hosting plan, you can add one for $25/year. I found that price to be very reasonable considering the limited availability of IPv4 addresses nowadays.
Portal & CPanel
Upon logging into your TMD Hosting account, you are presented with the customer portal. While they did take the opportunity to upsell on security certificates, the ads were simple images and did not get in the way of trying to get something accomplished. My only complaint about the customer portal was the lack of a CPanel button. You will have to navigate to CPanel directly, which is typically located on port 2083 of your server – you can access it by typing in example.com:2083.
CPanel is what you would come to expect from most shared web hosts. It offers easy access to your website files and databases. Besides PHP and Perl, TMD Hosting also provides easy access to Ruby on Rails and an accompanying section for Ruby Gems – something you don’t find on all hosts.
As far as PHP goes, you have easy access to installing PHP PEAR packages and changing your PHP version from 5.2 through 5.6. You can also select the new PHP 7.0, but you’ll want to make sure your PHP apps can support the new version. You also have access to the Softaculous web app installer.
You can also integrate your websites with CloudFlare.
My methodology for testing network speed involves downloading a test file from two servers elsewhere on the internet. Our test server had great network speeds. I was able to get a sustained throughput around 70-80mbps. I imagine the TMD shared hosting servers are connected to a 100mbps port within their network, which is acceptable if they are not oversubscribed. Luckily, the server we were on did not appear to be oversubscribed and performed consistently. Will it be the fastest network you can imagine? No, but it’ll never feel slow.
The following screenshots show the wget command on two different servers. This command downloaded the 100MB test file from our TMD shared hosting server.
The latency to our shared TMD Hosting server was in line with other provider hosting in Chicago. Because they offer hosting in multiple locations worldwide, I did not perform as comprehensive a latency test as I would if they only offered hosting in one location. Latency from North America was great. The highest latency I experienced was 62ms from Los Angeles to Chicago. The occasional visitor from across the pond would be able to ping the test server in about 100ms.
Unlimited Hosting & Performance
During our testing period, we did not experience any downtime with TMDHosting. However, keep in mind that uptime can differ not only between hosting companies, but different servers with the same host.
Our server wasn’t oversold, either. Overselling can be a big problem with shared hosts. If the hosting company crams too many customers on a server, the end result can be a sluggish website or plain old downtime.
Luckily, we can check our server load in CPanel. The snapshot below indicates we’re on a server with 32 cores (excellent), with 60% of the RAM being used. I wasn’t able to tell how much RAM the server was outfitted with via CPanel, but their datacenter page mentions each server is outfitted with 64GB of RAM.
I was a little skeptical of how “unlimited” such an inexpensive service could be. Many newcomers to web hosting jump at the opportunity to host their soon-to-be-popular site with an unlimited web host, only to find out it’s not quite as unlimited as they thought.
I looked at the Terms of Service and noted several important items. While you can’t ask for much at under $40/year, it’s important to remember these limitations. Customer service states that the limitations are higher on the higher service tiers, though there is nothing official listed on the website.
Details available at tmdhosting.com/terms-linux-shared-hosting.html
- Each database cannot be more than 499MB in size. The recommended amount is 299MB. You can be terminated without notice if you have a database larger than 499MB.
- You must be a customer for at least 12 months to receive any sort of compensation for server downtime, but the server downtime cannot be the result of “DOS attacks, Internet connectivity problems, electricity outage, hardware failure, software failure…”. After reading this, I am not sure what’s left that qualifies as server downtime.
- You can use up to 24,000 CPU-seconds (about 6.5 hours) in a given day and no more than 2,000 (33 minutes) per hour. Therefore, I would not recommend this service if you experience numerous visitors or have scripts running on your site at all hours of the day.
I setup a basic WordPress site with no content beyond the default themes and “Hello World!” post. I then added a WordPress backup plugin and performed a manual database and file backup. The 9MB backup took several minutes to complete and frequently maxed out the very limited 1MB/s of disk speed. This is a very low limit and will make using many WordPress plugins (like backups) a pain. I realize this may vary, it usually depends on the server machine where the hosting account is located. Usually I ask to move my account to another server but for the review purposes I simply continued testing.
TMD Hosting advertises daily backups in their Knowledgebase
On our shared hosting servers we are running backup scripts every weekend. Additionally every day a backup copy of the databases is made. We are keeping in our backup repository the latest backup of your website’s files and the backups of your database for five days back.
There was no CPanel option to check existing backups or perform a manual backup. If your site encounters data loss, reaching out to technical support will be your only option.
Our shared hosting package was able to create unlimited email accounts, complete with Apache SpamAssassin.. There was also an impressive secondary dashboard for professional spam filtering. If you only need basic email features and one or two accounts, using the built-in email service through CPanel should provide an adequate means of communication. If you already have email through Office365 or Google Apps, there’s probably not a big reason to switch. If this is for a new business without an existing email address, TMDHosting already has this step handled for you.
Add-ons are available from the customer portal. If you don’t have a dedicated web developer, TMD Hosting has many add-ons that will help your website run smoothly.
Add-on domain: $25/year
Dedicated IP: $25/year
goMobi Mobile Site Builder: $59.40/year
Custom DNS Servers: $45/year
Domain Privacy: $9.99/year
GlobalSign 256-bit SSL Certificate: $39/year
or Wildcard SSL Certificate: $89/year
Daily Backup: $35/year
Security Audit: $45 one-time
Sitelock Basic: $19.95/year
SiteLock Premium: $89/year
SiteLock Enterprise: $249/year
SSL Certificate Installation: $14.99 on-time (cert not included)
Sitemap Generation: $19 one-time
Basic SEO: $39 one-time
SEO for Blogs: $49 one-time
Advanced SEO: $99 one-time
All-in-one SEO: $149 one-time
Google Apps Configuration: $19 one-time
Google Webmaster Account & Site Verification: $29 one-time
Google Analytics Integration: $39 one-time
Search Engine & Directory Submission: $25 one-time
Weebly: Ranges from Free to $25/month
Let’s Encrypt integration is baked into TMD’s CPanel. Let’s Encrypt provides free SSL certificates. You can get a certificate issued for your domain in a few seconds with this handy tool. One of the downsides (and maybe the only downside) of Let’s Encrypt is that issued certificates expire after 90 days rather than the standard 12 months offered by paid-for certificates. Not to worry! CPanel takes care of that for you with automatic Let’s Encrypt certificate renewal. I would highly recommend encrypting your website. Web browsers will be making a push to highlight insecure websites in the coming months.
Believe it or not, some websites are small enough to fit on one page. The “Site Publisher” within CPanel is a great feature that eliminates the complexity of maintaining a full-fledged CMS. All you have to do is enter in a few details about yourself or your business, and a professional-looking page will be generated with the theme you selected. There were only three themes available, but they were better than a lot of the free WordPress themes you’ll find scattered around the web. The site publisher is a great way to get online within minutes or while you wait for someone to build out your full website.
The CloudFlare option within CPanel didn’t work initially, but this was quickly resolved. CloudFlare is a CDN, or Content Delivery Network. It caches content of your website so it loads quickly for everyone around the world. If you expect your site to be busy serving static content (such as images), CloudFlare might be an option worth considering. It also helps protect against bots (like web scrapers) and DDoS attacks. It can also help tremendously if you see a huge increase in traffic in a short period of time, which is similar to a DDoS, even if not malicious. If your site is temporarily down, CloudFlare will display a cached version of your site until it comes back online. It only takes a few minutes to follow the CloudFlare wizard to start using it.
While TMD doesn’t offer live technical support chat, they advertise a 15-minute response time for all tickets. I won’t hold the lack of live chat against them as most live chat services can take just as long for a problem to be resolved. Should you have a major problem, phone support is available. Their phone number is prominently displayed at the top of the client area – no digging required!
I only ran into one very minor problem on our TMD Hosting server. If the server wasn’t busy, Apache had a tendency to take a little while to “wake-up” to serve the first request. Subsequent requests were quick. This isn’t a big deal if there are always people on your site, however given the rules above, you’d want to have it load just as fast for one visitor as it would for subsequent visitors.
Technical support required my account password – something I wouldn’t be too keen on giving out, even to support representatives. Outside of the web hosting industry, I’ve never been required to share my password with the company I’m dealing with. They did respond within 15 minutes as promised and were able to check out the server for any possible issues.
Their customer service was very knowledgeable of their services.
However, running a test from Pingdom’s Website Speed Test tool shows that the first request to our server took around 5-6 seconds to respond, while subsequent requests were much quicker. In some cases, it took eight seconds. I wouldn’t hold the “Performance Grade” against TMD as that has more to do with WordPress defaults, but the initial page response times indicate that our server doesn’t respond all that quickly if it hasn’t been serving requests.
Should You Use TMD Hosting?
In my testing period, TMD Hosting provided inexpensive hosting with a fast portal. However, the limitations imposed on the shared hosting plans would make me hesitant to recommend the service to anything beyond a personal blog or low traffic website. It would be a great service if you want to host a small WordPress site for yourself or a small business in your community. If you expect to have numerous visitors on your website at all hours of the day (such as a forum), I would explore TMD’s higher-tier service plans and consider integrating Cloudflare functionality.
TMD Hosting offers competitive pricing with a standard flavor of CPanel. We have only tested their small hosting plan that has low resource limits. This option is suitable for small websites that can be later scaled up to a more advanced TMD hosting package.
- Reliable during testing period
- Competitive Pricing
- Responsive support
- Low resource limits make some WordPress plugins a pain to use
- Terms of Service imposes numerous limitations