Rails hosting services always boast things such as “excellent customer service”, “24/7 technical support” and “world-class customer service”. This is often at the very heart of their marketing campaign. It fills up their emails, tweets, Facebook posts, and covers their websites. If you’ve been coding with Ruby on Rails for any length of time you will testify that not many hosting companies actually live up to their promises. Often, right when you need their help the most, hosting companies will leave you waiting for hours to receive a response.
So, we sent a few of the hosting companies (11 to be exact) an email with a question. All of the emails were sent around 3PM Central US Time on a Tuesday. The question was fairly simple: “Will you be supporting Ruby on Rails 3.1?” Below are the results of how long it took them to get back to us and the answer that we received. They are sorted by response time. Shortest time is at the top.
- Site5 - Coming in at number one with the absolute fastest response is Site5. They took just over 7 minutes to get back to us with a full answer. We were informed that you will be able to install any version or Ruby on Rails including 3.1 when it is released.Their customer service is looking good for those who will be taking their Ruby on Rails application to be hosted by them.
- DreamHost - The first hosting company that we contacted and one of the quickest. Within 11 minutes I received a full explanation of their services. Additionally, the technician let me know that they would be working hard to test version 3.1 on their servers to have it implemented as soon as possible.
- BlueHost - Originally they sent me an auto-generated email letting me know I should expect a wait of at least 24 hours. Then, 20 minutes later, I received a response. It was short and to the point. They do not plan to implement Rails 3.1 and are currently running 2.3.1.
- Liquidwebb - These guys clocked in at 29 minutes. Anything under 30 minutes is good in our book. They are currently supporting Rails 2.3 which comes preinstalled on all servers. However, you can install later versions on your own, but they do not offer any support.
- Siteground - Siteground took a little over an hour to answer all of my questions. Their first response to my original question was pretty vague, so I needed some clarification. Their original response came in around the forty minute mark. Even though this is a little longer than you would hope for, I did receive an answer that seems to be coming from someone who has a working knowledge or Rails. Which is a very good sign.
- Justhost - This company took one hour and thirty five minutes to get back to us. I was informed that they will in fact not be supporting Ruby on Rails 3.1. They are still using Rails 2.3.
- Hostgator - This host took two hours and seventeen minutes to get back to us. We were informed that they would indeed be upgrading to Rails 3.1, but that it would take time and extensive testing to make sure that the new software would work well on their servers. However, they seem to be lagging a bit behind as they are only currently running Rails 2.3.5.
- 1and1 - Took about 5 hours to get back to us. The answer wasn’t very helpful, as they didn’t know what the “requirements” for running Ruby on Rails is. Earlier we received confirmation that they had begun supporting Rails, but this isn’t a very good sign.
- A2Hosting - This host took 7 hours to get back to us via email. I received the standard response and was pointed to their un-managed VPS plan where I can setup any version of Ruby on Rails that I would like.
- ixWebhosting - This host took about seven hours to get back to us. Which is an eternity if you’re waiting to have a problem fixed or you need troubleshooting. However, the email was informative. They will be upgrading to Rails 3.1 as soon as they can thoroughly test it and are currently running 3.0.3-5.
- ThinkHost - At the time of this writing it has been nearly 24 hours and we have not received a reply from them.
Why does all of this matter? Well, let’s remember that hosting companies are businesses. How do these particular businesses make money? By getting you to sign up for their hosting services. One would think that they should have a quick response through their sales teams to all potential new clients. If the hosting company answered a potential client’s question quickly, there is a good chance that they will also answer your technical question down the road promptly. If they didn’t, well, there’s a good chance they won’t treat you much better once they already have your money.