Media Temple Web Hosting Review

In the past month I’ve been testing Media Temple’s Grid-Service (GS).
Let’s see why webmasters are recommending Media Temple’s services.

Media Temple was recommended to me by various web programmers and designers, so I decided to buy an account, test it and write a review.

The Ordering Process:
The process is strait forward, you’ll be entering the billing details and credit card in the same small and well organized web page. I don’t know if there is an easier way to order a web hosting account.

Account Activation:
Unfortunately at this chapter MT failed to impress me like they started to. The account was activated in 8 hours, not bad at all, but an automated system would of been great. In there email they were stating that only a few users require additional verification, to be honest I don’t know if this is true or not.

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Ease of Use:
With the account activation email MT sends almost all the needed information to get a web site up and running. That’s a great thing, let me mention that they are not sending the passwords with all this details, and that’s a sign of good security.
Now let’s concentrate over their Web Hosting Control Panel called AccountCenter.
It seams that MT focus is performance and security, why am I saying this?
Well, if you need ssh access you will need to activate this service, email delivery can be toggled to local or external, php can be configured to 4 or 5, and so on.
All this gives the user control over his account, also this options are intuitive and all the needed documentation is included and it’s easy to read / understand.
One of the things missing from MT’s AccountCenter is: Promotion tools, that’s not necessary for advanced webmasters, but for beginners it is.
Another option that could be automatically is SPF for email service, in order to activate the SPF you need to add a new DNS entry, that’s not a big deal, but again, for new users into web hosting domain will be a pain.
A option that might be confusing for some is the “GPU Usage Reports”, and that’s not a video card’s processing unit, GPU in this case stands for Grid Performance Unit.
In order to understand this, you should know that MT uses a Grid setup for their web hosting services, this is what they are stating:

With (mt) Media Temple’s GRID system your server site is no longer tied to an individual hardware server, rather it is spread across hundreds of server processors. The model gives your site ever expanding grid-cluster computing capability which allows you to scale and grow beyond the older shared server systems and even radically exceed dedicated server performance.

Another thing missing from MT AccountCenter is Dkim and Domainkey Signatures, this is not a big deal either, but in many cases it helps. For example Yahoo uses both signatures, you will have greater chances to send an email into inbox at Yahoo if you have this 2 signatures active, if not your email might be considered spam.

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Used Software:
PHP Version 5.2.6
MySQL Client API 4.1.11
Apache 2.0.54
Linux 2.6.32.3mtv1 Debian Version 4.0

It seams that MT uses recent enough software for their servers.
PHP
PHP Version 5.2.6 is 2 years old, it was released in May 2008, since then php.net released a lot of major versions that fixes bugs and security issues. Upgrading to a newer version of php 5.2.x would definitely improve performance and security. Check the PHP ChangeLog for more details.
MySQL
From MT’s web site it seams that they started to upgrade their MySQL grids to version 5.x, hopefully they will finish upgrading all the grids soon enough. Client API version 4.x is a bit old.
Apache
Upgrading to a newer version of Apache will improve performance and security, just check theapache changelog, as you can see there were a few security fixes since version 2.0.54.
Kernel
That’s nice, MT uses a really new kernel version, and they customized it for their grid’s needs.

Support:
The waiting time for a ticket is around 4 hours, better then other hosting companies but there’s room for improvement.
For any emergency there is always the phone support that it really is 24/7 and the waiting time is around 2 minutes, not bad at all.

Internet Connection:
First of all you can check this article I wrote about Internet Connections of Data Centers, the example in that article was MT.
It seams that the internet connection is not bad at all, the lowest speed was 3Mbps (from Europe) and highest was 70Mbps(from USA).

Security:
Since they allow users SSH access I decided to test a bit their security.
First of all I started with bz2, the version used is 1.0.2, that’s ancient, released in December 2001. But it seams that they updated the vulnerable library, I ran only a test, there might be other exploits out there for this old bz2 version they are using.
The rest seams to be up to date and secure, so I won’t go further with security testing.

GS Features:
100GB Storage
1TB Network Transfer
Up to 100 Domains
Free Urchin Analytics
Clustered Architecture

Conclusion:
MT impressed with their Grid Architecture, the control that a user has through AccountCenter and with their Internet Connectivity.
Let’s see pros and cons of their GS service:
What’s good about Media Temple:
+ Grid architecture
+ Great control panel
+ Good internet speed
+ 99,9% Uptime

What’s bad about Media Temple:
– No free domain
– No promotion tools
– No free credits for Yahoo/Google
– Limited disk storage
– Limited bandwidth usage