Tagreview

HostGator vs. WebHostingBuzz

Having my website and blog hosted with WebHostingBuzz, I’m always interested to see how they compare to other web hosts.
I’ve got a friend who currently has his website currently hosted with HostGator, so I thought I’d use the opportunity to do a comparison/review of the two.

When I was initially looking for a web host a few years ago, I made the (bad) decision to go with Arvixe. It wasn’t long before I began to regret my choice of host. Yes, the hosting was cheap but I was suffering from constant downtime and very poor support. So when it came to renewal time, I spent a while researching for a web host which would be reliable and affordable. WebHostingBuzz had lots of good reviews and the pricing was competitive, so I decided to go with them.

WebHostingBuzz operate in the UK and US (with .co.uk and .com websites), so you can choose a server location based on which side of the Atlantic the majority of your audience are.
Also, if you manage a website which has a lot of traffic or you want to implement a level of redundancy, they give you the option to buy servers at two or more datacentres and then load balance the traffic. I haven’t taken advantage of this, but can imagine it would be beneficial for businesses.

However, HostGator only have servers in the US which isn’t ideal as I’m based in the UK and so are the majority of my visitors. Also, they don’t give you a choice of datacentre like WebHostingBuzz do, and your server location will instead be chosen at random.

Locations:

The locations each provider has servers at are:

 webhostingbuzz_logoedit
us Atlanta, GA (Primary datacentre)
us Dallas, TX (Primary datacentre)
us Clifton, NJ (Secondary datacentre)
us Phoenix, AZ (Secondary datacentre)
gb Newark, UK (I’m currently hosted here!)

cropped-hostgator
us Provo, UT (Ace Data Centers)
us Dallas, TX (Softlayer)
us Houston, TX (Softlayer)

 

Uptime:

I use Pingdom to monitor the uptime and ping of my sites, nameservers and webservers – here are a few screenshots comparing the uptime of each provider:

WebHostingBuzz:WHBIP

HostGator:
HostgatorIP

As you can see, HostGator recently suffered from downtime which was quite severe (more info can be found here). I had around 3-4 hours of downtime, but from looking on forums it seems some had 12 hours and more of downtime.

 

Ping:

Here’s a comparison of ping times using Pingdom (with faster ping times in green, fading to yellow green and yellow indicating slower ping times):

WebHostingBuzz (Newark, Nottinghamshire, UK):WHBRESPONSE

HostGator (Provo, UT, USA):

HostgatorRESPONSE

As you can see, whilst my server with WebHostingBuzz is located in the UK, it offers a consistent fast ping across the world. HostGator’s US server does offer a good ping in the US, but as soon as you access a website from across the Atlantic the ping time slows substantially. This may be a problem if you manage a high traffic website with visitors from across the globe (specifically outside of the US).

You will also notice that some countries in Europe are missing on each of the world maps – this is simply down to the ping servers and their availability, and doesn’t mean there was a connection issue.

 

I’ll wrap this post by saying that you really do get what you pay for when it comes to web hosting. If you go with a cheap host, don’t expect the same level of service you would get from a more expensive provider. It may be wise to invest a little more so you have the extra capacity and 24/7 expert support if you need it in the future.

Itsu Review (Oxford Circus, London)

Itsu is a retail store and restaurant chain with stores across London and two flagship restaurants.

I visited one of their retail stores near Oxford Circus tube station.

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When you get inside, there is seating on the left and on the right a row of open refrigerated cabinets with an array of boxed foods. The food boxes are separated into different ‘categories’ so you can choose what you would like.

Don’t be confused though. Whilst the food is pre-boxed, it doesn’t come on a lorry from a factory! They prepare food fresh on an hourly basis, and whilst I was there they were constantly re-stocking the shelves with fresh food.

This is important as with sushi being raw fish it needs to be eaten as soon as possible after being prepared.

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As well as the cold boxed food, they also do hot pots of rice or noodles with chicken or vegetables, called ‘Potsu’.

 

Chargrilled Chicken & Noodle Potsu

Having seen this on a big sign up behind the counter, I thought that I would try this “potsu”.

I imagine you could compare it to a chicken stew, but with vegetables, noodles and broth. The vegetables were the type you would get in a stir fry which was nice.

I was expecting the noodles to be a bit smaller, but I didn’t mind the larger noodles. There was a sort of chicken “broth” which added to the flavour.

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Salmon teriyaki on a bed

I really enjoyed eating this and it was an interesting combination of flavours. Cooked salmon with green beans, on a bed of rice infused with a teriyaki sauce. There was also a pot of soy sauce but I didn’t use it.

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Salmon sushi & salmon and avocado maki rolls

I have to admit, I’d never tried sushi before so didn’t really know what to expect. Although it was quite a different flavour to what I am used to, I liked it however I don’t think I could manage a full sized box of sushi.

20130709_195112

Itsu “vitsu water” (superberry)

This was an interesting drink. Unlike some drinks where you can almost taste the sugar, this drink tasted light. Although the main ingredient is water, it isn’t one of those “flavoured water” drinks with a weak hint of flavour and instead it was fairly strong. I imagine this drink would be good for a “detox” diet as it is mainly water.

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Once you have paid for your food at the counter, you can either sit down to eat it there and then (there is seating inside and outside the store), or alternatively you can have it to take-away.

Meal at Ponti’s Italian Kitchen Restaurant (London)

I was in London recently for a conference (see my other blog posts) and was looking for somewhere to eat at. Being close to Oxford Circus tube station, Ponti’s was a convenient place for me to have an evening meal before going back to my hotel near King’s Cross.

I initially reserved a table for 7:30pm, but ended up being tied up elsewhere so had to call them and ask to push it back by an hour. Although they were busy that evening and I had called at last minute, they handled it with no problems. In case you’re wondering, I went there on Monday 8th July.

I was surprised at how close it actually was to the Oxford Circus tube station – literally a minute’s walk down a side road.

Ponti's Italian Kitchen oxford circus london

When I went in to the restaurant, I was greeted by a waiter and after checking my reservation I was shown to my table.

Time to order a drink! As it had been a hot day, I decided to go for a freshly squeezed orange juice, which tasted really nice! It was tangy (but not bitter!), and the bits left in which made it taste authentic. There were a few ice cubes in the glass too (and a slice of orange!) which was nice as it was a hot day.

Ponti's Italian Kitchen orange juice oxford circus london

After looking through their menu (which can be found here: http://www.pontis.co.uk/menus/PIK_main_0413.pdf), I decided to order the “Cotoletta Alla Milanese”, which was a pan-fried breaded chicken breast served with mashed potato.

I was pleased with the speed of service which I thought was just right. Not too fast that you would think it had already been cooked and waiting, but not too long that you got bored waiting.

When it arrived, I was very hungry from a long day spent travelling so I tucked in right away! The chicken was moist, and you could tell that it has been fried with sage butter which was nice and meant the meat didn’t dry up.

Ponti's Italian Kitchen cotoletta alls milanese oxford circus london

The photo doesn’t really give it credit – it was really filling!

After all that, I was ready to leave, and didn’t actually realise that they did desserts until I was given their special desserts menu after my plate had been taken away.

After being given the menu, the waiter recommended the cheesecake or brownie, but said that if I felt full, the Panna Cotta would be a good option. As I was still fairly full from the main, I decided to go for the latter. I appreciated the recommendation as I can never decide what to have (especially when it comes to desserts!).

It certainly stood up to its description of being creamy. It was a fairly light dessert, but had a really nice milky taste which went well with the crumble and berry compote. Not incredibly filling, but very creamy/milky and possibly even refreshing to some degree!

Ponti's Italian Kitchen panna cotta oxford circus london

After finishing my dessert, I was asked if wanted tea or coffee, but as I wanted to get back to my hotel to unpack my things I chose not to.

 

Overall, the restaurant has a great atmosphere, with music playing in the background at a low volume which is nice. The staff were very friendly and gave “service with a smile” although it was fairly busy and they were always on their feet. I think at least some of the staff were Italian and I was called “signor” a few times. All of this made it feel fairly authentic Italian.

I only wish that staff would be like this at all of the places I eat at. There is always usually that one member of staff that looks stressed, unmotivated and ends up passing on that negativity to the customer. At this place, the staff always seemed positive (even though it was busy) and seemed to enjoy what they were doing.

 

If I had the chance to visit again, I’d definitely go for one of their pizzas which sound really nice!

If you’re not that hungry, I imagine it would also be a great place to go out for drinks with a few friends in the evening as the table next to me had just come for drinks.

If you’d like to experience Ponti’s Italian Kitchen for yourself, they can be found at 5-7 John Princes Street, Oxford Circus, London, W1G 0JN, and 54 Duke Street, London, W1K 6JN.

Lunch at The Electric Bar & Restaurant

Situated on the Brayford Wharf in Lincoln, the Electric is a trendy bar & restaurant on the 5th floor of the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel.

Being fairly active on social media, I’d seen that the recently opened Electric Bar & Restaurant on the Brayford Wharf was holding a competition to win 50 ‘express lunch’ meals worth £12.95. You could also take a +1 so there were 100 meals up for grabs in total! I duly entered and was grateful to have been a winner!

Due to the popularity of the competition, I understandably had to book which was a fairly simple process and the staff were flexible as regards the date and time that I could book for.

Rather conveniently, there is a lift just inside the entrance to the DoubleTree which goes directly to the 5th floor where the Electric is situated. Upon entry, my coat was taken and kindly placed on a hanger for in a coat-cupboard. I was then taken through to the main dining area which had windows all around the edge overlooking Lincoln and the Cathedral.

Here are the three courses that I ordered from the set menu and a pic for each!

Starter: ‘Soup of the Day’ (Served with Homemade Bread) – this happened to be a Tomato Soup on the day.

Tomato Soup

When I ordered a tomato soup, I wasn’t expecting much as regards taste, however I was rather surprised at the flavours! You could tell that it was homemade.

Although not in the photo, this was served with a selection of small handmade ‘artisan’ style breads of different doughs.

Main: ‘Posh Fish & Chips’ (Beer Battered Haddock, Triple Cooked Chips, Garden Pea Puree, Tartar Sauce)

Posh Fish & Chips

This was what I was looking forward to tasting. I would even go as far to say the fish was of a higher standard than the freshly caught fish & chips you would eat at the seaside. It tasted very nice, and when you pulled it apart it flaked cleanly. The batter wasn’t at all soggy, and had been cooked well so that it was crispy and you could hear a slight crunch when you cut into the fish.

The chips were not dripping with oil which would have put me off. They were also seasoned with a pinch of salt, and served in a ‘chip pan’ style container (although they of course weren’t fried in this) which was an excellent finishing touch.

Dessert: ‘Sticky Toffee Pudding’ (Toffee Sauce, Double Cream Ice Cream)

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Being one of my favourite desserts, I had an idea in mind of what it should taste like, and it didn’t disappoint! The pudding itself was filled with raisins and spices so had plenty of flavour, and the toffee sauce was just right. I’ve never been a fan of clotted cream so I left that!

For an ‘express lunch’ menu, this left me completely full and I even had to leave a little of my sticky toffee pudding. There seemed to be no compromise – quality and a good quantity of food also!

Here are my ratings:

  • Food: 9/10
  • Service: 9/10
  • Staff: 9/10

Overall, whilst the food may not be the cheapest in the area, you do get value for money and can leave with a full stomach. The quality, presentation and taste of food was superb, and the staff were also very friendly and seemed to have a great work ethic. Rather than some places, the staff here seemed to genuinely care when they asked how your meal was and if there were any problems.

I would certainly eat there again and recommend to others in the local area looking for somewhere to eat out.

It’s worth mentioning that they do also have special offers on different days of the week such as Cocktail Club, After Work Social, Jazz Wednesdays, they do a roast on Sundays, and have a £25 set meal every evening.

You can find the Electric on Twitter (@electriclinc), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ElectricLinc), and their website is Electric Bar & Restaurant.

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