Exabytes: Should I go back?

Ok, way back when I used to blog at sashiweb dot com, I used to have my site hosted at Exabytes. Back then it cost me about RM199 per annum, which comes out to nearly RM17 per month.

Sure, you could have gotten other webhosting deals a lot cheaper, but there were several reasons why I chose Exabytes. First of all, I had dealt with them as a freelance web developer sourcing for webhosts for clients, and more often than not, their level of service was quite commendable.

Secondly, they came highly recommended by a couple of high-profile blogger-buddies.

And that’s how I came to be part of the Exabytes customer base. And to be honest, in the 2++ years (or it 3?) or so when I had my blog hosted there, I continued to receive good customer service and prompt replies to any problems I had, of which there were very few.

But over time, I began to question the wisdom of paying for a webhosting account for my blogging activities. Here’s why I finally quit Exabytes:

1. As some may recall, after a brief experiment with Google ads, I went back to basics and removed all advertising from sashiweb dot com. Hence, there was no expectation of revenue from my blogging activities. And blog revenue tends to be a major reason why bloggers would choose to get their webhosting accounts. (Note that it is not the only reason, of course. Self-identity, “vanity” domain names, greater control, etc, a lot of that comes into play too).

2. WordPress.com (the free blog host, not wordpress.org, the free open-source blog application) finally got better and more stable. And since I was a fan of WordPress already (it was powering sashiweb dot com), it seemed like a natural leap to make. Here was an opportunity to continue blogging in a WordPress environment (and which allowed me to painlessly import all my posts and comments from sashiweb dot com) and to do it for free.

3. I was losing my drive to blog as frequently as I used to. Real-life kept getting in the way, with work and stuff jostling for attention. There were days when I used to blog almost every day to times when I’d blog once in a week or even less frequently. It just didn’t make economic sense for me to keep paying RM17 a month to not blog that much – especially with alternatives like WordPress.com.

And so that’s how I came to be here.

However, nowadays I am in need of a webhost. No, I don’t intend to move my blog once again. The factors I’ve mentioned above still hold true for me today, especially given the uncertain economic times we face.

But I do need a webhosting account for work-related purposes. I have a couple of projects cooked up, and they’ve been stewing in my hard-drives for months, and now they need to be transferred to a web server. And naturally, my first thought was to check out Exabytes again, given my good experience with them in the past. (I’m aware there have been reports online where others have not good experiences with them. However, I can only rely on my experience, and they were, as mentioned above, positive.)

Well, certainly, things have changed a bit. Their cheapest option (not the student hosting rubbish) costs about RM219 per annum (if you sign up for 2 years). Sure, that may not be that much of a difference from the RM199 that I used to pay, but crossing the psychological barrier of RM200 sure works wonders with a person’s indecisiveness.

And then there is this: I will not like it if your website host is Exabytes [Lainie].

Coming from anybody else, I’d have dismissed it out of hand. But this is Lainie! And I certainly wouldn’t want to be associated with any company that practices any discriminatory policies. So I checked the Exabytes website to find out more, and came across this:

Exabytes Malaysia Acceptable Use Policy

Because the Internet is a global communication tool, and we have clients from nearly every country in the world it is difficult to dictate what is considered “adult material.” However, it is not our function to discriminate against those who choose to utilize adult content or adult related material. This being said, there are still several reasons why Exabytes® has been forced to create its no adult sites policy for its virtual and bulk reseller server users, including but not limited to direct customers, resellers and resold accounts.

What does Exabytes® consider “Adult Material”?

* Any site whose revenue is gained in part or whole from its adult content.
* Photos or videos showing frontal nudity on either men or women for non-scientific or non-artistic purposes.
* Hyperlinks to adult sites, including but not limited to sites who violate these policies.
* Sites that have discussion boards and share information that is ‘adult’ in nature.
* Sites that sell or promote ‘adult’ material, including but not limited to adult toys.

Exabytes® reserves the right to decide what it considers “adult content”, “adult material”, “sexually explicit”, or “sexually related”. Let us know if you are unsure of the approval of your site before placing an order. Please email sales@Exabytes.com for review of your content and/or site.

Why does Exabytes® have this policy?

Bandwidth and Resources
A virtual server is a shared environment where many servers reside on each particular machine. This being said, consider that an average “adult site” gets more hits than 100 standard web sites. Some of the smaller adult sites get around 5 GB of transfer per day. With these types of resources being utilized, our servers would be severely slowed if we allowed these high traffic sites to also reside on our servers. On top of that, we would be forced to raise our prices to pay for the additional bandwidth. We strive to keep our servers fast and inexpensive, and our bandwidth clear; therefore, adult sites are not an option.

Banned IPs
Adult sites tend to get blocked. Since many of our shared accounts also share IP addresses and/or the range of IPs are blocked, all other users on that server or network range are impacted.

Many people do not want to be associated with adult content, based on personal opinions and beliefs. IPs are assigned to a server in ranges and IP address are in many cases shared IPs. Consequently, we want our shared servers to be ‘adult content’ free.

However, the AUP goes on to add that for “Virtual Private (VPS), Dedicated and Colocation servers”:

Because we can swip the IPs and assign them to the owners of these accounts, we do allow our dedicated and colocation customers to have adult content on their servers. All of our Terms of Service and Acceptable Use policies do apply, including, but not limited to:

* UCE / Spam: Adult sites tend to use UCE/spam as a source of marketing. Before considering using our services for Adult material, please review our spam policy. We have zero tolerance for spam.
* Illegal Content: We do not allow any illegal activities on our network, including, but not limited exploitation of minors.

Well, so far it seems rather fair. The arguments seem logical. But I couldn’t find any mention of policies related to homosexual content as mentioned by Lainie’s post. Fortunately, not too long after Lainie posted that piece, Naoko, in a comment , shares this link: Important Changes on Exabytes’ Policies with effective on 1st May 2008

The key passage in the above page is this:

3. Reminder: Adult Contents Are Strictly Prohibited.

3.1. Adult Contents are strictly prohibited on Exabytes’ network.

3.2. What we categorized as Adult Contents, but not limited to:
– Website that sells sex toys
– Website that contains porn video
– Website that contains nude photos
– Website that is related to homosexual (gays and lesbians)

3.3. For more information about Exabytes Acceptable Use Policy on Adult Contents, kindly refer to: http://exabytes.com.my/about/legal/aup/#H-adult

Hmm. That is vague. While the AUP indicates that adult content (the meaning of which is decided by Exabytes themselves) will be banned on shared hosting but possibly allowed for dedicated hosting, this above “change in policy” seems to indicate a wholesale ban across the Exabytes network.

Furthermore, neither of the above policy wordings are clear about non-erotic information regarding homosexuality. Would this mean that a LGBT advocacy group looking to highlight their cause online in fighting prejudice would not be welcome in Exabytes country?

That would be bad.

So, there’s my dilemma. Due to my past experience, I’d certainly much rather get my sites hosted in Exabytes, but at the same time, the issues above make me think twice. Hopefully, Exabytes resolve this issue by clarifying their stand on the LGBT situation, but if they don’t, then I guess I’ll be looking elsewhere for my webhosting needs. Any recommendations?

P.S. It’s funny, in the course of my online researching as I’m blogging this, I came across this: Exabytes’ Express-All-You-Want contest. Which means that, technically, this post is eligible for it.

Of course, given the somewhat critical tone of this post, it’s unlikely I would win anything. 😛


12 thoughts on “Exabytes: Should I go back?”

  1. kudos for this entry. i never knew much on self hosted anyway, so thanks for the infos! and exabytes price over RM200 is darn expensive.. i would say, go for cheaper one.. there’s lots out there even with good after sales support as well.

  2. They seemed to have retracted their LGBT statement (I’m guessing it was a case of poor wording by their copywriter and even poorer clarification by their lawyer if they had had one) so it seems to be all and good.

    I’m guessing, and this will really need clarification from them, that their policy is more of an attempt to “dissuade” people from promoting the LGBT lifestyle in line with our governments/moral guardians’ conservative stand. They don’t allow you to encourage people, but if it’s just a discussion on such stuff, then its’ allowed.

    I’m still in two minds whether to keep my hosting with them though.

  3. Hi Sashi, it’s been awhile since you’ve produced such a long entry. Have you decided to go back to Exabytes? Their service sounds good. But the part where they can deny hosting because some of your content comes under “adult content” is scary. I mean of course we will not be producing porn sites, but what if one of our blog entries contain or discusses homosexuality etc. They can then ban us too? That’s what I understand from Lainie’s case.

    Anyway, here are two hosting services in Malaysia that you could check out…

    XGen Technologies

    ITWIN Technology

  4. or integricity / e-ruang 😛

    you know – i can really see where they’re coming from, not wanting to host porn sites – it’s the bit where they sweepingly categorise anything gay and lesbian along with it, even for things like restaurant reviews, that really gets to me. that, and them saying not everyone wants to be associated with lgbt sites on their servers.

    pisses me off, and further drives me nuts that i always sound so angry when i point out things like these that it seems like i’m just constantly out to wave my fist at everything :/

    that being said, asides from the lgbt thing, i’ve heard conflicting stories on the quality of their service. decent tech team, but too many domains hosted on one server so a lot of issues about being banned.

    i’d like to know how many of those were lgbt related. ish. the ceo left a comment on my post that essentially replied to…..nothing 😛

  5. Wow, this is the most recent hoo-ha I have heard – Exabytes this and that. Good for those who want to take part in their Express thing. LOL..maybe I should write something good about them and see if I can win anything.. lol.

    Sashi, I don’t understand.. you would rather don’t choose a web hosting company whom you used it before & the one you would think first whenever you want to search for hosting provider just because of the blogs you read it on the Internet? I don’t know for you, if me, own experience is the most important thing in my decision making – I won’t care how other blogs condemn them. I want to try it myself. If really their service sucks, then fine, that’s it for me. No more Exabytes. But now,you are judging them just based on all these recent hoo-ha.

    Oh man, have you ever heard that some stories are one-sided? Ok…you are fighting for LGBT rights.. it’s understandable, but for god’s sake, we live in which country, then we have to abide by the country’s rules..

    SASHI: Hi S_S, I understand your point. Which is why, as implied in my post, I don’t have any issue with Exabytes not hosting X-rated adult porn or erotic content, which may be against the law here.

    My issue is with their apparent blanket ban on anything LGBT-related, including informational and educational content. That would be outright prejudice, and regardless of one’s moral standpoint regarding homosexuality, it would weigh heavily on my conscience if I supported or patronised services that is prejudiced against anyone.

  6. RM269 a year for Business Web Hosting is our normal price
    check out that we are running promotion where you can save up to 30% now. After discounted price is even lower than RM199 that you taken few years back.

    Wish to see you back with Exabytes and allow us to serve you even better in the future.


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