Most of the time, free hosting sucks. You are typically limited to (s)FTP access, have no SSL and are forced to use some crap admin panel with minimal functionality. Then there is Pagoda Box, whose free features alone could put many paid hosting providers to shame.
To be honest, when I first looked at Pagoda Box I thought for sure it was too good to be true. Then I tried them out; after a week I was amazed at how well everything seems to work together.
Because they use a very progressive infrastructure, their system is capable of supporting users quickly and efficiently and even allows seamless upgrading of a site without interrupting users. This applies to all updates to a site including rollbacks.
One of my favorite parts about Pagoda Box is that they basically reward projects that already use version control, such as projects hosted on Github.
Because of how their system is set up, Git repositories need only to be pushed or cloned to the server in order to become live.
Pagoda Box also uses "Boxfiles" to allow you to customize your environment. These files are very useful when your project requires some things like pre-configuration, a specific version of PHP, or specific extensions to be installed.
According to their case studies you could serve up to 160,000 web requests in a 24 hour period without spending a dime! But of course you aren't limited to that.
Pagoda Box features a very clean admin panel that allows you to very quickly manage your resources, monitor changes, and scale your applications. Switching to a higher-end plan takes no time at all and does not change how you manage your applications.
The admin panel actually does much more than this, it even allows some pretty advanced stuff without forcing you to manage every little detail.
Many things, such as load balancers and rollbacks, are handled automatically at the click of a button.
That being said, Pagoda Box isn't perfect. There are some parts that I would like to see improved. Things like full SSH access and SVN support aren't currently available.
As it is, they give you some SSH access to your writable directories and through your Boxfile but that is it. Full SSH access is understandably a must for some people, and that will be a deal breaker for them. Same could be said for SVN.
- Partially managed solution
- Cron Jobs
- Git versioning
- SFTP available as "Vintage Mode" (still version controlled)
- 1-Click rollbacks
- Enviroment management (Boxfile)
- Free "piggyback" SSL
- Paid pricing is very competitive
- Only some SSH
- SVN repos need to be converted
- Only PHP is currently supported
- Servers "sleep" if inactive for a couple minutes
- Some things are still in Beta
Pagoda Box is a great solution for those who want a well managed, well designed, and simple hosting provider, and that is what the vast majority of websites need and want.
For those who need complete control, they will unfortunately be left wanting more. However, that is not to say they won't provide those services in the future.
In any case, Pagoda Box is at least worth trying. As for me, I plan on hosting sites for many of my open source projects on Pagoda Box; and probably even some of my larger sites too.