There are thousand of hosting companies out there that claim they own the hardware and data center but do we have that many data centers? Most are just fly-by-night hosting resellers. They rely on some other hosting provider for service and then just sell it to you for a higher prices. There are literally thousands of resellers who are actually not a hosting company by any definition. They add no value to the service and off load all support requests back to the original provider (adding delay). And the result is a degraded service to end customer on a higher price.
Real resellers will not hide the identity of their provider. They will add some value to the hosting packages such as development, design and support and you would be ready to pay a higher price for this added value. You can trust them for being honest.
If you want to know if your hosting company is actually a hosting provider, all you have to do is run a whois query on the IP address of your hosting account. You can do that at ARIN website www.arin.net. When you visit the website you can find a search box on the top right corner that says SEARCH WHOIS.
The query will show you which organization actually owns the IP address.
Another thing you can do is telnet to your domain on port 25 and see the SMTP banner which will show you your server hostname.
Third thing you can do is send email from your account and then check the email headers which will show the server hostname. Do a whois on the domain name part of the server hostname to see which company owns that domain.
You can also run a traceroute to your server IP (or tracert on Windows command prompt) to see which networks come between you and your hosting server. This can reveal a lot of information about the upstream provider of your web host. As the traceroute runs it will show you the IP address or hostname of each router on the way to your server.
Similarly if you check phpinfo you can see the hostname of the server at the very top.
If you have secure shell access (real hosting providers will provide you ssh access), you can run this command
which will show you server hostname and linux kernel.
Speaking of linux kernel, it can provide you details if your hosting server is actually a hosting server or a virtual machine sharing its hardware resources with another reseller or user. For example the popular Virtuozzo or OpenVZ kernel has “stab” in its name. You can then discuss with your provider if they are on a VPS for a reason or are they reselling the service?
Honesty is the best policy. Honest hosts are hard to find. But I’ll recommend one – Webx Networks is the best web hosting company and has very qualified support. They provide support for all the latest in technology such as php5, MySQL5, Perl, Ruby on Rails, and Apache2 on the Linux CentOS platform. I use them for some services but I have my services spread out to some other providers as well. I just wanted to acknowledge their good services in this post as being an honest and reliable web host for 12 years.