Okay, like I’ve just moved, eh?

No, not to my “last vacation spot”:http://www.ecg.com/Vancouver/ but like this site, eh? The Donkey has been sucked into LA somewhere.

It all started with my boss. Huh? “my boss”? I don’t have no stinkin’ boss, dude. I’m like, self-employed. But as it turns out, in real life, there always seem to be bosses, no matter what you do.

It was last week some time:

“Hey, did you ever look at these hosting bills? $65/mo. Are you crazy?”

“Well, yeah, it’s a little high, but we get a lot of extras ‘n’ stuff. You wouldn’t want our site going down when a customer’s on it would you?”

“Well, Robin’s on Godaddy paying $4/mo and her site’s NEVER down.”

(A little aside here. I know Robin’s on Godaddy, because I built her site. It was excruciating. Not because of Robin – oh, okay, it was a little because of Robin – not because of the Godaddy network and her site constantly crashing – that was fine. It was trying to build a site on Godaddy with all their weird security configs. And it wasn’t that I minded their ftp timing out after 30 seconds, because there were too many other NIGHTMARE config problems to overcome that normal web hosts do, well, normally. Just google Godaddy hosting reviews and you’ll get a bunch of them. And it’s rarely about their network, which seems to be fine. It’s always something like, “jobs that should take 5 minutes take at least an hour, if you’re lucky”. That sums it up perfectly. Anyway, enough aside on that one.)

So, after about a week of searching, reading reviews and hanging out in forums, I found a cheap web host that seemed to have everything I needed. Longevity (since ’97), a shell account (I can’t function without a shell account), a lot of mysql databases (unlimited *but see below), healthy, fast, well-configed database, mail and web servers (actually, I don’t know any of that yet), redundant peering connections to several backbones (don’t know that either). But, suffice it to say, I decided to gamble on “Dreamhost”:http://www.dreamhost.com/

So far though, I’ve only moved the Donkey there (with no database corruption during the migration!! Yip-a-ky-yay, mofo). I’m monitoring the uptime at this point, and slowness (if anyone notices showness, I’d appreciate a yell). And I’m attempting to learn more about their network. I’ve got an incredibly cheap year to fiddle with all this before moving my main sites over. As I was poking through the Dreamhost forums, I noticed a lot of posters had little $97 off new hosting years codes in their .sigs. Turns out, if you use their code, they get 10% of whatever you spend at Dreamhost forever, and 5% of anybody that the new signee gets to sign up.

So, a prepaid year there was like, $119 and I got $97 off, so I got a year for $22. Plenty of time to see if it’s a decent host or a cesspool.
If it turns out decent, The Boss will be happy. If it turns out to be a “I told you so”, then I’m more than vindicated in pretty much any of my decisions for probably 4 months or so. So it’s win-win, eh?

Oh, the * on the “unlimited” MySQL databases. Let’s throw in the 500 gigs of “storage space” and the terrabyte per month of bandwidth too. We all know that nobody ever needs that much “unlimited” crap. And if you *do* happen to be using that on a shared server, you won’t be on that shared server too long. Trust me.

Anyway, enough for now. I’ve already got a title for my next post, “Adventures with pine on the new host”. Ta da.

6 thoughts on “Okay, like I’ve just moved, eh?

  1. The Donkey is alive, and moving! And I can tell by that faded out submit button, you upgraded Textpattern as well!

    $22 for a year of hosting? That’s six cents per day. I’m tempted to say that you will get what you pay for, and that my opinion is worth one third of your daily Dreamhost bill (that would be two cents).

    Dreamhost is infamous for offering far more resources than anyone would ever use. And they also admit that if everyone used the resources they are allowed, their servers would vaporize in minutes. They admit to overselling. And at times performance suffers for it.

    But you know what? I’ve come to believe that every web host is like a screwy relative. Some are a bit irritating every now and then, and some (like Uncle GoDaddy) make you want to strangle them every time you interact with them.

    But all of them will try your patience at some point. All of them will eventually make you think you made a bad choice. Any shared hosting setup will offer opportunities for you to wish you had your own server with no one else on it.

    Me? Right now I use Media Temple, their $20 account, which is great … except for the days Cluster2 has enough latency to make a pot of coffee between page loads. And I use Joyent/Textdrive’s shared accelerators, which are great, unless you are on one of the shared accelerators where Apache hangs intermittently.

    So, you can pay six cents a day, and have trouble, or you can pay as much as $3.28 per day (Premier account on a shared accelerator with only 14 server-mates), and have trouble.

    Trouble is amazingly variable in its pricing.

  2. Oh, and speaking of “weird security configs” on web hosts, I just finished installing Textpattern on a client’s account at IX Webhosting (I didn’t pick them, it was a pre-existing account).

    They are super-secure on their database setup, requiring you to create a new user with rights to the new database, What they don’t tell you is that, by default, that new user does not have rights to “create” a database, merely read/write to an existing one. An hour into the ten minute install, you find the obscure setting buried in the control panel that allows the user to really have rights to the database.

    And when you finally get Textpattern installed, it screams “this server is insecure because ‘register globals’ is turned on in PHP.”

    Which is bit like leaving your bike chained next to a set of bolt cutters.

  3. Heh heh, yes an upgrade without having to call the PhotoDoctor for help. Transfering the database successfully left me completely speechless.

    I had been poking around textdrive, found it a little confusing and some kind of expensive business plan for $100/mo. I wonder if that Accelorator you have is similar to linux-vserver where you get guaranteed cpu cycles and ram. They offer that at Dreamhost (can you tell I’m skittish about down time and slow shared servers?). But if I’m paying another $30/mo., I could stay where I am. One major reason I’ve stayed with Pair is that they have 7 or so redundant peering arrangements with different backbones, so if one is “clogged”, your traffic goes around it. But on the other hand, do I have that many people on my sites that I need that kind of overkill? At $65/mo? Decisions, decisions. So far the donkey has been either down or clogged twice in a week, for less than a half hour, but still down. Guess I’ll read up on Media Temple. I have another host too, bluefur.com, for the Boss and her cultural events mailing list. $5/mo, and I only need them because they offer Phplist, the only mailing list software that she can understand. I tried to sell her on Mailman, but I couldn’t even figure it out.

  4. I can only offer these potential arguments for you to try:

    [1] “It could be worse. Reid’s got a $100 per month account. We’re paying a lot less than that.”

    [2] “Approximately $600 in annual savings on webhosting can very quickly be eaten up by the man hours required to move to that server, man hours required to check why the site is once again down, hair replacement therapies, Maalox, and Tylenol. In the long run, it’s cheaper where we’re at.”

    [3] “We need the tax deduction.”

  5. I will say, maybe a year ago your site took a while to load sometimes. I attributed it to either all the different blogware you’re running under one domain simultaneously, or maybe my firefox linux browser.

    In the past few months, it loads snappy as hell, all the time. So looks like your accelerator is working.

    And on my end, for the immediate future, I moved a client that had my only reseller account to a subdirectory of my main account. That chops off $17/mo. And I’m thinking about chopping off another $20 by getting rid of SSL on my account. All my sites that are actually making any money are using third party shopping carts from static pages. The ones that don’t make me a dime and need the SSL, are built around things like osCommerce and Joomla, all database driven with built-in shopping carts. Maybe those “ecommerce total site packages” just look too commercial, but I’m not making anything on them and re-doing the site templates are too much of a hassle to bother with. It’s pretty bad when I spend many hours trying to change a template and my site ends up looking worse than before I started.

  6. Oh, hell, it was only months ago that my site took an inordinate time to load. By mid-June, I’d moved my business domain for that reason (to Media Temple). It was a symptom of FreeBSD shared servers. They just can’t keep up anymore, IMHO, and when they “fall down,” it takes them an hour to “get back up again.”

    With either a Grid or Accelerator, you can apply more resources where they are needed, and/or get some resource guarantees (e.g., I’ve got 256MB of RAM), and a restart can be counted in seconds, not minutes.

    Another thing: When I was on One, a FreeBSD server, a whois showed 600+ sites being served from One. Today, my accelerater shows 45 sites.

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