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Dreamhost: Fantastic
December 10th, 2008 by Ice Cream Jonsey

The webhost I use for Jolt Country is POE Hosting. I can’t say enough good things about them. They are utterly fantastic. If I could, I would use them for everything. 

Ah, but I can’t: the other site I run, Caltrops.com, is oftentimes a drama-filled mess. Caltrops was created when the forum on Old Man Murray was removed. The founder of POE Hosting ran Old Man Murray… you can see where this is going. For Caltrops, and Caltrops alone, I needed a different host for the sake of simplicity and good feelings for everyone involved.

For years I had been using midPhase. Now, I am not going to trash them:  for the longest time, they were okay. I have a few complaints, and rather than make it this huge thing, I’ll just list them. Oh, let’s do it after a jump so I’m not dorking up the place!

– It seemed like Caltrops would be inaccessible about once a day with them. Not at the same time, nothing predictable… but many times a week, I’d go to access the site and it would just be “down.” If I gave it a few moments, it would be fine. I never figured out why. 

– The site really seemed slow once we integrated several thousand old posts. I see it more now that we’re with Dreamhost, but things had really gotten sluggish. We have about 92,000 posts on Caltrops, and sure, I’m not expecting that to be zippy quick, but still. It was merely okay with midPhase.

– The last bit, was that on two occassions, we lost posts.

Let me explain why that is a bit touchy for the average user of Caltrops. 

When I say that the Old Man Murray forum was removed, it happened suddenly. More, Caltrops lost several thousand posts when the original admin decided to delete the site and the db. We got some of them back, but still – I’m biased, but the people on that site spend a lot of fucking time making their messages. To have them inaccessible twice over just isn’t ideal.

A few weeks ago, I woke up and saw that we lost about a week’s worth of posts with midPhase. I did some investigation… and saw on their status blog that were moving to a new machine with them! Nice to know! I wasn’t subscribed to their status blog, so I had no idea. Maybe this is my fault, and maybe it isn’t (I was never able to see a written record of what machine (esc156, I think) Caltrops was on, I just deduced it from what status updates affected us) but I don’t understand how having an out-of-date database was somehow the way the transfer was supposed to work.

I opened a ticket with them about this. It was always about 24 hours turnaround with them. I want to stress that their techs were helpful, knowledgeable and professional. They were able to get me a backup. We would have lost no posts. The problem is, after seeing no action for several hours, I got impatient, said “fuck it,” and opened Caltrops back up. I don’t know enough to integrate the posts, I didn’t think it would happen again… I let it go. 

Over the weekend, though, I saw the same thing. 

We lost a day’s worth of posts. I was about to go to bed Saturday night when I noticed it. I went over to their status blog… and they did ask “not to make any updates after 6:00 PM.” Would have been nice if I had known that! midPhase lets you subscribe to their status blog, but Jesus Fucking Christ – how do they explain us losing an entire day’s worth of posts, when we were instructed to not update past 6? Keeping in mind, that I saw the db loss at 1:30 AM the next day. That’s seven hours we would had the site off-line, if I had caught that bulletin.

I opened a ticket. Again – I got an answer the next day. That being said, I had already made the decision to switch hosts. I’m using a third-party webhost because I don’t have time to deal with this shit, I really don’t. The reply I got was helpful and professional, and the people working at the customer level with midPhase are great. But yeah, if my users think the post they are writing is going to die off, then the posters leave, the posts get worse, and the entire site becomes a waste of time. 

All right, so Dreamhost: the big thing with them, is that somebody there charged a year’s worth of bills instead of a year. People were finding their bank accounts overdrawn. It was bedlam. They responded to this by posting a picture of Homer Simpson fat-fingering some keys. Ho ho ho, this outraged some of their customers. When I signed up with them, I absolutely didn’t use a card tied to where the mortgage is paid from. In fact, when I heard about it, I felt like an idiot for doing it with a few different companies. It really is a stupid thing to do.

But really, I can look past that, because it wasn’t my bank account that was affected. What helped me make the decision to go to Dreamhost is that I have been reading my buddy Jason Scott’s weblog for at least the last two years. It is NEVER down. I float around, back and forth, throughout the work day, seeing if he added anything new. It’s always up. (Correction: inventory.getlamp.com and www.getlamp.com are hosted through Dreamhost, but yes, they are always up when I visit.) I’ve even heard that the uptime stats for Dreamhost aren’t great, but I am simply not seeing it; they’re running his blog some of his sites just fine.

.. And that is pretty much where we are. I love having a “free” cvs install – I am going to throw my work-in-progress up there, and finally have version control that goes beyond me copying my WIP to three different PCs. I like the one-click install possibilities of WordPress, and their panel is really great. I couldn’t be happier. (And how often does that happen??)


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