We were down for about 16 hours because of Dreamhost

Update: Dreamhost is still having problems, although not as bad as yesterday.  So I just signed up for CloudFlare.  Once the nameserver changes get propagated it will help keep us online by displaying cached pages if Dreamhost goes down again.  It should also make our web pages load quicker and provide some additional protection against hackers.  

MachinistBlog is hosted on Dreamhost and they had problems, which they still haven’t explained, which caused us to be unreachable for about 16 hours today (Sunday).  I’ve been buying web hosting services since 1995 and they’ve been by far the most unreliable one I’ve ever done business with.  On the other hand, their support’s been good and they provide unlimited bandwidth and disk space for about $9 per month.  However, we get so much traffic that I’ve had to upgrade to a Virtual Private Server (VPS) to get more memory and computing power.  The VPS is currently costs an additional $35-$40 per month and that amount will continue to increase along with our readership.

I’ve already been looking at alternatives but I’m not close to making any changes.  If I had the time to be my own system administrator I’d switch to Linode as my host.  I’ve also been looking at CloudFlare and wondering if I can use Amazon’s “cloud” to carry some of the load.  If you have any suggestions I’d like to hear them.

7 thoughts on “We were down for about 16 hours because of Dreamhost”

  1. That seems to be SOP. Offer low cost hosting, but make it so unreliable as to be a huge hassle. Of course, there are higher priced “upgrades” to solve all the problems.

  2. Dreamhost has been criticized in the past for oversubscribing their “shared” servers. But they seem to have stopped doing that. They’re also one of the biggest web hosts and their prices and services are very competitive. I think we’ve experienced more reliability problems than we should but until yesterday they’ve been pretty minor and Dreamhost’s support has always been very prompt and helpful. I could honestly recommend them and I was thinking about posting a small ad for them that might have considerably offset the cost of running this web site (and MachinistVideos.com).

    But, Dreamhost recently experienced another problem I didn’t mention. They got hacked last week and as a result all their customers had to change their FTP passwords. IMHO, that’s less forgivable than a 16-hour outage affecting hundreds of web sites. So I don’t think they can be trusted anymore. Which is why I’ll be looking harder for an alternative or backup host.

  3. I’ve never heard of WPEngine. I took a look and did some research and it appears they’re worth some serious consideration. One problem though is that I actually run two web sites (MachinistBlog.com & MachinistVideos.com) and I’m working on a third (RochesterMakerSpace).

    Dreamhost lets me host an unlimited number of web sites under one $9 account. Although each additional web site requires paying for some additional VPS resources. It looks like I would have to get a separate $49/month account for each web site if I switch to WPEngine. They also claim their lowest cost account supports up to 50,000 page views per month and MachinistBlog exceeds that.

  4. For what it’s worth… I added Cloudflare a few months ago. It’s very nice, assists in filtering spambots, and ekes out more performance. Based on last month’s stats, the asset caching cuts my bandwidth consumption to about half of what it would be. The number of potential intrusions prevented was shockingly high.

    DH support — which has always been prompt and helpful — had some specific caching plugin suggestions (which I’d already been using), but as far as they were concerned, the response time of the web site and MySQL server were fine. I was able to eke out some improvement by changing my theme and disabling some plugins. Unfortunately, 5-7 seconds a page load is just not going to cut it. So, I’ve been exploring options. I saw WPEngine mentioned on HackerNews last week. I’m about eight hours into the trial and, so far, it’s been relatively straightforward. Their entry-level plan seems to have changed since the previous poster — $29/m for 15Gb and 25k visitors. It’s far below what you need, but maybe their middle tier might suffice? (It gets you ten domains.) In preliminary conversation with them, they’re more concerned about bandwidth usage than # of visitors.

  5. Cloudflare has reduced the load on my server so much that I’ve been able to turn down the VPS and save about $10/month. I also feel a lot safer because of the security it adds. That’s a big issue for me because we’ve been hacked twice. I’m running their free version but I am going to give their premium product a try.

    But I didn’t see much, if any, improvement in MBlog’s load times. It might be because I’ve put a lot of work in optimizing the web site and I had the VPS cranked up a bit to keep page load times low. That’s become a big thing for Google and I think it’s one of the reasons why we’re ranked pretty high by them. Most pages start loading in about a second and finish within 3.5.

    The one minor thing I’m not happy about with CloudFlare is the accuracy of their stats. They show MachinistBlog getting a LOT more hits than Google Analytics and WordPress Stats, and should be pretty accurate. They also show a huge saving in bandwidth that isn’t confirmed by Dreamhost’s stats.

    My basic monthly fee is paid up at Dreamhost for another year and I also don’t have the time to move to another host right now. So I’ll probably be staying put for a little while at least. I have been pretty happy with them until recently.

    I just installed a script called PSManager that DH recommended. It’s suppose to automatically adjust your VPS for the amount of traffic you’re getting. Its only been running since Thursday or Friday and I don’t think I have it tweaked yet. So I don’t know if it’s going to save me any money or not. BTW, I had to open up a Dreamhost trouble ticket to get it going because I couldn’t edit the Crontab. It turned out to my server wasn’t correctly configured by them – AGAIN. They are very friendly and helpful but I’ve had to open up far more tickets with them than any of the other hosts I’ve used since 1995.

    BTW, the cost of running this web site is not an problem. But it could be someday if our readership keeps growing as it has been and I’d like to keep it free of ads if I can. I do have ads on MachinistVideos.com that are making some money. If the web site ever takes off they’ll probably pay for both web sites.

  6. Hey, So are you still with DreamHost or have you moved to Linode? CloudFlare setting is now integrated in DreamHost panel. So you must be happy using it.


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