A couple of years ago I became fed up with my Web hosting provider. MMHosting had been great, but then came the outages, and the complete lack of response from their support people. (At the start of my stay with them, I had been mightily impressed with their customer care. That ended.) Then there was the time Muddled Ramblings was mentioned on a very popular blog and my hits soared. They turned me off.
I moved to a new, very inexpensive host called iPage. It was great, until the outages, which could last a day or more. When I asked what the problem had been and what they had done, they were vague. “No, really,” I persisted, “I understand the jargon. Tell me what happened and what you did to make sure it won’t happen again.” I never got an answer.
“You get what you pay for,” I reasoned, and iPage was wedging me onto an already overcrowded server and there just wasn’t enough computer there to handle all that traffic. Giddy with a new income stream, I decided to upgrade. The way to avoid getting wedged onto an overcrowded machine is to cough up the bucks and reserve a portion of a machine that is yours and yours alone. It doesn’t matter what any of your neighbors on the box do, they can’t take your resources away from you.
The downside to this approach is that you can’t borrow resources from your neighbors, either. For reasons I still don’t understand, my virtual server went nuts every once in a while, cranking away and eventually running out of ram and descending into a hellish limbo of non-Web-serving confusion. I’ve gone over all my stuff and I can’t find anything that would cause that, but there must be something. (It might be coming from outside; perhaps China still hates this blog, and throws a half-assed attack at it periodically. They do that shit. I expect it’s something more local, however.)
So the money I was throwing at the problem wasn’t helping. It was time to weigh my options again. The step up from renting a dedicated slice of a server is to use the whole damn machine. Naturally, this costs a lot more, since there’s one customer per machine.
Except when it doesn’t. Enter my new best hosting pals, MacMiniColo.net. For the price I was paying Green Geeks, I get more than six times the server, and it’s MacOS, which means all my experience setting up servers with MacPorts pays off. (I’m a big fan of MacPorts. It’s not always quite as easy as they make it sound, but usually it is. Tonight I needed to add SSH2 support in PHP, and all I had to do was type
sudo port install php5-ssh2 and that was that. I’m not even sure what SSH2 is (as opposed to SSH) but it simplified the WordPress AutoUpdate process.)
There were a couple of hiccups getting everything running (I set up jerryseeger.com as a WordPress install first to pave the way), but once everyone agreed where the MySQL socket was it was Holiday On Ice the rest of the way. The last step, getting AutoUpdate to work in WordPress, was something I’d not managed on the CentOS virtual server at GreenGeeks. Now it’s cake.
So, I’m pretty happy. I’ll be watching for the midnight-runaway problem, and if the extra horsepower doesn’t solve it (if it even happens at all), at least now I know that there is nothing on this box I don’t control.