Website unavailability over the past week

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Andrew Lee
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Website unavailability over the past week

#1 Post by Andrew Lee » Fri May 01, 2009 1:50 pm

Apologies for the hiccup over the past week, and thanks to everyone who emailed/PM me to alert me of the problem!

Anyway, as promised, here's a rundown of the entire episode for those of you who are interested.

TPFC has been hosted with Dreamhost even since it started. I chose their shared hosting plan since it's the cheapest (about $10/month). Despite some outages over the years, I have largely stuck with them because they do a pretty good job for a shared hoster, and they are pretty transparent about problems with their machines/network. I have direct/indirect experiences with a few other shared hosters, and so far they represented the best bang for the buck, until now..

Starting from one or two months back, they started offering their "private server" plan. The plan is akin to what's know as VPS (virtual private server) in the industry, and cost $15/month for minimal config. A little investigation tells me that $30-$50/month will be a more realistic figure for a typical website. Since this was way out of my budget, I decided to ignore it. Anyway, the advertisement started with their newsletters, and ended in private emails to try out the offer. Then the offers got aggressive:
Last week we sent you an email inviting you to try our still-new
DreamHost PS (Private Servers) and/or our DreamHost PS MySQL service!
It looks like you never checked it out at:

http://www.dreamhostps.com/

Nor did you choose to sign up by visiting:

https://panel.dreamhost.com/?tree=vserver.provision


We can understand if you're perhaps not interested at this time.. it's
true the minimum extra monthly charge is $15 (for 150MB of resources).

But... what if we gave you $5 a month off... forever? What THEN?

Well, what if is what NOW... if you sign up in the next week (by 2009-04-18),
you'll automatically get a 150MB DreamHost PS server for just $10/month...
forever! That's 33% off (give or take .3333333333333333333333333...%)!

The main advantages of DreamHost PS are:

* You get your own PROTECTED system resources for improved stability.
* You get more flexibility than regular hosting to run any process.
* You can scale your resources on the fly, and reboot your own PS.
* It's currently only +$10/month for every 100MB of memory. ($5 off!)
* It's a completely seamless transition from our regular shared hosting.

You can also sign up for DreamHost PS MySQL, which is just like PS but
for your databases. If you get both PS and PS MySQL, you get another 20%
off both, forever!

Sign up now and we'll be able to provision you ASAP!

Thanks once more,
The Happy DreamHost Evite Team!
followed by:
Last week we again sent you an email inviting you to try our still-new
DreamHost PS (Private Servers) and/or our DreamHost PS MySQL service!
But again it looks like you never checked it out at:

http://www.dreamhostps.com/

Nor did you choose to sign up by visiting:

https://panel.dreamhost.com/?tree=vserver.provision


Well, it's hard for us to understand how you couldn't give it a shot for
just $10/month (33% off). But not impossible for us to believe. What's
IMPOSSIBLE for us to believe is if you don't take advantage of this, our
final and greatest offer!

$10/month off.. forever. That's 100MB free.. meaning you can get your
very own Private Server with 150MB of ram for just FIVE dollars a month!
Awooooooga!

The main advantages of DreamHost PS are:

* You get your own PROTECTED system resources for improved stability.
* You get more flexibility than regular hosting to run any process.
* You can scale your resources on the fly, and reboot your own PS.
* It's currently only +$10/month for every 100MB of memory. ($10 off!)
* It's a completely seamless transition from our regular shared hosting.

You can also sign up for DreamHost PS MySQL, which is just like PS but
for your databases. If you get both PS and PS MySQL, you get another 20%
off both, forever!

Now, this is really our final final offer. And, it expires one week from
today (by 2009-04-27) .. sign up and we'll be able to provision you
ASAP!



Thanks one final time,
The Happy DreamHost Evite Team!
When that didn't work, they sent me this email dated 23 Apr:
We are contacting you to inform you that we have had to throttle the connections to your site (portablefreeware.com) as it was causing the apache server you are on to run out of available connection slots. While we attempt to avoid disruption of customer services in this case it was causing problems for other users so we were forced to take action. If you can redesign your site to be less process-intensive (we only throttle sites when they are causing load in the server in addition to having many connections - if you just have static content for example that's easy for the machine to serve up and we can just give you more connections) we'll be happy to review the case for you. It is also possible that you have outgrown shared hosting and are ready for your own private server:

http://dreamhostps.com

If you are interested in that option please contact support with any questions you have any we'll be happy to assist you.
Then suddenly all the non-availability messages start to appear. It got so bad that I was unable to access the forum to post a news item about it! At first, I thought it was some problems with their servers. But after a few days, I decided the fastest way to bring TPFC back up again was to switch to their "private server" plan temporarily. It took two days to provision the switch, then on 28 Apr, I was told the switch has been made.

With high hopes, I tried accessing the forum again. I got the same "Service Temporarily Unavailable" message. WTF! So I went ahead and switched the database to their "private server" plan as well. That took two days too, and on 30 Apr, the switch was made and suddenly, TPFC works as before again.

What really pissed me off about this whole thing is their apparently strong-armed tactic of holding a user to ransom and forcing him to migrate to a more expensive plan. The shared hosting was running fine before, and I only get the occasional email from support to fine-tune certain database operations, so what has changed? If you create a more expensive product, surely it is unethical to suddenly cripple an existing, lower-end product to force user to upgrade?

Anyway, I am still monitoring the situation and figure out how much it is actually going to cost me on the new PS/PSSQL plans. The first week is free so that I can get a feel of the maximum resource usage, but from initial observations, it will be at least $40/month. With this kind of money, it will probably be cheaper to migrate to a real VPS, some of which only cost $19.95/month. I will definitely be spending the next couple of weeks researching VPS solutions, so a migration to another host is definitely on the table.

-.-
Posts: 325
Joined: Mon Oct 06, 2008 4:32 pm

#2 Post by -.- » Fri May 01, 2009 6:51 pm

yeah find a new plan :S

though microsoft is forcing people to use vista over xp

anyways don't pay that $40/month since it's too much, but i dont know a better place for it but its just too much still

freakazoid
Posts: 915
Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2007 5:45 pm

#3 Post by freakazoid » Fri May 01, 2009 11:40 pm

i'm not that well-versed with web-hosting and the like.

hopefully someone else on PF.com can give you some suggestions!
is it stealth? ;)

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I am Baas
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#4 Post by I am Baas » Sat May 02, 2009 12:11 am

Ask yourself: Do I want to do business with a company that conducts itself in such unethical manner?

IanFromBarrie
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun May 03, 2009 6:07 am
Location: Barrie, Ontario

We'll be patient

#5 Post by IanFromBarrie » Sun May 03, 2009 6:14 am

This is the first site I check every time I power up, and I have been going through serious withdrawal over the last week. The other alternatives frankly don't cut it for me, and I was worried, let me tell you. Good to know that you were captured by pirates rather than ran away to join the circus.

Given the professionalism you bring to how you handle this site, I'm confident you'll find a host that doesn't use these kinds of backhanded tactics. Meanwhile, we'll hang in.

Keep up the good work.

carbonize
Posts: 363
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2008 1:16 am
Location: Bristol, UK
Contact:

#6 Post by carbonize » Mon May 04, 2009 2:10 am

I've been using TotalChoice for a few years now with few hiccups and the hiccups that I have had have mainly been down to knee jerk reactions from their staff. I only pay $55 a year for 80GB bandiwdth a month and 1200MB of web space. Unlimited MySQL databases and email addresses.

JohnW
Posts: 361
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2006 9:18 am
Location: London, UK

#7 Post by JohnW » Mon May 04, 2009 2:54 am

Thanks for the explanation. It did seem strange that after years of smooth running, the site should suddenly experience these problems.

In passing, I'm sure you must be aware that 'Latest' isn't working at the moment. The home page displays the various options but not the Database.

carbonize
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Location: Bristol, UK
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#8 Post by carbonize » Mon May 04, 2009 4:49 am

Sounds like bully boy extertion tactics. A friend of mine took out web hosting just to host his forum. The host he choice specifically says they support SMF and all was well for a month and then suddenly he started getting database issues and the hosts claimed he would have to take out a dedicated server as the forum was using to much.

Time like that it's best to just move host and post about how bad they were in as many places as possible.

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Andrew Lee
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#9 Post by Andrew Lee » Mon May 04, 2009 5:48 pm

In passing, I'm sure you must be aware that 'Latest' isn't working at the moment. The home page displays the various options but not the Database.
I am pretty sure it is working. Anyone else has this problem?

ashghost
Posts: 382
Joined: Wed Feb 06, 2008 2:55 pm
Location: South Carolina

#10 Post by ashghost » Mon May 04, 2009 6:31 pm

Andrew Lee wrote:I am pretty sure it is working. Anyone else has this problem?
Everything looks normal on the front page to me, Andrew, but I'm still getting "Database Error" messages on the forum once in awhile.

If you fixed my login problem, thank you (refreshing my password one more time seems to have done it). If not, perhaps it was a symptom of DreamHost's extortion.

chezduong
Posts: 67
Joined: Mon Jan 15, 2007 6:14 am

#11 Post by chezduong » Tue May 05, 2009 12:13 pm

I get the following message about 30% of the time.

Hope this helps. Rgds. CD
Internal Server Error

The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

Please contact the server administrator, webmaster@portablefreeware.com and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

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I am Baas
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#12 Post by I am Baas » Tue May 05, 2009 3:11 pm

Same here... Internal Server Error throughout the day.

freakazoid
Posts: 915
Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2007 5:45 pm

#13 Post by freakazoid » Tue May 05, 2009 3:43 pm

I also had the 500 interal server error today... :(
is it stealth? ;)

lbaty
Posts: 23
Joined: Thu Nov 23, 2006 3:33 pm
Location: New Zealand

#14 Post by lbaty » Wed May 06, 2009 1:41 am

I have no direct knowledge of web hosting requirements of a forum.

Would it be possible to host your site at hostgator.com ?
I don't work for them or endorse/guarantee their service.

Hostgator advertises ...
-- * UNLIMITED Disk Space
-- * UNLIMITED Bandwidth
-- * Host UNLIMITED Websites
-- * FREE Instant Setup
-- * 99.9% Uptime Guarantee
-- * 45 Day Money Back Guarantee
-- * CGI, PHP 5, RoR, Perl
-- * MySQL, SSH, SSL, IMAP, POP
-- * cPanel Hosting ( View Demo )
-- * 24/7/365 Upgraded Support
-- * No Contracts or Hidden Fees
Only $7.95 /month
http://www.hostgator.com/shared.shtml

I host a few small websites with them and for what it's worth have had mostly positive experiences with their support and service.

bassiliin
Posts: 69
Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2008 12:49 am

#15 Post by bassiliin » Wed May 06, 2009 5:42 am

I'm also getting these messages in every third click:

"Service Temporarily Unavailable
The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to maintenance downtime or capacity problems. Please try again later."

"Internal Server Error
The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

Please contact the server administrator, webmaster@portablefreeware.com and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request."

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