I recently needed to switch off my co-located server of the last seven years for something different. Knowing that my blog doesn’t get Techcrunch levels of traffic I looked around for a cheap hosting solution. Dreamhost and Bluehost are two of the bigger shared hosting services. Though the problem is that both have affiliate programs making the reviews about hosting you find via Google useless because every writes how great they are without being critical.
Getting setup was simple enough and I was impressed how quickly they got my SSH account setup (they require photo ID verification.)
However after I transferred my blogs over I soon ran into the first of many problems with Bluehost:
Weak Ruby on Rails Support: They claim they support Ruby on Rails but their article on setting up rails is years out of date and does not jive with their CPanel support of rails. After days of fussing with it, I finally got rails working but I wouldn’t be able to tell you how I did it. After looking in the forums you can see that many people struggle with getting rails to work.
Shared MySQL: Someone must have grabbed all the MySQL connections because one night my blog couldn’t connect anymore. It’s annoying to have to monitor this yourself and get tech support to restart MySQL.
Slow: This is mainly anecdotal and not based on hard metrics but my blog felt slow on it. Occasionally I got time outs from work (where we have a fat pipe.)
Outages: The thing that pushed me over the edge was last weekend my blog went down Saturday morning and was down for 36 hours. Every few hours I would ping support and each time I got a different message with a different estimate for when things would be back online. At one point they said Monday afternoon! I asked them to transfer my account to another box but they wouldn’t. Their server status page also said that everything was fine! The other thing that bothered me was that they did not communicate with the affected people. I didn’t receive any emails saying my account was down or when it would be back up. This must have been affecting more than just my box because people were posting in the Bluehost forums and moderators would keep closing the threads preventing any open and honest discussion of what was happening.
And so I decided to switch. Yes, three different hosts in a month and a half!
This time instead of starting at the bottom I started at the top. Who hosts Techcrunch? Who hosts the great WordPress SEO resource, Yoast.com? Answers to both those questions are Media Temple, a grid computing service. But I keep poking around and at some point I stumbled on Who Do Rockstar Bloggers Host With? Which lists the Technorati top 100 blogs and their hosts:
Media Temple hosts over twice as many top blogs as any other web hosting company in the list.
Turns out Media Temple is not crazy expensive either at $40/month (versus $7/month for Bluehost.)
And so far it’s been good. Rails wasn’t too hard to setup and no outages yet.