DreamHost outage: Keeping the faith


If you tried to visit here during much of today, Sunday, you would have been out of luck.

My hosting service, DreamHost, had a planned total power outage overnight Saturday/Sunday which resulted in every hosted website plus email being completely offline. ‘Every’ meaning just that – every individual or company who uses DreamHost, no website or email.

While the outage was planned – and every customer who subscribes to the RSS feed on the DreamHost Status blog would have known about it a few days ago – things didn’t quite go according to plan resulting in an issue with a blade in one of the core routers which meant things are still down well into Sunday.

Now I have no idea what a router blade is (maybe it’s one of these) but it must be pretty serious!

As I start writing this post just before 1pm on Sunday, no site including mine is yet up although DreamHost’s own website is now up, an indicator that things are gradually coming back online.

(How can I write this post if my site is down? you may ask. I can because I do all my post writing offline using ecto for Windows or BlogJet. I then publish the post to the live site. Or not yet, as in this case at the moment.)

Naturally, having your site completely offline for a while is enormously frustrating no matter how much advance notice you might get. That frustration is evidenced by the avalanche of comments to the update post on the DreamHost Status blog just a few hours ago – nearly 300 comments so far when I was able to look again at 2pm (I left one when the comment total was about 215). That site is being hammered with access attempts, so it’s intermittently not responding.

What should you expect from your hosting service regarding the availability of that service?

Take a look at DreamHost’s terms of service which include this pretty clear statement:

[…] DreamHost Web Hosting can make no guarantee that any given reader shall be able to access DreamHost Web Hosting’s server at any given time. DreamHost Web Hosting represents that it shall make every good faith effort to ensure that its server is available as widely as possible and with as little service interruption as possible.

To me, that equates to the proverbial 99.999% uptime. In other words, they don’t guarantee 100%. Who can? I doubt any service, anywhere, can or will ever guarantee 100%.

Even though my site is still unavailable today, outages are few and far between – but they tend to be big ones when they do happen – and their communication on what’s going on is very good.

So I keep the faith in DreamHost. I’m pretty pleased overall in the year I’ve been a customer, notwithstanding outages like this one. In my experience, I have yet to find a European service provider as good as DreamHost. They offer a great deal for a low cost. They have a great bunch of people working there! So I don’t hesitate to continue to recommend them to anyone looking for a new hosting service.

But, guys, please get things fixed. ASAP. Today.

[Update @ 2:45pm:] Site’s up!

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Garrison

    I’m a DH customer too and whilst I like the way they keep you informed via their RSS status it is pretty frustrating when things like this happen.

    Trouble we had yesterday was not being able to do any work on the redesign work we had planned, so it has seriously put us behind.

    Also, sat and sun are our busiest 2 days as this is seems to be when people do their holiday/vacation researching.

    Ho hum. I’ll keep the faith until our plan runs out in September then see how it goes.

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