Time is up for DreamHost

downfor9hours
If you’ve visited this blog on any day this week, or you’re a subscriber to the RSS feed, or you otherwise tried to have any interaction with anything at this domain, you would likely have had a zero experience. Zero in the sense of the site just not being there.

The site has been down at various times every day this week, the longest outage being 9 hours yesterday until the early hours this morning.

You’d typically get a 500 or 503 error displayed in your browser if you came here during an outage, something like this:

nhcom503

My hosting service, DreamHost – who I’ve been with for nearly four years – has not replied to any of my support emails since Tuesday as the outages continue. That’s the reason I’m calling it a day on DreamHost.

No one can guarantee 100% uptime (I don’t think anyone actually claims to do that, do they?). Outages and issues – expected as well as unexpected – happen with every hosting service, and DreamHost is no exception.

The last email I received back from DreamHost support on Tuesday had a clear explanation on what was going on:

inflatedloadaverage

They told me that on Monday, too. Yet the outages continue.

Maybe this all suggests that my hosting needs are something other than shared hosting, more likely a dedicated server. I had been thinking about this already, considering whether to go for DreamHost’s Virtual Private Server service, a shared solution that looks as good as a dedicated server but without the cost of that.

However, what I have decided today is that DreamHost and I will part company as soon as I find an alternate service. I’m going to assess some things first including a better understanding of exactly what I need a host for, how I use it, what my sites do, etc. In reality, almost all my needs are for a reliable place that I can host WordPress sites and have confidence in the support system that they really do understand blogs and the infrastructure that supports them (DreamHost certainly do).

Trouble is, most other hosting services I’ve looked at seem geared to the old website models of hundreds of email addresses and databases, guest books, shopping carts and checkouts, all ready for e-commerce.

Totally not what I need.

Luckily, I’m asking some smart people for advice. So I hope to have a solution soon. Meanwhile my apologies if DreamHost’s service here continues to be, well, not here at all.

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. Andy C

    Sorry to hear about your woes, Neville.

    I guess we could all accept the occasional downtime but it’s the appalling customer service that is simply inexcusable.

    Changing host is time consuming and a major inconvenience.

    Mind you, you were lucky – When I was with Dreamhost, I got a load average > 400

    The main problem I found when looking for alternative hosting was I got recommendations and war stories for just about every candidate. It’s a minefield.

  2. Andrea Vascellari

    O…M…G…
    Seriously… this is shocking. Period.

    I had problems with Dreamhost too and I can say that I wasn’t always happy with their support, but this is just crazy.
    I think that one time it was actually you that told me “Hey Andrea your site is showing a 500… which is actually worst than a 400 error”. I remember to tell you “I wish I could do something…” now I’m sure you understand what I was referring to.

    9 hours down is way too much. No question about it. If you add to that the lack of customer support… I tell you, while I’m writing, I’m still shocked.

    I feel even tempted to move away from Dreamhost to prevent such problems. I guess any serious communicator that is using his site as central hub can’t even take in consideration of relying on hosting that can potentially let you down for 9 hours without even a decent support.

    Pity, I agree with you I’m on Dreamhost for the same reasons including that they seem to be the one that better understand wordpress etc. But at this point well… I’ll keep my eyes wide open for other opportunities too.

    Again, I’ll keep following as usual your blog and of course the follow up on this Dreamhost odyssey.

    Andrea

    • Richard Gatarski

      Too bad, and I feel with you Neville. I am for a number of years extremely satisfied with http://www.icdsoft.com (my servers are on the US side). Not sure how they scale up (my sites are in the houndreds of unique visitors/day and I guess you are way beyond that). Besides almost 100% uptime they have a support ticketing service that usually fixes things within minutes 7/24/365. Quite often they actually do minor server coding/suggestion/settings when things go beyond my knowledge. And for an unbeliavable low cost.
      Good luck with the switch!

  3. Holiday Pad

    We use Dreamhost for all our hosting and a month ago they had to change servers for some accounts, our was one of them. This resulted in our Holiday Pad site being down but their email was very explanatory and the problem was easily resolved.

    It was easily resolved because Holiday Pad runs off Textpattern and in my opinion is more elegant and less bloated than WordPress.

    We had problems yesterday with one of our WP sites (the upload functions weren’t working) but after spending 2 hours trying to resolve it I had to give in amd fire off an email to DH support. They not only got back to me quickly but actually went into the db for the WP site and resolved the issue AND gave us instructions on how to solve it for any other WP sites we have experiencing the same problem.

    Whilst DH are far from perfect (who isn’t?) I have found them to be quick and courteous with their support. We too are looking into upgrading to their PS account, as and when needs must.

    I should also point out that we know our way around their admin panel and have many sites hosted. To change host would require at least a week’s work, if not more.

    Better the devil you know.

  4. Hugh

    I’ve tried Dreamhost, but Bluehost is so much better. It’s a shared server, but the company really does do its best to provide top notch service. There is occasionally 45 minutes downtime, perhaps once very few months, usually about about 6 or 7 am GMT while they do maintenance. Otherwise they seem to keep going. And customer service is always good. I usually phone them.

  5. Justin

    I actually use Bluehost like Hugh and am a fan of it. I host numerous blogs on there and don’t seem to have many problems. I like their 24 hour online support although sometimes phone them. With Skype their 800 number is free to use so pretty cool!

    However for what you need I would be really tempted to go with Rackspace Cloud.

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