Outages, Overselling, Onwards!

Earlier today Uli, co-worker, shell superman and father to the freakin’ cutest kid on the face of Earth, told me that while my blog frontpage was fine, he couldn’t access anything else—he always got empty pages.

Quickly digging in, I found out that my webserver was sending out some silly information—under certain circumstances (right type of browser etc.) you’d experience no problems, but when using anything else (for example, everything but my own Firefox setup) you’d get, well, bubkis. The error.log was quickly filling up, complaining about Zend APC somethingsomething, stuff I had neither touched nor control over anyways.

Apparently the really friendly, but by now obviously overwhelmed folks at Dreamhost had re-configured something without notice (at least I didn’t get one), which made my site, a rather standard WP install, run haywire. Awesome.

So I packed up my wee blog and finally moved it over to my Media Temple (gs) grid server account.

Don’t get me wrong: Dreamhost is nice. They are rather responsive, always friendly, and most of the time, the hosting quality is good. But that is the point: it’s just good. Six years ago, when I signed up with DH, it was fabulous. They weren’t overselling back then, and it was a really great hoster. Over the years I ran several sites there, some big, some small, all was smooth sailing. And then, a few years ago, the quality started to deteriorate. The were the occasional hiccups, then outages, power failures, hardware failures, routing problems, etc. etc. They always explained what went wrong, and reading and understanding helped to deal with the question that had arisen during these downtimes.

But at some point, well, explaining just didn’t cut it anymore for me. First and foremost, I want good service, period. Whether you charge fees of $8 or $80—I don’t care, the price should match the claims. They don’t sell different levels of service agreements, they sell different packages of features.

Also, I had recommended Dreamhost to a fair number of people who had signed up as well, based on my recommendation. And when things went downhill, I felt somehow responsible for the problems these guys had, since I had trusted my judgement, and now had to deal with bad quality.

Then there is the once-fabled Web Panel. Six years ago, it was the “shiznit”, if you catch my meaning. Well, time moved on, but the panel didn’t evolve, and even though it still does its job, it feels like it’s over six years old.

And then the features. All those features. This plethora of features. With their kind-of-working implementations. Once again, don’t get me wrong: I like features. But I’d rather have a few features less, but practical implementations. An example: they offer Jabber support. If you have a DH hosting account, you can set up as many Jabber servers as your heart desires. And you can add users using the web panel! That’s great! Now here’s the kicker—you can only add or remove them, and that’s it. Now I have a Jabber account on my zottmann.org server there (naturally) with a lot of contacts, but I forgot my password. And …so did my client after an update. But to change the password, I’d need to log in to the account first, which I can’t for obvious reasons. And the DH web panel only allows me to add or remove users, no editing possible. In my eyes, this is a sub-optimal implementation, which exists in this form since July 29, 2002.

I am aware that I am not without fault here, I’ve made mistakes. For example, I could’ve set up and configured my own Jabber/XMPP server, but didn’t. While that was clearly stupidity (hindsight is 20-20, after all), it’s not the point—I’m describing just one feature that, while being present, is severely lacking needed functionality, and showing a lackluster implementation.

Maybe I outgrew the service, I don’t know. At the moment I’m just a bit miffed, and contemplating which of my sites I should move next.

I wish I wouldn’t have to, that’s all.