DeeEmm

Pragmatism in code

Pragmatism in code

Waxing lyrical about life the universe and everything software related since lunchtime 2006.

Green Geeks

I have had a few of my larger sites hosted at Green Geeks for a number of years now. At one time I used to use them exclusively for all of my hosting, years ago the prices were good, and the service was great. However, over time the level of service seemed to drop massively and the number of issues that I experienced seemed to grow exponentially. 

One issue that kept rearing it's head was unexpected server updates. The techs had a habit of making server configuration changes without any prior notice meaning that you would come into work and find that 100 out of your 200 sites had features that had stopped working. These changes were usually in response to server security compromises, and amazingly on some of these occasions there was even a root breach. Such changes were an absolute nightmare and sometimes would result in losing two days or more to update code to work with the new convoluted configurations. In the end I simply moved everything to another host.

Whilst this was easy for most sites, I have a couple of larger sites that simply were not an easy task to migrate. The sheer size of the sites meant days of FTP time to transfer the files. I simply kept putting the migration off until the inevitable happened.

Well that inevitable moment happend recently when the billing cycle was unable to renew as my credit card details had expired. Instead of emailing me to let me know so that I could update my details they simply flipped the switch and took the sites offline. The first I knew of it was receiving an email from an irate client saying that their service had been suspended. Great.

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Go Yabba Daddy

Not being a very heavy traffic type of site DeeEmm.com has always been quite happy residing on a shared server along side the other similar sites that I run. My two heavy traffic sites reside on a dedicated server but there has never been a need for such extravagances here. That is, until just recently.

Go Yabba Yabba!

I have a habit of bouncing between hosting plans so that i can get a better deal and have moved between several hosts before settling on GoDaddy. They offered the cheapest unlimited hosting and as I had domains and online storage registered there it seemed like a no-brainer. Before I moved I gave them a call to make sure that they supported Joomla and a few specific hosting requirements that I needed. The support guy was very helpful and reassured me that there were no account restrictions and the hosting could be configured as I required. Cool.

So nearly a year goes by, with no major dramas. The support has been excellent when I have needed it and the sites are running much better then they did on my previous host (who had a habit of continually reconfiguring the servers in the name of 'security' which usually ended up breaking my site).

Out of the blue just before Christmas I get an email from 'network violations' telling me that my account is in contravention of their hosting policy and will be taken down unless I immediately fix it. On digging a little further it transpires that as a couple of the sites I had hosted there have over 1024 files within a directory it was seen as being in contravention with their terms and conditions. They advised me to immediately change the site so that it did not have greater then 1024 files or folders in a single directory and then send them an email stating that I had removed the offending items, was in agreement to their rule of 1024 and would not do it again.

WTF!?!

I smell a rat!

I was majorly pissed off as one of the issues I asked about before committing was hosting limitations on their 'unlimited' plans. Well after doing some digging I found out that there is no such clause in their T&C, hence the request to cut and paste a specific statement into an email. Obviously I refused.

After some debate and moving up the food chain a few levels I ended up in a stalemate conversation with one of their managers who was not going to budge on their newly created 1024 rule and whilst I managed to get the deadline extended a little they were adamant that I had to address the file issue.

There was no compromise on their behalf and I was fed a bullshite story about how my sites were affecting other domains on the shared hosting (quite amazing considering that neither site was actually live, the DNS records were still pointing at my previous registrar meaning that there was zero traffic to their servers).

With lies and a complete lack of cooperation on behalf of GoDaddy I decided to vote with my feet and take my (considerable) business elsewhere. Their loss! I did however manage to get a parting shot by getting them to refund me for the three hosting plans that they miss-sold me. The ironic thing was that in the course of the discussions I had with them I asked if they would upgrade me to a VPS plan for free - which they declined. Not sure why as it was a fraction of the price of the three plans. Idiots.

My Gain

Their loss has literally turned into my gain as I discovered Digital Ocean who offer basic VPS hosting from as little as $5 / month. I have now migrated all of my hosted sites over to a single VPS instance which is working absolutely flawlessly. The best thing is that should I need I can easily and instantly upgrade to a higher spec VPS with the click of a button.

I'm going to carry on testing things out for a while and will probably move my two large sites across as it is much better value than I am currently getting.

/DM

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Exchange Mail And Linux Hosting + EMMA

Some of you may be aware that I've been setting up a new business - Indau Industrial Automation. Before setting up the new website and email servers I decided that I was going to look for exchange based email hosting packaged with a Linux web server. This would allow me to retain the Windows Mobile smart phone that I currently use and utilise it for push email and OWA Calendar and task synchronising. Having used Push based email for the past year it was high on the list of things to have - even though it meant retaining a tie to Micro$oft.

Unfortunately there are no comparible solutions available from the open source community yet, There are a few solutions that offer push email from the Linux platform but none that I wanted to risk trying, and none that are as feature rich as the Exchange + Windows mobile solution.

For the hosting package I looked no further than ComWebHosting my current service providers - although not advertised they were able to sort out a package that included Linux based web hosting with PHP and SQL along with exchange based Email. ComWebHosting come highly reccomended - I've used them for the past 8 or 9 years and have never had a problem - even now I'm based in Australia, using a UK based hosting company is not a problem - even for push email from my smart phone.

One new thing to sort out with the web hosting was the SQL database administration. Normally most web hosts provide phpMyAdmin to administer the database, some use other clients but there is normally a way in which you can upload a database backup or run an SQL query. As the sql database server was not the same as the webserver phpMyAdmin was not available so I needed to find a DB client that could be run remotely from the server - allowing me to install it on my local machine but access and administrate the database located on a different server.

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