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Ecommerce Forum

Virtual, dedicated or another shared host
Dilemma with site that goes up and down

 4:50 pm on Apr 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

I run a fairly successful e-commerce site on a shared host. I've been running at JaguarPC for about 10 years now. The problem is that there seem to be a LOT of "dropouts". I've had customers tell me that they went to place an order and their screen went blank during the process, or it never completed. I've seen it first hand when working on backend stuff where I'd get "Can not connect to mysql database" errors about 1 in 50 times. I contacted support and they said everything is fine on their end.

Do I need another host, or should I move to a virtual or dedicated server? Any advice would be appreciated.



 5:05 pm on Apr 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

The problem IMO is likely the shared hosting. Jaguar is OK, but only worked with them on a dedi level.

You need to get off shared hosting, seriously. Your box is shared with what, 600 other web sites? Who knows what goes on, it's like sleeping in a dirty hotel. :-)

If you've limped along with shared you will love at least a virtual. They work out very well for many of my clients.


 5:22 pm on Apr 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

I agree with rocknbil. I was on shared for years and had the occasional issue arise where trying to get support to resolve it was like pulling teeth. Email issues abounded. I switched just over a year ago to full dedicated at serverintellect and could not be happier. I now have ZERO unknown downtime and when I have a question (I am not a server admin so I do have questions!) they answer me within an hour.


 5:27 pm on Apr 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Where is the database located (relative to your website), and what leads you to believe that it's a hosting issue?

Blank screens as reported by customers can also mean that your perfectly-good website is having database issues.

Is the issue with a dropped connection to MySQL, or (more likely) the 10-yr-old database has 10 years worth of data, and needs to have 9 of those years archived?


 5:45 pm on Apr 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Wow, very quick replies. Thank you all. To follow up, I understand what virtual hosting is, but isn't it really still tied to the other people hosting on that same server? If someone else's virtual on that same machine is bringing it down, won't it take me too? Is it more like with shared I'm in a dirty hotel, but virtual I've got the entire floor to myself with a private entrance but to the same dirty hotel? I'm not sure I understand what would make things different. I'm still sharing, no?

jw: The database is with the shared hosting. I don't know for sure that it's a hosting issue. All I know is customers are having trouble, and I'm having the occasional problem. It is very possible our cart is causing the problems, but these things pop up so randomly (I know that happens with bugs). When I check POP e-mail on the same domain hosted at JaguarPC, I occasionally get dropouts as well (server can not be found). Maybe once or twice a day on say 20 e-mail checks. Could be my ISP, but it just doesn't seem like it happens to other places I interact with. And yes I've got 10 years worth of data in that DB, but it isn't a whole lot as far as I could tell. A few megabytes worth total. It's hard to believe that would cause problems, would it? They've all been optimized somewhat frequently, and they optimize almost instantly FWIW.


 8:00 pm on Apr 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

I would ask myself, what is a handful of lost sales worth? If you are evening losing one or two sales per month due to server issues, a hosting upgrade could pay for itself.


 1:48 am on Apr 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

plus there are so many other benefits. control your own htaccess for 301s alone is huge. then there is speed, if you are the only site on your box, you can tune it and get it humming. every time i speed up my site the response % increases.

pick up a server on ebay and stick linux on there - total hardware budget a few hundred tops.


 2:12 am on Apr 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

Considering you can get a rock solid self-managed dedicated server with a control panel for as little as $100 at a top tier hosting company, how is shared even an option?

Back when I ran/co-owned a hosting company for years I never lied to customers, you want solid service go dedicated, only way you can stop other customers on a shared box from bringing your site down or worse.

I always use dedicated for my own stuff as well.

pick up a server on ebay and stick linux on there - total hardware budget a few hundred tops.

Bad idea unless you want to play with hardware and basically be forced to stay near your colo at all times in case of disaster.

If you run a virtual business, rent a box, if it dies my host will have me back up online in an hour or two, maybe less. Fact is I have more than one box online and I can turn the site on the other server in minutes and then migrate to a new box later.

If it's my box, my hardware, it's dead until I get on site and get it fixed.

If you're on vacation nowhere near the colo, business be gone.

Just bad business IMO.


 1:10 pm on Apr 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

incrediBILL, excellent advice. COLO is not an option in the real world for a large percentage of ecommerce business. No way could I keep my server up and running at the level my host is keeping it. I have dedicated, for all intents and purposes it is my machine. I can remote in, do anything I please, VPN, etc. On the flip side I let the host handle month maintenance and urgent security patches. When I get in over my head (dns comes to mind) a quick support ticket gets them involved and things are fixed asap. If you have to manage it all yourself you are in for a world of hurt unless you are currently a sys admin.


 4:31 pm on Apr 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

Ok, so it looks like dedicated it is. Anyone have any suggestions? Anything under $100 a month? I think it would probably be best to stay away from Jag seeing that I have been having problems over there. On the flip side, it would be much simpler for them to transfer all my sites (I have a reseller account with about 15 sites active) over for me.


 5:02 pm on Apr 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

Blank screens as reported by customers can also mean that your perfectly-good website is having database issues.

But the programming should error trap this and report it. So the actual cause . . . is poorly written applications.

Oh yeah dedi is definitely the way to go, but virtual is far less expensive and **almost** as good.

isn't it really still tied to the other people hosting on that same server?
.... virtual I've got the entire floor to myself with a private entrance but to the same dirty hotel?

LOL . . not quite. Yes, if someone else does something to crash the computer, it would bring you down too - but there are a couple of things preventing that. First, a server crash in software is restricted to your VPS, that is, there are multiple copies of the server software running. You could be running One version of Apache and your neighbor's running a different one (or whatever! :-) I am not a systems admin. ) Their server software crashes - you keep running.

Second, the VPS's I've worked with have no more than 4-8 co-habitants. They too are a bit more responsible (most of the time.) In this respect, you lessen your odds. Third, the whole idea of virtual servers is to guarantee a percentage of resources that other co-habitant's can't horn into.

It's more like not only do you have the whole floor, you have your own water line (guaranteed X amount of memory dedicated to your VPS, other sites can't bite into it,) your own electrical circuit (same policy on max CPU usage,) and your own administrative tools to install software and manage server resources as you need to (put a new hot tub and knock out a wall if you want, you don't even have to ask.) The one little inside I found out about virtual servers - on a dedi you generally have two plans in terms of hardware/software, managed ande unmanaged. You pay extra for managed, so if you go unmanaged and any OS or hardware issues arise, it's on you. You're responsible for all OS updates, which requires a system administrator. With a virtual, there is no unmanaged option - but you can still access it via SSH and do server level changes, such as upgrade/recompile PHP. The host applies any required hardware or software updates at the bottom level. Even Dreamhost does this.

I've been working with a lot of clients on VPS, and for most of them - even ecommerce and high traffic sites - VPS works out very well. But definitely, if you can afford dedi, (AND . . if the cost is justified by your ROI . . . ) do it.

I work with many, but since this site is hosted on it I can attest . . LiquidWeb rocks pretty well. :-)


 5:41 pm on Apr 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

Second, the VPS's I've worked with have no more than 4-8 co-habitants.

Call me old fashioned and protective of my biz, but that's still 3-7 too many for me.

Besides, costs of dedicated are based on your skill level. I get boxes setup to my specs and I update the OS myself for far less than a fully managed box, I can get 'em under $100 with lots of speed and bandwidth for most applications. The most expensive box I have with all the bells and whistles added is only $300/mo, I manage it (very little work), for an 8 cpu box (dual quad) that is smok'n fast.

Guess it's all based on individual requirements and skills.


 7:27 pm on Apr 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

i'm virtual, happen to be on a 2-man box, but they have various service levels at ServInt, like most.

here's two lists you should review before choosing:

1) Most Reliable Hosting Company Sites (Feb 2011):

2) Hosting Providers ordered by least failures (last 1 day) (also includes connect time, first byte time, and more):


 9:20 am on Apr 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Why go dedicated at all when you can get cloud servers for about the same money? Never goes down, full image backups, and you can upgrade as you need to.


 1:39 pm on Apr 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Why go dedicated at all when you can get cloud servers for about the same money? Never goes down, full image backups, and you can upgrade as you need to.

Cloud is nice, but unless you are using a boomerang payment processor you cant be PCI compliant.


 12:03 pm on Apr 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Firstly, visit pingdom.com and sign up for their free website uptime tool. It will email you every time your site goes down and help you decide if upgrading to a more expensive server is worth the cost. Sometimes losing a few sales is worth the money you save on a server. For hosting, we put all our stores on a Dedicated Virtual (dv) server with Media Temple and have had no issues.


 6:41 pm on Apr 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

You know I've tried these tracker tools and they do work well for telling whether a server is up or not, but they're limited in that they don't verify functions are up on the server (i.e MySQL, POP, HTTPS, etc). My original problem seemed to be that my hosts MySQL server kept going down for very short spurts while everything else was running. On my previous site tracker, it was showing the site up and running while mysql was down. Kind of a false positive. Maybe I'm wrong in my meager understanding of all this stuff.


 1:28 pm on Apr 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

many trackers now can look for something specific, so you can code a page to pull something unique from a database, and then have the tracker look for it, so you'll know the other site functions are "up". you can code routines to check other server functions as well, so you can conditionally then display some unique string of text (or a pass fail graphic), and tell the tracker to look at it.

i happen to use hyperspin for tracking because they have many servers around the globe (avoids false alarms) and they have the string check dealio, but hyperspin isn't alone in offering these features.

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