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Am I the only one dealing with endless incompetent web hosts?

 8:34 am on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

I am running a mission critical web site, and I have to know if this is common, because I have switched hosts 3 times now and they just keep getting worse. This last one boasts 24 hour support, which is how they sucked me in - but the support is done by people making $12/hour (i saw their help wanted ad) and they cannot do ANYTHING right.

They won't let you import more than 1 meg at a time in phpMyAdmin, so this tech was supposed to import 20 meg of records to my database. I go back in 30 minutes later and my entire database has been wiped. No explanation or apology, or even admitting that it happened.
I can't backup my database, because they are getting some weird error and when I try to get support, they tell me everything is just fine. Like I'm imagining things, maybe.

Every response I get from support is obviously geared toward the "shut him up quick" approach. I could understand that attitude for some support issues (I used to work in support), but these are issues that are obviously problems on their end, and they just don't care. This is a pretty big hosting company.

And my last host took 5 days to get anything done, never answered their "24 hour" 800 number, and suddenly went down for 3 days due to an "upgrade". Google was doing a TON of indexing on my site in the middle of this outage, and now that I'm back up there's no sign of the bot. I'm wondering if my site is now classified as "flaky"

I'm about to rip my hair out. Is anybody else going through this? Does it get better if you pay more for hosting? Any recommendations?



 8:44 am on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

I think all webmasters have been through this scenario at 1 stage or another.

We have used about 20 different hosts over the last 2 years, and only found 2 that could actually deliver the goods, and they were not the most expensive.

Trial and error is what it takes, or a referral from an existing satisfied client.

I would drop some urls, however as that is against the TOS, the only thing I can suggest is sticky me with what you need, and I will try and recommend someone.


jeremy goodrich

 9:11 am on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

Try the footer at the bottom of the page - Westhost - they work well, but are on the higher side.


 10:37 am on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

I always find, you get what you pay for, although, I agree that the most expensive are not always the best.

The front line support from many ISPs are often only capable of low-tech, straightforward issues. Anything beyond that and you need to contact the next level tech support.

If it is a mission-critical site you're planning on establishing, I would test it first.
One way to test the ISP is to open an account and give it a go with a test domain. It shouldn't cost too much compared to the potential losses for a failure.


 10:38 am on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

Welcome spagmoid...:)
My main client's site disappeared last week for 4 days thanx to the gobbledegook from their web host and the impossible ticket system they use. I mailed the accounts dept (who mailed the gobbledegook in the first place) who didn't answer, I joined the ticket system, three days later they told me to mail the accounts dept!
No telephone contact took me ages to figure out their ticket system.
Another new client had problems figuring out why their name didn't resolve to the web site after 3 months of trying to get the host to sort it out.
I'm thinking of going into print instead of messing with those geeks.
You gotta laugh......
Enjoy ww, most things get figured out here.


 10:51 am on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

I had my host drop me for about 48 hours. When I called them up they said it had been down for about one minute. I said "Really? What have you done?" - they said we made some changes to the name server and that it was AOL and BT's fault because they cache the data for up to 48 hours.

I can't believe it was BT or AOL's fault. They changed the name server (whatever it was) three times in a month. Considering that BT and AOL control over half of dial up accounts in the UK, that is a serious problem.


 12:08 pm on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

I always find, you get what you pay for, although, I agree that the most expensive are not always the best.

especially true of hosting i think, and a few extra dollars a month comes to nothing compared to being out of the google index for a cycle (due to downtime) or loosing visitors because the host is serving pages too slow, or time waisted waiting on helplines, yadda yadda

ps. the most expensive hosting i've had was when i paid a year up front on a "great deal" - i then dropped them after 2 months which was a brave but good decision.

search google groups for your potential host to see who's been left irate with them, positive comments be more wary of due to possible spam.

i think having dns control away from the hosts is also handy ... making changes for outgoing clients may not be a priority for an overworked/inefficient hosting company


 12:27 pm on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

cheap should not come to the question of hosting.

in 2001 we decided to switch hosting companies, because of a 20% discount/reduction at the new company.

a few weeks into our contract, the hosts were down for 48 hours, resulting in loss of sales around $30,000

considering the saving had been less than $500 per year...
so in other words a LOSS of $29,500



 4:44 pm on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

Wow if I could lose $30,000 in 48 hours, I don't think I would need to worry about finding a cheap host..

I'm trying to get a business going with very little cash on hand, and the point where I start getting income is a few months away. I'm spending all my time dealing with host issues when I need to be building the site!

At least these hosts have 30-day money back guarantees, and I will be calling their bluff, so to speak. Did I mention how this previous one had a 99.5% uptime guarantee, and after being down 20 hours they refused to honor it? They said that since they were only down for North America, they would honor half of the guarantee. I do wish I could drop their names.

Nothing is more annoying than the one I'm on now though, where you ask a very detailed specific question about their mySql setup, and the "tech" pastes their canned response for beginners. "mysql is a database program"
I have to say though, he responded in 30 minutes on a saturday night. Now that's fast service.


 5:02 pm on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)


Can you mention the names of the companies you've tried thus far without mentioning the URL (to avoid a TOS violation?)


 6:02 pm on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

LOL, I've been there too. I actually set up my own hosting company because of this stuff. But, I've always been the 'nobody can do it better than I' type. ;) It shouldn't matter to you what the support people are being paid. I have people working for me who make less and do a great job. I also have a guy, at another company, making $50 per hour who missed half a day recently because he got soap in his eye when he was taking a shower that morning. (why he would even admit such a thing if true is beyond my comprehension).

The real problem is that it's so easy to start a hosting company, that you have a lot of kids (even high school kids) who think it's fun to play hosting company and have no idea of the ramifications.


 6:16 pm on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

I don't use resellers, so I thought all these people must have SOME intelligence to set up a server.

As long as the guys you are paying low wages to, know when to escalate an issue instead of giving a canned response, it's no problem.

We'll see if they keep this... The BAD BAD ones I have used are echolima, cwihosting, and lunarpages.
Note how every one of them brags about their fantastic support and reliability. CWI has no email OR phone support - you have to use a ticket system. According to their system, if you mark an issue "emergency" because your server is down, a tech will be paged immediately to fix the problem within a few minutes. I had 2 emergent issues that took 5 hours to even be LOOKED AT. (none were my fault) At one point, it was an issue that would take 2 minutes to fix - I talked to some slime on the phone who said he would get them on it right away - well they marked the issue as "in progress" to make me feel good, but I didn't get my answer for 2 more hours.

I am now trying DreamHost which seems VERY promising. They don't give you phone support, but maybe they're using that money to pay some good techs.


 6:38 pm on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

I'd like to weigh into this one with a question.

Exactly what would it take for one to host their own domain?

Lord knows, I've had my share of problems with my host server, but my domain has only been down once, for about 12 hours about a year and a half ago and they're 'Support' has been outsourced to India which has it's own inherant language barriers.

Anyway, lest I digress, I'd be interested in knowing all the particulars. Equipment included. Everything.



 7:02 pm on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

If your changing hosts as often as you change socks, you are probably not being realistic in what you get for 6.95 a month.

Make an honest assessment of your needs and find those who can fulfill those needs, BEFORE you look at pricing.

Although most hosting plans appear to be "loaded" with features, they are really designed to cater to the smallish web site that does not demand much in resources (human or otherwise). Learn to read between the lines.


 8:23 pm on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)


Hosting you own domains, whether as a reseller or on your own dedicated server is almost too simple. There are many, many good plans out there (and just as many not so good and just plain bad plans).

We had been with Very Very Big & Expensive Web Host for a couple of years. After a couple of support queries came back "Do a search for your problem on Google," we told 'em where to go.

We decided not to go the dedicated server route because we didn't want to take on any more headaches. After all, how much can a couple of people learn about ALL the ins and outs of the web. We did about 3 months of research and settled on a very small hosting company that offered reseller hosting accounts.

Bottom line: We have very reliable hosting and reasonable (not too cheap) prices, total control over everything and anythings we need to do (only takes about 20 seconds to add a new website) and -- the best thing -- very fast, very competent and very friendly support.

It works for us and there are quite a few sources out there,



 12:13 am on Dec 16, 2002 (gmt 0)

I never, ever had a problem with the service or quality of my webhosting service. I run my own.

I keep the server here, I manage it here, keep the firewall and database here. If there is a problem, I fix it or find help. No 800 numbers, no tech support weenies.

Most webhosting companies are geared for the mom & pop grandchild picture websites. Mention a database and they don't understand what it takes. Sure, you can have access to their sqlserver, but they won't support the databse end of things. They provide web hosting, not database administration services.


 6:34 am on Dec 16, 2002 (gmt 0)

I don't use resellers, so I thought all these people must have SOME intelligence to set up a server.

Maybe not. A lot of "hosting companies" now are one person who is leasing a server in a datacenter someplace, and that server came with the user-end control panel that you use as a customer (example: CPanel) and similar software for the host's end (example: Web Host Manager).

So a lot of the people at those operations have no idea how to set up a server beyond running the point-and-click interface they bought already set up. The know little about the OS, little about Apache, little about DNS and Bind... certainly there are people using these kinds of setup who are competant, and even those who are experts, but my point is that your conclusion that they must know what they are doing because they've set up a server isn't supported by reality today.

In fact, in some cases a reseller might be better. In many businesses, the term is "value-added reseller," and the same could be true of some hosts -- if they're reselling for a solid, stable company backed by expert techs and good support, your reseller could be providing the kind of customer-driven individual attention that you can't get at a big company (where you don't get past that first-line support person).

So... first point: running a server doesn't necessarily mean "good." Second point: "reseller" doesn't necesarily mean "bad."

Not that that simplifies anything. :)


 2:00 pm on Dec 16, 2002 (gmt 0)

I think one of the main problems with having your own dedicated server for your domains is security. The more I learn about what's involved in making and keeping a dedicated server secure, the more I realize what a big, time consuming job it is -- requiring a lot of knowledge and skill of course.

You think administrators in those small start-ups know their stuff? Most of them don't care about YOUR security. They are busy dealing with customer service issues (i lost my password, what's the name of your pop server, etc...)

Some of the mid-sized companies just create one image and replicated it on drives. Which means, one configuration error will be on all boxes in that company. So if a cracker finds a flaw in one box - he knows that he owns all other boxes in the near-by net blocks.


 3:35 pm on Dec 16, 2002 (gmt 0)

It's easy to establish a hosting company, not necessarily easy to run it though. There are too many sources for reseller accounts, and cheap dedicated servers. The really difficult part is finding a reliable provider. I'm not sure what it means "self-hosted", because at some point you're relying on some other service to host you. It's obvious with a reseller, but even with a dedicated or colocated server you rely heavily on the data center. I would not reccommend anyone set up their own server at home, and try to host themselves that way.


 4:13 pm on Dec 16, 2002 (gmt 0)

Always review your credit card statements.

A hosting service out of Atanta we dumped over a year ago trys, from time to time, to sneak in a monthly hosting charge against out company credit card.

Last time they did it was paid in error and took 3 months to get reversed.


 5:32 pm on Dec 16, 2002 (gmt 0)

I use a company called CrystalTech. They are the third hosting company I've used and I host about 20 domains with them. They have an excellent reseller program and 75% of their business comes from referrels of existing customers.

They have email as well as phone support and their support staff aren't $12 an hour flunkies but rather network administrators. Their response time averages about 30 minutes and during business hours is usually around 10 minutes.

They also stay on top of installing the most current patches and software platforms as well as ASP components.

The only weak spot I see with them is that they only run on NT/Win2000 machines. But I didn't have a problem converting my old UNIX clients to NT.

Just my .02...



 8:25 pm on Dec 17, 2002 (gmt 0)

Most of the companies recommended don't allow adult content. I have users who I don't censor, and I don't like being censored by my web host.

It's not usually for bandwidth issues either, their bandwidth policy should cover that - several have stated they have "moral" reasons. So they can rip you off and provide lousy service but when it comes to the human body they become a temple of puritanism. I won't support censoring hosts even with my other sites, which have no nudity.


 8:51 pm on Dec 17, 2002 (gmt 0)

It's not usually for bandwidth issues either, their bandwidth policy should cover that - several have stated they have "moral" reasons.

While I'm sure there are some hosts who make that decision for "moral reasons," most that I've seen don't say that's the reason -- most blame it on the resources used by the typical porn site. It seems like it'd make sense that their bandwidth policy would cover that, but there's one reason it doesn't: most hosts are overselling both their bandwidth and their disk space.

For the most part, the average web site doesn't come close to using all of the disk space the account is allocated, and hosts know that. But a site made up of images and video for download almost certainly will. Same principals apply to bandwidth usage.

Add to that the fact that commercial adult/porn sites are frequent targets of spam complaints, and you have another reason why some hosts don't want to deal with it.

Certainly those things aren't true of all sites that contain adult content, but they're a common enough occurrence that some hosts won't accept it. Then too, many small hosts are constrained by the content rules of their datacenter and upstream bandwidth providers... and some just feel that they might lose other business from potential customers who don't want their own sites hosted at a place that hosts adult content, either for the customers' own "moral reasons" or because of a perception that they'll be innocent victims of hack attempts, DOS attacks, or just high resource use. Again, that might not always be the reality, but it's a common perception.

[edited by: JayC at 9:06 pm (utc) on Dec. 17, 2002]


 8:52 pm on Dec 17, 2002 (gmt 0)

jmbishop I second that. we have 2 dedicated servers with them and about 10 domains on various plans and find them easily the best host we have worked with


 8:53 pm on Dec 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

While I'm sure there are some hosts who make that decision for "moral reasons," most that I've seen don't say that's the reason -- most blame it on the resources used by the typical porn site.

That's what they say, but if you push them on it, tell them that only 1% of your bandwidth is from the porn, and it has nothing to do with the focus of your site, a lot of them bring up the "morality" thing. That has the effect of dividing sites into "hardcore" or none at all, which contributes to that reputation.

I really hate the sheer laziness of blanket regulations, for their censoring effect.

Then as you alluded, there are the hosts that really don't want you to use the "20 gig" they offer you, so if there's any indication that you will, they use morality as an excuse to get rid of you. I believe that's what they call "irony".


 7:14 am on Dec 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

There are many folks who *think* they are knowledgeable and skilled enough to keep their servers up to date and secure....but are not.

Then how are we sure that in a managed server scenario too that the folks know what they are doing?


 12:32 pm on Dec 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

Then how are we sure that in a managed server scenario too that the folks know what they are doing?

Exactly my view.

In "Some IP Numbers, Some Just a bunch of Gogelty-Guk" [webmasterworld.com...] I posted that I was no longer seeing IP Numbers in my access_log files. Instead, I'm seeing the DNS(?) routing something or other.

I've made no server side changes, so my host server has to have done something. An upgrade, I don't know.

I just couldn't get her to understand, that without IP Numbers I have no way of tracking down 'offenders'.

Because of the language barrier, communicating with support, was not pretty :(

Anyway, it's such a simple thing in this binary world. The positivism of: Yes, or No; + or -; This way, or that way.

See where I'm heading with this?

Why did it change, and who changed it? That's the jist of my point in that post. (Such a simple thing...)

For the time being, I have absolutely no way of affecting the situtation.

That's what bothers me the most. Seeminly simple situations just like this, continue pushing me toward that day when I'm hosting my own domain.

Yeahhhhh, :) all the equipment sittin under my desk while I'm casually dressed in long underwear, fluffy warm socks and justa peckin 'way on ma keyboard, whilst yakkin on the phone using my headset. Ah, life was good. :)

Whatever it takes it to get to that pinnacle, would be worth every bit of the consternation and effort of getting there - if it would provide me the tools/skills to make this, and other similarly simple corrections, in real-time, (even though the situation I speak of now isn't even my fault).

<heavy sigh and pout!> :o



creative craig

 12:51 pm on Dec 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

Just thought that I would chip in to say that I have one host that looks after 5 for me sites and all of the raw IP information for all five can not be shown.

Comes up with a PHP scripting error, I called support and they didnt even know what PHP was :(



 10:27 pm on Dec 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

Sounds familiar!

I think it would be best to set up a linux box here and learn to set up the whole web server myself, then get a dedicated server somewhere.

What will I need to know besides installing Apache, PHP, MySQL, & ImageMagick? Will there be a lot of custom configuration and recompilation required for security etc?

And my biggest worry - at least with a managed service I can be pretty sure that if something goes wrong with the server it will be looked at (eventually, by idiots). It sounds like with unmanaged dedicated, I'll have to be on call 24-7 in case of an error. No vacations, even for 1 day. What are the risks of hardware errors, software errors, and network problems with a dedicated server?

Is support as important when you are on dedicated? I've seen a couple places that offer "rack space" as low as $100 for 400 gig of xfer, but it seems too good to be true.

And on a related topic, what's the limit of bandwidth and DB activity I can expect to run smoothly on one standard server?


 1:08 am on Dec 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

I hate to be a fly in the oinment, but:

I picked the first host i found in the SERPs when i set up my first website (I was very non techy then compared to now).

My sites have been up and running everytime ive gone to them. Theyve all been indexed by Google when I want them.

A few problems I had with my web email admin were solved quickly.

I get responses to my email enquiries within the hour (during UK business hours) - all i need.

My stats have gone done for a few days a time , but im not too concerned about that.

Their support have offered me advice on issues that they really dont need to deal with.

I testing running a new mail package for them (ahem...dedicated mail server...well sweet!).

Basically...for all the minor problems ive had (which, quite frankly, I expect with anything IT) they have dealt with quickly. They have also offered a helluva lot more support than they need to give me.

All for 2.95 a month per site.

Now thats not bad, is it? ;)


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