I recently upgraded my bytemark VM to one of their low energy intel atom powered dedicated servers. Because of an AJAX based mapping tool on one of the sites I host, my VM struggled with only 400mb of RAM (mainly because of lots of simultaneous mysql connections under heavy use), but CPU bottlenecks were never an issue. The 2GB of RAM as well as dedicated RAID1 disks (therefore not competing with other servers for disk I/O like with a VM) has made the site perform much better under “pressure”. I’m saying this cautiously as the site hasn’t exactly been slashdotted yet, and I don’t want people to see it as a challenge!
Some of you may have noticed that this blog ground to a halt again recently, with occasional database connection errors. I contacted servage support and they suggested creating a new mysql database and moving the data over, as by default a new mysql database would end up on a more recent (and presumably more empty/lower load) database. It only took a few minutes for me to do this, as i’m used to doing stuff like this, being a web developer. This seems to be a pattern – If you leave your stuff on a particular server, eventually the server becomes overcrowded and your site starts to slow down. If you move it to another server it speeds up again, until that server becomes crowded, or one particular site on the same server as you starts causing problems.
However, it left a bad taste in my mouth, being the second time that i’ve proactively had to chase servage up in order to keep my site running, and this leaves me with a dilema – should I keep referring people to a host that haven’t been entirely reliable and therefore benefit from the two months free hosting I get each time? Well.. I went with servage because they were cheap, and I have about ten months of free hosting in the bag now, and I think I can put up with the occasional glitch (on this unimportant blog) considering how little I spent, but there is no way I could recommend their shared hosting for a (small) commercial project now as it would be embarrassing for a clients site to have these problems. It goes without saying that I wouldn’t put a large commercial project on shared hosting anyway.
I complained to servage that my site had got a bit slow and they offered to move me to their newest cluster. Apologies for any interruptions in service. It seems to be much faster now, plus I now have native (rather than CGI) support for php5, which is handy because I am trying out ActiveCollab. The move seemed to be fairly seamless – I didn’t have to move any of my own files or restore any databases so i’m a happy customer again.
As I mentioned before, for the first time in about 6 years i’ve actually coughed up for some paid-for hosting. This gives me somewhere to host some php/mysql stuff and means that I don’t have to rely on favours to get things sorted out, or be responsible for it myself. After having a quick look through some of the more popular “stack em high and sell em cheap” hosts, I signed up with servage.net. Note that link has a referrer coupon attached to it – if you sign up using that link, I get a couple of free months of hosting and so do you – a win win situation 🙂
I’ve held off on posting that link, because I didn’t want to recommend anything that i’ve had bad experiences with, but so far i’ve been impressed with what i’ve got – an unfeasibly large data transfer and storage allowance, I haven’t noticed any downtime yet and i’m generally impressed with the provided control panel functionality: online file manager – including through the web editing – very useful, phpmyadmin for mysql, cron jobs, ability to set up virtual hosts, email accounts, email forwarders, mailing lists etc.
The only shortcomings so far are lack of access to logs (because of their shared server setup) and lack of shell access. There are some basic statistics available, but nowhere near detailed enough, especially if you were hosting a site for a company who want access to detailed stats for marketing. However, i’ve just integrated google analytics, which seems to be a more than adequate substitute.
So thumbs up so far – if I experience any problems with the service i’ll keep you posted!