As you may or may not have noticed, this site has been having some issues lately. I have been plagued by extreme slowness, and loading issues. In the last few days this has escalated to a point where the site never actually fully loads. Even as you are reading it now, you will probably notice missing images, or if you were particularly lucky missing CSS styleshet or two. Half the requests sent to my server end in a “Service Temporarily Unavailable” error or some other time out.
I tried contacting my host (Dreamhost) about this issue, foolishly thinking that since I pay them for service they would actually help me out. You know, it is a fairly common custom to actually try to accommodate your customer, least her takes his money and goes elsewhere. Apparently this is an absolutely foreign concept to the Dreamhost staff. You see, I was expecting them to blame this on poor infrastructure, traffic and sun spots, then apologize and make some empty promises to placate me. But no. The tech support team proudly announced that the loading problems and “Service Temporarily Unavailable” errors are entirely their doing, and that it is by design.
You see, I’m on shared hosting. This means that I share disk space, bandwidth and CPU cycles with bunch of other people whose sites live on the same linux box. To make things fair for everyone, Dreamhost is running a watchdog script that constantly monitors CPU and memory usage, and kills processes that exceed certain limits. This makes sense, until you realize that you are the guy whose scripts are getting killed.
Apparently the watchdog script decided that Terminally Incoherent is a resource hog, and now it kills just about every single PHP process spawned by my user before the page is fully served. As a result, you see half-way loaded pages, missing images and weird error messages. Oh, and my WordPress dashboard looks like this 90% of time now:
So what have I done to offend the mighty watchdog script? No clue. You can probably see quite well that my site has not changed in months. I have not installed any new WordPress plugins, I have not tinkered with the theme, and I have not touched any of the PHP scripts here. The only thing I do around here is blog, and update WordPress whenever a new release comes out. And a new version of WordPress should not balloon up my resource usage, should it? And if it does, what the hell can I do about it?
I asked Dreamhost support staff the same question, and they had a very helpful answer: “You should switch to our more expensive VPS service which is better in every single way, and also it makes us more money”.
It’s always great when your genuine tech support request is met with a shameless up-sale pitch. They did give me a few tips on “optimizing” my WordPress installation. Namely: disabling all the pluggins, switching back to the default WordPress theme, enabling caching, etc.. I tried all of it, and none of it helped, but they don’t have any new suggestions beyond this.
Note that this is not my traffic that is causing these issues. I wish it was traffic, because then there would we ways to deal with it, and a hope that after a few days things will get back to normal. That’s not it though. The problem is that a single hit against my current WordPress installation consumes so much resources that it gets killed by the watchdog script. And no matter how I tweak it, no matter how many plugins I disable, I can’t make it stop. If you visited this site yesterday evening you might have noticed my tinkering (that is if the site even managed to load then). But it was all for nothing.
Note that this was not happening two weeks ago, and nothing has changed since then. The slowness and occasional errors have been around for a while, but I sort of ignored them. Now, the site is barely usable and the support team just shrugs and tells me it’s my own fault.
So I think that it is time for me to end my long, troubled relationship with Dreamhost and look for a new host. Any suggestions? What do you guys use for hosting? I currently pay around $10/mo for my shared hosting account, but I’m perfectly willing to pay more if it means better service, stability and, well being able to run my site without dealing with this kind of shit.
My requirements are:
- PHP + MySQL – preferably preinstalled for me so I can just drop in my site and forget about it
- Shell access. Preferably a VPS server with root, but this is not crucial
- Decent bandwidth (I get around 2,000 hits per month) and storage (this site, along with all the picture attachments takes up around 200MB).
I know that some of you gave me tips in the past, but things change, good services go bad and etc… So let’s try this again. Where do you host your site? What do they offer? How is the pricing? How is their service?
And if you are an unfortunate Dreamhost user, let’s commiserate and talk about how much they suck.