As of now, this blog, as well as Art From Code, MinimalComps, Wicked Pissah Games, and my personal site (and a few sites run by my wife), are now hosted on DreamHost. Previously, I’d been using Media Temple since 2006, but it was time for a switch.
I don’t want to totally tear apart my former host, but I will explain the reasons why I chose to switch. I had signed up for the Grid Server on MT, paying $170 per year, or about $14.17 per month, though it’s currently advertised as $20 per month. For that, you get 100 GB storage, 1 TB transfer per month, 100 domains, 1000 email addresses. It sounds like that should be enough to handle just about anything I could throw at it. And per actual stats, I had at the peak, less than a dozen domains, most of which had little or no traffic, and a couple of email addresses, only one of which was really used. I used an average of 5 GB storage, and 60 GB bandwidth, with a peak month of 150 GB bandwidth (my iPad vs Kindle display post). So for all stats, I was way, WAY below any limits. Really just a small fraction of the limits. And that pretty much worked up until the beginning of 2010.
Occasionally I would get a message about a “MySQL Container Burst” but never got charged anything for whatever that was. Then in February of 2010, without my really noticing, I got put on a “MySQL Container Lite”. I’m not sure if I was not informed of this, or I just didn’t take notice, thinking it was the same as the container burst. But later in the year, I realized that I was being charged an extra $20 a month for this lite container. I finally found out what this means. When your databases start doing too many queries, they get switched out of the shared container so they don’t slow everyone else down. This is free. After a few days, they check again and if it’s back to normal, you go back to normal. But it they’re still using a lot, you get automatically switched over to the $20 a month lite container. Once you are switched to that, it’s permanent.
I also started getting the occasional “GPU overage” alert. This means that your “grid processing unit” on the grid server is using more than it’s share of processing power. At first it was just a few dollars here and there. But with the iPad vs. Kindle post, it started going out the roof, peaking at $186 in September. Since August alone this year, I’ve paid over $267 in GPU overages, in addition to $220 for the SQL container.
In short, my hosting bill went from exactly $170 the previous three years, to almost $700 this year ($676.61 to be exact), all while staying within a small fraction of the advertised limits. When I contacted Media Temple about this, they explained the container stuff, and suggested I look at a document about optimizing database tables. That was it. At that point, I started looking for other hosts.
I finally settled on DreamHost. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks transferring 7 domains, cancelling several others. So far, I really like DreamHost. I feel like I have a lot more control over virtually every aspect of server administration.
I really learned a lot in the whole switching process. Perhaps the biggest one was the final switch over of bit-101.com itself. With the other blogs, I used the WordPress export feature to save out an xml file, and when I had the new one set up, imported that xml file in. Worked like a charm. But this blog has been around a lot longer and the database was a lot bigger. No matter what I tried, the import failed. I was almost ready to just trash the old posts and start over. But I decided to roll up my sleeves and directly export the MySQL database and import it into a database on the new server. I couldn’t get this to work through phpMyAdmin, so I rolled up my sleeves even further, and SSHed into each server and did it all by hand. After many failed attempts, I got all the permissions and syntaxes right and here we are, like nothing ever happened. I was pretty proud of myself for pulling that off.
After 4 years on one server, there was a hell of a lot of garbage on there. All kinds of folders with files, many of which I have no idea what they are for. In order to not break any links, I just uploaded the whole damn thing to the new server. I’ll be going through and cleaning it up bit by bit, so if you notice any dead links, let me know.