Normal service may be resumed soon

Regular readers (especially anyone looking at the Galleries) may have noticed that Losing it[1] has been suffering performance problems lately. The site is hosted in California by Dreamhost, who have generally provided a high level of service and availability – certainly at least as high as I’d expect for the rather low price (packages start at around $7.95 a month, or not much over £4, which is not a lot). But in the last few weeks, things have not been quite right. Particularly in the evenings (or early afternoon over there), things have been slow. Really slow. Not the usual kind of slow performance, where a web page doesn’t load, and your browser gives you one of those friendly “can’t get there, mate” messages. This is something more, well, odd, but when you know how it all works, it makes some kind of sense.

The way shared hosting works at Dreamhost is like this: they have lots of webservers, where customers’ sites are installed, but the actual file storage for those sites lives on different servers – banks of big boxes full of disks known as filers. Databases (such as the one Losing it[1] depends on) live on other servers again.

What’s going wrong is Dreamhost’s internal network – the way their servers talk to each other. Some customers have been getting email problems, others (like me) have been getting website problems. This has been very frustrating for me, as I’ve been editing some old posts to move all the photos on the site into Gallery2. This involves working in Gallery2, which has been slooooow, editing and saving posts in WordPress, which has been sloooooow, and checking the edited pages, which has been slooooow.

I’ve been contacting support (who seem to be a bit busy at present), and only getting general “yes, we’re having problems” responses. However, this morning, I got the latest newsletter, which had a link to this blog entry, in which Dreamhost provide a detailed explanation of what’s gone wrong, and what they’re doing to (1) fix it and (2) prevent it happening again. Overall, I find it sufficiently reassuring, and I feel more confident about staying with Dreamhost[1], and continuing to recommend their services to friends (or indeed anyone else who asks).

If you read the comments on the post, you’ll see a lot of customers seem to feel the same way I do, but there are a few complaining about loss of business. Well, if I was running a business, where downtime would cost me a lot of money, I’d be inclined to go for more expensive hosting with a business-class service level agreement. But hey, that’s just me…

Having said that, the problems that hit Dreamhost also knocked out MySpace. And similar power issues in the UK have caused a lot of high-profile sites to drop off the net…

[1] I’m paid up till July next year anyway…

One thought on “Normal service may be resumed soon

  1. Pingback: Frustration : Losing it

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