Site Maintenance

For several years, TheBigQuestions.com has been hosted by Bluehost, and I’ve been very happy with their service.

No longer. As some of you have mentioned, and many more of you have probably noticed, the site has been running very slow the past few days. Occasional glitches like this are to be expected, of course. But in this instance, Bluehost’s customer service (which has always been great in the past) has been abysmal. One representative kept me on hold for nearly half an hour before coming back to direct me to a generic web page that lists various reasons why a site might run slow. Another told me there was an unusually high load on the server, which would certainly clear in the next few hours (that was days ago). I’ve dealt with about a half dozen of these guys, at most two of whom have taken the problem seriously, and they haven’t been able to help.

So: It’s time to move, I think. Those of you with relevant experience: Who do you recommend?

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16 Responses to “Site Maintenance”


  1. 1 1 Ken B

    Nobody hosts websites like Donald Trump. Nobody.

  2. 2 2 Aguiar-Conraria

    I suggest this one:

    http://blogs.sapo.pt

    I hope they have their Pages in English for IP adresses outside of Portugal.

  3. 3 3 Kevin L

    I’ve started using virtual server providers like AWS instead of the typical shared hosting. For a few dollars more a month (first year basically free, too) you get your own virtual server and IP address. It’s a little more work, but more stable and more secure. I’d be happy to help you move over to AWS. Just shoot me an email.

  4. 4 4 Chris

    I just recently started a website using Siteground. My site’s only been up for a few weeks so I might no be the most reliable source, but they’ve been great so far. I had a problem when I first put it up and they have great live chat support service. No wait at all and they were able to solve the problem relatively quickly. I was quite impressed.

  5. 5 5 Sub Specie Æternitatis

    I like using AWS, but it is not necessarily the best solution: If you run your instance (a non-trivial technical task), you will mostly over-provide bandwidth/CPU power during ordinary times (and over-pay for it), while stilling being subject to overload during sudden hot periods.

    In principle, shared resource blogging platforms with elastic resource allocation are the best technical solution. That is why I use blogspot and Disqus for comments (which gives you threading, moderation, notifications, etc.).

    Lots of people love WordPress which hosts this blog. That is understandable because it does not need to be that hard to administer and offers tons of nice, free plugins. But as you’ll know if you are following cyber security news, WordPress appears to be the single most hacker-friendly piece of software on the planet. It seems every month there is another major security exploit involving WP. But for a blog which is regularly securely backed-up and which does not contain any very sensitive data, that may not be a big problem.

  6. 6 6 David Grayson

    If you just want to host some files and run some PHP code on a shared server, nearlyfreespeech.net is good and very cheap.

    If you want root access, linode.com is good.

  7. 7 7 Jon

    My web developer friends swear by Rackspace for security and service, but it’s very expensive. Some author friends have been pleased with Squarespace for their site designs and hosting.

  8. 8 8 Alan Wexelblat

    I’m unclear what sort of hosting provider you want. My recollection is that you like doing a number of things yourself so perhaps this isn’t for you, but I’ve been using Dreamhost for some time and am reasonably pleased with them. Their tech support is relatively responsive, their pricing is reasonable, and they offer a variety of services, several of which I use. You can also get shell access if you like going down to the command line to do things, and mailman lists which was my major reason for moving to them because mailman lets people do self-service membership maintenance, removing another potential headache for me.

    But really, unless I understand better what you want from a hosting provider I probably can’t say a lot more.

  9. 9 9 Steve Landsburg

    Alan Wexelblat: What I have now from Bluehost sounds about like what you’re describing from Dreamhost. Shell access is important to me, but I think any of the major shared hosting providers (Bluehost, Dreamhost, Hostgator, etc) will provide that.

    Shared hosting means that you’re always at risk that someone on your shared server will start hogging CPU cycles, which seems to be what’s happening here. I understand that this is part of shared hosting, and that it will happen from time to time (though hopefully the provider will intervene if it goes on very long). My big gripe with Bluehost right now is not that this is happening, but that I can’t get them to give me a straight answer to the question “Is or is not someone else sucking up a lot of CPU cycles right now?”, which will help me diagnose the problem and figure out whether it’s something I can be addressing on my own or not.

    I object too to the fact that the Bluehost people have mostly refused to take me seriously, put me on hold for very long times, and then returned and refused to answer my question.

    Bluehost is offering, for an elevated fee, to move me to a server shared by many fewer customers. This sort of elevated-fee-for-better-service is standard throughout the industry and I applaud it. But in the absence of a clear answer to the question of what’s causing the problem (and therefore no way of knowing whether this will help), the elevated fee feels like blackmail. So my instinct is to move to a different provider (Dreamhost, Hostgator, whoever) and pay the elevated fee upfront. This involves the hassle of a migration, and also means walking away from the next three years of hosting I’ve already paid in advance for at Bluehost, but I’m sufficiently annoyed with them right now that I’m likely to travel that road. So any feedback on service from Dreamhost et.al. is exactly the sort of thing I need right now.

  10. 10 10 nobody.really

    Nobody hosts websites like Donald Trump. Nobody.

    Ah, you’re making me blush. Believe me.

  11. 11 11 Neil

    WordPress

  12. 12 12 Harold

    Does nobody from Bluehost read your blog?

  13. 13 13 John

    I have managed websites for nearly 20 years now. I currently host on Liquidweb on a dedicated server. We have a very active site with many things going on in the foreground and background.

    I have used several other providers in the past but if you are looking for Technical Support that is what you would expect Technical Support to be then I can highly recommend Liquidweb. They have VPS dedicated managed servers for as little as $50 per month. Not the cheapest, but you usually get what you pay for.

    I have also used 1and1 for several sites. Very inexpensive and their Tech Support isn’t too bad. Nothing compared to Liquidweb but you get what you pay for.

  14. 14 14 Zazooba

    Have you tried hosing down your computer for a few minutes with a garden hose? Probably best to take the machine outside first to avoid water damage to the carpet and other stuff. I’ve heard that patio deck power washers work well on a lot of things.

  15. 15 15 The Z Blog

    Having used a variety of these services, I have found Bluehost to be the best of the bunch for entry level web hosting. That said, their customer service has declined greatly. I’ve had similar issues as you’re having and the responses are nonsensical.

    I would look at EZ Web Hosting. They are cheap and the quality of shared hosting is as good or better than Bluehost. Not having had any issues I cannot testify to their customer service, but 20 years of using them for e-mail and FTP has never given me a reason to test their customer service.

    Stay away from iPage. They will try to cram a bunch of services on your credit card. This is an increasing common practice so choose carefully and use your Amex card.

  16. 16 16 Ken B

    Suddenly this afternoon the blog is fast.

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