So, here’s what’s been going on:
• We used to be hosted on Small Orange, which for $10 a month had unlimited domains, email addresses, FTP access, enough storage for this blog and all Peter’s stuff plus anything else that tends to end up on a server when one is conveniently laid by… They were nice, too. If the blog needed something, or if Peter needed something, and Small Orange didn’t have it installed, without making a big deal about it they’d just spend a whole weekend installing it or doing whatever needed doing depending on the problem. And we’re hardly VIP customers, so basically they were just a bunch of friendly nerds who enjoyed doing this sort of thing, and found our problems an opportunity to learn and improve their product. I really, really liked Small Orange. They could be incredibly uncommunicative, but they’d reply to emails at all hours and on holidays. But then when I got back from Canada after Christmas, the server was always down. It only added up to maybe an hour and a half a day, but I seemed to always try to access it when it was down, so it seemed like a lot more. And anyway, servers can’t just go down like that. But it’s happened before and Peter emails them and they find something wrong and they set about fixing it and everything’s happy again. But this time it kept doing it, and it was going on for three weeks. And this is when their uncommunicative side started to be a problem, because they wouldn’t tell us anything. Just “we’re working on it” which doesn’t mean a whole lot after three weeks. Then they started sending stupid emails, weirdly impersonal as if they had suddenly been turned into a help desk in Bangalore.
So I couldn’t take it anymore and we decided to leave. It broke my heart because I’d always liked them. Despite their faults, they were likeable, they had a cute webpage, and they were sweetly amateurish.
• So Peter set about looking for someplace else to go. He looked at Living Dot, but discarded that idea because, even at $8 a month, they were no quicker, looked just like Small Orange, did their own install of Movable Type (which runs this blog) which was out of date, and their support sucked. Fine.
• Then we looked at Media Temple. It’s $20 a month, so double what we’ve been spending all these years, but they’re established, they host just about every other blog in the world (at least the bigger ones, which should mean that they can handle a little thing like me easily enough), they had a nice design, custom backend stuff, their billing system was based on GPU usage which was nice in the case of an Instalanche or something like that, but was also convenient for seeing where all the bots were attacking me and all that stuff.
However, apparently they crumpled under the weight my 1100 little visitors a day, and emailed to say that they were dumping me on an “Advanced Burst Container” database, and oh by the way that’ll cost $40 a month. Which is just a teensy bit steep.
• So we looked into TypePad, which is Movable Type’s own hosting service. So you’d think that upgrade would be pretty seamless, yeah? Well, for $15 a month, they don’t do Markdown With Smartypants, so the blog formatting went totally haywire when Peter imported it last night. I’ve been using Smartypants for three and a half years, but TypePad still doesn’t have it? So Peter would have to do a search-and-replace on every Smartypants tag. They don’t do FTP, so Peter would have to individually upload every picture I’ve ever posted to my blog. They don’t do server space so Peter would have to find a different server for all his stuff. And they don’t do tags. WTF.
• So back to the little guys. Dreamhost, for instance. Just $10 a month. Ah, but if you pay month-to-month, you have to pay a $50 “set-up fee”. Then there’s all the other places that won’t tell you how much they charge unless you sign up for long term contracts. Then there are the places that give you “unlimited!” space or bandwidth but “with constraints” that they don’t tell you about until they decide they’re going to shut you down. It’s like signing ninme over to a cellphone company. Grand.
• We could go to something like WiredTree. Really nice, managed Virtual Private Server so you don’t have to worry about some idiot you’re sharing with slowing you down, you’ve got root access, the works. $50 a month.
• We could sign up for Rackspace. Get your own server. $500 a month.
• I could switch to Blogspot. Free, but no space for Peter, downtime still totally out of my hands, and it would be ridiculous.
• I could stop blogging.
“Ah, but what about your external memory drive,” you ask. And you are right to do so. I could run Movable Type locally on my hard drive and blog to myself and wait for the day that Dick Cheney bombs some server farm somewhere and drops the price of webhosting.
Meanwhile, Peter sent a “What the hell” email to Media Temple, and they said to try to optimize his tables. But this is all really advanced database stuff, and Peter’s a webdesigner. So we’ll see how that goes.
And what happened at the beginning of all this to cause all the problems? Apparently ninme took out my Small Orange server. Some spam bot was hitting my search field so much that it took me down and everyone else on that server. But rather than take down that search script, they took down Peter’s email, his FTP, his everything else. And, quoth Peter, “if your blog was taking down their server for three weeks, and it took them that long to figure it out, and that’s how they react? F-ing amateurish.”