Dramabeans, Now With More Zen Violence
Dare I say it? … dare I hope? …
…that the site is now working?
If you’ve dropped by anytime in the past two days, you’ll have noticed lots of weirdness. You may have noticed that I’d posted two posts that have since disappeared — they were both just there to let you know of possible site issues, so I decided not to break my brain retrieving them when they were lost in the transfer. All the important stuff is still here. Some of the most recent comments may have also been lost — there weren’t too many, but sorry if they did!
I’ve noticed that the transfer managed to drop every single thing written in Korean. I can’t understand why since I transferred my SQL databases exactly as is, and it’ll be a big pain to go back and fix them all (I started to, but I didn’t realize how many posts I have. Damn, I write a lot). But at this point I’m not complaining because I’m just glad that’s my only issue. So if you’re confused at all those ??????’s, I’m working on it!
I hesitate to rejoice fully, but in case you’re interested in hearing more about the harrowing travails of moving a server (which really, really should not be a difficult process), read on! And even if you don’t care about that, I’m throwing up lots of really random songs — they have nothing in common, aside from the fact that they’re just songs I felt like posting. I usually make it a point only to post up songs by Korean artists, but now that I’m freed of the shackles of restrictive hosting, I’m in a not-caring-about-the-rules kind of mood. I’m just gonna make the most of my new resources. 🙂
(One of many totally random) SONG(s) OF THE DAY
During this whole process (ordeal, rather), honestly the most helpful information came from fellow bloggers who’d undergone the same frustrating issues and had posted their accounts. So I decided to post this not (solely) to vent, but in case this helps some other blogger in the future with similar issues.
Okay. So just a little over a month ago, I decided to move from my old site at javabeans.wordpress.com to my own site. Part of that is because WordPress.com is a wonderful tool, but I wanted to do more than they would let me. So I moved. I picked hosting provider 1and1.com because there were too many people to choose from and I’d read somewhere that 1and1 was the world’s largest internet provider.
At first, things were fine, but then I started getting tons of those 500 server error messages. I’m sure you all noticed, and I got comments from people experiencing the same thing. 1and1 is an extremely hands-off company with the worst, abhorrent, criminally incompetent customer service staff in the world. And I do mean in the world — they’re outsourced to foreigners who barely speak English and read all their answers off a computer script. You can hear them typing in your question, there’s a ten-second lag as they hem and haw, and then they read an obviously pre-programmed answer that doesn’t answer your question.
I had no idea what was causing those 500 internal server errors, but if 1and1 had been the least bit competent, they could have told me what I now have figured out — it’s most likely because I simply had too much traffic for them to handle. If they had said that from the start, I would have sought out solutions immediately, but all they did when I called was tell me, “I don’t see a problem. Call us when you’re having the problem.” I called them four times, and each time they gave me a different non-answer.
Finally I got fed up and decided to move servers. I read all up on the various providers this time, and decided to go with AN Hosting. Why? Because they were at the top of a lot of guides. I called their toll-free sales line, and was put on hold for ten minutes. I figured if they’re going to make me wait this long to TAKE my money, it wouldn’t get better once they already had it.
I got off the line and called Bluehost, another service that was on a lot of top lists as well as being recommended by WordPress.org. The guy picked up on the first ring, was extremely helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable. I liked him and that made me feel confident in their service. I signed up immediately.
Setup was easy. Or rather, there were complications, but every single time I called Bluehost, I got a helpful, prompt, competent person providing helpful, prompt, competent support. They were nice guys (and women) who knew what they were talking about, plus they seemed cool, like the kind of people I’d want to drink beer, eat buffalo wings, and watch sports with. If I ate meat and watched sports, that is.
I was up on Friday and I pointed my domain toward Bluehost. Phew, right?
Almost immediately I started getting those incredibly frustrating CPU error messages. I couldn’t understand why, because I had JUST moved — how could I be maxing out any of my resources immediately? I had plenty of bandwidth and plenty of data space. What’s this CPU madness?
Well, it turns out all this talk you hear about gigantic hosting packages (i.e., 250 GB of space and 2,000 GB of bandwidth) on these shared hosting sites are all bullshit. There’s an additional restriction they don’t tell you about, and that’s CPU, which is something about the number of processes your site can handle at once. It’s kind of like giving someone a huge bottle with a tiny bottleneck opening. What’s the point of getting into that vast empty space when you restrict the passage? It’s not exactly a scam, but these hosting services are hoping you don’t understand the limit and sign with them, and most people running small-time sites never run into the problem.
When I signed up, I asked if they’d be able to handle my traffic and got a “Oh yeah! We have tons of really huge WordPress sites! No problem.” But I got about five CPU exceeded error pages in my FIRST HOUR at Bluehost. Unacceptable.
No matter how much I loved their tech support (they’re really wonderful), it makes no difference if the product doesn’t work right. The tech guy told me I could upgrade to a service they don’t offer, or try to reduce my resources to get fewer people clicking on all my links and pics at the same time. I asked him, “So you’re saying, either I use a service you don’t provide, or lessen my traffic?” The guy could smell his own bullshit and admitted sheepishly, “Yeah, you probably don’t want to lower your own traffic. I’m sorry.”
I read up on CPU errors and it seems Bluehost is notorious for it. While most normal users at Bluehost are satisfied with their service, a small contingent are constantly dogged by these stringent CPU restrictions. Basically it means Bluehost is fine if you’re a small site with no aspirations at growth. But once you start growing, it cripples your site. No effing way.
I immediately pointed my domain back to 1and1 for a temporary reprieve.
So by now I figured out that I needed to get off shared hosting. Shared hosting is the basic plan that most people start with, the ones with dirt-cheap prices like $4.99 a month for those aforementioned (misleading) huge amounts of space. Shared plans means that they host hundreds, or even thousands, of different accounts on the same server. Most companies offer you the huge space but don’t actually intend to let you use it — that’s how they get away with sharing the hosting. It’s like overselling plane flights.
If 1and1 had been at all competent, they could have told me this from the start. But whatever, let’s not blame them too much now. (There’s so much more to blame them for later!)
If you’re not on shared hosting, you have a few options. Dedicated servers means that rather than having hundreds of people on one server, you get one to yourself. But you pay for that freedom, and those hosting plans start at $99 per month and go up into the multiple hundreds. I love you guys, but no way could I afford that for what is essentially a hobby site.
Virtual Private Servers, or VPS, are a cross between shared and dedicated, and the price falls in between. I chose VPS.
Now, I needed to pick a VPS provider. After more research, I picked Lunarpages, because this time I made sure to check out more customer comments, and it seemed a good, solid, reliable service. I called and signed up. (Mind you, this is still Friday.)
Unfortunately, it seems Lunarpages, despite offering great services, does not do it that quickly. I called late on a Friday afternoon expecting to have to wait a bit (no problem). I did NOT realize they close for the weekend.
Um, unacceptable. Sigh. I really wanted to like Lunarpages.
Ray LaMontagne – “Crazy” (Remember that crazy-popular song by Gnarls Barkley that was everywhere last summer? This is the soul-folk rendition.)
At this point, I came back to 1and1. Why? Well, despite their abhorrent support, I figured this time I knew exactly what I wanted, and exactly how to get it. I didn’t need their tech support help, and their actual services are very well-priced. I was already a customer, so setting up a VPS account with them should be instantaneous.
I set up the account, but ran into problems right away. Plesk, the control panel software, was not working. I couldn’t access it. That means I couldn’t even start setting up the site until the problem was fixed. I grit my teeth, called tech support, and came away with heightened blood pressure. Just like any other call to 1and1.
After many, many frustrating back-and-forths with their truly ignorant and barely-English-functional staff, I was told they were having problems with the VPS server, and an admin was working on it right away. They would email me to let me know when I could access my service. (By the way, they still haven’t.)
Bye bye, 1and1.
Thanks to some other blog entries like this one, I found people with exactly the same problem I had, who had since moved to Media Temple and were supremely satisfied.
Media Temple was a dream come true. They had the tech support of Bluehost with the affordability of 1and1, and none of the aggravation of either. The support was wonderful, and my new VPS was up and running in twenty minutes.
Finally! Something that worked the way it was promised, the way it was advertised, the way it was supposed to!
Problem solved, right?
Um, no. It wasn’t Media Temple this time — it was (who else?) 1and1 again.
RJD2 – “Ghostwriter” (This one has the dubious distinction of being (I think) the most-played track in my iTunes.)
When I was ready to transfer my domain from 1and1 to Media Temple, I configured the DNS settings and did everything exactly as I was supposed to.
And then, inexplicably, 1and1 went in and changed my DNS settings to the WRONG ONE. I DON’T KNOW WHY.
They said the address I input was wrong (it was correct) and changed it to the “right” one (which was nonexistent). I called Media Temple to confirm that I wasn’t going crazy, and they agreed that 1and1 were fucktards. I’m sorry to fuckers and retards everywhere to pervert your label with associating you with 1and1. (And no, Media Temple didn’t actually say that. I may be inferring.)
Not only were they pointing my domain to a blank space, they couldn’t stop it until it finished propagating on its own. It’s like that analogy I used in the now-lost post — the train had left the station, and they couldn’t do anything until it reached its destination. Its nonexistent destination.
I was told the process could take 12 to 48 hours.
Luckily, it was on the short end of the spectrum, and this time I called tech support (even though I knew I shouldn’t bother) to make absolutely sure my settings would not be fucked with once they were set.
They were set. The DNS pointed to Media Temple.
After all this aggravation and (I checked my cell phone records) FOUR HUNDRED MINUTES on the phone in TWO DAYS with various tech supports at various hosting services, the site works. (Tentatively. Hopefully. Please don’t break.)
By the way, Gramps, although the post is lost into the intenet either, I did get the email sending me your comment. You seem to know a lot about techie things and I thank you for your help! If you don’t mind, I’m reproducing your comment here in case it’s helpful.
Comment by Gramps:
My sympathies. When looking at your platform to try to come up with some advice re the hotlinks issue, I saw you were hosting with 1and1. Oh Dear! I thought. I’ve been a customer of theirs, or rather their German parent, for over 5 years (renting dedicated servers for various projects) and they’ve been excellent for that with zero downtime, good connectivity and great facilities for low-level access to the servers. I was so pleased that I started advising friends to try their consumer hosting services, which look good value for money. Big mistake. Their customer-facing “support” for those that need it (I’m lucky enough not to) turned out to be a major disaster. Not only the support but also their first-level tecchies seem to operate robot-fashion following scripts in the worst call-center tradition. The upshot is that the people you get to talk to or email can’t do competently, or advise on sensibly, anything that even slightly deviates from what’s in their script. So when you posted a couple of days ago that you were moving servers again, I started to pray that you meant you were moving away from 1and1 instead of doing something that involved re-jigging your 1and1 hosting. But alas not.
All I can say by way of reassurance is that despite the convincing appearance of complete and all pervading uselessness, there are people in the company who know what they’re doing, if you can only get them on your case, and the technical infrastructure once the config gets fixed is very good. I realise that isn’t going to be much comfort to you, or all the folk who thanks to your splendid writing have become even more dependent on their daily dramabeans fix than on the dramas themselves. But there are hosting companies where you might be a lot worse off in the longer term, because though they have good customer service they have lousy kit and flakey connectivity. There are some good things about 1and1 (not least of which their pricing) even though they manage to hide most of them from many of their customers.
Thankfully, I AM away from 1and1. Once my domain registry is fully transferred, I will wash my hands completely.
Now, back to the regularly scheduled programming. 😉