I’ve been a loyal customer at Pair.com for 11 years (after my first hosting company was bought and ruined by old-style Yahoo) and although I have a Dreamhost account as well, I’ve always entrusted Pair with my more ‘important’ sites… i.e. just about everything, except some dormant photoblogs.
Whedonesque.com, the most succesful site I own, never did run smoothly on Pair once the site gained popularity. Every few weeks Pair’s reaper scripts would kill any slow processes on the server or the database. Our index page would be deactivated, or the database connection would be killed Members of our site had to get used to getting a ‘grrr argh, we’re having some problems’ message on a regular basis. (It wasn’t just our home grown Whedonesque, my Movable Type installations frequently had similar problems.)
Pair eventually forced me to switch from ‘Developer’ to a ‘High Volume’ plan. But that didn’t make a difference, since their ‘High Volume’ plans seem to be more about bandwidth than actual CPU use or MySQL connections. So there I was suddenly paying twice as much for my account, with nothing much to show for it. Whedonesque was still crapping out ever few weeks. Whenever Google indexed us, for example, or someone was trying to syphon our site.
Why didn’t I get my own server? Well, Whedonesque is a popular site, but it’s not *that* huge and dedicated hosting would be overkill, if you ask me. It would also kill my bank account.
The last time we had problems with the site, we started using caching and everything was peachy for a while. But yesterday, when the first act of Joss Whedon’s Dr Horrible was released, the spike in traffic triggered Pair’s reaper scripts once again. This time, support told me they were not going to switch the the database back on again. Apparently we were using five times more than what their server could handle.
Pair suggested I upgrade to a dedicated server at 250 dollars per month. (For the record, we had 50,000 page views yesterday and our average is 26,000 page views per day.) I told them I’d be taking my
business hobby elsewhere.
I’d been eyeing Media Temple for a long time. Really, ever since k10k (remember them?) started hosting their site there. But they were quite expensive then. A lot of designer sites moved there over the years and now big name tech blogs like Techcrunch are also in their portfolio. I’d even written to them to ask for advice before, but I didn’t think their response was particularly welcoming. Whedonesque may be well known in some geeky fandom circles, it’s probably not the kind of site they’d be willing to boast about in their client files. We’re not exactly Zeldman. And we always managed to patch things up at Pair, so we never actually made the switch. Until now.
Media Temple’s – surprisingly cheap – grid hosting plan is apparently being phased out for something else (better?), but for now we are going to try it out. From what I read in the documentation, the grid, in combination with a MySQL container, should be able to deal with our traffic spikes and they won’t pull the plug on our database when things get tricky. We’ll see.
Here’s hoping. If it works out, I’ll probably move all my sites over and downgrade or cancel my Pair account. I’ve always been loyal as a customer (in general, not just with Pair), but sometimes the grass is definitely greener elsewhere.