I want a new host... one that won't make me sick..
March 1, 2010 10:42 AM   Subscribe

After five years of sticking by Dreamhost, i'm fed up and ready to move on -- where should i go?

I run a weblog and have hosted on Dreamhost since day one. I love their support (usually) and their control panel, but the unrelenting slowness of the site has finally convinced me that I need to move away. Who should I move to? I'm looking for something in the $20-$40/mo region, a good control panel and Wordpress-friendly. If they also have reasonable domain registration integrated into the control panel that would be a bonus, as i'm also looking to transfer away from bait-and-switch-priced Yahoo Domains.

My site doesn't have cataclysmic stats - only about 2k visits/day and yet Dreamhost can't seem to load the site faster than about 7 seconds a page. I've got WP Supercache running, i've optimised my MySQL tables, i've switched off all unnecessary plug-ins, but it's still slow as hell. I asked Dreamhost about this and they told me that googlebot was "hammering" my site, and to block the googlebot to improve site performance. Amazingly, that's not really going to work for my online business, so I'm ready to switch.

I've seen MediaTemple but don't have experience with them - are they good?

(If something else is ridiculously slowing down my site that i haven't figured out, i'm happy to hear that, too! the site is in my profile)

Thank you!
posted by ukdanae to Computers & Internet (24 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Nearly Free Speech can't be beat.
posted by phrontist at 10:49 AM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't have any suggestions for that price range, but I do want to offer that I run a number of websites, and while Dreamhost has been phenomenally good for low-traffic sites, they do seem to have serious problems with anything needing CPU cycles (e.g. forums and CPU-intensive blogware). So I think you may need to reconsider the idea of shared hosting and maybe get a dedicated server . I have had cheap ones for $40 at aplus.net but am not sure if they offer them anymore, and while they usually come with front ends that help avoid dirty Linux work they do require a little more tech saviness. If you do go with shared hosting, you'll be looking for one that has a reputation for not overpopulating their server.

In that vein, I don't really know where to go for reviews, as there's a ton of shill sites out there... in the past I've looked at webmasterworld.com for suggestions but they've really overmonetized that site.
posted by crapmatic at 11:03 AM on March 1, 2010

(Also you may want to look in Dreamhost forums; there are sure to be threads with disgruntled users discussing where to relocate their sites, and there should be some commonality between the Dreamhost problems and which providers might be a better fit)
posted by crapmatic at 11:05 AM on March 1, 2010

I migrated from DH to pairLite for some accounts and Pair for others and don't regret it for one second. Nearly bulletproof, awesome support (when I need it), tons of status updates. Highly recommended.

They do domain registrations, too. The control panel is less flashy than DH's but contains all of the major things one needs.
posted by hijinx at 11:06 AM on March 1, 2010

Yes, MediaTemple is what I usually switch people to when they start to hate Dreamhost. They're very good.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:08 AM on March 1, 2010

Just a FYI that there was a question earlier today about NFS and WordPress.
Don't know if it would influence your decision or not from @phrontist's recommendation.
posted by willmize at 11:08 AM on March 1, 2010

Some of the above suggestions are probably good. But I didn’t know how good I had it at Dreamhost until I tried 1and1, GoDaddy and other services with way weaker technical support.
posted by thelastenglishmajor at 11:40 AM on March 1, 2010

I work at DreamHost and do customer outreach. I took a look into your account and found that there may be some upgrade options available to you. If you could submit a support ticket through your control panel and mention: "ATTN MIKE S" somewhere in it I'd be happy to discuss these options with you and help with what you need. Alternatively you could reply here or send me a message through MF and I can help you that way.

I noticed that a support ticket hasn't been submitted from your account in months, so if you'd like us to help you out and see what can be done to get your sites working as expected I'd definitely recommend submitting a support ticket. We're all more than willing to help get things resolved, but we do need to hear about it to be able to do this for you.

If you'd rather not work with DreamHost any longer, I'm truly sorry to hear that and would like to offer to help make your transition as easy as possible. Just get in touch with me as instructed above so I can help, if desired.
posted by MichaelS at 11:43 AM on March 1, 2010 [4 favorites]

Try A Small Orange.
posted by nam3d at 11:57 AM on March 1, 2010

Seconding A Small Orange.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:10 PM on March 1, 2010

I'm having good experiences with DowntownHost. My needs/price ratio may not scale to yours. Still, the tech support is amazing. I think there's only one guy manning the station, but he's always freakin' online and doesn't seem to sleep.
posted by spamguy at 12:13 PM on March 1, 2010

I'm in the process of moving mine from DH to A2hosting.com. I'm right in the middle of it, so I don't have much data yet, but so far, so good.
posted by wheat at 12:28 PM on March 1, 2010

Anybody else curious what the OPs site is? Please do post--I want to see what kind of blog could be loading that slow.
posted by Elminster24 at 12:30 PM on March 1, 2010

I recently switched from a local hosting company to ANHosting and really like what I've seen so far. I have mostly wordpress and drupal sites and I like the speed and the support has been great and nearly instantaneous. At someone's suggestion on a previous askmefi thread I'd migrated my personal website to angryhosting and I haven't been too impressed. That will be the next to move to ANHosting if the good performance continues.
posted by white_devil at 12:36 PM on March 1, 2010

I've been using MXHub.com for years, and love them - good, friendly support, proactive maintenance & care on the servers, cPanel, and decent costs & performance. I have a Joomla / SMF / Gallery2 site that runs smoothy on one of their shared hosts.
posted by GJSchaller at 1:05 PM on March 1, 2010

I've been using Mediatemple for almost a year now and I've been pleased with them. I used their $20 a month "gs" service until my traffic grew to the point where I was paying give times more in overages than I was for hosting, when I moved up to the next level and haven't had any problems so far. For 2k hits a day, (gs) should work just fine for you, and its control panel is easy to navigate and has an option to automatically install Wordpress (though after doing so you'll probably still have to upgrade it to make it current).
posted by Nedroid at 1:24 PM on March 1, 2010

Elminster24: "Anybody else curious what the OPs site is? Please do post--I want to see what kind of blog could be loading that slow."

See profile: http://www.knickersblog.com/
posted by turkeyphant at 1:29 PM on March 1, 2010

If the blog in question is the one linked from your profile, I was actually surprised at how quickly the front page loaded, but then I reloaded it a few more times and it seemed less good.

In any case, first question is, where are most of the readers of your blog? If your audience is in the UK, then they'd get a better experience if you hosted on your side of the Atlantic.

Second, while Dreamhost may be the cause of a lot of your slowness, its looking like a lot of the page load time is the result of stuff hosted elsewhere, like tracking code, ad code etc. The only control you have over that is either to choose other providers for those services, with no guarantee they are any better, or make sure that your page is built in such a way that slow components don't hold up rendering of the rest of the page. I don't know what the tricks are, but I know there are a lot of people discussing the problem and how to work around it (this guy's blog might be a door in to that world).

Back to your original question, even though there are probably other issues you can address to improve the responsiveness of your web site, I still think leaving Dreamhost is a smart move. Lots of people love them, but those people seem happy to put up with things I never had to deal with at Pair.com. I'd probably still be with Pair.com, except I figured out that more than half of the time spent on the server with my Wordpress blog was on parsing the php files. The way around this is to use a PHP Opcode cache (like APC, or EAccelerator, or XCache), which, unfortunately, is something that Pair.com and most other shared hosts don't offer.

One that did offer it was Webfaction.com, but they had some other issues that ultimately drove me to setting up a VPS with Linode. The VPS is $20/month, and totally rocks, but I'm the sysadmin. It doesn't take much effort to keep running, but there is a lot of learning you have to do first if you don't already have basic sysadmin skills.

But my advice in short:
1. See about optimizing the HTML
2. Choose hosting near your primary audience.
3. Find a host that uses a "PHP opcode cache."
4. You get what you pay for, more or less, but you should be able to get great hosting for $20-40/month.
5. Make sure your new host offers consistently better performance before cutting completely over.
posted by Good Brain at 1:35 PM on March 1, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you everyone and thanks to Mike from Dreamhost, i sent you a MeMail.

Good Brian, our audience is largely US despite our being in the UK, but excellent point about the location of servers. You're also right about the amount of external calls - i've tried to pare down to the bare minimum and keep everything to the bottom of the HTML, but things like ads and stuff are unavoidable. I'll definitely check out your link to see if i can optimise.

Thanks for the tip about PHP opcode cache, i will definitely look into that. I've been tempted by a VPS but as you point out, I don't really want to sysadmin it myself. I'd quite like a host that had the benefits of VPS with a bit of management, but that's probably out of my price range!

Thanks again everyone and if there are any more suggestions, please keep them coming!
posted by ukdanae at 3:47 PM on March 1, 2010

I'd quite like a host that had the benefits of VPS with a bit of management, but that's probably out of my price range!

Check into WestHost. I have not used them but I've received several good reports.

For stability and performance, I've had an account with Hurricane Electric for 12 years and never had any real issues with downtime or performance. They offer less space/bandwidth/etc on paper, but my experience with them was exactly the opposite as the experience I had on Dreamhost: rather than having unwritten rules and fine print you can bump against well before you cross the official limits (a nearly inevitable consequence of a business model that involves overselling), I've found that HE has stood behind what they offer, and they've sometimes waived or reasonably pro-rated overages in order to keep me happy.
posted by weston at 10:05 PM on March 1, 2010

Definitely do some more reading / searches on the Webhostingtalk Forums.

Personally, I've have good service from Steadfast.
posted by jzed at 3:42 AM on March 2, 2010

We went with Bluehost after reading several suggestions to do so on AskMe. No complaints.
posted by exhilaration at 10:26 AM on March 2, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks again everyone - after speaking to Mike at Dreamhost i've decided to give Dreamhost PS a chance, but if that doesn't work out i will follow the many excellent suggestions here. Thank you!
posted by ukdanae at 5:06 AM on March 3, 2010

I second, Nearly Free Speech
posted by Muhim Nest at 5:46 AM on June 26, 2010

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