"What's up with Dreamhost?" and some other (international) hosting questions.
October 26, 2010 4:23 PM   Subscribe

"What's up with Dreamhost?" and some other (international) hosting questions.

I'm a developer, and one of my clients' websites is on Dreamhost.

Dreamhost has been having some issues recently, and my client has asked that I review our hosting with them.

One extra wrinkle: we're in Australia. And the website (broadly, fashion and shopping) caters to both locals and overseas travellers to Australia.

So really it boils down to three question areas:
  • What's up with Dreamhost, again? Are there budget plans really a serious choice for a commercial website?
  • If you run an Australian website, is it better to host locally? Are there big improvements in speed for Australian users if you're running off a web server in Sydney? And if so, does that also translate into significant reductions in speed for people overseas?
  • Which Australian hosting companies are both reasonably priced and developer-friendly the way Dreamhost is (I like to have shell access, for instance, and cron)
posted by AmbroseChapel to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think it matters so much if your host is local to you so much as to your audience. Is your target audience local? U.S.? European?
posted by msalt at 4:46 PM on October 26, 2010

Response by poster: > Is your target audience local? U.S.? European?

See my original post. Both. It would be a far simpler question if it were just one or the other.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 5:17 PM on October 26, 2010

What's up with Dreamhost, again? Are there budget plans really a serious choice for a commercial website?

I've used Dreamhost for years on personal sites, blogs, anything that wasn't mission critical or I would expect to get significant traffic. They're good for budget sites.

But I would never in a million years use them for a commercial website. You get what you pay for. Even if something wacky happens once every two years (which is what it seems like with Dreamhost, where they might be down for 1/2 day or more) that's too much.
posted by jeremias at 6:09 PM on October 26, 2010

Response by poster: It's not a commercial website in the sense that it takes payments in any way, just to clarify that. It's not losing sales if Dreamhost goes offline, just pageviews.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 6:17 PM on October 26, 2010

I've been a Dreamhost customer for about seven years, and I think they're good for the price. However, "for the price" is the key phrase -- for what they charge, you can't really expect rock solid reliability and stellar performance all the time. The outages and problems they've had in the time I've been a customer have mostly been minor, but they definitely exist. Not a big problem for a personal site that gets very little traffic. I wouldn't use them for anything that gets a lot of traffic or where a little downtime here and there would cause me major stress. It just depends on your tolerance for problems vs. your budget.

I've recently been transitioning all of my personal stuff onto Amazon EC2. Their "micro" instances cost about $15/mo, which is pretty reasonable, but it does entail doing your own sysadmin work which I don't particularly relish. FWIW, I posted on my blog with a little bit more detail about the tradeoffs as I see them. YMMV.
posted by sharding at 6:31 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

If I were you, I'd drop Dreamhost (they are just not reliable enough for anything serious). There are plenty of hosts that are almost as cheap but much more reliable and provide a similar level of service (pair.com, for example).

As for where you should host, it really depends on the percentage of visitors from each region; the distance from the server to client does make a difference in latency, load time, and likelihood of network/routing issues. I'd say that if more than 50% of your traffic is coming from Australia, then you should probably host it there. You should also look into hosting all of the static content (images, CSS, javascript) using a CDN that has nodes in all of the regions where you have a significant number of visitors. That way, most of the content will be automatically served from a location that's close to the user. There are plenty of inexpensive CDN options that would complement a budget host.
posted by helios at 9:56 AM on October 27, 2010

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