grid good?
March 10, 2008 2:16 PM   Subscribe

Media Temple's Grid Service: current verdict? (or: alernatives?)

Media Temple's Grid Service (the only service that would make sense for my small-budget sites) has gotten a lot of criticism for outages and slow response times. Have things now improved and stabilized with GS, in your experience?

MT's last direct statement about overall GS status seems to be the apology posted three months ago in their blog. Their system incidents page lists several GS outages during February & March, but it's not clear how many users any of those outages affected. (All? Just a few?)


And if you don't recommend Media Temple, I'd love to hear if you currently use and recommend a reliable alternative that's both
A) large enough to have its own data center, rather than being a tenant in someone else's; and
B) not Dreamhost or 1and1 (just getting those out of the way; why-not would be off topic here).

My priority is reliability/uptime (for both web hosting and pop/smtp) rather than low price -- but I'm more in the $20/mo range than, say, the $50/mo range.

Thanks!
posted by allterrainbrain to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I recommend Media Temple, I've been using them for years and recently switched my sites over to the Grid Server. I haven't had any issues thus far. In my opinion, they are a solid company with great support and value.
posted by ISeemToBeAVerb at 2:32 PM on March 10, 2008


Have you thought about asking them directly? Ask for uptime stats over the last X months and see if they can oblige. Their support has always been excellent in my dealings with them, so might be worth simply asking for some stats.

I'm a new user with them, two domains. Been good so far. I use Segpub.net for my other domains, great company, but as the US dollar has been tanking, my relative costs for them have been going up, so I'm thinking of jumping everything over to MT.
posted by Static Vagabond at 2:36 PM on March 10, 2008


A friend of mine had some sites on MT's Grid Service late last year and the performance and service were so bad that she called me in a panic to help me move them off, anywhere, quickly, once she snapped at the frustration.

After we got her set up somewhere else, I left a monitor script on the "server", and ran another on a remote host for a month after that, trying http, ssh and ftp connections every couple of minutes (in each direction). I logged more than a hundred outages, usually only for two or three minutes at a time, but sometimes for hours on end. Most of the outages never showed up on the MT status page, but I trust my own logs and confirmed a couple of the outages by hand, when I happened to notice the alarm.

She also had a horrible time getting customer service responses, and every time her IP changed (cable modem), her FTP and shell access would die and she'd have to open a new trouble ticket before she could reach her own sites again. She showed me some of the responses, and they seemed to have one of those "it must be the customer's fault" automatic responses most of the time, which of course added hours to the resolution loop until she INSISTED that it was a real problem. All in all, she had an awful awful experience over about six months.

MT seems to have a good reputation, but I notice that most of the good reports seem to be for their older, dedicated servers. Their "grid" service looks to be a slickly-described but very flaky collection of about a dozen older servers that they found a clever way to cobble together to squeeze leftover revenue from. I have also read that their slick marketing tends to, um, "oversell" their actual capacity. (It's just hearsay. Google is your friend on that one.)

So based on my (admittedly only) experience, I'm avoiding them. My friend is at BlueHost now, which she chose before calling me. It's only been three months and I don't know enough to recommend them, but there have been no problems since. YMMV.
posted by rokusan at 2:54 PM on March 10, 2008


I don't think many hosts have their own data centers. For example, Media Temple seem to be a tenant in 365 Main's.
posted by JonB at 2:55 PM on March 10, 2008


I have been on MT's Grid since shortly after they launched it. Before that, I had two of their shared hosting sites. After a few months, I moved two of my sites off of MT and over to Wired Tree. The only reason I haven't moved the last remaining site over to Wired Tree is because there is a lot of data to move and I'm lazy.

MT's Grid was really, really frustrating for me at first. Frequent outages and extended problems with MYSQL. I still am not totally clear on their MYSQL policies, and occasionally I get a warning that I am in danger of exceeding my allocation and have been moved to a different container.

I find MT's customer service to be nearly worthless. I file a support ticket that my sites are down. I usually don't hear back for many hours, sometimes a day and the response is "we don't see a problem". By the time they respond, the problem is usually fixed, and I usually don't know what happened. Also, almost all responses are canned replies.

The Grid seems to be more reliable, although I am getting frequent "Scheduled Maintenance" notices. In fact, I just got one saying that my site will be down on Friday evening:
This maintenance action will require that your server be taken offline for an extended period of time. You should prepare for up to two hours disruption to all services including web, email, and ftp. It is likely that only a small portion of the maintenance window will actually be needed.
Honestly, two hours of down time on a Friday evening is not a huge deal for my site, but it might matter to other customers.

For the $20 range for one site, you probably would be ok at MT. To answer your question about alternatives, I can't recommend Wired Tree enough. Their customer service responds almost instantly with detailed help. They cost much more ($49/month) but you can host as many sites as you want within their resource limits.
posted by jonah at 3:41 PM on March 10, 2008


Good point, JonB. I think what I mean is just "have more control over their servers than a small tenant at an irresponsible coloc facility has."

I'm asking this because I think I have to switch some sites away from my current hosting company, which had a total (all-day, all-user) meltdown yesterday that apparently was caused by their coloc provider giving them no advance warning about a power outage. Basically I just need a company that uses a high-grade enough data center (UPS, gas generators, etc.) that they couldn't be globally and all-day-ly knocked out by a power event.
posted by allterrainbrain at 3:41 PM on March 10, 2008


I've been really happy with Slicehost. I haven't run into any problems that required support calls, but signup was good and billing is painless. No outages that I've seen.

It's a really low-level service, though. They give you a fresh linux box basically and it's up to you to set it up how you want. No cpanel, etc. The upside is that memory and cpu are guaranteed resources and so you're not fighting with the hordes of people on dreamhost. You run your own DB servers, web servers, etc, and will never run into any permissions/access/install issues because you have root on your own box.
posted by heresiarch at 3:44 PM on March 10, 2008


SliceHost has been good to me too. I've run a site on MediaTemple, but moved off after terrible downtime & a crappy control panel (this was pre-Grid). I have a suspicion that they've played their cards right sponsoring sites that web developers and designers frequent, and that their actual service to most customers is sub-par.
If you don't need all of the flexibility of SliceHost, availability + support at WestHost is superb.
posted by tmcw at 4:07 PM on March 10, 2008


I've used MediaTemple's Grid for a client at my job... My verdict:

The software / backend for setting things up, the one click installations, etc are really amazing.

However, the sites' response times are sometimes really slow despite being a couple of super low traffic blogs...

I haven't noticed downtime issues, but I also don't check the sites too incredibly often. Given the relatively inexpensive-ish pricing, I'd say it's decent... however, the occasional sluggishness is kind of off-putting to me.

I actually host websites myself, too.. though I don't have a "company" -- just a colocated server of my own in a very well-reputed datacenter that I have access to whenever I need to get in there...
posted by twiggy at 4:19 PM on March 10, 2008


I'm very interested in alternatives like Slicehost that are DIY and not about handholding.

(And I've never heard of dedicated resources + root access for $20/mo, but that's what their cheapest plan costs...... I'd be concerned by that if not for the very solid way they present themselves and the fact that, according to their faq, they turn away new customers when they don't have enough physical resources for them.)

A lot of Media Temple's site actually makes me less interested in it. Like, hearing about the parties they're throwing at SXSW isn't a selling point to me; it seems like more evidence for tmcw's theory that their reputation among creatives comes more from marketing than from solid performance. Most creatives aren't hardware experts (which I say as a creative who's not a hardware expert).
posted by allterrainbrain at 4:40 PM on March 10, 2008


Anecdotal evidence, but I have all my (super-mega-ultra-LOW-traffic) sites on mt's grid service, and I experience random/intermittent slowness and timeouts when trying to visit them. I haven't pulled a rokusan and tried to log the outages, but I gave definitely noticed something similar. For me and for what I do it is fine. I mean: frustrating, but acceptable.

I had been on Textdrive, but when they got merged into Joyent my old TXD hosting plan was an orphan, and they kept adding weird Joyent (non-webhosting related) features without updating their stone-age control panel, or codifying/centralizing the weird configuration tips/tricks that were sprinkled through their old TXD forum. So, I would not really recommend Joyent/Textdrive as an option to you.
posted by misterbrandt at 6:07 PM on March 10, 2008


I got burned really bad (albeit not recently) by the MT Grid Server. It was a totally unprofessional situation that almost caused me to lose a client. Outages and performance issues were so bad and frequent that I almost got an ulcer.

These days I only recommend Pair. I have been a satisfied customer for years and they are my only choice for "real" hosting (I have some personal/piddly crap on a dreamhost account). Their advanced plan would fit your price range (under the $20 mark).
posted by rdurbin at 7:53 PM on March 10, 2008


I got so fed up with shared / grid hosting that I got a VPS over at www.futurehosting.biz -- it's $24.95, I have root access, and I can install all the PHP-PECL modules and database engines and mail servers that I want with no limits besides what I can keep in RAM until I blow my response time on swap. And then for an additional $10 a month I can upgrade the RAM.

VPS stands for Virtual Private Server.
posted by SpecialK at 8:17 PM on March 10, 2008


I ended up entirely frustrated with it and found other hosting. I liked them before the rolled out the grid thing. There were far too many issues, outages, and difficulties. Their response time on trouble tickets went way down. It just wasn't what it was touted to be.
posted by wheat at 12:53 AM on March 11, 2008


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