New Hosting For Four Pillars – Media Temple

by Mike Holman

The hosting problems we’ve been having lately are finally over – I’ve moved the blog from Dreamhost to Media Temple.  I don’t normally blog about bloggy stuff but I know there are a lot of bloggers who read this site who might find this interesting.

First of all I’d like to thank everyone who helped out with the blog migration and also to many others who offered to help.  I really tried to do this on my own – although painful, it was a good learning experience.  As a self-proclaimed “serious” blogger – I feel it is in my best interests to learn as much as I can about all the different aspects of blogging – even if I don’t want to!  I’m still not sure if I would have been better off hiring someone like Blogcrafted.com (mentioned below) to do it for me given the amount of time and aggravation it was.

Two people who helped out a lot  were:

Finance Freelance Life – she also runs BlogCrafted.com which is basically a blog consulting company.  Some of the services she provides for very reasonable rates are:

  • Migrating blogs from one host to another (like I just did) and from hosted platforms (blogger, wordpress.com) to self-hosted (wordpress on a host).
  • Changes to your theme or setting up and modifying a new theme.
  • Complete new blog setup on any platform.

Pinyo – this guy has a great website at moolanomy.com as well being the brains behind PFBuzz.com which is a great place to find good blog posts.

Some more hosting stuff

For anyone who doesn’t know – “hosting” refers to the server where the blog material and code is kept – there are lots of different companies around that provide this service and the main differentiators are:

  1. Price
  2. Service – how quickly do they respond to help requests and how knowledgeable are they?
  3. Performance – is the blog slow or completely down at times?

How did I decide on the hosting company?

I narrowed down the possible hosting companies to LunarPages and Media Temple.  Both companies came highly recommended and I know quite a few good sized bloggers who use either.  There are many others out there which I’m sure are comparable but I tend to go with recommendations from other bloggers.

Lunar Pages has what I think is the best value anywhere with their shared server hosting – for only $4.95 per month (if you pay for a year) this is as cheap as it gets.  The great thing is that they are very reliable and have good tech support.  I think the shared server option is best for most blogs – you won’t have to upgrade until you get to at least 2,000 uniques per day or a lot more.

Media Temple has a dedicated virtual server option which is quite good for $50 per month.  This is a lot more expensive than Lunar Pages so not only do you need significant traffic – I would suggest a minimum of 2,000 uniques per day, you also need the revenue to support the costs.  One thing to note is that if you pay for a year up front – the cost is only $500 ($41/month) – not so bad.

I was on the fence for quite a while about which company I should go with but eventually I choose Media Temple because I thought I might have too much traffic for Lunar Pages shared server.

My advice for anyone looking for a host is to go cheap until you know you are ready to upgrade.  Both Lunar Pages and Media Temple have cheaper shared server options all the way up to expensive private server options so you don’t necessarily have to leave the company to upgrade (or downgrade).  I made the mistake of upgrading my Dreamhost account to the virtual private server a long time ago thinking that more traffic and money would be soon to follow.  In the end I think I threw a couple of hundred bucks away.  I should have just stuck with the shared server.

Why did I leave Dreamhost?

The reason I decided to leave Dreamhost was mainly because of an incident several weeks ago where the blog was completely down.  I put in a support ticket (they don’t have phone support) and it took them 22 hours to respond.  In my opinion this is unacceptable and was enough reason to start thinking about switching.  The second reason was that the quality of the support was very poor – in the incident the support person didn’t have a clue what was wrong and thought it was my themes.  I knew this was ridiculous because both of the themes I use are very common (Thesis and Grid Focus) and I never heard of anyone else having problems.

To be fair, I did use Dreamhost for 1.5 years without any incident so they are not bad – it was only when I needed help quickly that they failed.  Dreamhost is no bargain either – I think the monthly base charge was $11 per month and I had a virtual server option which was a minimum of $15 on top of the base rate (you can set it to higher rates for more juice).

What was the problem?

In the end I believe that removing the gravatars from the comments was the biggest factor in getting the blog running properly again.  I have one post that has a ton of traffic as well as comments so all those extra calls were slowing things down dramatically.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 BD

So your paying $50 a month for a virtual server?!

2 Four Pillars

BD – Not exactly – I went with the $500/12 months option which works out to $41/month.

I should also mention these are US$.

3 Mrs. Micah

Glad to help and that you’re finally migrated. With me, Dreamhost service was finally the breaking point. Over 52 hour response time (well outside their 24 hour window) after they’d restored my sites from an old backup (deleting all the changes in that time period) which included essentially deleting a site. After a few more days (maybe a week in total) they got the deleted files back to me. Was not a happy customer.

4 ObliviousInvestor

Ack, what a mess. Cheers for getting it all resolved! 🙂

5 Squawkfox

I’ll be moving my hosting soonish too. Major pain the da butt. :/

6 Nurseb911

I recently signed up with a company called Doreo for my corporate website that I’m developing. Eventually I hope to move my two blogs over there since their customer service is top notch & the reliability/pricing is hard to beat.

Very impressed so far with them, but its great to see FP back up & running. I knew 6 posts in 1 day from Mike must have been a glitch 🙂

7 Pinyo

4P, thank you for the mention. I was happy to help. Personally, I am using both LunarPages and MT so I can vouch for both. I think you’ll be happy with MT VPS for the time to come.

8 Dale Dietrich

I’m about to move from self-hosted on my own home-office server to media temple. I’m up to about 800 uniques a day. Why didn’t you chose mediat temple’s $20 a month option?

…Dale

9 Four Pillars

Hi Dale – good question. I talked to a number of bloggers who have similar stats and they use the $50 dv so I decided to do the same.

10 Pinyo

@Dale – MT $20 option is not reliable in my opinion. You’d be better off with LunarPages $5-7 plan.

11 Dale Dietrich

I’m still not understanding what’s wrong with the $20 option – especially since you can always UPGRADE to the $50 version if something goes wrong.

My buddy Dave Zatz runs http://www.zatznotfunny.com/ on the $20 version. He has about 15 TIMES the traffic I have and he’s doing fine. He’s had a couple compliants but he seems satisfied.

Anyway, I’m signing up for the $20 service today. I’ll keep a link back to this blog. If I have problems I’ll come back and let you know.

I’m about to move four Wordpress blogs over and one PHP/MySQL/Apache site I created too. If you have any tips, or can point to a good summary of how to migrate a Wordpress blot (I’ll be using Filezilla) that would be really helpful.

Cheers.

…Dale

12 DaveZatz

Just to clarify, I had the $20 plan for about 18 months and then a year ago MediaTemple had me add a dedicated mySQL container for another $20/mo. Every now and then I have GPU overages, but not often and not much. I could reduce the database calls – removing the need for the mySQL container and avoiding overages most likely by running the wp-supercache stuff. I also pre-pay the normally monthly GS which brings it under $20/mo.

Over the 2.5 years I’ve been with MT, I’ve been mostly satisfied. Their phone support is OUTSTANDING. Seems like we’ve had more maintenance and unplanned outages in 2009 which have irked me. But not enough to make a move…

13 Four Pillars

Dave and Dale – I hadn’t heard anything bad about the $20 option until Pinyo mentioned it – but like I said, I knew people who had used the $50 option and were very happy with it.

This type of data is all anecdotal so who knows? I could very well have been better off with the $20 option. Dale – please let me know how it works out – good or bad. I’m not opposed to downgrading to the $20 option at some point if it makes sense.

14 DaveZatz

One more stat – a blog double my size and with a forum is on the same plan as I. However, with the $50 DV plan there’s really no worry of overages and most of MT’s issues seem related to the Grid Service. For Dale, GS should be more than adequate. I’ve thought about migrating to DV, but moving is a pain and the DV option requires more involvement in server management.

15 Four Pillars

Dave – yes, moving is always a pain!

When you mention size, what kind of stats are you talking about? ie how many uniques per day?

16 Penelope @ Pecuniarities

I’ve been with MT grid service since October 2008 and am very happy with it. It’s a huge improvement from where I used to be – ixwebhosting. I pay $10 more per month now, but it’s worth not having so much downtime and database timeouts.

My blog used to go down whenever it just started seeing StumbleUpon traffic. Drove me nuts. And that was with caching.

17 Four Pillars

Penelope – thanks for the info.

18 Dale Dietrich

Just as an update, I’ve now had http://www.daleispher.com, http://www.wishhh.com and http://www.daledietrich.com running on my $20 a month plan without glitches. I’m also hosting three friends websites on the service. No problems of any kind after I figured out how to get it all running.

And their customer support is ridiculously good. Save for one guy who seemed a tad clueless, the 10 other times I called in with questions, they solved all my problems and answered all my questions. And afterwards they send you and email with a summary of the discussion and all the solutions to the problems. How great is that!

Can’t recommend them enough.

…Dale

19 Four Pillars

That’s great to hear Dale – I agree. I love their customer service and the email they send is great as well.

I had an memory issue which involved some plugins and they sent an email with a whole pile of suggestions about how to improve blog performance. None of which I’ve done of course, but still – it was nice. 🙂

20 Dale Dietrich

As an update, I’ve been using the $20 MT option to host several small blogs now since my first post above and I’ve had no problems at all. I’m very happy with MT so far.

21 Mike

Glad to hear it Dale – I won’t hesitate to recommend the $20 option as well.

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