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The Almighty Buck

The CIHost Saga Continues 160

kiltboy writes "CIhosting had a major failure effectively eliminating 48,000 e-commerce sites. They claim it was a DNS failure but customers are complaining of old data being restored and some pages just being gone. MSNBC has picked up the story here along with some human interest stories. " I've talked personally with several people who've been dealing with this, and as people know, we've had hosting issues before. It's one of the most frustrating aspects of working on the Internet, but can anything be done about it? What do you think?
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The CIHost Saga Continues

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  • CIhost has an office just down the street from my house, and when I applied there, i noticed a lot of lax behavior. from everyone in the building. Their equipment was not kept clean or orderly, and according to one tech I spoke with, they only run backups every week or so, sometimes as long as 3 weeks! This is NOT flamebait or BS, I got this info from people in the company.
    There was never a genius without a tincture of madness.
  • Don't use web hosting companies that are defective, like CIHost, or Digex. God, Digex sucks. For the past three months we've been dealing with their crap. We have three Solaris boxen at their facility in NoCal; ever since we've had them, they have had connection and bandwidth problems. We get timeouts; we get slow speeds; we get packet loss. Hell, the other day I had to FTP a 146 MB file from one to another. These machines are on a 100BaseT LAN. It never broke 15KB/s. Not to mention uploading the 146 MB file in the first place, which never broke 10KB/s.

    Not to mention that they tend to tell you they'll call you right back, and then don't; they'll tell you something has been fixed, but they haven't tested it (and of course it's not fixed); and so forth. I would avoid Digex at all costs if I were you.

    --- Dirtside | "Spirituality" is the irrational belief in the supernatural

  • According to the story, the recorded message on C|Host's customer service line said something about entering domain names and IP addresses into the DNS server by hand.

    I'm guessing that these are customer IP addresses, but even that smacks of technical incompetence. Pretty scary. Hint: if you're not going to make recoverable backups, at least spend an hour or two learning rudimentary shell scripting, if not Perl.


  • by slashdot-terminal ( 83882 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2000 @10:52AM (#1400468) Homepage
    I feel that a company is supposed to provide a service that is stable, secure, and efficient. Any time those goals are violated in any way the person has a legitimate legal complaint. Would you be pleased or very impressed at all if for example you had your automobile serviced and then as you were driving out of the service center the engine just dropped out of the vehicle? Hardly.
  • A co-worker has been experiencing the bad side of C-host, for the past few days, he's been calling their tech support to YELL at them. So I wondering now, what are the alternative providers?

    I am thinking more along lines of someone local so you can stop by their office if something goes wrong.
  • by slashdot-terminal ( 83882 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2000 @10:57AM (#1400470) Homepage
    According to the story, the recorded message on C|Host's customer service line said something about entering domain names and IP addresses into the DNS server by hand.

    This actually sounds like a Microsoft solution when something goes wrong. Since usually most items are dependant on preconfigured settings and gui administration most of the really interesting automation usually cannot happen natively. Batch files after all can only do so much and WSH is only so effective at some of the more independent abilities of shell and perl.

    I'm guessing that these are customer IP addresses, but even that smacks of technical incompetence. Pretty scary. Hint: if you're not going to make recoverable backups, at least spend an hour or two learning rudimentary shell scripting, if not Perl.

    I agree. Most of the settings for various system files that I have seen have been in hiden and system directories that are not usually thought as part of the normal file system (Netware) and such. When people do backups its not totally intuitive for the average person to get something of that nature done easily or properly without the necessary training. An MCSE will not usually cut it because little is done to teach out of contingency management.

  • by jabber ( 13196 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2000 @10:59AM (#1400471) Homepage
    It's about money. If you want something done right, or at least done so that you do not complain, then you'd better be prepared to do it yourself. Otherwise, you get what you pay for.

    Web hosting is big business, and to make the price competitive, corners get cut. The problem is when failures occur, you see the underbelly of your cost savings. It costs money to hire good staff. It costs money to make (frequent) backups. It costs money to provide redundant equipment.

    Now, an out of the box solution may run great for a while, giving all involved a sense of security. A smoothly running computer needs little more than a baby-sitter in terms of administration and tech support. It's when all hell breaks loose that you find out where your money has been going. A trained staff costs more, but will get you back up and will keep you there. The cheap and untrained baby-sitter will, at best, be on-hold with someone elses tech support.

    The mettle of your staff and contracted hosting company is tested and proven during a crisis. How they handle that crisis is what you pay for. Their response to this matter tells much of their commitment to their customers.
  • I have been useing AIT for almost 2 years now without a single problem. There connections are wicked fast and dirt cheap. They offer virtual both NT and unix virtual servers and colocation of anything you want.
  • by sandler ( 9145 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2000 @11:04AM (#1400473) Homepage

    This may be off-topic, but....
    Which virtual hosting services have people had success with? Which ones should be avoided like the plague? I'm sure there's enough experience here to answer this question.
    Personally, I just signed up with a new, inexpensive service, and have gotten the impression that they are completely incompetant, and I may be looking to switch. Any advice?

  • I can not speak to their northern california offices but I was impressed with their maryland facility. The people their were fun and knew their stuff. They took their job seriously and the machine rooms and such were kept very very clean and orderly. Their new facility has 3 1.2 megawatt backup generators.

    While down at their facility doing some consulting work the power company had a failure. The digex people worked very to make sure that it did not affect any of the client systems at that facility. The new facility they have built since then is rather impressive.

    Just what I saw in the maryland offices.

  • Don't use web hosting companies that are defective, like CIHost, or Digex. God, Digex sucks. For the past three months we've been dealing with their crap. We have three Solaris boxen at their facility in NoCal; ever since we've had them, they have had connection and bandwidth problems. We get timeouts; we get slow speeds; we get packet loss. Hell, the other day I had to FTP a 146 MB file from one to another. These machines are on a 100BaseT LAN. It never broke 15KB/s. Not to mention uploading the 146 MB file in the first place, which never broke 10KB/s.

    Is this company or personal? I would surely hope that your company wouldn't bet its' break and butter stuff to these bozos. As an interesting aside I have noticed that when transmitting large volumes of data that network preformance (with almost any line but usually public ones) goes down in a linear or logarathmic fashion is there some phenomeon that causes this to happen (besides increased network trafic?)

    Not to mention that they tend to tell you they'll call you right back, and then don't; they'll tell you something has been fixed, but they haven't tested it (and of course it's not fixed); and so forth. I would avoid Digex at all costs if I were you.

    How do these guys avoid getting sued in the first place? Assuming you are loosing data in great quantities and you are experiencing undue levels of incompetence you are able to sue them for this.
  • It seems, or so I've been led to believe, that their East Coast facilities are much better than their West Coast facilities. Not hardware, but rather, people.

    --- Dirtside | "Spirituality" is the irrational belief in the supernatural
  • to prarphrase an old lawyer joke... What do you have when you've got 18,000 e-commerce sites wiped with no backup? An idea whose time has come.
  • Following the suggestion of another slashdot poster in some story awhile back, I checked out hurricane electric []. My site's hosted there, and from what I can see they've got pretty good rates. And hey, they run Linux..

    -mike kania
  • As an interesting aside I have noticed that when transmitting large volumes of data that network preformance (with almost any line but usually public ones) goes down in a linear or logarathmic fashion is there some phenomeon that causes this to happen (besides increased network trafic?)

    This can happen if there's some kind of progressive bug in the transmission hardware/software. I remember in the early 90's that some modems (specifically, US Robotics) would enter something called a Death Spiral when you transferred any sizable amount of data. But that was really a hardware problem. I haven't really seen that kind of thing happen in a while, not over modern Ethernet networks/the internet. Hell, yesterday I uploaded 8 gigs of MP3s to my machine at home, and there wasn't one second of slowdown.

    Also, we're not "losing data" as it were, it's just that a lot of times I'll have to reconnect to the FTP server or the SSH server, because it will spontaneously disconnect, or freeze up. We're still in the development phase, so it's not like we're losing customers... yet. :)

    --- Dirtside | "Spirituality" is the irrational belief in the supernatural

  • I've had the best luck with Half Price Hosting []. They once had a UPS problem that brought down the indexing on the Windoze web boxes, but for price, uptime, and bandwidth you can't beat them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 05, 2000 @11:14AM (#1400483)
    As far as the people who, at least the article seems to indicate, lost their entire site and fear that there is no backup, I have a piece of advice:

    "Never trust a backup that isn't in your hands."

    What, do these people just schlop their pages on the server and not keep a frequently-updated copy of everything on their own media? That's just stupid, plain and simple.

  • The trouble began a week ago, according to a company press release, when it began a $2 million system upgrade. The company claims data on its "nameserver" became corrupted, Hello ? Ever heard of the word backup ?? And nameserver not nameservers ? So redundency isn't in your vocabulary I see.
  • by Cat_Man ( 93741 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2000 @11:17AM (#1400485)
    Ok, wonder why sites like UserFriendly and such make fun of idio... er customers calling in? Read the above! Your cow-orker calls tech support to yell at them. In long entire chain of command how much power do you think the lowly techie he is yelling at has? Tech support gets dumped on because they are a convient target. If you want something changed go higher up the food chain and give the techies a break.
  • Exactly. I called my ISP a while back when I was thinking of opening a web-centric business. They only wanted like $150 a month to co-locate a box. That was certainly a reasonable price to me to know it's Internet connection would always be available (if an ISP can't keep an Internet connection up, I would be worried :)) and the box would be controlled by me. This is in the middle of Illinois, so I'm sure those of you that chose to live in huge cities would get bilked for 5-10 times as much by those ISPs. :)

    Maybe I'm crazy, but do people put 100% faith in these mass web hosting places? I know I've got a copy of my puny web site that comes with my ISP dialup account on my home machine. If they lose a hard drive, go under, whatever it's not like I can't take it elsewhere. One time (out of two) I was able to change the name servers for a domain on NSI's web page immediately. So, voila, it was changed to a new provider. The other time, it took about two weeks for their email bots to accept the forms. But, well, now we can pick other registrars, so hopefully they will be better about this.

    Anyway, the point was just move to a new provider and move on. Minimize, as much as possible, your downtime but you're never completely SOL. As many complaints as people have on here with these sort of mass hosting places, I probably won't ever use one.
  • So from reading the article it seems that we've lost a site that sells tennis balls that go on your car antenna, and a meeting place for celtic musicians.

    I don't know about you, but that sounds like acceptable losses to me. You know the old saying, if you're gonna make an omlette, you've gotta break a couple tennis balls. []
  • You're right, is good (of course, you never know what will happen if something goes wrong). My site's also hosted there...
  • by dillon_rinker ( 17944 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2000 @11:24AM (#1400490) Homepage
    I would ask all of these companies, (all the people who signed contracts with the web hosting services) "Have you ever used a computer?" Any professional in the IT industry should know that computers are not 100% reliable, and anyone who has ever used a PC will have seen a few GPFs, or BSODs. When you contract with someone to provide computer services, you don't ask them "Do your systems crash?" You ask them "What do you do when the system crashes?"

    Unfortunately, most people want to be lied to. Despite the fact that it's an OBVIOUS lie, that anyone with an ounce of common sense would disbeliev, they want to hear "Our systems never crash." If they don't hear that, they keep on looking until they find someone who will promise that. Of course, there's never anything like that actually in the contract...
  • You can never trust the integrity of your web site unless you are directly in charge of the hosting. Unfortunately, that is the way it is. A whole bunch of small companies probably got screwed because they don't have the knowhow or resources to do it themselves.

    Not everyone can have a T3 coming into their office, plus the boxes and someone to maintain them in their office, so hosting services will probably always be needed.

    Hopefully these sites are able to be restored, but it seems unlikely. Too bad.

    "You ever have that feeling where you're not sure if you're dreaming or awake?"

  • by richj ( 85270 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2000 @11:24AM (#1400492)
    However they aren't fundamental in running a business.

    Businesses will always try to cut corners, unfortunately backups and high availability, which should be the cornerstone of this kind of "operation" are often overlooked.

    Just today in fact I came into work and had a disk crashed on a Jamaica JBOD attached to a Hewlett-Packard K370. True, since it's not an array it took a while to recover everything, but being as it was a development database, I managed to restore it back to the state it was at 2am last night.

    Without those backups I'm be typing my resume now instead of posting to Slashdot ;)

    But there's no excuse for a company like this to backup their customers' data, the technology is out there--StorageTek, ATL, they all have scalable solutions to back up terrabytes worth of data, but that costs money and apparently they didn't think providing a decent service to their paying customers was worth it.

    If I had an account there, I'd most likely find another provider that knew about system backups and high availability, it is *your* business.
  • I think, like many geeks maybe, that the only way to do things right is doing them myself OR contract somebody like me to do it.
    Some day, a wire to get my linux and bsd boxes connected to the internet would be cheap, and my ecommerce site will be up as long as I pay a sub 30$ bill to a fair company that will give me a quality service.
    Until that, I fell that we well see MANY more hosting providers messing our lives.
    There's a still a long way to go, I know...
  • Incidents like this are likely going to increase in frequency over time, what with the ongoing proliferation and consolidation of providers. And under current law, ISP reliability is more or less limited to what's in the contract the end-user or business has with said ISP.

    Does anyone think we're going to get dial-tone-level reliability without imposing something like common-carrier status on ISPs and hosting providers? Of course, this particular path opens up Costco-size cans of worms in other arenas; spam leaps to mind as one, and the sheer cost of maintaining 99%+ uptime is another. But I have a sneaking feeling that sooner or later, we're heading down that road...
  • One of the companies I work for has been hosting their e-commerce site on CIHost. Fortunately, we registered the domain name ourselves, and we just recently were able to get a decent connection so that we can host our sites in the office, run our own DNS servers, mail servers, etc. So, we've been able to transfer the domain to our servers without too much trouble.

    I know that keeping web servers up isn't the easiest thing in the world, from my past experience. It's not rocket science, but sometimes hardware failures happen. Sometimes you lost power, and not everbody can afford a backup generator to run their web server on.

    However, I've never dealt with a hosting company with as many problems as CIHost.In the past two months or so, our web site has been offline at least 8 times for no apparent reason. For about two weeks, their bandwidth was almost completely saturated. And now, we've got this issue.

    When we first heard about CIHost, we checked into them, and they were rated highly on at least two sites we checked. With this kind of service they sure won't keep a rating like that for long.

  • by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Wednesday January 05, 2000 @11:35AM (#1400496) Homepage Journal
    It doesn't cost -much- to run a decent web-hosting service, if you cut the -right- corners. It costs a lot, in the long-term, if you cut the wrong ones.

    A web-hosting service can cut corners on software, by using Open Source products such as Apache (optionally with IBM's GUI, SGI's patches, and/or one of the acceperators such as Squid), OpenSSL, Perl, [PHP | Zope], Minivend, [Sendmail | Postfix | Qmail | Cyrus IMAP], Cyrus LDAP, [SSH | OpenSSH], [Linux | FreeBSD | OpenBSD | NetBSD], Heartbeat (for High Availability), etc.

    They can also cut corners -to some degree- on hardware. eg: You don't -need- to buy hardware RAID solutions, as you can do that in software. You don't -need- to buy watchdog cards, as you can do that in software, too. If you use ReiserFS, you can use the increase in performance to go for disks that aren't necessarily as fast.

    How often you make backups depends on the volatility of your data, NOT on how much you want to spend. If your data can be expected to change daily, then backup daily. If it's likely to be stable for a few weeks, backup weekly. If it's continuously on the move, then backup hourly.

    How to make backups - buy tapes. They're cheap, they're reliable, and they store a lot. Tape drives are also a lot cheaper than R/W CD-ROM drives. If you've got the cash, get twice the number of tape drives you normally would, then Cron the jobs to run in the background. Stripe your data across half your tape drives. Use the remaining drives for the next backup cycle. That way, you give yourself more time to swap in fresh tapes, and if you forget before the next backup, you're OK.

    How long to keep tape backups: Forever, if you can afford it. As long as your budget can possibly allow, otherwise. It's vitally important to be able to backtrack as far as possible.

    All in all, there's never any excuse for mishandling data, on account of expense. You CAN make things as cheap as you like, WITHOUT compromising the integrity of the system or your ability to recover from a catastrophic failure.

    As for DNS', routers, etc: ALWAYS have TWO of everything. That doesn't mean you have to splash out on a vast number of machines. You can always use your fileserver as your secondary DNS, and a software router can always sit on a web server (though that's not really good practice, for security reasons). And ALWAYS have High Availability wherever applicable. DNS doesn't really need this, as most OS' can search multiple DNS servers.

    Again, there's no excuse for not having backup systems. Once you've got the basic machines, you can have them multitask as much as you like, so they can always act as backups for something else.

    It's negligence that leads to disasters like this. And I include the times that my own failure to backup has led to significant loss of data. It's a lesson I learned well. If others haven't, well, don't hire them to host your web services until they have.

    I think the worst example of negligence like this that I've personally seen was at NASA Langley. The admins backed up -officially- daily. In practice, it was whenever they felt like it. One visitor to the center picked up a hard disk (in use at the time), shook it, and asked what it was. The disk, needless to say, crashed. It turned out that there was a vast amount of critical research data on it and the admins hadn't backed it up in 3 months.

  • Well, rule #1 should be to make your own backups and don't trust anybody.
    Ideally, you should do your development on your own machine and only upload 'production' code to the machine that hosts your domain and has all the bandwidth and then run a cron job each day or so to dump your database, tar and gzip it all, and ftp it someplace else.
    Also, a cron job that runs a little script to inform you of the state of things and emails it to you every few hours is a good idea if your site is not a full time gig.
    Of course, since you're paying somebody to do all this for you you really shouldn't have to worry about it but that's life.
  • I consider myself an expert on this subject, meaning the "How much does Digex suck" subject, and I can back this up 100%. They are in my opinion the most completely clueless operation in the business. I'm tired of re-re-documenting all the crap I've been through with them, contact me by email if you're interested.
  • I've always had pretty good luck with Pair Networks.

    Mind you, I only use server space there -- I haven't tried to colocate whole machines -- but they recently moved their entire NOC and they did a pretty damn fine job of it.

    As a result, I trust them even more.

  • Jumpline has been reliable for me, and they offer a pretty good feature set too.

  • Absolutely right, and something I wish one could make the average web hosting client understand. It's hard to talk about technical competence, good policy, and sane contingency planning, when all the customer sees is "Well, Joe Bob's web hosting will do it for $4.95 a month."

    *sigh* You don't always get what you pay for, but *never* do you get more than you pay for.

  • Data is fundamental to running a business. If a business loses data, it loses money. Since it is a given that systems will fail, backups are a requirement for businesses. Any business that cuts costs here will eventually learn why it's bad. If they're lucky, it will be a painful lesson; often the lesson is a fatal one.

    The reason why backups are fundamental to sys administration is because the sysadmin is responsible for the data - like you said, lose the data, lose your job.
  • Sure you can sue them, but that requires a lot of money up front. Lawyers aren't ever quick, or cheap, well good lawyers.

    If I ran a web-based business, I'd give a site about 24 hours to be back up and running perfectly. Much beyond that, I'd figure they were incompetent (no redundancy, backups, whatever), and start looking elsewhere. Most importantly, I wouldn't store my one and only copy of a web site on their server(s). Change the NS records for the domain, and set up shop elsewhere.

    Back on suing, you could probably only sue for some refund of the hosting fees, and maybe your average daily revenue for the amount of downtime. If you make enough on a web site in a day or two to cover lawyer costs for a long drawn out affair, I'd suggest investing in real servers and colocate somewhere reputable. If you're selling 3 bird feeders a day and a dedicated servers isn't reasonable, you aren't out much money, so suing is pointless. :)
  • by webblah1 ( 133808 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2000 @11:48AM (#1400505)
    as a very unsatisfied, and even baffled, customer i have to say that these guys are right on the money!!! and msnbc picking up on the story too. haha.. i hope these guys realize what theyve gotten themselves into. jay
  • It could be that they only have hardcopy of the records for some reason.

  • I think one of the largest culprits in bad events like this is lack of documentation/planning.
    It's not that the hosting company is negligent, but that the users assume certain things about the hosting company without getting it in writing.

    ie: Did the hosting company specify that they had daily backups? Weekly? Did they state that they had a disaster recovery plan? Did you ask? Did you state *your* needs as the customer, or did you just assume, as many people do, 'They are a web hosting company, so they'll have daily backups, a super-fast disaster recovery plan, fault tolerant systems, and enough staff/resources to deal with problems efficiently.).
    This is not the case in a great many companies.

    As for backups, you should have your own off-site backups, and if it's e-commerce related, you should damn well have your OWN disaster recovery plan. Your own backups. Your own copy of the records, either that, or contractual obligations that your provider will supply those services.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Oh, and Frontier Globalcenter, or whatever they're called this week, had a (get this) power failure in their NYC facility last week. They had to replace a circuit breaker, they called us at 2pm saying they were shutting power to our racks down at 1am. Now they're running around issuing SLA-induced refunds. A guy that works for me once asked why we don't put UPS in our racks, and I laughed and showed him the room full of batteries down the hall. Never occured to me that the circuit breaker would be a single point of failure. Dolp!
  • Woah woah woah, "not everybody can afford a backup generator"? If your ISP or the place where you stash your webservers don't have a UPS (battery powered uninteruptable power supply--APC [] is the best) then you shouldn't be hosting there. UPSes can be bought for $1-2000, as well as reasonably sized generators I might add, and if your business can't spend that as a necessary cost then it will not last long. If you find yourself needing a generator more than once every two months, you need to move locations.

    I hate to preach, but in critical situations there are essentials like automated backups, virus checkings, and stable&regulated power. If you have not enough money to have a T1 but more money than $20/month for hosting, consider colocation. This is a safer alternative because you can inspect the facilities in person before you sign up or get into contracts. Buyer beware

  • I am one of those who has a couple domains hosted with CI Host. I also understand that crashes happen. If things had crashed, they'd admitted that things crashed, and then fixed it, I'd be satisfied. But their system crashed, they were totally unreachable, and it took them over a week to have my sites' DNS working correctly. A week of downtime is what is unacceptable.
  • Even before they crashed I was getting pissed at CiHost. PHP / MySQL web pages that should have worked fine, and did work fine at home, simply hung on their machines. They talked about all these wonderful things they could do (e-commerce etc) but never gave the details. Now this.

    So, where do I go? Any recommendations for a *good* provider with decent backups, uptime, big pipes, available tech support, reasonable prices and (most importantly) MySQL and PHP support?

  • Has anyone here heard of []? They look clueful, but they are hard to get in touch with.
  • there is something you can do about it. Don't go with a suck web hosting company. Colo is a good way to go so that you can do it yourself. However make sure the company has zero downtime for an extended period. Approximately 2 years without downtime is a good start. Our company das done it so why can't others?
  • by doonesbury ( 69634 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2000 @11:55AM (#1400516) Homepage
    I think everyone is missing two important points: first is that CIHost, despite being down for several days, isn't guilty for being down so long, per se. It's dumb, but not un-survivable; alternative service could be found, and if they were a great service, they'd have little to worry about. But their attitude is not an apologetic and a forthright one, but one of arrogance and obfuscation - arrogance, because they see the problem as being a minor glitch, and obfuscation, because they can't seem to get even simple information, like the status of their site and my site, up. I have not recieved one e-mail, one call, one notice, or even a web page informing me of their status. I note, though, that their own CIHost main page was up before mine. When I look at that, when I can't reach their customer service site, when I can't get my own mail because of this - I'm mad. Down, I can understand. Down & no info why or when it'll be fixed, I don't.

    The second point, one that I think everyone is saying but skirting around, is that there's no good, reliable information on web hosts. Lists make money off of a) advertising from the very people they're rating, or, sometimes b) money to rate other people higher. No one has an objective list which rates the customer service, the time up and down, the overall service, that I know of - and it's almost impossible to make one, because the good ones can so rapidly become bad ones. Information about these things is so subjective as well - several people have already complained of having "bad service" while not detailing what happened.

    The first problem is CIHost's fault. They can (but most likely won't) change. The second problem, maybe we can work on - compiling a list of decent web hosts, and keeping track of problems and sucesses. Any thoughts?
  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2000 @11:57AM (#1400517) Homepage Journal

    Any professional in the IT industry should know that computers are not 100% reliable

    That's the crux of the issue, most customers of hosting companies are NOT IT professionals. They are business people who understand that the web and e-commerce are "where it's at", and they want to be there. They hire a web designer, and they contract a hosting company (sometimes the web design and hosting are a package deal). They have no way to evaluate the professionalism of the company because they hav no idea what's involved. In many cases, they don't even know their own passwords (the web designer handles the 'technical' stuff).

    The above situation SHOULD be just fine! It's the hosting company's job to know that backups are critical, and that it's best to have two or more, and that redundant connections and a failover plan are essential for when (not if) a server goes down in flames. That's what they were hired for!

    Most hosting customers ARE quite familiar with BSOD and GPF. They just assume that it's because they did something wrong (otherwise, MS would be out of business). They also figure that professionals either don't have those problems or that they can deal with them. That SHOULD be the case.

    The customer doesn't want to be lied to, and the lie isn't obvious to them. The customer's mistake is in failing to realise how profoundly unprofessional some 'professional' hosting companies really are.

  • If it seems too good to be true, generaly it's not true.

    I wouldn't trust a web provider who had that kind of promotion of being very reliable or competent. Maybe I'm just cynical like that. Of course, my current provider is cut-rate, but doesn't offer huge promos either. They have basic service for basic prices and I've been happy thus far.
  • and they wont answer the phone.. funny for a company that states that customer service is a "cornerstone of their business".. www.msnbc/news/353491.asp?cp1=1
  • Hurricane Electric has been very good for me for almost a year now so I would recommend them: []. They run some kind of modified Slackware and have MySQL and PHP.
  • Many of the sites that the uninitiated user would go to for comparisons of hosting companies receive money from the hosting companies for positive reviews.

    It's pretty tough to get an objective appraisal of where to spend your hosting cash. Especially if you aren't technical enough to tell when people are bullshitting you...
  • I have to disagree about Digex. I have used Digex as a backbone provider on and off since 1995. I have been extremely impressed with their backbone performance and customer support. I always get notified of scheduled maintenance well in advance and they even call me if a line is down for more than 30 seconds.

    I also had an episode where a new customer of ours moved their website to our facility and their ex-ISP was DOS'ing us in a lame attempt to show that we had poor connectivity. Digex got right on it and we caught them red handed.

    My favorite thing about Digex is that their backbone speed/peering rocks! I'm in the NoVA area. I've also had very good luck with VERIO.
  • by !Xabbu ( 1769 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2000 @12:10PM (#1400527) Homepage
    A lot of companies would be better off using Small ISP's. Smaller ISP's are almost always willing to give you more bang for your buck. They don't charge enourmous amounts of money and you have a better chance of getting a human on the other end rather then an automated attendent. When you call, ask them how long they have been around... the average lifespan of bankrupt/closed down companies in this world is about 3 years. If they live past then, they are pretty well as solid as the next guy.

    If you are a small company chances are your webpage is not going to garner gobs of bandwidth at one time... even the little ISP with a 128K ISDN connection can easily serve up your pages to people in a reasonable amount of time. Ie. At home I have a 56K modem... at work I have a T1. Slashdot loads at the same speed for both. I get 6k per second on my home machine... and I get 80-100 on my work machine at peak so its not my server because they are both using the same pipe.

    People need to get out of this frame of mind that bigger is better. It isn't... with bigger you have red tape. You have cutbacks where they have 3 guys tech supporting 10,000 users. Sure with the smaller ISP you may not get 24/7 tech service.. or you may even pay a little bit more for one specific thing but in a lot of cases cheaper isn't better. If your business hosting needs are dependent on 24/7 support then you need a Network Service Provider. If your business was so dependent on uptime that it would kill your profit margin by being down for 8 hours because your ISP staff is asleep then you need the bigger guy... even then you can find medium sized companies that have higher levels of tech support options available. I would be willing to bet that some of the best webhosting companies out there are small timers who will stay small because they won't sacrifice quantity for quality.

    Just my 2 cents... keep them in mind when you need a business (or even personal) internet solution.

    - Xabbu
  • I just looked at, it seems to be up, all the pages came up. But they are still talking about their award-winning service, blah blah blah. No word as to what happened and no acknowledgement that it even happened at all.
  • i just got myself a T1, sure its expensive but the only downtime is self-incurred.

    Don't count on that! You'll need a backup from another provider at least. The big frame relay meltdown last year nailed a lot of people who believed the same thing you do.

  • The web sites are up, true, but no telnet/ftp/ssh access yet (at least to, our CIHost server), so no site updates or even backups are possible.
  • I've been using for a couple of years now with incident. I had a couple of initial setup problems, mostly with majordomo, when I first started with them, but they fixed the problems quickly and I have had none since.
  • The web sites are up, true, but no telnet/ftp/ssh access yet (at least to, our CIHost server), so no site updates or even backups are possible. And, their support site, is still down (as it has been since this all started).

  • Last year about this time, my host, 9NetAve had an 'incident',which was described as a hard drive crash during the backup procedure. My site was lost completely. Apparently they only ever had one set of tapes, and it was lost. Just because your host is a large one, doesnt mean they know what the fsck they are doing.

  • I have --soon to be had-- two accounts with ciHost, and the initial two days of down time is not why I decided to leave (ignore for a moment their more recent performance). The reason I decided to leave is because I did not hear anything from them.

    The sites were down for a day, and the first "responce" I recieved concerning it was not from ciHost, but from another hosting company. They evidently sent email to everyone who used ciHost's nameserver. Perhaps not the most ethical course of action, but certainly a timely one.

    It was a full day before I heard anything official fro ciHost, and --although one of my sites was (and has remains to this time) down-- Their rosey press-release email told the story of the problem you're now familiar with and that they said was solved.

    Prompt, honest answers would have kept me as client.

    Lloyd Sommerer

  • I switched to simplenet, who has my domain now. The only problem is that cihost needs to release my domain so that it can propagate. Too bad these jerks took their phones off the hook. I even went so far as to call their local phone # in texas. I also have sent them 3 faxes a day every day since the outage on a response, and filed an online trouble ticket every day on their site.

    I see they finally changed their little y2k problem... but if someone didn't get to see it, you can check the screenshot on my site at:

    BTW- I also have a description of my nightmare with cihost on the rantings section... Well I guess we'll have to sit here and wait till these jerks put the phone back on the hook so I can tell them to kill my account. Oh yeah... and yesterday (get this) they -=BILLED=- my account for another 27 bucks... I called American Express and told them the story, forwarded them the article on cnet, and pointed them to slashdot to verify the problem. Even American Express told me that they'd kill the bill since even -=THEY=- could not contact Cihost.

    As I've stated in my other posts, if someone files a class action suit, please email me. If the suit has a lot of power, I may contribute one or two thousand dollars to help legal fees.

    I'm just fuming at these jerks, and they deserve what's coming to them.


  • Data is fundamental to running a business. If a business loses data, it loses money. Since it is a given that systems will fail, backups are a requirement for businesses. Any business that cuts costs here will eventually learn why it's bad. If they're lucky, it will be a painful lesson; often the lesson is a fatal one.

    If you're a system administrator and say that all of the companies you've worked for practiced good disaster recovery, then I'd say you've worked for a lot of good companies.

    I've worked for companies where I took over production machines which were backed up with (non-GNU) tar, which might be fine for simple restores, but not a very good option if you have to perform a complete restore. A lot of these machines were being backed by by the cron, where a help-desk person would drop a tape in the drive, and pull it out the following morning.

    No log checking, no verification, no nothing. Most of the backups were failures due to bad tape, tape capacity not sufficient, etc, but as long as there's not a major disaster, they could skim by.

    Media (especially DLT) is expensive, and most companies reuse it to the point of it being worthless in the event of a failure, I've seen DLT drives not cleaned for years, and while I personally would never practice such shitty administration myself, I see it happen on other machines with other administrators and on machines which I assume responsibility for.

    Which is probably the case of CIHost, they probably gave their admins such lousey hardware (Here's a DAT drive, do your backups) with little or no software, and expected them to backup terrabytes worth of data.

    Good businesses will practice decent disaster recovery, but the majority of them won't, I guess what I meant to say that it *is* fundamental, but the majority of companies don't practice it.
  • After experiencing many of the same problems with CI Host that others have been having (check out alt.www.webmaster), I decided to move to a new hosting company, OLM.Net []. Yesterday I faxed in my cancellation request to CI Host (1-888-242-7554), and I also emailed them with the same information (my name, domain to be cancelled as well as reason for cancellation). This morning I received an email from the billing department saying I would have to fax in my request, which fortunately I had already done.

    However, this morning I checked my credit card balance only to discover that CI Host today charged me for another 3 months ofservice, even though I was paid through (around) January 15th. I would know the exact date if I could actually view my invoice online, but as with [], this part of CI Host is still not operational. However, I signed up on October 15th and paid for three months in advance.

    Needless to say, I was pissed and immediately called my credit card company to dispute the charge. I am also attempting to call CI Host, but I'm only getting busy signals when I dial their 1-888-868-9931 number. I highly suggest that anyone who cancelled accounts with CI Host to make sure they didn't charge you for another billing period.

  • Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that it was OK for a hosting company to not use generators and UPSs.
  • Heh, yeah, if you use a computer that can GPF or BSOD, you're running WinNT, or 9x, and you better expect routine crashes.

    As for me, I like my year and a half uptimes under anything but NT. :)

  • I've had only good experience with Pair in my eight months of site hosting there. Some of the software on their servers is a bit old, but that's because their first priority is not breaking existing sites that depend on older versions of things. They seem to take reliability seriously, and I've had no problems there.
  • I've got a friend who uses them, and although hard to get in touch with, they are extremely friendly and easy to work with once you do. And being that they run Linux and BSD exclusively, that makes life easier (for all parties involved.) They are ocassionally down, but overall worthwhile.
  • Also remember to test that you can restore from backup. I worked at a company with an elaborate backup plan incorporating daily, weekly, monthly and annual backups with some onsite and offsite storage of backups. But they had never tested recovery. When it came time to restore some files, they discovered that the backups were unreadable. That is not the time to learn this.

    From the O'Reilly book Practical Unix Security:
    When was the last time you backed up your computer?
    a. today
    b. this week
    c. this month
    d. this year
    e. never
    f. My computer is already against the wall and can not be backed up any further.

    If your answer is a or b, good for you. If your answer is c, d or e, put the book down and back up your computer. If your answer is f, keep reading; everything is just fine.
  • I'm using them right now. They seemed to offer the lowest price for hosting mysql and php without real bandwidth limits. Plus you get a shell account with very few restrictions. Not a bad deal for 10-15 bucks a month. Their website and documentation is pretty clueful and was not written by marketing types or lawyers.

    After using them for awhile, I don't know if I would recommend them. In the past two months I have seen them suffer from DNS troubles. Telnet is down right now as far as I can tell, and has been down for awhile. Sometimes it is grindingly slow. Security seems to be another issue. The motd described some problems with DOS attacks. If you want a cheap place to stick your personal/hobby site it might be an economical choice. I would stay away from them for buisness hosting. I am thinking of leaving sometime in the next few months.

    So has anyone used Datarealm ( or Web2010? They seem to be fairly large and offer PHP and mysql for around 25 bucks a month.

    Even better, does anyone know of a web host that offers the following features:

    • MySQL
    • PHP3 as a module
    • At least 50 megs of space w/ more for cheap
    • Shell access
    • Generous amounts of bandwidth

    I would like to pay $25 bucks a month or less...

    I guess I can scratch c|host off of the list.


  • A week of downtime is what is unacceptable.
    Is that specified in your contract? If it's not in your contract, you essentially told them that it is acceptable. If you don't require them to do it, why should they spend extra money to do it?. If it is in your contract, then they took your money and lied about what you'd get - time to sue sue sue.

  • by bsr ( 1893 ) <bsr@[ ] ['spe' in gap]> on Wednesday January 05, 2000 @01:28PM (#1400555) Homepage
    I dissagree somewhat, I believe that it does cost alot (well, I suppose alot is relative, but anyway) to run a high-uptime web server. Granted there are ways to minimise this cost, but it's still going to require a signifigant investment in hardware and/or people.

    If you've got an fancy, high-transaction ecom. site, you don't want that to go down, so you have a hot spare that will automagically fail over to, as well as redundant data lines and a backup "solution" of some kind. Computer hardware is (in my opinion) cheap, if you're not buying SGI, backup "solutions" are worth every penny. But things like data lines will be a large recurring cost. In PDX the going rate for a frame relay T1 (last time I looked into it, and if you have a fancy site, who knows, a fatter pipe might be needed) was around $1k-$1.5k a month. So, it may be more economical to colocate your boxes at a service provider that has fatter, redundant pipes, that'll cost you alot less - if it's an unattended colocation facility, alot more if it's an attended one.

    So your box crashes, automagic fail over occurs, customers don't see a thing, but you gotta fix the crashed/incapacitated server. If the server is in your office, and it's working hours, fine, but if it's at an unattended co-location facility, you gotta drive out to the co-loc. If it's 2 in the morning, somebody has to get out of bed and do it. If you're out to dinner with your SO, you gotta leave and do it - a pain in the ass. To be more reliable, you start a rotating duty shift for your people, which will cost you more in labor. Backup tape changes are not a problem if the server is located in your office, you can do that all during normal busness hours, but if it's at an unattended co-loc facility you'll have to schlepp down there to swap tapes periodically.

    To me, it's now looking like the $7k a month hosting fees at some fancy attended co-loc aren't so bad. Their onsite staff is typically well trained (in my experience), and they'll do everything you ask them to, you'll never have to touch your boxes again, be able to do all your work at sane hours, and have something that may resemble a life outside of work.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2000 @01:29PM (#1400556) Homepage
    The Cihost home page [] has statements like "99.99% uptime" and "100% Satisfaction Guarantee." Those usually have legal effect. But their policy page [] tries to disclaim all warrantees. Probably a big mistake on their part, promising a warranty on the front page and trying to disclaim it inside. Terms like "willfully deceptive" apply. Get a lawyer. Sue. Consider a class action. There's enough dollars in this to justify one.

    Check out Kimmel and Silverman, the Computer Lemon Law Attorneys. []. They advertise: Simply call Kimmel & Silverman, The Lemon Law Attorneys at 1-800-LEMON-LAW (800-536-6652). You can also fill out our form and submit by e-mail. We'll do the rest, quickly and efficiently to get you a NEW COMPUTER or FULL REFUND at absolutely no charge to you. That's right, Kimmel & Silverman's service is FREE, win or lose!!
    I have no connection with them, but I called them, and they say they handle this sort of thing.

  • CI Host has a blurb on their home page making note that they've made one of the top 3 out of 15000+ hosting companines. Wonder if that award can be taken away. ;)

    Here's the blurb for the motivationally-challenged:

    Award Winning Service
    C I Host leads the web hosting industry by providing and upholding true commitment to customer care. The belief that customer satisfaction and trust are the key factors to our success makes C I Host the premier choice for consumers and businesses in over 128 countries worldwide. C I Host is also consistently rated in the Top 3 of 15,000+ hosting companies by HostIndex and The Ultimate Web Host List. Speed, reliability, affordable pricing and superior customer service are the hallmark of success at C I Host

  • by G27 Radio ( 78394 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2000 @01:41PM (#1400559)
    I've been co-locating my web server at Global Online Electronic Services []. My server is more of an educational toy for my friends and I than anything. So we suffer no great loss if something goes wrong. However, if I ever need to host anything serious, I'll probably still stick with GOES.

    GOES is a local ISP in Hackettstown, NJ (where M&M's come from :) I became aquainted with the owner, Norm, at a fair at the local college. The cool thing about it is that Norm is an ISP because that's what he loves to do. He loves having his own T3, servers, and racks of modems.

    Norm's a BSD guy, but he's got at least one member of his tech support staff that's a Linux nut. They're very knowledgable, know me by name, and eager to help. In fact, they seem genuinely interested in what we're doing.

    Point: I understand that a small ISP may not suit everyone, and not all local ISP's are alike. However, it's certainly worth considering because there are benefits to dealing with someone who will actually know who you are once you start with them. And, if they're local, you can always harass them in person if something goes wrong :)

    Anyway, I moved ~1000 miles south as the car [sic] flies since the time I started doing business there. I'm using Linux so it's not as if I ever need to visit the box anyway.

    Oh, another bit...I did have a problem with the server not rebooting once. It refused to detect the SCSI adapter all of a sudden and I figured the adapter was dead. Norm called the owner of the computer store [] located in the same building. He came up and fixed it--then wouldn't even let me pay him for his time because all he had to do was re-seat the SCSI card. You don't get that kind of support when you're dealing with a big companies...

  • I too am using Half Price Hosting and am not too impressed. I needed a cheap host that supported MS Access and Cold Fusion (ok, I suck, leave me be). Anyway, I was getting about 20% to 50% packet loss over a period of three days (Fri, Sat and Sun). I told them, they said they knew, and it didn't get fixed for a week. No email, no announcements, no nothing. Plus, their support isn't that good. I used their crappy online DSN form to set up a new database and had to call back twice to get it done. Now I am shopping for a cheap site ($10 a month) that gives me Mod_Perl, MySQL, Linux and DBI support. Basically I want everything SlashDot needs. Any recommendations?
  • In the world of full out ecommerce sites, this just isn't reasonable. These sites take in so much info, it isn't just slapping some HTML on your local machine. We are talking about hundreds of transactions a minute. Think about it. How would SlashDot keep a local copy? This isn't the world of homepages with pictures of your cat [] anymore. Ebay goes down for eight hours and their stock drops thirty points. That is the real world now-a-days.
  • I just called CI Host to have them cancel one of my accounts, took 4 tries to get through but the lady was polite. She informed me their accounts database is down and that to cancel my account, I needed to fax them and they will do it once their system is back up.

    The problems never end...
  • If you still want to host within Texas, drop by Service is great, machines are fast.
  • We have 5 sites with Mindspring, and are going to move them all. I'm actively looking for a new host. Our main site, which gets about 15,000 hits a day goes down about 1-3 hours every 2 weeks or so on average. I call up mindspring every time, and they just say "yeah, we're having some problems with that server now, just check back in a few hours." meanwhile we're losing business and viewers. I've talked to the highest people I can & havn't seen any change. This has been going on for at least 4 mos. Any suggestions for hosts?
  • Dude, chill. I am running a friggin homepage. I don't want to start up friggin ebay on $10 a month. If downtime were a problem, I would have left Half Price Hosting in a second and gone to a real ISP and spent the cash. I am a believer that you get what you pay for. I don't expect more than $10 a month service.
  • As a tech support type myself, I just wanted to thank you for this post. Too often we get our heads bitten off by customers over things we have no control over. This is the largest part of the reason techs get burned out so fast typically. I'm fortunate in the company that I work for now, our Network Ops group is pretty diligent about getting things taken care of, so I don't hear too much of this, but I've been there with a previous employer, and it is *not* fun. Trust me, the tech on the phone is probably even more frustrated than you are, because they've probably been bugging the responsible parties to get it taken care of, and you're probably not the first person to complain. It takes a lot of patience to be a phone-support tech. Give these people a break... as a general rule, if you treat them well, they'll do whatever they can to help.
  • Pretty damn interesting how their accounts database is down but they sure as hell managed to prematurely bill me for another three months of service today!! And I faxed in my account cancellation YESTERDAY. Also nice how the [] site is not accessible (which is how they claim you _must_ cancel your account on their website).
  • That's the crux of the issue, most customers of hosting companies are NOT IT professionals.
    Right, but I'm sure that most customers of hosting companies HAVE used Windows, and seen first-hand the potential problems computers can have. You suggest that these people discount their personal experience. That's definitely a personal problem.

    It's the hosting company's job to know that backups are critical
    But is it their job to provide it, especially when the customer didn't ask for it and wasn't promised it? Suppose El Cheapo hosting's "hook" is "the cheapest hosting around." Their contract specifies exactly what you get - file space, a domain, some logins, and a net connection. The customers sign on the dotted line. Why should El Cheapo take it upon themselves to do ANYTHING that the customer didn't pay for? More on this point later...(*)

    Most hosting customers ARE quite familiar with BSOD and GPF. They just assume that it's because they did something wrong
    I would disagree with your assertion. Most of the businesspeople I have worked with blame themselves last, regardless of the situation: their computers crash, they don't make their computer crash. Regardless, I don't think it's the problem of the web hosting company if a customer discounts their own experience.

    The customer doesn't want to be lied to
    Have you EVER had to deal with the public in the capacity of telling them when something would be fixed, whether it was lawnmowers, TVs, or computers? People DO NOT want to hear "Oh, we've got quite a backlog, we can't get to this until next week" - they get really ticked really fast. On the other hand, they are really happy if you say "Yeah, we'll get to this and have it done by tomorrow afternoon." If you ask them, they won't say "yes, we want to be lied to," but their behavior says otherwise - they prefer to hear lies to truth. Oh, and when they call back tomorrow afternoon

    The customer's mistake is in failing to realise how profoundly unprofessional some 'professional' hosting companies really are
    Quite the contrary; the customer's mistake is in failing to understand what they need, and failing to specify those needs in the contract. Is it the customer's fault that they didn't look out for their own best interests when those interests may have collided with the interests of the vendor? ABSOLUTELY! It is always in a seller's best interest to minimize what they deliver. This interest generall conflicts with the buyer's interest in getting the most for their money. Any buyer who doesn't realize this needs to exit the business world FAST.

    There have been many firms who have made millions by offering good-enough product for less money than their competition; naturally, they had to cut costs somewhere in order to afford lower costs, and quality control is an easy place to do that. (OB MS slam: Microsoft is a prime example) "You get what you pay for" is common knowledge, though not always accurate. In this case I would say that it was definitely true.

    Though it certainly sounds like it, I'm not trying to justify scurrilous business practices. I'm merely pointing out that they exist, and that people are STUPID to ignore the fact. People are also STUPID to make business decisions when they haven't the slightest idea what they are doing. At the very least, this has been an educational experience for some people; next time, maybe they'll know to drive a harder bargain. or maybe not; maybe they figure that they'll take the cheapest web hosting they can get, and they'll take their chances, too.
  • if this is somehow related: []

  • Ditto on Jumpline. Inexpensive, PHP/MySQL, pages come up pretty quick, I'm happy.
  • Okay, I feel sorry for all the businesses out there that got hosed for thousands of dollars in this.

    But seriously, who would stake thousands of dollars in inventory, advertising, time, labor, etc., on a damn cut-rate host company?

    If your business is worth anything to you, you should have at least one dedicated server for it, with someone who knows how to administer it available to fix it. Rent for storefronts costs thousands of dollars a month, $500 for a high-quality basic Linux server is a bargain by comparison.

    Setting up a real business with one of these places is the Internet's equivalent of setting a store up in a ghetto. So these people didn't know that? Then they have no business in e-commerce. They bet their future on something they don't really comprehend, and that's just plain foolish.


  • I have been using both Hostpro:


    and they are not bad - been reliable - but for added features, like cron jobs, PostgreSQL++ we're going to check out Digital Daze

    If you're a open-source developer you should also check out this one from VA-Linux

    I can not recommend the two last ones - but they seem very promising - and we intend to try them out both - you may mail me later to get my impression.

  • The second problem, maybe we can work on - compiling a list of decent web hosts, and keeping track of problems and sucesses. Any thoughts?

    I definitely agree with you. It's really tough to pick a provider for web hosting.

    I'm currently using pair [], and I've been pretty happy with them. That said, they're not perfect, though they seem to be honest. They recently moved into a new facility, which involved some downtime for their entire network. While I would have liked to have seen the move made at an off-peak time (they started it early on a business morning), they did a very good job of keeping information about the status of their network available. They set up and externally hosted site specifically for this purpose and they posted to it regularly until they were back online. While the move didn't go as smoothly as they had hoped, they didn't try to keep their customers in the dark.

    Back to your point, a completely unbiased site that rated service providers would be a great resource.

  • [] is one of the places where you can vote for (or against) hosting services.

    I've been entering a "poor" vote for C I Host daily for the past week or so.

    They went from #3 in December to #6 in January. So, VOTE!
  • I've posted this before, but think it is worth repeating ... When we first started, we hosted with pair, after hearing rave reviews. Everything went fine for the first week or so, until someone got mad at us for not posting something of theirs. He then sent an email to pair, claiming that we had spammed him. He sent no headers, and was the only one to complain, yet pair decided this was proof enough, and took our site offline for two weeks. No contact first, just took it off. After tracking down their abuse department (they don't have a phone number. literaly), We were able to find out who sent in the spam report. After speaking with him, he settled down, and emailed pair explaining that he had only done this to get revenge, and that he hadn't been spammed. The abuse tech told us that he didnt care, and that our site would stil be down for the two weeks whether we did or didn't, simply because being accused of spamming is enough proof for them. We ended up switching hosts, and luckily for us, we don't make any money off of our site, so we were realtively ok in that sense as well. But if you are planning to host something that is mission critical, I recommend looking elsewhere
  • Yes, I do. But at least OLM (supposedly) owns their own equipment and seems to respond to customer service queries in a more timely manner than CI Host (especially now!!!) I never had a problem with the speed of my website until CI Host decided to move. And I'm paying less through OLM than I was through CI Host. I really haven't seen any people complain about OLM.

    My site isn't live yet, so I wasn't greatly affected, mostly just a hassle because I couldn't send/receive email through my domain.

  • has great customer service and a good package for $17.99/mo.
  • Try One of my friends has had his site hosted there for about a year and has had no problems, tech support is supposedly very responsive. I just signed up for hosting from them for 5 bucks a month (15 megs disk space, 2.5 gigs bandwidth). Every account includes access to a shell account, they run linux and support just about every language you can imagine (PHP3, MySQL, Perl, C++, Python, etc.) Unlimited POP3 addresses for all your friends too. =)

  • We have had terrific service from ThistleWorks.Com for the past year. Never a problem with tech support and they have courteous reps.
  • has been good for me too. they proactively notify me when maintenance occurs and also after the fact when unexpected failures occur (i think the power supply got toasted on my box, once upon a time). point is they seem to be responsible. tech support has provided good answers (via email) and typically within 12 hours or so.
  • Amen.
    I think that in general people put up with waay to much from web service providers, 'just because it's the internet.' If a car dealership told you that a certain car would work 99% of the time guaranteed, would you buy it?
    --begin plug--
    Where I work, ( []) we're offering a one month free w/ 6months prepaid thing for anyone switching from a different host (geared toward CIHOST people)
    --end plug--
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I happen to work for one of the large web hosting providers and all of them have problems.

    I have been on deals where we slam and it is great. we did the right stuff and we had a happy customer. we have also had the ones where Legato decided to puke that day and isn't restoring correctly and VP is screaming at you.

    I have worked and been involved in HUNDREDS of really big web hosting deals from the trenches to sales and i can tell you that running many scalable huge web sites is an art not a science. There are sooo many variables that you just have to cover as many bases as you can and rely on your staff and dare i say it god for the rest.

    And for those who do want to host the big sites make sure you find a web hosting company that does the base things like OS, backups, hardware and monitoring really well. If they say "Oh yeah bring over that custom strange ass software you wrote or software X some start up company wrote, we will manage everything for you, no problem" then be really careful. They may say they can do it, but can they really? ask lots of questions!!!! and DO NOT expect to pay nothing for these services, they are expensive to provide. your mom and pop web hosting guys can't do a an ebay or a ford motor company web site or something of that scale. heck they can't even provide the network infrastructure the big boys can. so don't go to an IBM or UUNET and expect to pay the same as your mom and pop. Also, they may not fit your solution. they may only be able to take on what they can manage. i know that sounds simple but we have customers all the time asking for wild ass stuff and we can't scale it. it is truly about scaling it so we can do 50 of these dealas as easily as 10,000 of them. the big guys do have thier limitations.
  • As for backups, you should have your own off-site backups, and if it's e-commerce related, you should damn well have your OWN disaster recovery plan. Your own backups. Your own copy of the records, either that, or contractual obligations that your provider will supply those services.

    While I agree with what you are saying, unfortunately it doesn't work that way at some low budget hosts. Many don't allow shell access, or the ability to run even a simple cron job to tar the site. The best many can do is to ftp the complete site every time there is a change, or data is added.

    Data from customer databases is another issue. With most of these CSP type e commerce accounts, you have no access to the data, except via the browser front end. That means no backups, no queries other than the ones built into the app.

    You get what you pay for, and anyone that is trying to run even a small business on a 20 dollar a month e commerce account has to realize that there may be some problems. We started co locating a year ago after our host was purchased by Verio, who then went on to destroy the level of service to which we had become accustomed. My only question now is, why didn't I start hosting my own servers, sooner.


  • Zymurgy Systems [] (yes, this is my company) provides everything you list (MySQL, PHP3 module, 100MB, 1GB transfer) for $20/month except for shell access. I also offer basic hosting for $5/month.

    One of the best features I offer is the ability to stick domain names on subdirectories for $3/month so that web designers can host their clients' sites and charge them whatever they want.

    I do automated backups of all the config files, but I don't back up users' sites. If they go down, you'll know about it and you'll have to re-upload your content. I haven't had a disaster yet, and do have excellent uptime.

    Whoever you choose, good luck!

  • I have been trying to get through with no luck. There's no way in hell I will fax in that form to them, in which I authorize them to take their final charges from my credit card. They make very prominent "guarantees", but the legal fine print absolves them of just about everything. Legal precedent shows that you simply can't wash your hands of everything with a disclaimer, even when the customer signed something. This is ridiculous. I hope they get what they deserve.

Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this-- no dog exchanges bones with another. -- Adam Smith