Saturday, February 10, 2007

About the all-mighty gods of hosting in the world of small business mortals

Ever felt that hosting issues are like forces of nature – they are uncontrollable and make you feel powerless? When your website is down – you cease to exist. Simple as that.

We are in the middle of our Valentine’s Day campaign with our interactive ecard - http://www.theoworlds.com/valentine/. Yesterday AddictingGames.com published it, and the numbers sky-rocketed – 41542 created ecards in one day. It redirected some traffic to our website and also put some load on our server that handles the database. The bad news is that our servers went down four times in the past 24 hours!

We are hosted at AIT.com and used their services for years. A good thing about AIT.com is the fast response time. When I submit a ticket, they fix the issue within 5 minutes most of the time. Generally, it’s been an ok experience, except that $2000 traffic overcharge bill (I may talk about that another time, though I’d rather forget about it).

What is going wrong with AIT is the amount of times our servers go down. I know we are experiencing spikes of traffic (up to 35K on Halloween), but still. Take yesterday – we got 7K visitors (nothing huge), and our theoworlds.com server goes down. It’s fixed, works several hours, then goes down again. I just keep submitting tickets, and they just keep rebooting it. I don’t know what the “99.9% uptime guarantee” is about.

Also lately we purchased a dedicated server from AIT. Half year pre-pay. It’s a Windows box, but we decided to move to a Unix one (surprise, surprise). I bought 3 “Pay-Per-Incident” tickets, as I was told, submitted the request and… one and a half weeks later I’m still waiting. Called them three times, and each time I was told “it will be done tonight”. Looks like “tonight” never came. Good thing we don’t host anything there yet, but imagine your business site being down for 1.5 weeks.

Sure, servers go down and issues happen, but I’d like to minimize the risks if possible. I talked to other small businesses, and it looks like we have more issues than normal. Jobe Makar (electrotank.com) recommended servermatrix.com, which is what they use. I also found this nice list: http://www.webhostingclue.com/WebHosting/SmallBusinessHosting.html

I guess hosting issues are just something that comes with the territory, but there are options. It’s worth investigating. Maybe even reconsidering your present situation - I am.

All other small businesses, feel free to share your hosting experiences. I’m sure there are a lot of “fun” stories.

1 comments:

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