I Heart My Webhost, Part I: I Didn’t Heart That One

Filed under:Blogging,Reviews — posted by Anwyn on March 11, 2007 @ 11:37 pm

Or, A Tale of Two Hosting Providers.

When I decided to start blogging, I looked at the hosts recommended by WordPress.org and chose DreamHost for 1) its intuitive and accessible control panel, 2) its great value for the price (read: huge disk space allotment, which sucked me in even though I couldn’t use that much space by blogging in a hundred years), 3) its hearty recommendation by several tech-minded people of my acquaintance.

“I Heart My Webhost” does not mean DreamHost. My red flags were hoisted early on by their service department, which promised answers in 24 hours but sometimes sent an auto-reply within the 24 hours and real-person answers later, and which misled me, though they say unintentionally, about the status of a domain name I was trying to reserve. Do you know how the domain-name game is played? It’s fairly cut-throat. You wait for a name to be freed from its current owner, and then you ask a registration company to get it for you. Meanwhile, several big companies, notably Network Solutions or Enom, will be snatching up any convenient one-word domain names that fall vacant and a bunch more, too, and slapping advertisements on them to see what they can get. DreamHost’s registration process couldn’t compete with these biggies and failed to get my domain. Fortunately, these companies that snap up any and all names frequently release them after a few days if they’re not making money on the adverts, so that they don’t have to pay the registration fees. I tried again. My request got stuck in DreamHost’s process, and I began to fear another company would snatch it up–again. I emailed DreamHost to ask whether anybody else could get it while they were processing it, and they assured me no, no. Meanwhile a tech friend of mine was watching the situation, unbeknownst to me, and when he saw that the domain still wasn’t registered, he registered it himself using a small registration company that pulled in the name in ten minutes while DreamHost was still twiddling its electronic thumbs.

I uneasily stayed on, but soon a spate of downtime soured me even further on the “dreamy” company. The last straw came on 9/11, when I had an important post up, part of the 2,996 project, and the site was up and down. I certainly wasn’t the only customer to endure their spotty performance; their status blog, on which they unwisely allowed comments, showed scores of understandably screechy, dissatisfied customers. I started shopping around, before my refund period was up.

Xrlq directed me to ICDSoft.

DreamHost has since been working to get its act together, and I know at least one tech guy, Allen my tech guardian, in fact, who performed the switch when I moved from DreamHost, who went with them later on. Hope they’ve got the performance to back up the talk nowadays.

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion!

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace