News from SeeBeforeYouDie.Net

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

More than a year since my lat post!

This is really embarrassing! but I never was a real blogger. The combination between working full time, running SeeBeforeYouDie.Net and raising a 1 year old child is obviously taking blogging out of the picture.

I managed to launch a new site for my wife about Mediation (גישור in Hebrew) called -, which is still under heavy construction.
This site will be discussing various fields of mediation and conflict resolution, will be used as a place for her to publish her academic work and will run a questionnaire application that will be used in her PhD research.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Google Gadget effect

There is a well known term in the blogoshere called the "digg effect".
This is something any blogger/site owner dreams about (sometimes in the context of a nightmare...). The digg effect is when your site getting enormous amount of traffic, coming from, as a result of a digg from one of digg's users.
This effect is great for traffic and can bring a huge boost for a site but for many small sites, that are not used for such a traffic, this can be a real nightmare and might crash the site!

Of course there are many other sites that can cause a "digg effect" but I want to talk about a specific one... Google.

Usually, when you see a raise in traffic coming from Google, it's gradual. An improvement in page ranking, etc. If you are monitoring your traffic on daily (or even weekly basis) it will give you enough time to prepare.
But if you have a Google Gadget, get ready to the "Google effect".

We are running a pretty big site (Millions of page views a month) and we are providing a Google Gadget to our users to be placed on their Google homepage or other pages. We love this Gadget and it brings a lot of traffic to the site (We even created another one with different content).

One morning, you are opening your traffic analysis tool and you see a +80%!!! increase in traffic in 1 day. A short test shows you that most of it is coming from Google (I wasn't surprised by that) and the reason for that is....
We been placed on the FIRST page of the most popular Google Gadgets. This is the "Google effect".

Lucky for us, we just moved to a new server few months ago, so the site was up all this time (except for some small back-end problems) and it didn't become a nightmare.
Smaller sites will crash for sure from such an effect (we are talking about millions additional hits per day) which is unrelated to the amount of traffic before the "Google effect".

After few days (we are no longer on the first page) we are getting about 65% more traffic than last week and it looks like we are going to keep these numbers.

Maybe it's time to move to a bigger machine....?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Moving to new server is moving to a new server. In the next few days there might be some problems with accessing the site but I'm sure everything will be back to normal in no time.

In the last week we closed the posting mechanism to the site, just to make the transitions smoother and make sure we are not loosing content. It will be reopen as soon as we'll finish all the new server settings.

The new server should be more powerful and support all our future plans.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Pros and Cons of shared hosting

At first there was an idea, some talking, some research and we had it ready. This is how (the very short version) we built SeeBeforeYouDie.Net.
Now, you need to host it somewhere and the big question is where?

First question - which hosting?
For a small private site there are two basic options:
  • Full shared hosting - Your site is placed in a "web sites ghetto", together with about 20,000 other sites on the same machine and you will share everything. If there will be a problem with one of the other site, your site will suffer as well.
  • VPS/VDS - Virtual Private Server/Virtual Dedicated Server. Your site will be hosted on a shared server but in an isolated environment. In some cases you'll even have some dedicated resources (RAM, CPU) for your own site.
A year ago, VPS cost 4-5 times more than shared hosting so we have decided to start with the low cost.

Second question - where to host?
If you ever had this dilemma or you went shopping for hosting solution, you know that it's almost impossible to choose. There are so MANY providers that the only way to choose is to do an endless research (which will bring no results) or to pick few (we picked 10) that looks OK* and to compare between them (unless you have some previous experience).
The comparison was based on amount of storage, monthly data transfer, cost per month, number of supported domain names, SLA, 24/7 phone support, LAMP versions, CRON support and average Ping time.
We end up with 2-3 providers that provided our needs and based on out traffic and storage calculations and out of them we chose the one with the best value for money. As simple as that ;-).

That was a year ago...
Since then, our site is growing, both in content and page views. You can read the history in my previous posts. Two weeks ago, without any warning, our site was suspended!
You are opening your home page and there is nothing, just a gray text saying that the site was suspended. No email or a phone call, no explanation and NO MERCY!
After a while we managed to get the reason for the suspension. Some of our major scripts that was executing from the cron, had significant memory footprint.
So we did some changes to the scripts and changed the cron definitions, begged for mercy (there is some left apparently) and we got our site back.

That was two weeks ago...
Last night we got suspended again, this time we were sure it's for good. Again, the same story with the memory footprint....
So now we canceled most of the scripts that are running from the cron and we are missing some feature. At least this brought the site back and we are on probation until we'll find a solution.

So what about shared hosting?
  • Shared hosting is a great solution for small private sites.
  • As soon as your site will cause problems to other sites, on the same server, you will be immediately suspended, just like that!
  • Fixing the scripts and doing small changes is not a solution. As soon as you see that shared hosting is not enough for your site, start looking for an alternative!
  • Rule of thumb - Shared hosting will be enough for sites with less than 1M page views a month (and I'm talking about DB driven dynamic site).
  • Today the VPS/VDS hosting prices are dropping. There are basic packages starting from less than 10$. I know that you can find shared hosting for less than half of that, but think about the future. Do you really want to move to another host in a year because you saved 5$ a month?
And yes, we are looking for a new VPS/VDS based hosting provider. Any recommendations?

* OK = nice and fast website, fast support, live chat, etc. (you get the point....)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

SeeBeforeYouDie.Net is FREE!!!

This is an email I got from one of our users:
Where in the world on the Google add to homepage page does it say anything about having to pay for this site?
No one informed me the entire few weeks I had the site on my homepage that it was a site that charged a fee- then you go and send me a note that says my account is suspended?
Pretty tacky if you ask me!
At least inform people right from the start that it is not a free addition, so that people aren't embarrassed with a suspended account when they've had no prior notice!

I just want to make sure that it is 100% clear that we are not charging anything for this site. In fact, we are not even asking users to register (even if they want to post content).
SeeBeforeYouDie.Net is a FREE site and will remain FREE .
The suspend message this user got was a result of a problem we had with our site hosting provider and has nothing to do with the user account (since there is no account...).

I would like to apologise (and I did it in person by email to this specific user) to all the users that got this error but there are things that are out of our control.