News from SeeBeforeYouDie.Net

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....)


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