July 30, 2014

Site was down today, support and web hosting.

During last one and a half year we had pretty good track record with MySQL Performance Blog – there were times when site was slow (especially when backup was running) but I do not remember significant downtime, until today we went down for few hours.

All this time the site was running on dedicated server which I rented from APLUS about 3 years ago. It is rather slow Celeron box with single disk and 512MB running Fedora Core 2. Despite its age (it was used “Value” server even when I got it) the server had very good track record with basically zero failures during this time – there were some network disruptions at Aplus but this is about all problems we had.

As the OS on the box become rather outdated plus server was old and had no RAID and I did not want to rely just on daily backups we got new server from 1and1 couple of weeks ago. Some people recommended them to me plus they had good price for hardware with decent base specs – 64bit CPUs, RAID remote reboot and serial console, backup etc. Plus we had one server hosted with them in Europe for couple of months for tracking European traffic in ClickAider and it work reasonably well.

This time I got less lucky and in about a week after we moved MySQL Performance Blog to the new server, it stopped responding. I went to the control panel and reboot the system – it does not come back with no messages at serial console at all. Worst of all it gets into situation when It thinks reboot is in progress forever so I can’t even boot it again to rescue mode.

I call 1and1 and explain them the problem. The guy checks the system by rebooting it in rescue mode and back to normal and as it does not boot in normal mode he tells me his dedicated server team has to take a look at it and I should expect answer from them in 3-4 hours. Come one! 3-4 hours before anyone even starts looking at your problem this is as good as never for any passionate online business. The guy also tells me I can write to the Server Support team by email and they should get back to me quickly – as you may guess I’m yet still to get reply from them.

I call again in a few hours and get to another guy. This one he tells me he can’t reboot the server and I should try to boot it in “Last known good configuration” for which I point him it is not Windows. He tells me “OK you’ve got to run hardware diagnostics when while in rescue mode” ok, I ask him what command should I run – he tells me to run “fdisk -l” (which lists partitions) I ask him to spell that to me carefully and then politely ask him to pass me to someone less clueless then he is. He refuses to do that (silly as I just can call again) I ask him to talk to his manager and he also refuses sending me to nameless complain service (which I would imagine goes directly to trash).

A side note: This actually may be the worse part. In organization your stuff members can be wrong or there may be misunderstanding with the customer so passing to the different guy or to the manager is a must for any reasonable customer service. This was the case in MySQL and Tom Basil had a magic of calming down most of rare offended customers. In our Consulting Work we also follow the same principle – if customer requests second opinion he always gets it.

So what is the best way to deal with clueless support stuff working for big companies/big call centers ? Of course call again. I call again and get to the different guy. This person is not so clueless which is good. Though now they can’t find any record of a call I made 3 hours ago. Anyway he goes ahead and comes back with same result – Server Team has to take a look at the server and this time I get even better time estimate – tomorrow and there is nothing he can do other than escalating the case in the system.
As you may guess my blood is boiling at this point.

The next joke comes just 10 minutes ago – An email from 1and1 about closed case asking me to tell them how happy I was with service provided. How does one suppose to feel having his case solved without problem being resolved and which feedback one would provide. Of course there may be internal ticket created for mysterious “Server Team”.

At this point I did not expect any help to match my timing so I went ahead and returned web site back to old server which happily was still available. Now I will wait just for sake of interest how long will it take 1and1 to finally solve my problem before canceling their service.

Request for Advice: As this move did not work I’m looking for other hosting location in US I would either rent 2-3 servers or best get some rack space and buy my own servers instead.

P.S Some may tell me I’m just paying for being cheap. Well it is true I’m trying to get good value at good price,
and it really works in most cases. I’m very happy with Aplus Value Server which we’ve been used as well as with our racks with Hurricane Electric and Black Lotus both are not perfect but pretty good value for the price. Hostik on other hand was absolutely horrible.

About Peter Zaitsev

Peter managed the High Performance Group within MySQL until 2006, when he founded Percona. Peter has a Master's Degree in Computer Science and is an expert in database kernels, computer hardware, and application scaling.

Comments

  1. James says:

    I have two servers at Layered Technologies (http://www.layeredtech.com/). They have excellent prices and frequent sales.

    One of the servers that I have, an AMD Athlon 2800 with 1 gig of RAM and an 80 gig EIDE drive is $80/month. I’ve had it for 18 months with no downtime whatsoever save when I had the OS reloaded with the latest version of CentOS.

    The second, an AMD Athlon 64 4000 with 1 gig of RAM and two 160 gig EIDE drives runs about $110/month or so. It had a minor issue in June that they eventually traced to a “loose network cable” (how they had a lose network cable, I don’t know), but it was resolved quickly.

    The support is a bit slow (an hour, typically, for a response), but aside from the loose network cable issue, I’ve yet to have had to contact them.

    They’re having a big sale this month with daily server deals. Frankly, I don’t think you can get a better price for this quality of service.

  2. Troy says:

    My brother-in-law is liquidating some nice servers from a major search engine company. They are rackable (that’s the brand) c2400′s with 2 dual core xeons, 4GB ram and 4 36GB 15k scsi drives and a raid card. They are nice, I bought a bunch for my startup company (if you get 12 or more they give you the rack). I like them because they are 2U, but half depth so you can mount them back-to-back. I’m pretty sure they had mysql on them, but they come reformatted w/ no OS. I think he is selling them for $625, but I got a better deal on a group of them (plus I’m related, so I’d like to think he’d hook me up!)

    His name is Josh, you can call him at 916-226-9245 (PST)

  3. Jad says:

    For dedicated servers, the best company for us so far has been SoftLayer. I have 3 servers there – prices may not be the lowest but support is lightning fast, which, IMO, is key when selecting a hosting provider.

    Less than a month ago, I still had servers at LayeredTech, which, like James mentioned, has good uptime but slow support. What I didn’t like at LayeredTech and was ground to taking the decision of moving my servers from there was their billing system/team.

    Support and reliability not taken into account, SL is better than LT: Last month, our bank had put a stop on our credit card because of some unusual charges they were seeing. To make the story short, recurrent billing failed at both providers – LT shut down the server right away while SL was so cooperative and ready to wait a couple days if need be (it’s good to mention that I had been with LT for over a year at that time and only less than 3 months at SL). Well guess what? As soon as the bank re-activated the credit card number, I called SL to replace my LT’ servers. They can be quick at pulling the plug, but I can be quicker ;)

  4. James says:

    Perhaps I should add that my comments come with no warranty, express or implied. :-D

    YMMV. Some people get lucky, others get extremely unlucky.

    I’ve also heard great things about SoftLayer. You might also check out the forums at webhostingtalk.com. I usually search through the forums before considering a new provider.

  5. Hi Peter,

    I had great success with dedicated servers from ServerBeach (owned by Peer1) for several years, and we’re now using colo space from Peer1 directly. I never had any problem whatsoever with ServerBeach, they even responded very quickly to anything I ever asked. Peer1 has been very good so far as well.

    Regards,

    Jeremy

  6. michael says:

    You should try Slicehost, best hosting experience I have ever had. Their 1gig VPS is only $70 a month. Just google them for reviews.

  7. kmike says:

    SoftLayer gets my vote, too. Good support and excellent infrastructure. Every customer gets his own private network with up to 1Gb speed – which is essential for any multi-server web site. Also you can connect directly to your VLAN via PPTP or VPN, bypassing public internet interfaces completely.

  8. Marki says:

    Lose network cables happen, even in big datacenters. Maybe when they were doing some maintenance in near server or so… Once we had issue in company I work for that the FC cables to disk array were disconnected by accident, but fortunately they realized it at the same time as we received a ticket for that…
    Also 1 hour is not so bad (but I don’t know if that is expected resolution time or just response time). It also depends on the issue you have, of course 1 hour for manually rebooting server is too much.

  9. Xaprb says:

    I use pair’s shared hosting for about ten sites, most of them on one machine, but several customers have their own accounts. They are not the cheapest but they’ve treated me & my family extremely well. If there’s a problem I usually get an email back in a few minutes. Once there was an issue with a server suffering from another user and they moved my entire family’s account to another server. Other than needing to remember to SSH to another server, it was completely transparent.

    I’ve never had the problems people write about with dreamhost or other “the best shared hosting ever!” companies. Everyone seems to rave about how great these companies are, then get really mad and blast them for not being any good. Probably because they’re not built to scale with the popularity that comes with a bunch of people raving about you. I’d rather have hosting with a less popular, more stable company than be on that roller-coaster ride.

    I know you’re looking for dedicated, but *shrug* shared hosting is more than adequate for a blog, I think. Even one with lots of traffic. It has its advantages, too.

    I’m sorry this happened to you… I moved between several companies and had similar experiences before setting on pair. Bad service is a terrible thing. I usually associate it with a reseller, but it doesn’t sound like your company is reselling!

  10. Emin says:

    SoftLayer is by far the best. I have moved all my servers to them a few months ago and have never regretted. Excellent support, great service, solid infrastructure.

    I feel for you reading this post – I know exactly what it is that you are describing. I am only glad that due to this post 1and1 has lost a number of good potential customers as this blog is read by a lot of people. That is the only way we have to respond to poor service.

  11. Eli says:

    RackSpace dedicated servers are expensive, but the hardware, bandwidth and (especially) the service is absolutely top notch.

    They also have automatic monitoring — if the server goes down, someone is automatically notified and starts working on bringing it back up. We had some buggy applications that brought down the server a few times, but by the time I even noticed there was downtime, Rackspace support had already rebooted the server and SSH’d in to make sure everything was OK.

    The one time that I had a ticket that went more than a day unsolved (a problem with the managed backup), I called support and the woman on the other end apologized and tracked down an answer from the backup team within a few hours.

    Though, as I say, this kind of service isn’t cheap.

    Another option is a Joyent Accelerator, which is a bit like a very slick VPS.

  12. peter says:

    Baron,

    The blog is just the part which was moved. We have a lot of other stuff on the server as well such as mail, internal company applications, version control system etc. This is just the first thing which was moved so I happily did not need to move anything back.

    I also like to have control of the system which shared hosting does not give.

  13. Hello Peter,

    If you are looking for a small to medium sized company, with top support and passionate employees, I hope you will consider SRI Hosting (http://srihosting.com).

    We have Celeron based HP DL320s which I think are a perfect value server, and could hosted the servers in multiple co-lo facilies for excellent redundancy. For higher availability applications, I would recommend using our DL360 or DL380s. Or for the lowest cost, our Xen options are perfect.

    Of the main perks at SRI, we do often focus on service. But beyond that, we have a premium product, great uptime over the last 4 years, and go so far as to offer tours of our colo facilies (1 in LA, 2 in Sacramento). Please let us know if there is anything we can do to earn your business.

    PS– We are based in California, I really am responding to emails at 4:30am :-)

  14. Hey Peter,

    If you decide to buy the equipment, you can colo in our rack in exchange for some of your infamous MySQL consulting each month.

    I have a full rack at XO in Sacramento, CA (US) and currently I am only using around 30U of it. You can put your 2-3 servers in there too as long as they are 1U or 2U systems.

    Let me know if this sounds interesting.

  15. Hi Peter,
    We may be able to work out a barter agreement. It may not be totally free (like the MySQL Camp server for Jay), but we should chat.

    –Marc

  16. peter says:

    Thanks everyone for your help and offers,
    I will be contacting various parties in the next few days.

    Regarding update of this issue – about 48 hours since server got down 1and1 still have not fixed it or got back to be with explanation (besides telling me the case is closed and asking to rate them).

    So stay away from 1and1 dedicated servers. Their domains seems to be OK (probably because I never had to use Support yet)

  17. Markus says:

    I’m running my own linux distribution on a Hetzner-Server (German Hosting) without any problems so far.

    for ~50 Euro you can get:

    CPU: AMD Athlon 64 3700+
    RAM: 1 GB DDR400 RAM
    HDD: 2 x 160 GB SATA HDD
    Unlimited Traffic (100Mbit/sec until 1TB, then 10MBit or you pay for each 100MBit/sec-GB)

    I’m using a mdadm-software-raid (because the onboard-raids are software too) but if you need a real hardware-raid you can get one from hetzner.

    http://www.hetzner.de/rootserver_en.html

  18. For dedicated server, my best experience is http://www.lpdadicated.com , they were shared hosting company but growing rapidlly and it is now offering quality dedicated server. Tell them your requirements and they would able to advice accordingly .

    Good luck

  19. Markus says:

    @besthosting blog
    They are extrem expensive compared with hetzner. You have to pay up to $300 for the same configuration (hetzner only €60!?)

  20. Michael Moody says:

    Dear Peter,

    In regards to backups, I should point you in the direction of a product called CDP, by r1soft.com

    We’re evaluating it for mysql backups (no load, real awesome live backups), and it’s been very exciting. I myself used it to set up replication with no downtime at all.

    In regards to the colocation, my company has sites in 4 datacenters, and here in silicon valley, we can probably offer you the colo space and bandwidth you need (at no cost). I’ll check with a higher to make sure.

    Michael

  21. mariuz says:

    In the good hosting options corner , this is what we are using currently
    http://defenderhosting.com/
    http://www.layeredtech.com/
    http://nac.net
    http://www.cyberhost.ro/ (in romania)

    in past we used peer1
    seems that they want to force you all kind of products (cisco firewall,new servers …)

  22. peter says:

    The guys from 1and1 server team finally got back to me. It is Tuesday evening here, 4 days after I’ve filled emergency case with them.

  23. Rob Smith says:

    Hey Peter,

    I highly recommend Bluegecko (http://www.bluegecko.net). They’re a bit spendy but ungodly awesome. I also recommend simpli (http://www.simpli.biz).

    G’luck with your search!

  24. Angel says:

    Hey Peter,
    Don’t get confused buddy, make your own decision about this because many of them are offering so many offers. If you will be doing like this it is the waste of time, time is so precious. Keep this in mind and go on.

Speak Your Mind

*