3 domains to move


#1

We have three domains all hosted on different web hosts and not a one of those hosts is worth a damn. Problem after problem and we pay a lot of money for the three combined.

We want to move all three domains to one web hosting service, a risky practice in of its self, andd the service has to be reliable, offer lotsa space and be very ecommerce friendly. Our main site doesn’t do much other than act as our home base for a small group of employees and run our daily company (Goggle supplied and piped in) blog. Our second site is the workhorse and includes a WordPress blog, OSCommerce store selling digital media, classified ads and an online subscription service to read and write novels. The third site was created because the second site’s host refused to provide us wiith ioncube. We had to go to a new host who offered the feature, obtain a new domain and pipe the feature (classified ads) via link to the second site. This was easier then moving the entire website to a new host.

Here are my concerns. We dislike having to enter into long term contracts primarily because it is the easiest way for a poor web hosting service to suck you dry and hold you hostae. We’ve been doing web business for more years then I care to count and here are just a few of the problems we’ve run into with long term contracts:

1st thirty days are great then the site fails to display, ftp access denied, cpanel goes funk. Calls and email to support are ignored or take days even weeks to resolve simplest issues. One web host literally tried to steal our domain out from underneath us because the name is a real commodity in of itself. Took us two months and legal assistance through InterNIC to get it back. Host promises full ecommerce support then balks when asked to accommodate standard ecommerce needs (ioncube is example). Host offers new customers ample disk space at half your cost but refuses to make equal disk space upgrade to old long-term customers which means we subsidize new customers. Host gives you modest 3gig disk space and cpanel says you’ve reached 1.9gig and further uploads are denied because host says you’ve reached limit due to host’s required hidden files. You suddenly find someone from host company has purloined your credit card numbers and your bank calls to say you’ve been compromised. Host has you strangled by long term contract, you need additional disk space, price is prohibitive, customer forced to establish new domain, sign with new host and move feature to new host and pipe back to commercial website.

For us the problems never seem to cease. Take three days ago. Suddenly ftp access gave us a “530 error, unable to provide guest access”. We call and sit on hold for 20min before being forced to leave voicemail and plea for callback. 5:30m this morning we call again and tech support can’t figure out what problem is. We ask for a reset of password. Forty minutes later we call again and they say the problem is fixed we should try logging in. Using what login information? They will send it via email. Meanwhile customer is fuming at us because his paid download hasn’t materialized. Suddenly forums are filled with complaints of our thievery… We dislike very much the inability to speak with someone and to do it now. We hate having to ‘take a ticket’ and ‘wait in line’ on our own dime only to be rebuffed with the attitude that the problem is ours and not theirs. Emails and tickets are a convenient way to avoid hiring staff to deal directly with customers. It can take weeks to resolve a simple solution as resetting a password and when your site is your income you can go bankrupt very quickly by an errant or pompous set of tech people who refuse to respond because (1) they aren’t knowledgeable enough to answer in the first place and you generally figure it out for them, or (2) they take on an attitude of superiority and you are beneath their time/effort.

Today my biggest concern is our online digital download store which has run out of disk space to house our products. It is nothing more than an online vending machine fully automated and requires an ability to run an OSC script and process PayPal payments. We don’t need a dedicated server (hosts always push that because that makes them big money) because our business does not require that kind of hands on manual labor. We simply need lotsa space to house the product which is disbursed automatically with each approved purchase.

We need php, MySql, ioncube, cgi, perl and that’s about it.

Is DreamHost the dream for us? Comments please.

Mike

Mike


#2

Gee, it sure sounds like you have had a rough time with web hosts.

I can only speak from my personal experience, but during my time with DreamHost I have found them to be extremely honest and transparent. I can’t think of a single time when I had reason to doubt their integrity. A good example of their attitude to doing business can be found in their official blog, which besides being very funny at times, also shows that they are willing to admit that they aren’t perfect and, more importantly, are willing to listen to criticisms and implement changes when required.

As far as domain transfers; I have found transferring domains to and from DreamHost to be largely problem free. The only problem I can recall was caused by my other registrar not forwarding the transfer related e-mails through their anonymous whois proxy address.

You might find support to be an issue. While I have found DreamHost email support staff to be very knowledgeable and generally fast to respond, they can get a little slow with the responses when the support queue becomes long. They have stated that they are employing more support staff to overcome this, so I expect this to improve in the future.

As far as phone support, only the larger plans have callback support and this is for US customers only, so being in Australia, I can’t comment on this.

Mark


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#3

Talk with DH management. You’re obviously a very serious user with very specific needs. But it certainly sounds like you’re talking to a company that could meet your needs.

I can guarantee you that I would not expect DH to beg you to host with them if they don’t think that you’ll be happy or that they can’t support you. (Not that I expect DH to beg you at all. They may say that they aren’t able to support your needs. - Added)

I will warn you that your support needs do not appear to be met by the standard DH support structure.

Wholly


#4

DreamHost’s 97 day money back guarantee gives you a relatively long tryout period.

I agree you should consider whether you can live with their Support response times, and consider signing up for a plan with callbacks. Sometimes they’re quick, and sometimes they’re not (a day or so wait).


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#5

I wrote to sales and heard back from Steven. He was very cordial and with careful editing of my original message answered the majority of my questions and assured me DreamHost could meet our needs. Unfortunately he failed to comment or assure me that DreamHost has the free ioncube loader on their servers.

For those of you wondering just what that is, IonCube is an encrypter PHP developers use on their programs that prevents PHP scripts from behing pirated. The loader is free and when added to the server protects web masters from seeing their programs stolen. Without the loader the PHP program won’t run on the web masters website. IonCube has become a standard on the majority of ecommerce hosting services and it protects the hosting service as well as the web master from legal repercusitions from the theft of a PHP program.

My original inquiry was answered quickly as most all sales inquiries are. But thus far, 3 1/2 hours since responding to Steven’s message and asking him to clarify the ioncube issue, there has been no response. This is distressing.

Let me expand. When we contacted the sales people at LunarPages about moving our site to their services, the salesman went to great lengths to assure us they were responsive. He gave us a written guarantee of site file transfer (not domain necessarily but actual site transfer was part of the contract). We had fully expected to hire a programmer to move our online store and other cgi/php/perl scripts, set up their dbases, adjust their pathways and ensure they worked just as they did on our previous host. The cost of that programmer can be very expensive. So when the LunarPages salesman told us in writing that LunarPages techs would do this for us as part of the new customer package we were quite happy to sign on for two years. Even if we had to hire a programmer to follow-up and reset pathways and tweak our scripts for optimum performance it would be worth the cost of the move. It would mean our store and ads service would be offline from 3 to 5 days. As a business we would lose 3 to 5 days of sales.

Eight days later and many email ‘tickets’ of urgency we had no responses, our site was offline and nothing had been moved. We had 8 days of lost sales and were paying two separate script programmers (php and cgi perl) to be on call.

We warned them via email of our displeasure, gave them another 24 hours to explain and respond and when that was ignored we yanked our payment via credit card chargeback and went back online with the old web host. Within two hours of yanking that money LunarPages manager and owners were on the phone leaving us voicemails of apology.

We’re a company that prides itself on customer service and abhor canned or automated email responses. We abhor telephone menus that require hoop jumping and sitting on hold being forced to listen to company spin about how important you are as a customer followed by company spam and finally being told to leave a voice mail or to call back during a less busy period.

You call us during business hours and a live person answers. You email us during business hours and we answer as quickly as possible, even if we don’t have an immediate answer we thank you for contacting us, expound on your reason for writing, and give you a time to expect a full response if we can’t answer the question right then and there.

For some reason customer service in America has gone the way of the hula hoop and if you’re asking yourself ‘what’s a hula hoop’? then you’ve probably never known what real customer service should be.

Mike


#6

Mike,

I think you have answered your own questions to a great degree (except, or course, regarding the ioncube loader).

While I have found Dreamhost more than adequately meets my needs (I’ve hosted here since 1998, so obviously I’m a “reasonably happy customer”), I am also quite content to have my support needs addressed solely via email, and do not mind the occasional wait of up to a day for a response.

It appears from your post(s) that this would not be the case for your company. Dreamhost makes it very clear that telephone support is not available, though they do offer a limited “call-back” service (where they call you back after receiving the generation of a support ticket through the customer control panel). There is no direct email route to support - you need to generate a ticket via the panel (which can be particularly vexing if the panel is “borked”).

Your posts tell me that the timeliness and accessibility of support, and the support response time, is a major issue for you. If that is, in fact, the case, the excellent value Dreamhost offers in terms of disk space, bandwidth, shell access, infrastructure, and flexibility are not likely to outweigh the frustration you are likely to encounter when you send a support ticket and have to wait several hours for it to be answered.

It would be naive to believe that Dreamhost is likely to change their support practices to accommodate your needs; their business model is built, to some degree, on that part of the equation balancing out their resource offerings. I suspect you would be much happier in the long run with an SLA from a host that provides the support mechanisms that are consistent with your desires.

I think Dreamhost absolutely rocks, but “one size fits all” doesn’t (fit all), and I only see you setting yourself up for future aggravation if you overlook the difference between Dreamhost’s customer service model and your expectations.

Granted, finding a resource level similar to Dreamhost’s with the kind of support you indicate needing will be expensive (at least relative to Dreamhost’s rates), but Dreamhost’s “value” will be lost for you if you need a different support model than Dreamhost offers but sign up anyway.

Naturally, YMMV and my opinion is worth exactly what you have paid for it. I just want you to make your decisions with your “eyes wide open”. :wink:

Whatever you decide to do, good luck with your search for the “perfect host” (fortunately, I have found Dreamhost to be close enough to “perfect” for my needs!).

–rlparker


#7

Thanks for the response rlparker. I provided a report to our company president and it is his decision that we keep looking. We’re happy to pay for good service but the dangle of ‘look what we give you’ doesn’t outweigh what we could lose in the way of revenue if a problem arose and we could not get the attention of the bus driver.

I thank everyone who took the time to offer their advice and opinions. Open communication is very important.

Mike

Mike


#8

Note that with any business sometimes special arrangements can be made. Because I believe strongly that DH could help you and even address your support needs (on a special basis) you really should make sure that you get to talk to Michael or Dallas. The capacity and infrastructure to meet your needs are surely there.

Note: Three hours delay on a Saturday night at 6 PM is definitely not unreasonable based on normal support response. In fact, most of us would be happy to have a response before monday.

I do wish you luck and hope you find what you’re looking for.

Wholly


#9

wow, this is the longest post i’ve never seen before here

:stuck_out_tongue:

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#10

I’ve been a dh costumer for a couple months, and I have to say everything has been fine. I finally decided to leave my last host after being plagued by mail issues for a while, having the server hacked a couple times, and cynical admins(not funny/pleasant cynical like dh tho : )).

And the thing was, I was only getting 6gb of diskspace and 200gb of transfer. Sure I don’t have fantastico, but the one time I ran the fantastico auto-upgrade function on my one of my sites on my old host, it glitched and hit 100% cpu usage and got my account suspended. So then I had to fight the admins to get my account unsuspended because OF COURSE they didn’t take note of what the process was that was using all the resources before they suspended me.

I’ve used the one-click installs on dh, and not a single God damn problem. No mail outages. It has all just worked and I think thats great.
If there is ever a problem with the network, the dh status page is there to tell me whats going on. If the problem isn’t with the network its something I did. The only detraction I can come up with for dh was the account activation taking several days, and some hassles involving my credit card bank. And the only reason the couple days of activation was so bad was because I wanted to get away from my old host sooner rather than later.
My only regret is I found out about the promo codes after I paid.


#11

That sucks, but I am sure you’ll agree that the plans are good value, even without the promo-code discounts. :slight_smile:

Mark


Save [color=#CC0000]$50[/color] on DreamHost plans using [color=#CC0000]PRICESLASH[/color] promo code (Click for DreamHost promo code details)


#12

One! One happy customer. Ahh ahh ahhhhh!

(Apologies to Sesame Street.)

Wholly


#13

theboredone said: “My only regret is I found out about the promo codes after I paid.”

That bothers me somewhat because it turns customers into salesmen - customers who may stretch the truth for a kickback. If a service is good then a fee to push or attract new customers shouldn’t be necessary. The best salesman is a satisfied customer who will promote his web hosting service because it is good without getting a handful of cash passed to him.

We’re looking for a good web hosting service, reasonable fees are a plus but they can also ring some alarm bells. If we wanted low rates we’d jump for GoDaddy, 1and1 or APlus - all of whom offer just as much disk space (if not more) at half the price, two of whom offer 24/7 telephone support and hold high rankngs at Netcraft.com (the site who monitors all web hosts for speed, new customers and reports the number customers who flee each day) for speed of display, services offered, and tech support availability.

And all offer a long list of standard amenities, open source free and easy install programs like OSCommerce - something we could have opted for from our present host but chose to pay $500 for a custom template and many addons like IPN - instant payment notification. Why? Because we wanted an online store that blended in so well with our custom website design that it doesn’t look like an addon but an integrated part of our whole site.

DH offers ZenCart, a commercialized version of OSCommerce that, if used, requires you the user to buy addons or customization from the ZenCart people. No option to find your own free addons or custom designers. It’s things like that to ring bells in the head of a seasoned webmaster.

But I’ll add that the promo thing can also be helpful coming from satsified customers.

We’ve often paid extra bucks or additional bonuses for fine work - work that goes the extra mile, not because the hiree had any idea we’d award them but because they took pride in their own work.

A quick example. We wanted our blog moved to our front page and modified to blend in as though it always belonged there. It was originally the fourth tab down our menu. We advertised for a programmer from Freelancer.com and estimated the job to be from $30 to $100. Eight programmers put in bids, 7 of them for $100 the 8th for $30. The 7 programmers had low rated resumes while the 8th had higher ratings then any of them. For $30 we figured we coudn’t lose much and we had a backup of our site even if the guy screwed up. We took a chance and hired him.

Ten minutes later he IM’d me - and that caught me by surprise. He asked for a full explanation of what we wanted, access codes and had me wait online while he ‘took a look’. 4-5 minutes later he came back and announced “all done”. I thought he was kidding so I checked it out. There it was, our blog with everything we had ever written, our archives, our list of links and ads melted into our front page as though it was originally designed to be there. I was floored. We had hired programmers for four times the money who took weeks to do such things and this guy did it in less than 10 minutes.

I still wasn’t a complete believer, paid him the $30 and promised to provide a bonus if after 24 hours we were entirely satisfied. It didn’t take 24 hours at all, it took maybe two hours. I ran the blog through all of its paces and the thing worked perfectly. I went back to the guy and paid him an additional $70. I also made a new friend. We use this guy often now because he is a pro, takes enormous pride in his work and has exceptional web skills.

So that’s why I’m here and thankful DH has this “pre-purchase” forum for potential customers, like me, who want to ask some serious questions and evaluate the service offered.

Thanks,

Mike