Dreamhost, you are a terrible host


works fine now.


Clicking a site once and then seeing it load is improper troubleshooting. Slow issues are extremely hard to replicate, and in most cases are, in fact, on the user end. But when you get an entire community scattered throughout the world on different ISPs experiencing the same issue, the blame lies on the box.


I am also a member/mod on this forum and the slow loads can be fairly problematic. I have enough trouble finding time just to visit the forum to read much less having to wait for slow loads and timeouts. I would like to see action taken to move us to a server without as many outages.


One thing I’d suggest is to dump the large GIF files on the page. Barney’s 268k, and the trooper is about 150k. Overall your main page is approaching 800k.

Granted, a slow server sure doesn’t help, but your site screams “resource intensive” with vBulletin and large image files. Right now, it’s loading pretty quickly for me after the 4-5 second lag of my initial visit. It drops down to less than 3 seconds after clicking a link or doing a reload.



Yes I submitted a support request this morning as well as emailed support asking to be moved to a less populated server.

As of 8:15pm tonight I have recieved no response other than to see that the site is for the moment working.


Sure it’s improper troubleshooting, but most of our users are computer novices. They want to enter the URL and have the page come up. When that doesn’t happen, I get yelled at*. I don’t like getting yelled at

* - no actual yelling takes place. :wink:


Hopefully they can accommodate your request, if that is what you feel will help. I have checked the referenced site several times throughout the day, and it functioned reasonably well for me.

I say reasonably well, as (like Scott pointed out) the site is very inefficiently built. The large images coupled with the heavy MySQL access requirements of the forum software only exacerbate the “slowness” issue.

On DH shared servers, all MySQL i/O has to make an additional “roundtrip”, as MySQL is served from different servers than http requests - this leads to considerable traffic within DH between DH servers across NFS - all of this contributes to the “sluggishness” of a site.

Add to that the CPU demands that heavy interactivity of an active online community can create and you have a formula for a “slowish” site.

What have you done/checked in the way of optimizing MySQL usage? Have you created, and maintained, indexes on your heavily used tables? My “gut” reaction is that if no greater attention has been paid to optimization in the MySQL area than has been given to basic graphics optimization, the site’s inefficiency is probably contributing significantly to the slow operation of the site.

It’s great to have an active and supportive community - though rallying them to bombard your host’s customer-to-customer forums lobbying for a “fix” for a site you have not subjected to the most basic optimization techniques seems a little bit ignorant and crude. :wink:

My experience has been that Dreamhost will help you as best thay can given the cost/benefit model of the inexpensive hosting you have purchased, but you should understand that some sites, because of a combination of traffic, inefficient coding, lack of image optimization, etc ad infinitum, may not perform well on an $8.00 a month shared server.

That said, while there may indeed be some improvement DH can help you with; there are definitely things that you can (and should) do for yourself to improve the performance of that site.

Of course, YMMV ; that is just my opinion and it is worth exactly what you have paid for it. Good luck in your endeavor to get it running faster.



That is true to some degree, but is does duplicate a “typical” user experience and is at least as “proper” a trouble shooting technique as commiserating with other users, “Yeah! It’s slow for me too!” :wink:

Ne’er a truer word has been spoken, though I would add that in many cases “slow issues” are greatly influenced by the design/implemtation/coding of the site itself.

Maybe, but not necessarily…a badly designed site, with overly heavy graphics, inefficient or non-existent caching, inefficient MySQL usage, and a whole host of other potential problems are at least as likely to be where the “blame” lies.

Real, useful, and effective troubleshooting is rarely that cut and dried - though it is easier to just "blame the box " and ignore the I/O, connectivity, and efficiency issues that are begging for attention.



I don’t think the original poster should be too concerned about his forum, as it appears most of the user-base has migrated to a new forum, this one. :stuck_out_tongue:


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I am an Active Mod on the forum and it makes my job very hard to do when I can’t get profiles or my Mod control panel to load up. We’re not trying to be pains in your asses, we would just like our forum to run as it did when we first switched and Dreamhost became our new home. :slight_smile: But please understand that it is very frustrating when you go through your normal morning/evening routine and log on to the forum and it takes forever or doesn’t load up at all. Wouldn’t you be annoyed with this kind of problem and then couldn’t get a hold of anyone at Dreamhost to correct the problem? Think about it. :wink:
Also Raz, We would not be at this forum if Dreamhost was doing their job. :slight_smile:


I am also a member of the So There forum run by Evan and Lynn, and have also experienced a lot of the issues that the other users have.

What I do find surprising is the blase tone of many of the Dreamhost people regarding the support that Evan and Lynn have received. Its not so much that theres an issue - but more that its exasperated by the lack of support being received and the poor service. Ok, its a cheap site and for a forum of our size that is all it needs to be. Its not an ecommerce site to thousands or millions of users - just a small forum run by friends.

I do have to say that this forum leaves a lot to be desired too - so its little surprise that ours isnt running that well either.

All that is required here is for the hosting support people to help - point us in the right direction with the issues being experienced - Evan and Lynn are the customer after all - whatever happened to customer service? The fact that the members of the forum have posted here is more a reaction to the lack of support and the problems being experienced. We are all fed up as anyone would be. You dont buy anything to have it not work properly - you take it back for a refund, or you expect things to be put right or pointed in the right direction.

Thats all we want, nothing more. I think its time Dreamhost actually showed they care about customer care and support instead of just coming up with excuses for a rather poor product.

Enough said.


I am sorry if my comment offended anyone, it wasn’t meant as a serious comment.

Having frequented a few forums with similar problems, I totally understand the frustration. However, as rlparker suggested, my first step in any such situation would be to try to optimize the forum itself, to reduce the server load as much as possible.

I’d suggest enabling CPU usage logging to see what kind of load the forum is placing on the server. Also, logging in via SSH and checking the server load during these ‘slow’ periods might shed some light on the matter too, it is possible that someone else on your shared box is running an errant script.


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We will give those suggestions a shot and see what happens.



It’s pretty easy to tell that you and your friends are frustrated, and I certainly understand how hard it must be for you to use your forum the way you would like. Nobody likes to wait for a slowly loading or badly performing site, least of all those responsible for maintaining it.

I would be very annoyed, and I would begin an intensive investigation as to why my site is having the problem. I’d lose the “weighty” animated gifs from the front page, I’d index my MySQL tables, I’d beat the vBulletin forums to death looking for ways to optimize the software’s performance, I’d investigate caching as much as possible, etc. I’d enlist some knowledgeable help if I didn’t have the skills to determine the source of the problem myself.

I’d regularly monitor my server’s load from the shell, to determine if the server’s loading is or is not likely to be part of the problem.

Only when I was completely convinced that I had done all I could do would I even contact my host’s tech support people, and then I’d be asking for help (instead of “demanding” they put me on a different server because I was convinced all my problems were the result of the host’s “overselling”). I would not “unleash the dogs of war” on my host’s customer-to-customer forums (solicit on my forum for members to help me “against Dreamhost”) complaining. If I had conducted my research thoroughly and completely, was convinced the host was at fault, and worked with the host to resolve the issue, but it became clear it would not be resolved to my satisfaction, I’d find a new host. A concerted “drive-by bashing” of an associated business whose service I was unhappy with is almost as childish as it is ineffective.

I also would not be so arrogant to assume that is “their job” to make my site run “fast” - I’d ask for their help in determining the source of the problem, rather than “invading” their forum with my whining.

Okay, whining might seem harsh, but how else is one to interpret someone complaining about the speed with which their site loads when the site’s opening page has two large (not in dimensions, in filesize) aninmated gifs?



How does that explain why the site is still so slow when people are using the un-altered skin that doesn’t display any animated images on the front page? It’s just the straight, out of the box VB skin, and it makes no difference whatsoever. If the forum is running slow, it’s running slow. The skin doesn’t seem to matter.

We are going to try removing the images anyway, I was just curious why the skin mattered to those that didn’t use it.


Looking at the comments in this forum I have to say that these are CLASSIC symptoms of a poorly indexed/maintained DB. (this just happens with time and why there are people with the job title of DBA - this is what they do.)

One problem with trying to diagnose these issues on a system where the DB runs on a machine other than the web server is that you have nearly no visibility into the db server to see what is going on.

One REALLY good piece of information though is that MySQL does have some good tools to see what’s going on with the DB - and DH has a couple of guys that JUST work on DBs.

At this point, I’ll be that no one has actually LOOKED at how the DB is running. It could be your tables getting full and not being indexed properly (this will cause queries to return slowly). It could also be that someone else is using all of the DB server.

I would either grab the MySQL tools and connect directly to the DB and see what you can see (you’ll have your answers pretty quickly - once you know what you’re looking at - there should be info on the wiki of how to do it) and/or report “Slow DB” to support to ask a DBA to take a look at it. A good DBA can look at the current status of the server and have a decent idea of what’s going on pretty quickly and make some quick index changes or recommendations.

If the boards are really heavy it may be necessary to move older data out of the main tables.

But a good DBA can make recommendations for everyone’s benefit.




First, I’ve yet to see any “Dreamhost people” participate at all in this thread. This is a customer-to-customer forum, and, while Dreamhost staff do occasionally stop in, and even more occasionally post here, most of us are just customers just like Evan or Lynn.

I suggest that what you are interpreting as “blase tone” is more accurately described as a difference of opinion about what is properly the purpose and responsibility of tech support in such instances.

It appears some here feel that the basic troubleshooting for speed/responsiveness problems is the responsibility of the site developer. There are many threads here where developers have posted high load values, DNS availability problems, or other issues that were clearly the responsibility of the host (bad_http config, etc) and have gotten empathetic support from the users here.

This situation is different in that none of that has been done. Instead, one day a group of “new users” show up an complain in concert, under a provocative thread title, that the host is responsible for their problem with no representation as to why that is true.

Most here are not particularly empathetic with such behavior, especially if we take the time to visit the site, find it working “reasonably well”, and note that while the administrators of the site complain about loading speed, they put over 400KB of animated graphics on the front page of a totally dynamic site. We tend to think, “Yeah it could be faster , but it is obvious no attempt has been made to optimize it.”

Additionally, the, “Hey guys, let’s all go to the DH forums and bitch till they give us a new server” tone of the so-there forum makes me so-not-interested in how it all works out for them.

There have been several sincere suggestions regarding steps that could be taken to speed up the site and help identify to what degree the server is to blame. Until some of that has been taken seriously, all the rest of this is just “bitchin’ in the wind”. :wink:



We are on it.


I appreciate the help and info, but when it comes to looking at SQL data I may as well be looking at Chinese. Vbulletin has a maintenance section in their admin control panel and I have ran the “repair/optimize tables” function and removed the dreaded animated gifs that were plaguing my front page so we shall see if that helps.


It may very well not have anything to do with the speed problem for users that don’t use the skin - I have no way to evaluate that as I only see what a “guest” sees.

To me, the graphics themselves were not so much a “problem” (I have a “fastish adsl connection”) in and of themselves, as they were an indication that no attempt at, or consideration of, optimization had been made.

Now, I realize that may not be true, but that is how it appears. I suspect that things like optimized MySQL queries, indexed tables, and caching are most likely to be the the best approach to avoiding “bottlenecks”, but I recognize it could be the server - the problem is that no server load numbers, or any other types of empirical evidence, were provided - only the anecdotal reports of “It’s unusably slow”.

My experience has been this is usually more a problem with the site than the server; if it is the server, there should be other indications. :wink:

That, the provocative post title, and the “let’s go invade the DH customer forum with complaints” tone of the so-there forum itself pretty much turned me off and made me less sympathetic than I might normally have been.