As much as it pains me to have to say so, I’ve become utterly disenfranchised by the recent performance and support from DreamHost.
I’m a VPS customer, previously a shared hosting customer, and I’ve enjoyed telling my friends and clients about how nice DreamHost makes my life. Except that recently, that’s not been the case. At all. Normally, I would write this post in my blog, except that for the reasons you’ll read about below, I can’t actually access my blog right now.
Among those many threads on the Status blog is one regarding the transfer of ‘homie-vserver173’, on which my VPS resides, to new hardware. Now I’m not an expert in server administration by any stretch of the imagination, but I like to think that if I were running a business where my primary responsibility was to keep websites online, I would want to ensure that I was able to, you know, keep websites online. Regardless of what maintenance or emergency replacement tasks I have to perform. I know it’s difficult, complicated stuff, but can it really be possible that no one at DreamHost considered the possibility of harddrive failures on their hardware? That there’s no backup plan or redundancy of any kind in place that would allow this hardware change to remain invisible to the users (as it should be, as far as I’m concerned)? That, if not invisible, the switch would at least occur within a 24-hour window?
I’d like to draw your attention to Exhibit A, the blog post. It gently explains that due to drive issues, this procedure had to occur and was unplanned, hence the lack of warning. Fair enough. But note the date stamp: February 25th. As of this writing, that means that this restoration process has been going on for 18 days. Besides being utterly appalling, it makes one wonder just what kind of hardware they’re running over there that needs more than two weeks to restore. We’re talking about one server. Restoring for two weeks.
While that percolates, why not consider also that the status update messages are — at the very least — unhelpful: “The restore process continues and all VPS guests are reporting online at this time.” Really? Are they? For what definition of “online”? Because my sites have been either offline entirely or so painfully slow to load as to make no difference (>30 seconds for a basic WordPress homepage). Contact support is a great suggestion, except that DreamHost support seems to have vanished. What used to be a blisteringly quick support response from helpful engineers has turned into a hopeless waiting game where days roll by like tumbleweeds while those of us stuck with a handful of dead sites fling hopeful coins into the well and wait for some placating nod from the powers that be to grant our wishes.
But I’m a patient person, so rather than get too worked up over the first few days, I simply sent in a dutiful heads-up to support informing them that, in fact, my sites were all very much down rather than up, and that it would be terrific if the situation could be addressed. Besides, CloudFlare saved my butt for the first few days by serving a cached copy of the site. I have the luxury of being able to do this, because I’m not running a huge e-commerce website or web-based operation where the site is integral to daily operations. I do run a web business, but my clients have been patient and understanding. I am very fortunate in this regard. Maybe I should have been more dramatic. Maybe then I wouldn’t have had to wait half a week for a response to my first ticket.
But what are my fellow server buddies doing, I wonder? Are their sites, in fact, running just fine now? Have they discovered a means of appealing to the gods of uptime to bless their sites with life amid this troubling hardware migration? I’m very curious.
In between all this fun, the web panel itself has been down at least twice in the same period of time. The sum total of these experiences has crucially compromised my ability to trust DreamHost with my web presence, and I say that with the utmost sadness as a loyal customer. I thought we were friends, D.
Unfortunately, brand loyalty only gets you so far when there’s no follow-through to the promises though, and so I have made arrangements with another host and am slowly (and I mean VERY slowly — FTP access is a deathly crawl) trying to get my sites migrated somewhere safer where I can trust that my data and uptime are secure, and that my time and energy will be better respected as a loyal customer.
What a pity.