Frustrated by repeated outages. Options?

For the second time in three days, one of my sites is giving an error message "error id: “bad_httpd_conf”.

I’m sure tech support will fix it when they get to it (in an hour or two, la la laaaa), but when this particular client sees their site is down, they are going to scream bloody murder.

I love Dreamhost, really I do, and I’ve had a bunch of sites hosted here for a long time, but I’ve never in my life dealt with such an unreliable hosting provider. Everything works fine for a couple of months, then there’s a cluster of unexplained outages. We had a heck of a time with email for several months.

Naturally, the status logging system still says everything is fine.

Are there any options? I have too many domains to easily leave DH, and I depend on many DH features I haven’t found anywhere else. And DH is a great value for everything you get.

In fact, I would happily pay 2 or 3 times as much for hosting if I could have more confidence in their reliability, or if they could respond to problems within minutes, not a couple of hours.

What do y’all think? Can we petition DH to stop adding upgrades and new features for a little while and concentrate on reliability? For starters, they could fix the status logging system so that it actually reports outages.

It’s already great hosting – they could make it insanely great by making it dependable!

error id: bad_httpd_conf does seem to be showing up quite a bit lately. I’m sort of in the same boat, but things are not quite as dire feeling for me, but I smell the slippage.

I think they need to add new features to compete, there are other popular shared hosts out there that are overcoming their growth problems and becoming stable and very competitive on price. These are the typical Red Hat with all the options kinda places I’m talking about. GD support, databases, full php to play with etc etc is making them a real option to even old time die hard dreamhosters now that they are becoming more stable while DH continues to be slow on feature implementation.

As you say you have “too many domains to easily leave DH” I think you should maybe look at the financial feasability of a dedicated package. I bet you could wrangle a deal for them to move everything over as seamlessly as you could get, then you could have what you want instead of what they give you.

I’d sure like to hear from someone using Dreamhost’s dedicated hosting, that has used shared in the past, give an honest comparison.


A dedicated package would certainly be financially feasible for us. We’d be more than willing to pay more if it meant better service.

But I have the same concerns – would it actually be more reliable? I don’t really have problems with capacity or high usage, so shared hosting works fine in those respects. But when there is a visitor, the site darn well better be there.

I also would not want any added responsibility for managing or monitoring “our” server.

What I want is exactly what Dreamhost offers – I just want it to work, dagnabbit. I would happily pay more for an “enhanced support” option where we would be able to talk to a live tech and have our problem solved on the spot.

As it is now, I submitted a support request and I guess we’re waiting in line. The site’s been down over 3 1/2 hours since I became aware of the problem at 9:00 am EST.

Who knows how long its really been down? The status report still says it’s fine.

I think this is a misunderstanding of how our system status system works. We monitor whether the machine is up, and whether individual instances of Apache are up and running, and answering requests. We don’t do checks of each individual site we host to make sure they are working properly. This would be virtually impossible for us. If there is a configuration error (on our side or yours) that is causing a problem with your site, but the server and “webserver” (instance of Apache) are both up, the system status will report the site as “up”, which (to some extent), it is. It’s up - however it’s not functioning as it should. There are third party monitoring services which will monitor your site and check for a particular text string, or even try to login or whatever. If you’re really concerned, signing up for a service like this will at least let you notice a lot more quickly when there is such a problem. I’ve checked out “Red Alert” ( for this in the past, and it works pretty well.

We did some research into the system status page, and have added a new disclaimer… turns out that the service doesn’t get marked as down unless it’s been unreachable for more than 10 minutes… so the uptime statistics (as currently implemented in the web panel) won’t show really short outages.

This particular error is pretty generic, and generally indicates that Apache isn’t configured to serve pages for that particular domain. We have noticed that various problems seem to be causing this error to pop up more often recently, and we are looking into it.

I wouldn’t say that a dedicated server would be totally immune to a problem like this, but for various reasons, I think it would be somewhat less likely to pop up… and yes, you could expect a quicker response if it did. We also have been testing an 800 number for dedicated customers to use in case of emergencies.

on the dedicated servers are you basically getting a shared server, but with no one else on it? I mean is it run through all the same channels, or mounted the same way, or however the **** you’d say it =D (like I’d understand if you explained it all!). I’m just trying to understand if you could still expect a lot of the same problems with the dedicated service.

I ask because of this thread, and I recall a dedicated customer complaining of mail problems at a time when there were a lot of acknowledged mail problems going on with the shared plans…

thanks will


When you get a dedicated server, all of your email, websites and mysql databases are hosted on your own server. Most people opt to have us still manage it so you continue to use the same web panel interface in the same way. If you would like to install your own software or manage some or all aspects of the server yourself, that option is also available. Most problems that affect our shared hosting do not affect dedicated customers because the problems tend to be caused by something specific to the way we have to set up our shared environment. Also, dedicated machines tend to require less system changes as there are typically fewer sites and users on them.

We work very hard to make sure our shared service is working correctly, but there are times when a user or group of users manages to interfere with the service experienced by rest of our users. Without greatly restricting our hosting service, it is very difficult or impossible to stop that completely. We are always working behind the scenes to further protect our network and servers from this sort of thing.

In general, mail problems experienced by shared customers are not experienced by dedicated customers. The same is true for mysql database issues and most web server overloading issues. If maximum uptime is critical to you, a dedicated server may be a good option.

The current bad_httpd_conf problem is being looked into and is one of our top priorities at the moment. We have some leads we are looking into and I expect to have it fully resolved in the next few days.

  • Dallas
  • DreamHost Honcho

I just noticed one of my domains down with the same problem. Is there something I can do myself to fix the problem or does DH need to fix it?


Unfortunately, we need to fix it for you.

  • Dallas
  • DreamHost Honcho

Is there a possiblity of us finding out from DH what the heck’s going on here, and whether a permanent fix is in the works?

A permanent fix is in the works, yes. We are looking into every case as it comes in.

  • Dallas
  • DreamHost Honcho

I’m also frustrated by what seems to be a recent problem. I’ve been with Dreamhost since April with nothing but glowing praise, but the past couple of months, I’m having problems with phpMyAdmin (can’t access it for days - it’s happened at least 3 times), my sites will be down for brief periods, and every single time I create a new subdomain, I get the bad_httpd_conf error for half a day before the domain works (that never used to happen and the domains would work in a couple of hours, max). None of this has been so major I want to leave, but it only seems to be getting worse. I hope it does get better soon! Right now I’m having to kill time browsing this message board because my sites and FTP have been down 20 minutes. I really need to be working on them, but I guess it will have to wait. I’d contact support, but it seems like every time I do, by time they get back to me the problem has fixed itself.

I sound like I’m really mad, but I’m not. I’m just ranting. :slight_smile:

Thanks for posting, Will. I hope the config problems get solved soon. As frustrated as I can get sometimes, it’s wonderful to know that there are real people working at DH who really care.

I understand how the system status reporting works, and that it works exactly as designed. I’m just saying it’s rather useless. Every time I’ve experienced an outage (email, FTP, HTTP) it has never been reflected in the system status.

I also understand that it may not be practical for you to do detailed monitoring that would catch configuration errors, although it doesn’t seem like it would be extremely difficult to trap specific errors like httpd_conf.

I’ll definitely look into a monitoring service for our more critical domains.

And like I said, I bet you guys could make money with an enhanced support option. I’d sign up.

I’ve just been struck by the bad_httpd_conf error also. From the forum, it looks like folks starting having this problem over two weeks ago. And yet Dreamhost still doesn’t apparently know what is causing it or, at the least, appear to have a good fix for the issue…


Site is still down. It has been over 5 hours since I first noticed the outage. Anyone working support today at DreamHost? Surely, I won’t have to wait 24 hours for a site outage problem to be corrected.



Sorry that I didn’t get your initial email to me (you sent to my starband address that I admittedly only used because my dedicated server was down).

I did finally move to a dedicated server as I wanted to make sure I was doing everything I could for my clients to assure up time. Well, that didn’t happen. I now pay an additional $50 per month for Dreamhost to monitor my dedicated server for outages like the one I experienced because mySQL died on my machine (which I never did get an explanation why). I do find this a bit absurd as I am already paying $209/month, which I just noticed they have a sale going on and it is only $175/month (would be really nice when us already paying customers would get the same deal). But to make sure I don’t have to be constantly monitoring my dedicated server and can at least sleep, it is worth it.

I am not sure I can say that the dedicated server is a better option or that DH is just going through growing pains. I can say the few tech support people that I have been fortunate at least to establish an email rapport with have been great to deal with. I just have been getting more concerned about DH and it’s problems. I have faith though that the personnel I have had correspondence with that seem to know and care about what us users are experiencing are more the norm than the exception at DH, and that things will iron themselves out. Hate to think my singing DH praises to others is going to come back and bite me on the backside. :slight_smile:

For the most part a happy DH customer

Well, I think I am reaching boiling point. I created a new mailbox on my dedicated server for a client, which I then had to put in a support request for after a few hours because it was not allowing receiving of email (can’t access by webmail either as getting an imap server error). It has now been over 17 hours since I put that request in and no response.

I am very disappointed that as a dedicated server purchaser that it would take this long to get a problem cleared up that is obviously not just an email program set up error, since I can’t access the mailbox by webmail either.

It seems lately everytime I turn around to do something with my server I am having to email support because something goes haywire.

Really very frustrating, because I have been with DH long enough to remember when support questions were answered in a far more timely manner.


Are these problems still going on? I have just moved my files, but haven’t transferred my DNS yet. The problems you guys are experiencing sound like perhaps I should reconsider. I already AM with a hosting company that has outages and seems unable to fix them; I don’t really need to transfer to experinece that. :wink:

"Site Temporarily Unavailable
We apologize for the inconvenience. Please contact the webmaster/ tech support immediately to have them rectify this.

error id: “bad_httpd_conf” "

I have never seen this on any of my other hosts, not in the 8 years I have been doing work on websites.
This is somewhat discouraging to say the least, I was just about to move one of my clients over to DH though at this point I don’t know if that would be such a good idea.

OSX Server 10.2.8
G4 2x800
1.5 gig ram
Now if I just had T1