Move From Bluehost Not Soon Enough

I moved all my personal blogs, wikis, and various sites off of Bluehost about a month ago save the following: the jimgroom.net domain which acts like a resume-like site; the learningparty.net domain which hosts a group of experimental sites; and the umwlibraries.org domain which I have been working with in very modest ways as of late.

So, to say the least, my Bluehost account has seen less activity than ever over the last month. That’s why I was so surprised this morning to discover that everyone of the remaining sites I have hosted on Bluehost (including one Typo3, two MediaWiki, and five or six WordPress installs, most of which are inactive) has been down for the last two or three days.

Constant CPU Quota Error messages was the reason why I moved the bava and various other domains I manage to a more reliable server, but I figured once I took the bava off Bluehost (which is running a million resource intensive plugins), everything else would work like a charm. Not the case.

What was worse this time is that Bluehost didn’t even give me temporary CPU Quota messages for the various sites, rather every site in my account was balked. The technician I talked to at Bluehost said that too many resource intensive PHP scripts were running which in turn froze my account (I can’t imagine what scripts those were, but I’ll take a closer look at my error log shortly), leaving all the sites with various error messages like the following:

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

or even the good old

“500 Internal Server Error.”

The fact that the staff at Bluehost is all too quick to blame those nefarious PHP scripts that are “resource intensive” without really examining the issue at hand makes me less and less inclined to do anything with this hosting service. The real issue is that they offer more service than they can provide, so once you start really trying to use the resources you are promised you get nothing but headaches. Guess it’s time to move the rest of my sites over to a hosting provider I pay more for out of my own pocket. With hosting, as with most things, you do get what you pay for, and with many of our experiments at UMW becoming more and more part of the general landscape of the teaching and learning I wonder if we aren’t getting closer to needing a solution that isn’t so Wal-Marty: cheap but ultimately crap.

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15 Responses to Move From Bluehost Not Soon Enough

  1. Tom says:

    That was happening on occasion with the resume site when you were interviewing at UR but it cleared up after an hour or so and no one else had that issue so I figured it was a temporary glitch.

    I apologize for not mentioning it at the interview but it slipped my mind with everything else going on.

  2. jimgroom says:

    Tom,

    It’s an ongoing struggle I have had with Bluehost, but the site suspension for a few days kinda makes me crazy. No one notified me, and sites the folks depended on were down for a number of days.

    And don’t worry, I don’t hold you responsible 🙂

  3. Jim,

    In the past, I think some of the resource-intensive scripts came down to mediawiki installs getting heavily spammed, which caused the scripts to do a lot of processing updating the database. What do those mediawikis rate on the spammed-o-meter?

    P.S. Ask Jerry, Andy, and Martha about me getting the same thing when we all tried to use “Ask DTLT” at the same time (it’s doing much better now!).

  4. jimgroom says:

    Hey Patrick,

    I actually locked the two MediaWikis on this server down, and they are infrequently used as it is. So, I’m not sure it’s that. Plus, a good LAMP environment should be able to deal with intensive PHP scripts, otherwise why are we paying for server space. I might as well use my laptop — or maybe yours 🙂

  5. Gardner says:

    I hear you, Jim, and I’m sorry you’re getting bad service from Bluehost, but I think calling it “crap” is going too far. It is what it is: commodity hosting. For the most part it’s been fantastic, hardly a Wal-Mart. It sure got a lot of wonderful stuff off the ground at Mary Wash. Just looking for a little nuance here, my friend. There’s plenty of life in Bluehost for folks who aren’t running quite the intensive shop you’ve got in Bavaland.

    Curiosity question: did you try to escalate your tech call?

    I’ve had the CPU Quota Exceeded experience too, and so far it’s been traceable to MediaWiki spam. (I go into Awestats and look for unusual activity on inactive wikis.) I’ve got a bunch of MediaWiki installs on my BH account, and the spammers have gotten quite ingenious about finding unlocked pages. Every time I think I’ve found and locked them all, I find a “talk” page linked somewhere that I’d overlooked, and the little boll weevils are sitting there, all blue and linked up and ready to exceed my quota. Talk about blue meanies….

  6. jimgroom says:

    Gardner,

    I think “crap” may be a bit overstated, but we all know that I’ve been known. And I think you’re right when you suggest it can be outgrown but is still a valuable sandbox. However, I do get frustrated at times with the bloated promises and the fact that it balks if you have anything resembling traffic, and that doesn’t mean a lot. Perhaps I am just frustrated that these sites were down for a number of days without me knowing anything about it, at least until I got the e-mail from a frustrated user. Also, I think that the commodity side of Bluehost and its tremendous growth makes it quite a different service than it was over two years ago.

    But, I guess you know I have the obligatory snarky e-mail with Bluehost every so often, because I don’t think it is actually the best service for what UMW is doing, but that’s me.

  7. Gardner says:

    As I said, I hear you, Jim, and I’m sorry the customer service has been lacking for you. Maybe Bluehost has just gotten too big to serve its customers. I haven’t put in a tech call in some time. When I do, if I have the experience you had, I’ll be frustrated as well, I’m sure.

    UMW is doing a lot of different things. Some of them still work well on Bluehost. Others don’t. Clearly we needed something more robust and tailored for UMW Blogs to scale and function the way it has. Cast Iron Hosting seems to have worked very well for us. That said, we took three years to build to that point, and we’d have never gotten there without Bluehost. I do feel we’ve gotten way more than our money’s worth out of our business with them. I know I have.

  8. ES says:

    I have a very modest site. It has a standard WordPress blog plus 1 php email form. Everytime I get even a modest traffic spike, I go down. I’ve never capped 500 visitors in a day– I’m NO WHERE close to using up my bandwidth….

    It’s all CPU exceeds limit errors. 2 weeks after sending in my ticket, support emails me back and states I can only have 400 processes in 1 minute or they shut it down. So what is that, like 25 concurrent users? That’s pitiful. I’d be better off using blogger and mapping my domain.

    I don’t really understand the CPU thing…. So maybe there is something wrong with WordPress. But heck, I just installed it! If it doesn’t work on my site, it won’t work on anyones!

  9. ES says:

    Oh I should mention, I too am hosted by bluehost.

  10. jimgroom says:

    ES,

    You hit the nail on the head. In my experience, when working with WordPress for a class of anything above 10 students on the site at once we would unfailingly get the CPU error message. And while I agree that BlueHost affords some unbelievable possibilities for experimenting with web apps, it is ultimately junk hosting for anyone who has a site that gets any kind of traffic whatsoever.

    The idea of all this storage and bandwidth overshadows the idea you point to, having 400 processes running at once does not equate to anything remotely practical for hosting a site with traffic. I heard today that WordPress.com is giving its users 3 gigs of storage for free! Add the $10 or $15 a year to buy a domain and map it you have a far better and easier publishing solution than you would on Bluehost, in my humble opinion.

  11. Dan says:

    I have been getting CPU exceeded quota errors everyday since I have upgraded to wordpress 2.6. I also have bluehost.. I am leaving it as soon as possible. Bluehost has been good over the years, but they are not willing to look what the problem is. I am not willing to have my website down every time I post.

  12. iwebie says:

    I get the freakin CPU Exceeded error a lot of time. http://www.iwebie.com is hosted in Bluehost Shared Hosting and Installed using the Fantasio script that comes with Bluehost.

  13. Congrats on moving your sites… I moved mine to another provider and haven’t had a problem. Customer support has been much better.

  14. Tommy M says:

    I continually have the same issues with bluehost: they promise the moon, oversell their servers, and then run around suspending accounts robbing peter to pay paul.

    All this is sad, as in 2005, 2006 you could call their named knowlegable techs and they’d be on a terminal working though the issue in real time over the phone. They were the best, but whoever owned them grew too big without investing in the needed hardware or staff.

    Now it’s only my laziness (and five domains) that keeps me from moving. I’d be interested to know what other companies others have moved to…

  15. Sam says:

    Similar issues: this is the fourth time in six weeks:

    So my I a social media guy: I tell my prospect to check out my site….bluehost server issues, site does not show up: extreeeeemly extreeemly embarassed. Flat out embarrassed: look like big foolio!

    So I call Bluehost, customer service, guy tells me if I want reliability I should consider leaving bluehost for a ‘dedicated server’ wow! [As a client this sounds an aweful lot like ‘FU & F-off’]

    Life hands you lemons sometimes, so that’s cool: but I wish they did not promise that this kind of thing could never happen! That’s all i’m saying!

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