VPS on the cheap

Steven Alligood steve at bluehost.com
Fri Apr 25 15:11:10 MDT 2008

Grant Robinson wrote:
> On Apr 25, 2008, at 11:58 AM, Steven Alligood wrote:
> <snip>
>> Bluehost has a large number of customers that are getting exactly 
>> what is advertised.  Customers are never let go for using bandwidth 
>> or drive space, although sometimes they have to be moved to other 
>> servers to accommodate them.  What customers are let go for is 
>> causing problems for other customers, which often results from CPU 
>> pounding or constant heavy drive I/O, and mirroring large active 
>> repos does both of those.
> As an owner/admin of a hosting company since 1999, I thought I would 
> chime in.  I have watched the hosting space change and evolve over the 
> last few years, and I have noticed an interesting trend.  Many hosting 
> providers are doing just what Chab said.  They are over-promising.  I 
> have a BlueHost account that was acquired as part of a business 
> transaction, and I have been less than impressed with them.  Their 
> customer service is poor, I have to give them a copy of my drivers 
> license to get SSH access, and while their offerings are broad, they 
> are nevertheless part of a canned package, and they are things that 
> BlueHost has chosen to run and/or install, not necessarily what a 
> client wants to run and/or install.  We have always tried to 
> under-promise and over-deliver.  We don't oversell, but make sure that 
> what we have promised lines up with our capacity.  Of course, the 
> result of this is we have not become fabulously wealthy, but that's 
> ok. :)
> That being said, I also understand the predicament that BlueHost (and 
> other mass-volume hosting providers) are in.  You cannot be a 
> mass-volume shared web hosting company without the types of things 
> they are doing.  Letting every Tom, Dick, and Harry have access to a 
> shared machine that other customers are depending on greatly increases 
> the risk that someone with malicious intent will get access and wreak 
> havoc.  Mass-volume shared hosting is all about automation, from 
> installs, provisioning, backups, you name it, and it is either 
> automated, or it should be.  Allowing non-conforming setups can 
> totally screw that up.
> With regards to this specific instance, BlueHost has covered 
> themselves by making their terms of service EXTREMELY broad.  
> Basically, they reserve the right to shut your site down for any 
> reason whatsoever, even it totally screws you over. If you decided to 
> run a popular news site like Slashdot or OSNews on BlueHost, it would 
> do the EXACT same things that mirroring a popular linux distro would, 
> or worse.  It would slam the CPU, network, and most assuredly would 
> affect the other people hosting on the same machine.  These types of 
> things could happen with any webhost, of course, but if you are 
> hosting with people you know, they will usually talk things over with 
> you before making a uni-lateral decision.
> If you are looking for cheap, and that is the most important thing to 
> you, then go for BlueHost, or some place that offers you a VPS for $8 
> a month (which, btw, is too good to be true).  Cheap != Good, and if 
> your livelihood depends on who you host with or get a VPS with, then 
> you would be well-advised to go with someone you trust, even if they 
> may cost more.  If it is just for play and getting shut down is not an 
> inconvenience, then it doesn't really matter who you host with.  I 
> like the line from Lewis Carroll: "If you don't know where you are 
> going, any road will get you there."
> Just my $0.02.
> Grant

Good response.  I agree with quite a bit of it.

Do your risk assessment.  If your livelyhood is based on it, put more 
money into it, get a dedicated server, pay the price in a full fledged 
data center, etc.  If it's a gaming site, or a small side business, go 
with the low cost hosting until it shows a return, THEN upgrade to 
something more substantial.

Bluehost has a lot of automated stuff to increase what a customer can 
have and still make it tolerable to admin, fix issues, and roll out new 
features.  A drivers license for SSH access reduces a HUGE amount of 
script kiddies, fraud, and abuse. 

And if someone knows they are going to get slash dotted, or dugg, there 
are things they can do to survive it in a shared host environment, 
mostly things that should be common sense to anyone that gets that much 
traffic in that little time no matter what host they use; static web 
pages for the main linked pages, or at the very least a script to wget 
the dynamic page every few minutes and set it as a static page.  Support 
should help with that, and as long as a customer doesn't take down the 
server, they don't get deactivated.  Bluehost survives this kind of 
pounding at least several times a week, often without affecting other users.

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