ThinkHost Dilemma Day 2

Filed Under (Musings) by Mike Wilton on 27-12-2008

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Cat Broke The ServerFirst off let me update my original writing and say that this post was supposed to have gone up last night, but the site was running so slow I couldn’t make any modifications to the content in the WordPress editor.  So even after the site was up and “running” again it was practically not usable by myself or my users…

Many of you may have tried to visit the blog yesterday and were greeted by either a blank screen or a 500 Internal Server Error and I want to apologize.  At this time I’m still not sure the nature of the problem, but nearly 15 hours after the issue was originally reported to me the blog was finally back up.

Many of you may have had the opportunity to read my post from two nights ago about the cost of using eco-friendly web hosting company ThinkHost and how outages and errors have plagued my site over the last few months.  Two nights ago I experienced about an hour downtime that resulted in the post, but sadly that was minor compared to what I experienced yesterday.

I found out around 8:15AM that my blog had been down since at least 5:51AM.  Friends and readers had sent me a number of messages through twitter and Gmail advising that the site was inaccessible and simply wouldn’t load.

I made 3 attempts to contact ThinkHost yesterday about this issue and even tried my damndest to find a way to get in touch with the company directly, but could not find a single phone number or direct e-mail address to reach them.  Finally nearly 15 hours after the first report that the site was down I got a response from ThinkHost AND the site came back up.

I will say that right now I am very displeased with ThinkHost and their lack of response over the 15 hours that this went on.  I know a lot of hosting companies have a 24 hour turn around for issues sent in via e-mail or through a form, but usually they also have phone support available for immediate assistance.  ThinkHost does not have phone support and therefore you are forced to wait until they get around to your specific issue.

I don’t know the nature of the issue just yet, so I am not going to put full blame on ThinkHost for the downtime.  However no modifications were made to my site from my end at the time the site went down, in fact I was still asleep.  So I am curious to see how they explain this one.

I do know this I plan to figure out how to go about cancelling my hosting with ThinkHost.  Though I just renewed for six months I cannot rely on them to reliably host my site.  Furthermore they have not provided any useful means to get in touch with them in dire situations like yesterday which is outrageous.  If I were an e-commerce site I would have lost a whole day of business and a ton of revenue; especially on the day after Christmas.  Something like that is unforgiveable and unacceptable, especially when you can’t get in touch with someone directly.

I love that ThinkHost pioneered green web hosting and if they could get their shit together I would gladly return as a customer, but I feel that perhaps they aren’t quite up to par in comparison to some of the non-green hosting companies out there.  I am striving to do my part to live my life as green as possible, so I am looking for another green hosting that site that perhaps CAN provide me with reliable customer service and reliable hosting.  I probably won’t post anything more about this on the blog because I feel I have made my point and expressed my concerns about using ThinkHost’s services, however if I find out anything more I will probably post an update on either Twitter or Plurk.

Thank you again to everyone who took the time to notify me of the downtime.  I appreciate you taking the time to read Musings For A Darkened Room and I appreciate it even more that you went out of your way to let me know the site was down.

ThinkHost: Eco-friendly Hosting, But At What Cost?

Filed Under (Musings) by Mike Wilton on 26-12-2008

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At the moment I am writing this blog post for a blog that is down.  I’m also writing this post while I should be writing a post that is scheduled to go up tomorrow, but since the blog is down I can’t access the data I need.  Needless to say I’m NOT a happy camper.  But of course, the “…system administrator is working to resolve this matter and restore services as soon as possible.”  At the moment the ThinkHost Athena server is down.

Back in June I decided I was going to move Musings For A Darkened Room over from a Blogger hosted blog to a self hosted WordPress blog. At the time I put my feelers out there since I had only been familiar with 1&1 and HostGator through client work. Around that same time Donna Fontenot mentioned of the eco-friendly hosting provider ThinkHost.  Being a very green minded individual I thought using ThinkHost was a great opportunity since it was being recommended by someone I trusted AND it boasted being eco friendly being 100% carbon-neutral powered using wind and solar power.  The site also guaranteed 100% uptime.

The initial setup with ThinkHost was quick and painless, and I only ran into a few downtime and error issues in that first month.  And ThinkHost kindly applied a month hosting credit to my account for my troubles.  After that I didn’t run into many errors with my site, but then last month the errors returned and seemed to happen three fold.  This time it wasn’t just me experiencing the issue.  I had visitors e-mailing me and IMing me telling me the site was either down or giving them errors as they tried to use it.

I e-mailed ThinkHost at the beginning of the month explaining the increase in outages and errors and they basically told me there were no outages on my server but to provide them with more details and they would look into it.  I did, and their response was that nothing was wrong on their end and that it must have been an ISP problem.  I would have bought this excuse, but it wasn’t just me having the issues.  I was getting complaints from both local and non-local visitors, as well as friends who use a different ISP.

I have continued to have minor issues with accessing the site since then, and then tonight the site won’t load at all.  It won’t even give me an error.  Normally I wouldn’t publicly comment on things like this, but I feel that as of late the support I have received from ThinkHost has been less than adequate, especially when they are blaming ISP’s for outages that are being experienced at the same times across various networks.  Furthermore we are pushing the hour mark on this outage and I can still not access my site.  At a time when my blog traffic and revenue are at an all time high it’s frustrating.

I have again put my feelers out there for hosting providers and the name that keeps coming up is HostGator.  They are definitely cheaper than ThinkHost, but I really like the fact that ThinkHost is 100% carbon-neutral.  Right now I am leaning towards switching to HostGator, but if anyone out there knows of a green hosting alternative that they know is reliable I would LOVE to hear from you.

I don’t want to end this post on a totally negative note so I will say one thing positive about ThinkHost. I really like that they have a network status section in their Hosting Operations Center that gives you updates on outages.  I also like that you can view your entire issue history with their support department and read updates and statuses of your issues.

UPDATE: ThinkHost reported that the server came back online at 01:15AM EST…1 hour 9 minutes of downtime.  I believe that’s a month of hosting folks!