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Moving

Posted on Tuesday, April 4th, 2006

Dave!And so I'm moving.

Again.

Changing hosting companies is a huge mess that I never really wanted to experience. But, lucky me, this is the third time I've had to do it in three days. I am documenting my pain in an extended entry, so feel free to read it if you are interested (or ignore it if you aren't).

Moving

With luck, everything will be sorted out in a day or two. Until then, I am screaming a lot.

There's a summary at the bottom if you want to skip all this.

We Begin with Lunarpages... This entire fiasco started when I received an email from my hosting company telling me that I was using too much "CPU time", and they were forced to move me into quarantine until I got it all figured out. Apparently my blogging system (Movable Type) is an incredible resource pig, and eats CPU cycles like candy for even the simplest of things. Naturally, I have no idea how to fix this, but tried every scrap of advice I could find from Google to see if something works. But nothing does. I've done absolutely everything to minimize the work that Movable Type is doing to maintain my blog, but it was all for naught. Even worse, I'm losing data while in quarantine, so I made a snap decision to just find another host for Blogography.

Yahoo! or BooHoo?... I immediately head over to the Six Apart web site to see who they recommend for hosting. Since they make Movable Type, they should know, right? While I'm there, I see a huge "spotlight ad" that tells me Yahoo! is their preferred hosting partner, so I sign up immediately. Unfortunately, what they DON'T tell you is that Yahoo! is in beta with blogging, and a bunch of crap doesn't work. They also DON'T tell you that your license is invalid if you move to Yahoo!, and you'll have to pay $50 a year to get support. They also DON'T tell you that Yahoo! sucks ass for hosting. But here I am at Yahoo!, so I try to make the best of it.

It's BooHoo alright... Yahoo! not only sucks ass at hosting Movable Type blogs, they also suck major ass for support. I emailed them to ask how I can prevent people from hotlinking to my images since "htaccess" files don't seem to be supported. I am told I will get a response 4-6 hours later, but it's the next day before I get a response. And it's SOOOOO helpful... "I am sorry to inform you that Yahoo! does not support .htaccess file at this moment." WELL NO SHIT YOU IDIOT! I didn't ask about making an htaccess file... I asked how to prevent hotlinking since htaccess files are not supported! I write back and explain, AGAIN, what I am wanting, but I haven't heard back yet. I don't expect to. But hotlinking is the least of my worries, because things aren't working right at all (and, despite using "FastCGI" everything at Yahoo! is SLOW, SLOW, SLOW!). It's time to switch hosting companies. Again.

Back to Lunarpages... My experience with Yahoo! has me really, really missing Lunarpages. In a desperate attempt to salvage my blog there, I move back and start making drastic changes. Category Archives are gone. Search is gone. Date archives are slashed, and no longer rebuilt automatically. My legacy web feeds are gone. I cut and I cut and I cut... hoping that if I cut enough, the CPU usage will be minimized and I can finally go back to normal. But it all comes back to the fact that I have 1300 entries and 6800 comments to work with, and the numbers are increasing daily. I am told the problem is compounded because I "have a popular blog," which mystifies me. My traffic is NOTHING compared to hot blogs like Boing Boing, Wonkette, Dooce, and thousands of others... I'm not even a blip on the internet radar. Yet Movable Type is such a pig that my little blog is going to require dedicated hosting at $99 a month. No matter what I do, I can't escape the CPU restrictions at Lunarpages, and dedicating hosting is priced out of reach. I start checking other hosting companies... but everybody has similar restrictions for the "shared plans" I can afford. DreamHost, which offers obscene amounts of bandwidth and storage, comes highly recommended so I write to them. I get an almost-immediate reply: "Movable Type is a notorious resource hog, and DreamHost is probably not the hosting company for you." So much for dreams.

The End... Defeated, I decide to give up. I will leave my static pages at Lunarpages, and delete everything else. There will be no new Blogography for the foreseeable future. Game over. So ironic that I am approaching my 3-year blogiversary. But that night something happens to make me look at things from a different perspective. A boy and his shoe change my mind.

Enter Media Temple... The rock star of hosting companies is Media Temple. It's a company built for designers, and is run quite differently from other hosting companies. They are slick, polished, and elite... people I know host their sites there just so that they can proudly display the "Hosted by Media Temple" badge on their site. They do not offer tons of bandwidth. They do not offer vast storage space. They do not come cheap. But there is something they claim to do well: host Movable Type blogs. When I go to investigate, I see that the bare minimum package I can get away with is $14.95 a month (if you pay for two years in advance). This would deplete my meager savings, but is it worth it? That's when I notice they have a "Movable Type Add-On" available for $5.95 a month. This seems really stupid. I decide to just stick with the package and install Movable Type myself... I don't need their precious add-on. And that's when it hits me. They must be charging extra for Movable Type because of the resources it uses. So I decide to sign up. And since I am paying extra every month specifically for Movable Type, I'm guessing they'll cut me some slack on CPU hits. At least they had better. Obviously they KNOW what they are getting into, so I remain optimistic.

Lunarpages comes through... Throughout this entire process, the support I've gotten from Lunarpages has been really surprising. They may not offer much help with Movable Type, but they've been exceptional in every other respect. Since it hasn't been 30 days since I renewed my annual contract, they're going to refund my money. They've helped with with my DNS issues. They've even given me an extra day to make sure I've got everything off my old site. I've been a good customer, and they treat me that way... even though I have to leave. I can't speak for anybody else, but Lunarpages has been very good to me. In the end, I can't fault them for my problems because they don't claim to be Movable Type experts, and shouldn't really have to concern themselves with making Six Apart's pig of a program work on their servers properly.

And we're moving... And so now I am maintaining four blogs while I try to move. One at Lunarpages. One at Lunarpages Quarantine. One at Yahoo! And the "real" one at Media Temple. It's a bit tricky to try and figure out which server has the most recent stuff. and try to remember which data I want to keep and which needs to be trashed. On top of that, it takes a while for DNS entries to point "blogography.com" to the proper place, so I've got comments appearing all over that I have to manually re-enter at my Media Temple site. It's a major challenge, and I'm sure there are going to be problems. But I am confident that it will all work out in the end so I'm trying not to worry about it.

And in summary...

  • Lunarpages GOOD: Despite having started all this, they have been more helpful than anybody. They may not be right for me, but I have no problem recommending them for non-Movable Type hosting.
  • Yahoo! Hosting BAD BAD BAD: Shitty hosting. Shitty support. Shitty tools. Shitty control over your site. Shitty Movable Type bugs everywhere. There has been NO good experience with Yahoo! at all, and I don't recommend them for hosting (though, I do like other things they do well, so I guess I shouldn't hold this against them?).
  • Movable Type BAD: I like this blogging package, I really do. but heaven help you if you get a lot of entries or become the least bit popular, because then the CPU usage makes the product unusable for anything except expensive dedicated hosting. On top of all that, they have no problem recommending shitty, buggy, slow, blog hosting at Yahoo! - and then have the balls to ask you to pay $50 additional dollars ANNUALLY to get support! If I didn't have 1600 entries and tons of work invested in this program, I would switch to something else in a heartbeat. I can no longer recommend Movable Type, at least until they figure out how to curb the resources it uses to maintain STATIC web pages. This sucks ass. I wish I could go back in time and warn myself not to ever get started with Movable Type.
  • Media Temple OKAY: My experience with the holy Media Temple has been mixed so far. Within hours of signing up, I got my information packet and was ready to get to work. Except I couldn't access my site via FTP. I send off a support ticket and am rapidly informed that it isn't just me, it's ALL Media Temple customers that are having the problem. To make matters worse, the Movable Type install I requested (and pay $5.95 a month for) was botched. I had to spend an hour going through all the setting and configuration files to get the program to work. This didn't make me particularly happy, but I'm dealing with it. The cons are that it is slower than Lunarpages (but not nearly as bad as Yahoo!), and is an expensive, expensive place to be. For two years of hosting with a Movable Type add-on, you'll be paying $500. I fully expect it to be worth every penny. It had better be. As an up-side, once I'm all set up (again), I'll be able to add a cool "Hosted by Media Temple" badge to my site.

And there you have it. The whole horrifying story of running a Movable Type blog and trying to get hosting for it.

I sure hope this isn't a "to be continued" thing...


Categories: Blogging 2006Click To It: Permalink
   

Comments

  1. apryl says:

    my head is spinning just READING this stuff! you’re a real trooper for LIVING it…

  2. Jordan says:

    Bloody hell, what a nightmare

    Lets hope Media Temple works out for you, and at least you managed to get your fee’s back from Lunar Pages

  3. nicole says:

    It’s been awhile, but I could have sworn you can import your MT entries into WordPress. I love WordPress, by the way. It doesn’t have to rebuild for forever and a day everytime I change something like MT did. Just a thought for the future. Good luck with the move.

  4. Chanakin says:

    Correct. WP will let you import your MT blog.

    I flipflopped between WP and MT for the first week (switched back and forth about 6 times) to see the difference myself, and stuck with WP mostly because of the rebuild turtle.

  5. Fen says:

    I’m pretty sure I would have murdered someone by now.

    People I know on MediaTemple’s hosting have nothing but praise for the company and their support, but man are they out of my price range. Hopefully everything works out.

  6. Chaz. says:

    I’m sorry this whole process has been so crappy, but I do hope that Media Temple works out well for you. That’s interesting that MT is such a resource hog because I know that I initially was going to use them as my blogging tool with my DreamHost account, but I ended up going with WordPress due to the “One-click Install” feature. Since then, I haven’t looked back and have had no problems with WP. I hope everything gets resolved quickly for you, and I’m sure everyone is hoping that this doesn’t turn into a “to be continued” sort of thing.

  7. Rob says:

    I’m really taken back by Dreamhost not being able to support you with MT. I used to use MT and never had any problems. I switched for convenience.

    Glad to hear that you are not shutting down though. I was wondering what I would have to do with my days without the all powerful Dave.

  8. Mooselet says:

    Oh. My. God. My head hurts trying to figure all this out. I’m not a technical person and if something even remotely similiar happened to me I’d be curled up in the fetal position on my bed.

    Bottom line – I don’t care how you’re managing to stay online, but I am so glad you are! Good luck and no I won’t help you pack.

  9. ThereseN says:

    Good luck with the new host.

    With your Blogiversary coming up, I figured I had better stop lurking on the site and actually post a comment. I’ve been reading for about 3 months now, and have tried to convert others to the enlightenment of Davology.

    Thanks for the daily work you put into this blog.

  10. theMike says:

    I went through something very similar with my hosting company last year…but instead of sticking it out and fighting for the rights to my sight, I stuck my head in the sand and ran to blogger. Good job Dave, hope it all works out for the best for you and your blog.

  11. Cavan says:

    Ah, the joys of technical difficulty – I know all about that, but I use Blogger, so it comes as part of the package.

  12. James Bow says:

    My webhost is 1and1, which is a European company that offers lots of server space and bandwidth for cheap. I’m on the $19.99/month package, and I get about 150 Gb of web space and 1500 Gb/month of traffic. I’ve been able to run three separate installations of Movable Type, three cgi-bin directories and with 20 domains without complaint, and their uptime has been excellent.

    The downside is that the technical support, while polite, can be a little slow and I think it’s based in India, and they struggle a bit in communicating with me. I haven’t really tested them and I’m a little afraid to. You have to know what you’re doing. Fortunately, I do.

    So, if you can’t make Lunar Pages to work, I can recommend switching to 1and1. I know that switching hosts is a pain, though, so I hope you can make Lunar Pages work.

  13. Göran says:

    Yikes! Doubleyikes! All this to entertain a happy audience!

    Keep us posted on how Media Temple is doing.

  14. jenny says:

    Well, maybe you need to get less funny and less interesting in the future so you don’t get so many people coming back here. (but just do that for a little while to trick people into leaving, then all us regulars will have blogography all to ourselves. mwahahahahaha!)

    Good luck with the move!

  15. Bec says:

    I almost didn’t want to read my feeds today in case your post was a ‘nope, I give in, see you all’ thing. Hurrah for finding a new hosting company; may they treat your site with the respect it deserves…

  16. Firda says:

    Troy and I have been with Insider Hosting for about three years now and we’re both running Movable Type. We share 500MB of space, 10GB of bandwidth and the ability to host 5 domains between us and things have been good so far. There’s been no complain from them about us sucking too much bandwidth by using Movable Type. The technical support is also pretty good. And it costs $15 a month.

    I hope Media Temple won’t let you down! :)

  17. Jeff says:

    This type of thing makes me glad I’m just “pond scum,” or whatever label they’ve given me at Technorati, so I can get away with using the piece’o’crap Blogger.

  18. Kevin says:

    More than 1600 posts in under three years? How the hell’d you manage that?

    I truly hope it all works out. You’ve been more than just my blog inspiration, you’ve been a good friend and I’d hate to see Blogography go bye-bye.

  19. sandra says:

    There should be drinking.

  20. Nicole says:

    Just remember Dave, one shoe at a time.

    I hope all goes well with the move. I have grown to love Blogagraphy and would hate to have it go away. Especially on the eve of your third blogiversary.

  21. Neil T. says:

    Glad to see things are settling down now with hosting. I’ve only had one problem with Movable Type killing servers and that was when someone flooded my comments script. I changed hosting company after that (in 2003) and have been with them ever since.

    As for search, you could see about leveraging Google to provide your search (I think there’s an option for branded Google results somewhere on the site) and there are some alternative search systems for MT – have a look in the plugins directory. Some may even support PHP so they should work much faster.

    For the other archives, switch them onto dynamic publishing if you can. It should be a painless switch and should drastically reduce the load.

  22. Kiri says:

    I’m really sorry you had to go through all that, Dave. I’m glad to see you found a solution that may work for you, as I really do enjoy reading your blog. ;)

  23. Neil says:

    I have a blog at Lunar Pages, so its good to hear that they have been helpful to you. I think the truth is, unless you shell out some money, most of these hosts are bad.

    Glad you found a solution.

  24. Pheeeeeew.

    That would absolutely break me, man.

    If I were wearing a hat right now, I’d take it off in deference to you.

    I’m trying to psychically send all my good karma to you as I type… Maybe if I transmit enough good vibes, things will even out more?

  25. Belinda says:

    I know you resist “selling out,” but seriously? With what you’re putting into this thing? Is there nothing you could get out of it besides the t-shirt sales that would help you at least break even? Or hey–increase the t-shirt prices. I felt GUILTY for what I paid for my Bad Monkey.

    I would pay to come here, if I had to. I love it that much. I will not lose my Blogography.

  26. jenB says:

    change your name for mine and add in my assfaced former host and we are one and the same my friend. i have had media temple on board for less than a week and found them to be fabulous if not a wee bit pricey. the 24/7 phone support rocks and they answer all my dumb questions.

    i feel you pain and join you in it. i can’t imagine how much i have spent this year to share my drivel with the world. take heart that you are worth it to those who get to read ya’.

    peace.

  27. kazza says:

    urgh what a nightmare!!
    Hope media temple works out for you..

  28. SJ says:

    Now that is devotion to your craft.

    I’d have crawled sobbing under the covers by now. Kudos on your perseverance and fortitude. You’ve got to know your readers are absurdly grateful. What you call your “silly little blog” is a shining beacon of inspiration in the black void of the blogiverse to those of us who aspire to someday attain Blogography‘s level of excellence. **wipes brown off nose**

    Blog long and prosper, Your Daveness. Or at least the first part.

  29. Andy says:

    I agre with your views on yahoo – it took them 11 days to even get my email working – with four copies of the same form email response and never an apology or a “oops -you are right I should have read your email properly”
    I can’t believe you have to pay that much for your hosting for all of us davefans – thanks a lot – we appreciate it.

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