Server changed from Dreamhost to Slicehost

Ok. I know how much I've praised Dreamhost in the past. I was very impressed with them when I started using their hosting, they were cheap, fast, had all the features I wanted, and had awesome automated installers that let me get up and running very quickly.

I have now switched to Slicehost. The primary reason is because Dreamhost is not stable. In fact, they are less stable than when I hosted websites myself on a cable modem and IIS 2003. I've had them for about half a year now and they've been very inconsistent. In a half year there have been two occasions where they've been down for over a day at a time, and over a dozen times where they've been down for about an hour. Then on top of that, their speed is always fluctuating. Sometimes they're quite fast, sometimes they are so slow that Google will ignore your sitemaps because the response time is so bad.

For those of you wanting a quick list comparison.

Benefits of Dreamhost over Slicehost:

  • Cheap! 12$/mo vs 20$/mo. (I don't suggest the 10 year contract for Dreamhost, I did that and am regretting it.)
  • Simple. I have barely used Linux before and so it took me 2 solid days to get Slicehost up and running whereas it took me only a couple of hours to get Dreamhost to work.
  • Automated one-click installers. Good for wordpress, setting up subversion, creating users, other common tasks.
  • Easy to register a domain and make it live. Even for noobs.

Benefits of Slicehost over Dreamhost:

  • Reliable. You have a virtual private server. You are guaranteed the cpu and bandwidth you pay for. Dreamhost offers you "unlimited" bandwidth and other such BS, but they're basically lying to you. That's impossible. If you are using up too much bandwidth or using up too much disk space, they will delete your files and freeze your account. The people that actually believe Dreamhost's "unlimited" claims probably don't have very intensive needs anyway. If you are using more than 10GB of bandwidth per month, you will be likely hitting Dreamhost's CPU cap pretty quickly, so the bandwidth is moot.
  • Support. Ok, so setting up a Slicehost server is more difficult than calculus with a hangover, but they have the best support I've ever seen. Dreamhost has a crappy ticket system where you'll be lucky if they ever respond to your complaints. Slicehost has 24/7 chat where I've basically lived the last two days learning everything there is to know about setting up a secure LAMP server. They had the patience to answer literally about 200 questions of mine to get me from not knowing a thing about Linux to being able to set up my own web server, mail server, and show me how to create a secure way to remotely manage MySQL.
  • Speed. Dreamhost has a 100ms ping on a good day, Slicehost has a 25ms ping. Slicehost doesn't oversell their servers, so I should see speeds like this consistently.
  • Full control. I can do whatever I want on Slicehost. It's a VPS with root access. I can install any version of Linux I want. Unfortunately I doubt their lowest option, a 256M Ram slice, is good enough for me to install a java server, but I am considering expanding the slice and giving it a go. We'll see.

Ok, it's late, and this might be a very worthless blog post, comparing apples to oranges. Dreamhost is for blogs and small sites. Slicehost is for real sites. This blog would be fine on Dreamhost, but my clients' sites have suffered from Dreamhost's unreliability. How much money do you lose if your site goes down for a day? If the answer is more than 50$, go with Slicehost.

I hope I don't dream Linux commands again tonight. If this site gets hacked because I did something wrong, it will be a sad sight indeed to see a grown man cry.

Have you tried Dreamhost's VPS yet? I am using that and it is much better than their "standard" offering.

I would have tried their VPS, but their downtimes have been pretty much system wide. I like Dreamhost, it's just not reliable enough for corporate sites, I don't think the VPS would be much better looking at the kinds of downtimes we've had.

I have been using their "Private Server" for over a year now and have very few problems with it. I can scale resources on the fly which is a neat feature you won't find anywhere else.

Sure, once in a while the system goes down -- it is electronics, you have to expect it. Even Google and MSN fail from time-to-time.