Tag Archives: hosting

Hosting Changes

Hopefully no one’s noticed that I’ve moved my websites (including this one) to a new hosting provider (well, new for this site, but not new to me in general).  When I first decided to move away from shared hosting at Gradwell, I wanted to find a VPS solution to give me more control over the sites.  At the time, I was hosting an EverQuest guild website which got a reasonable amount of traffic, and so I chose a VPS solution that would definitely have enough oomph and bandwidth to deliver that.  Not a huge amount, but enough.  It was my first time in the VPS market and I wasn’t really sure who were best, what was good value and what the different offerings resulted in.

The 1and1 service I went with was pretty good, but not what I would call cheap.  Over the 18 months or so I’ve had the service it’s been pretty reliable, a few unexplained outages, and a couple of periods of downtime that were longer than I would have liked.  But the VPS was powerful, had plenty of memory and lots of network capacity and easily delivered the 7 or so domains I hosted on it.

Not long after I moved the sites though, the EverQuest guild site dropped off dramatically in terms of load (lots of people left the game), and after 18 months it’s become apparent that the 5 or 6 vanity domains I host really don’t justify the cost and performance of the 1and1 VPS.

I looked again at shared hosting, because I’m a pretty good example of who should use it.  I tried tsohosts and while they’re excellent value and I have nothing bad to say about them, I really don’t get on with cPanel and the shared hosting mentality, especially after running my own VPS for so long.  I wanted to get into the config files and set things up ‘just so’, and after only 2 or 3 days fighting with cPanel I gave up and bought another VPS from Gandi.

I love the Gandi system (I already have another VPS from them hosting a usenet server), and although a single share VPS is pretty low resource you can deliver quite a lot from a Linux machine with not much in the way of power these days, especially when what you’re delivering are vanity domains with almost no traffic.

So I’ve got a single share (256MB memory) VPS from Gandi and over the last couple of days I’ve moved everything over, and I’m pleased at how easy it was.  The 1and1 VPS was running CentOS but I’ve gone for Debian with Gandi (I prefer Debian) so not everything could be simply copied over, but the content (static and mysql data) was easy enough to transfer, so now it’s just a case of making sure the VPS is secure and managed properly.

If you’re looking for some domains or a VPS, I really can’t recommend Gandi enough, my only gripe is there’s no easy way to pay monthly (no direct debit facility, so you have to top up a pre-pay account when you remember), but it’s a small issue when the service is so excellent.

All gone, all gone

So that’s it – all my sites / domains are moved off gradwell now.  Just waiting for them to action my request to cancel my outstanding services.  I’m in two minds whether to reconfigure Thunderbird to use Nildram for usenet or whether to just wave goodbye to NNTP entirely.  I was really only using it for the gradwell private groups and haunting long abandoned places as a by-product.  Hard to let it go totally though, I moved from FidoNet to Usenet and it was that which got me involved in lots of things which eventually led to where I am today.

So yeh, hard to let it go.

Gradwell have re-branded (personal opinion of their new website is that it looks horrible) and appear to be far more focussed on servicing businesses than individual technical users.  I’m sure there’s a much better future in that direction, but it would have encouraged me away even had the service not stunk and had I not received sales calls at the same time.

Gandi have been great, and 1and1 have been entirely invisible, other than a single brief outage a couple of months ago it’s been fine.  All-in-all it took longer than I hoped (near 4 months) but less time than I feared and wasn’t painful at all.  The only complexity was related to the .com registrations and changing owners (from me, to me).

Finally moved

So, I finally moved the site away from Gradwell (the last stage was the domain, registered with them, which moved today).  It’s been served by a different server for a little while but all the bits are moved now.

So that leaves me with two domains on Gradwell, one which I run for a bunch of EQ’ers which will take more planning to move and the original one I used to open the Gradwell account which has a few things hanging off it, which will take longer to move in stages.

Typically their service has improved now, but it’s too little too late, I was tired of the bad performance, bad communication, bad planning and bad technical implementation and just couldn’t justify giving them my money to provide that service, or lack of it.  I know no where is perfect, and I have no illusions that the current hosting platform isn’t ideal, but now I’ve taken the time to split the hosting and the DNS management, it’s a hell of a lot easier to move sites around in future.

On the virtual move

I’m tired of Gradwell’s slow performance, sloppy change management, undelivered promises and apparent change of direction.  The final straw oddly though, was an unsolicited sales call, only days after total failures of their infrastructure.  I may have stuck around longer if not for that call.  In an attempt to not store my eggs in the same basket, I’m moving domain registrations to gandi.net and hosting to a virtual private server with 1and1.  I’m sure their support is no better than Gradwell, and the net result is that it actually costs me a little bit more per month, but I get full control over the server where my sites are hosted, can host as many sites as I like and don’t have to put up with being told ‘things are fixed’ when they’re clearly not.

So far, www.bookthing.co.uk, www.onelinemoviereviews.co.uk and www.gemmellmania.co.uk have moved across.  The .com’s are a little more annoying, for various reasons so they’ll be going more slowly.  I’ll be moving darkstorm last because there’s a lot of mail forwarding happening on that domain and I don’t want to mess it up.

I’m really happy generally with gandi.net and 1and1 are ‘ok’.