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When I got my first domain and website, I setup an account with www.crystaltech.com.  I loved their service and whenever I had an issue, their support group was right on top of things.  I did have one gripe: their lower-end package only allowed for a meager SQL database (something like 15MB I think… don’t quote me, that was around 2002).

So I opted to jump ship and run to www.webhost4life.com in January of 2003.  The service was fine and cheap, and I got a nice big SQL DB.  However, during my time, I could tell that my server was being rebooted during the day at times and was down at other times. 

Then, when the power went out in Los Angelas for 2.5 hours in early September, I saw my site go down.  Now, their excuse was they were ordered to evacuate.  But frankly, I don’t give a damn how much I pay for the service, but I damn sure expect (1) nightly backups and (2) battery backups with generators.  The power goes out and apparently the server my site was on had been down because my site was down for well over 2 hours.  Thirty minutes of backup power tops?  That ticked me off.

Then there was a nice little event that occurred about 4 weeks ago during the PDC.  I wasn’t at the PDC, but I posted some of the stuff that was coming out about the Office 12 UI, SharePoint, WWF, etc.  Anyway, my traffic went from from Tuesday-Friday by about 68% from it’s usual load.  What did WebHost4Life do?  They shut me off, and THEN emailed me saying what they did (around 11p on a Friday night).  They claim my site was spiking the CPU and consuming way too much memory.  Uh, how?  So if I had an extra load on my site, who cares?  I’m still within my allotment and hosting package.  I demanded it to be turned back on, which it was, but done so grudgingly through their support.

That was the last straw.  I went back to CrystalTech, signed up, and started the process of cleaning up my databases to move away from WebHost4Life (WH4L).  I moved my site & email the week before the MVP Global Summit, but left my other domains (that host mail for the rest of my family) on WH4L until I got back.  Now they have all been moved as well.

CrystalTech uses SmarterMail and SmarterStats… two killer packages (better than the free open source packages WH4L uses).  Not only are the servers fast and responsive, but the support is fantastic… and I found out very quickly why I liked them so much…

Immediately after I signed up with CrystalTech, my traffic shot through the roof.  I didn’t notice this for a few days… not until CrystalTech’s support notified me that they had to disable my stats temporarily because the log files were so big it was crashing the stats processing for all sites on the server (I’m on a shared hosting plan).  After some investigation, two things were discovered:

  • I was consuming as much bandwidth each day that I was consuming in one month at WebHost4Life!
  • Two IPs were responsible for over 98% of all hits on my site during this time.

First order of business was to request these two IPs be blocked after determining they were from some monitoring company (which I reported to their provider as a possible abuse, as well as to the company itself).  I ~suspect~ that the IP my account was assigned was previously leased by another company who never told the person slamming my site their site had moved.  At any rate, CrystalTech’s support was VERY responsive, helpful, and understanding.  They worked through the issue.  The issue was resolved within 48 hours (there was a “wait and see” period to see if the IP blocking was reducing my traffic and log files).  Now, all is well.

If you’re looking for a host, please look at CrystalTech.com.  They are a sound outfit that I highly recommend.

And stay away from WebHost4Life… unless you’re satisfied to get what you pay for: cheap hosting with cheap service.

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