Tag Archives: hosting

Why I Don’t Host My Blogs Myself

Today was one of those days. As I got to the office, I received a notification that a server was down. Fixing this web server put a claim on all of my time that day, and even bit a chunk out of my free time as I got hime.

Web servers are complicated beasts. In principle, setting up your own hosting is very simple. You lease a server or VPS, install MySQL, PHP and Apache and get started. However, the devil is in the many details. You need to set up all those different modules, and so on. It’s like you are opening a puzzle box, and not all the pieces are marked properly.

In theory, I could setup my own web server. It sounds tempting: spend 10 to 20 dollars a month on a VPS, quickly setup LAMP and host as many sites as I want. Or, in reality, as many sites as my server can handle.

Because that’s the problem, isn’t it? It’s all simple in theory. But in reality, dealing with web servers is often a frustrating venture. You can run into all sorts of problems just to set them up. And when the time comes to keep your server secure, you need to spend the time updating the different parts and hoping that you don’t somehow break something in the process.

I admire the people that can setup their own server. They are probably saving money in the long run. However, if I were to follow their lead I’d have to invest a lot of time into the ordeal. Time that I’d rather use on things I’d rather be doing: writing blog posts, looking into interesting technology or making videos.

Why I benefit from shared hosting

For me, shared hosting is simply a better match. I pay roughly the same what I’d pay for a VPS, but I don’t need to invest any time in setting up the server.  There is no need to do updates of the server. Maintenance wise, shared hosting couldn’t be easier for me.

There’s also a big set of tools that you can use that’ll make your life easier. Installers for WordPress and Joomla, setting up a new database with just a few clicks, monitoring tools built straight into Cpanel. When you want to dig deeper into your websites and start tuning and optimizing things, the options are there. But they’re strictly optional.

Of course, there is a dark side to shared hosting. You are sharing resources on a server. Depending on your hoster, this might lead to poor site performance.

Fortunately, the Joomla community pointed me into the way of Siteground. I had my doubts at first, but after using them for three years I can say that their shared hosting is top notch. Websites hosted on their server are fast, responsive and have an extremely good uptime. Combine that with the usual tools and some very cool WordPress and Joomla tools that the guys at Siteground have built themselves, and some features you don’t find in other shared hosting solutions and you’ve got a winning solution if, like me, you don’t want to host your sites yourself.

When using Siteground, even managing updates is taken out of your hand. Joomla and WordPress will be updated automatically for you, which means you’re always up to date. All you need to look after, are the plugins you’ve installed on your website.

Another upside of shared hosting, and using Siteground specifically, is the support. Now, I rarely need or use their support options. But on the rare occasion that I did, their support was fast, knowledgeable and more than willing to solve my problem.

The fact that I can just sit back and relax thanks to Siteground is a big reason why I prefer not to host my websites on myself. If you’re wondering ‘Should I host my own websites’, then the answer is ‘It depends’. Are you willing to commit the time, or are you more interested in taking care of your website yourself?

If you are looking for a hosting solution where they take the hard work out of your hands, then give Siteground a try.

Let’s help each other out

Are you looking to sign up for quality hosting? Cool! Consider giving Siteground a try. In the process, we can help each other out. If you sign up through my affiliate link, you

  • Get an optional free site transfer
  • Get a big discount on your 1st year of hosting
  • Might be eligible for a discount, if you’re coming from another hosting company.

Of course, there’s also something in it for me. If you sign up, I get up to three months of hosting for free. That’d be an awesome gift, allowing me to focus on my writing.

You can sign up for this deal right here!

Or, if you want to check out what Siteground has in store first, you can click the banner below and decide later.

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External Mail & Hetzner Managed Servers

People with a Managed Web Server with Hetzner might notice that their site has problems e-mailing to their own e-mail addresses when they’re having their e-mail hosted elsewhere.

The reason for this “problem” is likely that you’ve still got Hetzners’ Mail service enabled for your domain. You need to disable this service, so your site can send e-mails to the proper address. Otherwise, the Managed Server will think it’s in “control” of your mailboxes and will try to deliver the mail to the “internal” mailbox. Continue reading External Mail & Hetzner Managed Servers

Hosting From Hell: Deziweb

I will try to keep this post short and sweet: Avoid the reseller hosting of Deziweb.nl like a plague.

The reason is simple: My sites there are offline at least once a month, with problems that take the staff far too long to fix. I am starting to guess that either their hosting configuration is beyond terrible, or their staff is completely unfit for this business.

Not a month has gone by without problems. Their Reseller hosting is definitely not worth the money. I am “lucky” since I am not using their hosting for any clients, and nearly dodged the bullet of using their hosting for the clients of my employee. My boss is still mocking me whenever my own sites go down.

They might be “only my own sites” but I’d rather see those online than offline as well. I’m also tired of having to submit ticket after ticket. I have sent ten this year alone, if my administration is up to date.

They came highly recommended, but their Reseller hosting is just crap. They’re not suitable for any type of platform, it’s not just a Joomla! specific problem. Save yourself, and find another hosting company (preferably outside of the Netherlands. My experience with Dutch companies in general is just… bad.)

Hosting from Hell: ‘Joomla! Hosting’ in action.

Those who follow my rants on Twitter, can’t possibly have missed it.  The past few weeks, I’ve had my share of hosting woes.  Clients with cheap hosting which broke Ninjaboard, Unsafe setups, poor customer support – I’ve seen it all.  So, for therapeutic reasons I present to you our new series: Hosting From Hell.  This section will be dedicated to terrible hosting experiences.

Call to action:
Got your own negative, terrifying or dramatic hosting experiences?  Send me a mail (See: Contact), and I’ll publish your story.

‘Joomla! Hosting’ from hell

You can’t ignore that Joomla! (and WordPress and Drupal) are the cat’s meow (borrowed from @nikosdion).  Hosting companies know this, and many try to sell their hosting as “Joomla!” hosting. The main actor in this story takes it a step further:  If you order “Joomla! hosting” from them, they’ll setup your site for you.  Sounds like a sweet deal, right?  What could possibly be wrong with this?

I was alarmed when we tried to deploy our own ‘Distribution’ on another package by the same guys.  Akeeba Kickstart alarmed me that a bunch of folders were unwritable.  Once I managed to setup the site anyway and I started to work on the site a bit, I noticed that all the folders were unwritable because we had set the folder permissions properly.

How not to setup permissions

This made me wonder.  If I had no problems, how was it possible that we had no problems with another site – one where they had installed for my boss?.  Using the always usefull Akeeba Admin Tools, I checked on the folder permissions they configure for their install.  I’ve made a screenshot to share the joy with everyone interested…

That’s right. They install the site, and then set all folder permissions to 777 to make Joomla! “usable”.  Once you use AdminTools to set the permissions to safe settings, the site breaks into a thousand pieces – because all folders are now unwritable.

Virtually all folders are “Onschrijfbaar” or unwritable (except one, with perm’s set to 777 to test)

I’m well aware that you can use the FTP layer, if needed, but you shouldn’t have to.  Hosting companies should know better than to recommend users to set their folder permissions to 777 or – even worse – set them to 777 theirselves.  Why, you ask?  You can read this excellent post by the developer of Akeeba.

We’re still waiting for their reply, to our support request in which we asked why we’ve got permission problems despite “setting the standard folder permissions.”  No reply so far… 😉

Note: I left out the name of this company because I don’t want yet another PR person to call me, asking “you mad at us, bro?”

Why I’m mad at Hostbasket

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Note:  Comments have been removed.  After a refreshing weekend, we’ve had some time to think about the ‘problems’ in this post.  A follow up post will soon follow.

This week, dealing with Hostbasket has been an unpleasant experience.  For those of you who might not know:  Hostbasket is a Belgian hosting company.  They mainly focus on the Belgian market, although the fact that they’ve got an English website AND back-end indicates that they’ve got “international” ambitions, as well.

As you know, when not blogging here (or on another site) I actually do some work for Analys4IT; a great small company.  One big part of what we do, is build Joomla! websites.  We’ve used Hostbasket for our hosting since the beginning…. but that might change.

If you’re interested:  Joomla-and-more.com is hosted on WordPress.com, Toretto.be is hosted on a private server and Brevcom.net is hosted by Hostgator.  No Hostbasket here.  Why?  Read on and you’ll find out. 

This week, I’ve started to consider jumping ship and convince management to switch hosting providers.  I’m going to spend some time / money trying to find out if hosting our websites abroad has a negative effect on the websites we sell, in terms of “localization” in Google, and much more important:  performance.  Once I got those results; we might bail.

It’s already hard to motivate us choosing for Hostbasket: 

  • Their prices are way too steep for what you’re actually getting; especially when compared to companies abroad.   (Which is why I stay away from them, myself).
  • Their servers seem to become more and more Joomla unfriendly.  Restoring an Akeeba backup is not fast and smooth, it’s a painful process.  And it’s not the back-up solution that’s to blame.  
     
  • Sometimes I think that their support people don’t know what they’re doing.    I’m not too excited about the ‘support’ we get, either, to be honest.  Apparently, they don’t work in the weekend, so if you rely on their back-ups and have a problem on, let’s say Sunday morning, you’re pretty much screwed. 
  • I mentioned that the prices are steep.  Well, they only get (significantly) more expensive when you add something to the basic package…

But that’s not what frustrated me the most this week.  This week, I was extremely frustrated because of their admin panel.  Here’s why:

  • Apparently, when ordering something for a customer, I can no longer select the customer from a list.  Which means I’ve got to look up the username and password, and THEN order it. 
  • Or, I could just ‘order as the current user’.  Yes, that would be great… if they actually displayed who that current user is, instead of showing this:                                                           <-  In case you’re wondering, that’s a blank. 
  • While we’re talking about ordering… their system seems to be broken.  Yesterday, when ordering some delicious shared web hosting, I ran into this nice error:  after completing the last page (which used to be the one-but-last page) I was taken back to the login screen, instead of to the page where I could confirm my order.  So, naturally I assume that there was an error processing an order.  After this happened for the fifth time, I got suspicious and looked up our most recent orders.  Yay, there they were:  5 orders of shared hosting, for the same domain!  Luckily the ‘Cancel’ option was still working…
  • In a not so distant past, when I ordered Shared Web hosting, Hostbasket took care of the domain name registration + frustration.  Here’s what happens now:
  1. On one occasion, no domain name was registered AT ALL.  So I had to register it manually and configure it myself (which only takes two clicks, but still.)
  2. On another glorious occasion, just 10 minutes later, the domain name WAS registered.  But Hostbasket didn’t configure it automatically like they said they would.  So once again, I had to configure it.  Not a big deal.  Had I actually known that they hadn’t configured it automatically, of course…

    What did I do about all this?  Nothing, to be honest.  I had better things to do than write them a long e-mail about what I thought was wrong, because I’d just get the same answer I got last time.  “yes, we’re working on that part of the website.”
    You know, usually people improve their processes over time.  I think it’s a bold – and stupid – move by Hostbasket to do the contrary.  

Is Hostbasket hosting bad?  No, we’ll probably won’t find a better alternative in Belgium.  Do the customers suffer from these problems?  Nope.  But when you’re in the web business, you’ve got to make sure that the solution you offer, works out for yourself, too.  And as of recently, things just aren’t working out.

This rant is not a part of our normal routine.  Regular updates will resume after I’ve cooled down and compensate for the time I’ve lost on Hostbasket’s stubborn backend 

Got your own unpleasant experience with a hosting company?  Share them in the comments, or send an e-mail to joomlaandmore@gmail.com .  Anonymity guaranteed 😉