Due to high demand, hosting companies are very prevalent. It can be tough to find a great hosting company. I use “Great ” meaning zero downtime, fantastic customer support, a simple admin UI, bandwidth to spare, proper CPU and RAM allocation to handle high traffic peaks (like front-page DIGG articles) etc… It’s sad to report that a company I thought was doing a good job in many of these aspects, is failing repeatedly. A little secret of my design firm: We don’t host our clients sites. Why? The hassle isn’t worth the money. We stick to what we do best, and to be honest I don’t want to hire a guy to take calls from clients who’s internet is down (which means it’s the hosts fault…) when they could call their hosts’ customer support line. Anyways, I would have to charge them much more than what is available just to handle costs of having someone manage client’s hosting accounts. Ok, now that the secret is out… for the last year or so we have sent most of our clients with low traffic and bandwidth demands to BlueHost. We always felt their customer support was very fast, their tools were easy to use, and they had great uptime. Unfortunately, it seems BlueHost has been growing too fast to keep up (aren’t they taking on 500 or so new clients per day!). Downtime is more frequent, traffic spikes shut the site down, small mySQL databases cause CPU overload warnings etc… BlueHost is dead. Over the last few weeks I have noticed that their downtime has increased. One day in particular a few weeks ago, I noticed one of my sites was down. I went to another one of my BlueHost-hosted sites and it was down too. So I went to the BlueHost server status page… down. Then the BlueHost home page… down!!! Their entire system, even the server which they run their own site was down. This happened for about 5 minutes before one-by-one they started coming back. A few months before that, I had a site holding a national windsurfing contest. People were accessing the site nation-wide to get real-time results. All of a sudden the site went down. I frantically called customer support. The problem? A server maintenance/upgrade. I asked why it was happening at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Their reply: “Since our customers are international we do them sporadically”. (This is funny because the BlueHost office is about 10 minutes from my house). I asked why I wasn’t notified they were doing a server upgrade, and I can’t remember the answer because it definitely didn’t satisfy me. More recently (3 days ago) I added a site to BlueHost. It was running PHP and mySQL (BlueHost runs LAMP) . There was a table of listings in the db with about 129,000 entries. Although a large number, it is very minimal when it comes to mySQL. The table was indexed properly, optimized and in the PHP code my query wasn’t doing anything fancy with SQL functions. I was simply using AJAX to create drop downs based on “Select … WHERE” statements. This is one of the most fundamental queries. Anyways, as I was testing this I received a CPU high-load message on BlueHost, meaning I was using too much of the server’s CPU for my processing. Puzzled and thinking it was an error, I continued in testing, only to have the message reappear again and again. More tests, even while connected remotely using SQLyog,Â gave me a the same CPU high-load message, even if I ran any large select statements or exported the database for backup. So, needless to say in my opinion BlueHost is dead. With their huge affiliate kick-back and ever-increasing customer sign-ups they aren’t what they used to. So, I am moving on. Currently I have been pleased with Media Temple’s (gs) servers, and I like the option they have of running a separate mySQL box to cut down CPU usage. Last time I called Media Temple’s customer support, I was on hold for 37 minutes. Needless to say, I am still looking for the perfect hosting company… which with today’s demands may not exist. Farewell BlueHost… we had some good times together and it’s hard to let go. But in the interest of my client’s needs, it’s best if we just stay friends. Maybe for fun, post your favorite hosting company below.