Hosting complaints?

Discussion in 'Members & Staff' started by SactoEric, Dec 11, 2006.

  1. SactoEric

    SactoEric Enthusiast

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    How do you all respond to complaints about your site's performance as far as speed, time outs, downtime, etc?

    I have one forum that has grown pretty fast over the past couple years... over 250k posts, over 7k members... and the bandwidth usage was too much for my previous host & what they wanted for their next level of hosting was too expensive for what they provide. So, I moved the site over to another host that costs 1/5th as much as the other. But, some members have complained about time outs & whatnot... Personally, the site has been fine & the hosts support is top notch, responding to and solving problems w/in minutes. I brought this issue to the host's attention and the owner got back to me asking for specifics. I relayed his questions to my members & nobody can give adequate answers to actually help work out any problems. It seems like the vocal minority just likes to complain & then others jump on the bandwagon & start pointing out every minute issue...

    Lately it's been quiet, but it's definitely frustrating! They're not breaking any rules, and if they're legit complaints, I need to get to the bottom of it. If they're not, I need to deal w/ this somehow w/out coming off like a jerk who doesn't believe or care about his members...

    Suggestions?
     
  2. PalePhoenix

    PalePhoenix Prince of Dorkness

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    Tell them to pay you or shut up. (How's that for concise?)
     
  3. SactoEric

    SactoEric Enthusiast

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    Any suggestions that won't start a fight? ;)
     
  4. Ollie1

    Ollie1 The Only e107 user?

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    pretty much the same as pheonix, but maybe in a more diplomatic way :p

    "Due to the cost of upgrade i cannot upgrade the server without the fee being passed onto our users"

    I am sure either way will shut them up tho lol
     
  5. PalePhoenix

    PalePhoenix Prince of Dorkness

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    "Please donate or I can't understand how you think you have any say in the matter."

    Seriously tho... You should make it clearer that you have a limited budget for upgrading, that you experience many of the same difficulties they do (if, in fact, you do, and they're not just on dialup or using WebTV or something), and that you will do what you can to streamline the board so there are fewer queries per page and maybe not so many other scripts being called, if this is contributing to the problem.

    I presume, from some of your prior posts, that you're discussing the 'regional board' that you now have with GoDaddy (not sure if your registrar is the same as your host, but your description of their service level is familiar). If I can't see it, then I can't advise you how you might trim the 'code fat,' or what other problems might be more easily corrected, but some of what you've said has occurred on the economy plan with my own board(s). The shared server space gets a bit hinky around now, weekdays, response time is slow, and I've experienced some issues with 'lost connections,' especially when uploading material or reloading a page. This has been hell on my attempts to upgrade the board, and has made me wanna drive over to their offices and explain what a 'load balancer' is supposed to do, using very small words.

    As for your members, they really have little right to complain. Like it or not, you have the hosting arrangement that you can afford. Unfortunately, saying that directly is akin to "If you don't like it, then leave," and none of us wants to do that, outright. Address the issue, and the 'vocal minority,' head on. Ask them what they think they can do to help. By putting the ball in their court, you might glean some constructive replies and/or people who are actually capable and willing to help (financially or technically). If they just want to whine for its own sake, and not DO anything about it, then their input really isn't all that important. You already know what the problems are, and the solutions are clear. If you can't generate revenue and redirect it toward the issue, then there should still be a few other things you can do to ameliorate the problems.
     
  6. Karl

    Karl XMB Forum Support. Mgr

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    I agree with the consensus of opinion. Add a paypal donate button on your forums and say once enough is raised you`ll upgrade the package and maybe get a faster host.
     
  7. SactoEric

    SactoEric Enthusiast

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    PalePhoenix, I have a couple dozen sites & occassionally the same site will have multiple issues, but this is neither the regional site, nor the one w/ the DBP dispute ;)

    As for the suggestions... thank you :)
    I guess it's one of those things where I know what needs to be done & could probably upgrade the hosting, again, but I like reading about personal experiences... So, I probably should have asked if anyone has any experience dealing w/ such a situation.
    Like I said, it's been quiet since I posted the questions from the host, so I apologize for asking for suggestions, as I seemingly don't need them at the moment. How about personal experiences? Stories? :)
     
  8. arnie

    arnie Lost in Cyber-Space

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    Don't forget that such problems may be out of your host's control. Very often if a site is slow or unreachable it is because a router on the way to their server is malfunctioning. If only some people see problems the route they take may pass through the faulty router, whereas others have no problems. You have said that you don't see these problems yourself, so this could well be the reason.

    Occasionally my connection to my own site suffers in this way. I also see problems at the same time with another site I visit frequently; although they are not on the same host they use the same backbone.

    Next time this happens suggest to anyone complaining that they carry out a traceroute on your server; with any luck that will show the 'hop' where the problem is occurring.
     
  9. grepper

    grepper Fan

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    site performance issues,downtime etc....

    BAD CODE
    1.a Badly written code and cause your server to slow down tremendously, specifically, GD code -the cute stuff that gives you those JPGs and Gifs written in 'real time' Ii.e. Captha and the "YOUR IP IS: your PC is:" graphics.."
    If the programmer does not explicitly release the image objects and wotnot, the memory isnt deallocated until garbage collection time or worse and the system will gradually degenerate.

    Solutions: Review the code (at least research some reviews) on those hot gallery componnents - you may find others with similar reports, sometimes an upgrade helps a lot!

    NOTE: Dynamically generated images: If the programmer does not EXPLICITLY SEND CACHING HEADERS, SOME VERSIONS OF IE WILL DOWNLOAD THE IMAGES EACH TIME!-many forums dynamically serve avatar images via a php by default, the extra processing and lack of caching is a no-no.


    1.b Gethostbyaddr ( looking up the hostname google.com from 65.34.34.2) on some hosts it is instantaneous (meaning it comes out of your butt quickly) on others a getHostbyAddr call may take up to 20 seconds per IP! - security MODS and Hacks may be the cause.

    Contact the writer of the software if you notice any slow downs they may be aware of the potential issues (most are) but figure if nobody complains its not a big deal - let them know!-

    2. "NAUGHTY CODE" or "STUPID/INSENSITIVE CODE"

    Sometime naughty mods "dial home" on each use. Sometimes its when you access them from the backend/admin area, sometimes it's with EVERY PAGE VIEW. it may be simple as an attempt to get an RSS feed, but then your site responsiveness is in an external websites hands.


    3. Off linked images: A security and privacy concern, off linked images are a performance concern as well and a big one.
    It only takes a few posts bearing
    Code:
    [img ]http://slowhost.com/bigass2mb.jpg[ /img]
    to dramatically slow down the user experience for everyone. Indeed if a poster were malicious, the jpg could redirect to a script that could delay or just return noise to the browser making it if not confused enough to crash, sluggish enough to timeout. (remember that PHP scripts often have very limited run times and will time out at the drop of a hat - so wear caps wherever possible :) )

    solution: disable the [ img ] tag or make it convert to a LINK vs display inline. Limit size of avatars and signatures, having them locally hosted may help.

    4. DENIAL OF SERVICE
    On shared hosting sites it takes not much more than a few users hitting refresh a lot of times to cause problems especially in the high database driven web world, EVERYTHING requires a round trip to the server and a happy hit on the mySQL database.
    Or somebody hitting your site with an automated script to send POST commands

    ask your host about MOD FLOOD for apache or explore those settings for your forum if it is happening.


    5. High HTML (i.e. long tables of information, database outputs, not very graphics heavy?)
    Use GZIP output, supported by all modern browsers. The html is compressed on the server side, often to 1 tenth of the size before being sent, even dial up users can have adequate performance, especially with caching.

    6.CACHING
    Database driven sites may find themselves forced to generate IDENTICAL OUTPUT MULTIPLE TIMES - the solution is turning on caching where applicable (that is server side caching.

    6.b. Browser/client side caching -often the users browser may be incorrectly configured.
    SOLUTION 1. Have them send you their browser settings.
    2. (better) send them to a diagnostic page that with a little javascript, can capture most of that info for you!


    LAX SECURITY:
    You may have been hacked and not know it, your bandwidth (and server responsiveness) being used to transfer porn, IRC traffic etc. Check your logs and bandwidth reports, especially for otherwise off peak periods - todays hacker may not want your front page defaced, they want your member data for social engineering and identity theft.
    Solutions: limit access to directories that only a few access via .htaccess with IP address and password restrictions, change passwords and force admins to use unique passwords not on any site they frequent

    TOO MUCH SECURITY:
    Sometimes the swiss-army knife of .HTACCESS is not the best thing...HTACCESS is parsed and evaluated for EVERY resource requested by a browser, not just for that folder, but recursively all the way up the tree for all the folders as well as Apache scans for other htaccess files -sometimes one line or two of code may protect better.

    On shared hosting though, you may not have access to anything other than htaccess but dont be shy about asking your host for help

    --tomorrow part 2
     
  10. Ollie1

    Ollie1 The Only e107 user?

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    ohh liking this...looks like an article in the making!
     
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