Webhosting (again)

I’ve gone through 3 webhosts now:

HostExcellence - very unreliable
Lunarpages - solid, but at least when I was comparing a year ago, relatively low bandwidth thresholds. Still using for my low bandwidth blog
Dreamhost - cheap, high bandwidth allowances, but increasingly unreliable.

I need reliability now for some new functionality in a game I’m working on. The problem is that most evaluations of host reliability are anecdotal, subjective, and a bit random.

My options are:

  1. Virtual host (mostly in the $10/mo range, but reliability is a HUGE question mark)
  2. Dedicated host (typically $100+ mo, but probably more than I really need.)
  3. Semi-dedicated host (a host that would provide me a guaranteed fraction of a server, say a quarter).

In evaluating virtual hosts, the only solid way I’ve found to compare reliability is the user reviews/scores on http://www.webhostingjury.com/ Any other useful sites like that?

Is $100 the going rate for a dedicated host? Who’s the best for that?

At least one site apparently offers semi-dedicated. $32/month buys you 1/5 of a good server. Is this a common offering among hosts? Anybody have experience using one of these?

Windows or *nix?

*nix (mySQL, PHP, etc.)

Reliability? Pair.com.

I use http://www.wingsix.com/ which used to be ServerCentral. They host alot of very high availability sites like ArsTechnica and Stile Project. Bad ass host.


I’ve set up many clients with web hosts over the last decade (eek, decade is right), and during that time every supposedly great web host has gone to trash. New ones have come along that are great right now, I’m sure, but they’ll get bought by someone, or get too many subscribers, or whatever. E.g. hosts like ventures or site5, who used to be the darlings of webhostingtalk and others, are gone or awful nowadays.

For the whole 10 years, Pair has been chugging along, reliable as ever.

OK, all the mess with Dreamhost’s hosting has me looking at overall web performance of my high-score internet thingie.

One interesting thing I’ve found:

In my game’s highscore php script, I use a php function (microtime) on the first and last lines of the script to measure the time for it to execute. It varies of course, but let’s say the median is 150 ms.

On the game side however, my response time is typically closer to 350 ms, and it often spikes up to 3000 ms. Sometimes with those upwards spikes, I see a corresponding spike in the php script’s reported execution time, and sometimes not.

I assume there’s ping overhead (round-trip to server), and some TCP/IP stack overhead on my side. Perhaps that accounts for the extra 200 ms in the normal case, but it doesn’t account for the extra 2000-3000 ms in the extreme case. I wonder if instead it’s a lag on Dreamhost’s side, in the time to convert the php output into something it can spit out across the 'net to me.

I can see the same thing running the script directly, using firefox (i.e. doing it outside of my game).

Does it seem possible that Dreamhost occasionally (every 5-8 times I refresh) lags by 2-3 seconds?

Also, is there a plugin/tool I can use with I.E. or firefox to measure page response time?


Fasterfox is great - thanks.