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The Results Are In...

Published Sun, 20 Sep 2009 • 1 comments

And as it turns out, Linode is far, far faster as well as being more consistent for the hosting of this site.

Take a look at the graphs, the first was captured from this site in the last couple of weeks for a 24 hour period, hosted on dreamhost:

Dreamhost Performance Graph

Yeah you're reading that right - the label to the left is 10,000ms (10 seconds!), with the average response being around 3000ms. This was a fairly indicative day, there have been better and worse, but on average the response time under "good conditions" would be around 1000-3000ms. However the good conditions would only be < 90% of the time, the other 10% is dreadful.

Here's the linode graph for the last 24 hours -

Linode Performance Graph

Quite a difference huh? The average response time has decreased to around 0.5 seconds with the slowest still being better than the best time dreamhost ever managed!

Of course, dreamhost and linode are appealing to different markets - rolling your own server configuration and maintenance requires a certain degree of Linux geek-ery which the average person is not about to tackle. However, clearly the quality of service provided by the mass-hosting providers (and dreamhost is one of the better ones), is not what one might expect.

Part of the problem is that the competition for hosting dollars has resulted in the proliferation of the "all-you-can-eat" hosting plan. Practically every aspect of these shared hosting plans is "unlimited", and offered at sub-$10 per month rates. How can that be possible? The old adage of "if it looks too good to be true, it probably is" definitely applies here... it's possible only so long as none of those sites with "unlimited hosting" is very popular.

While the superficial limits of the hosting might be "unlimited", you're still sharing a server with god-knows how many other people. Each one of those people has probably set up hosting for several sites, and is doing the "all-you-can-eat" thing too. The whole thing only works so long as none of the sites on the shared hosting gets very popular. You'll find sites on this sort of host that suddenly attract a large amount of traffic have a tendency of killing the server for everyone (and often the accounts end up temporarily suspended).

My prediction is that these sort of hosting plans will not last in the long term. With the rise of virtualisation and cloud services such as Google Apps or Amazon EC2 there will be a shift towards self-managed or abstracted hosting, depending on the level of capability of the hostee. It will take years for this shift to occur though, due to the incumbent popular apps, such as Wordpress which are tied to the current architecture.

Anyhow, I can recommend Linode as an inexpensive, high quality service which works exactly how you'd expect... but you should expect to get your hands dirty at the $ prompt :)

About the Author

Richard Nichols is an Australian software engineer with a passion for making things.

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