Fun With Dreamhost

Some of you may know that I have a large chunk of my website devoted to a little genealogy hobby that I pick at from time to time. And you may also have noticed that it has been down for the last few days. It’s back up now, but getting back up was not at all fun.

Several weeks back, while I was on vacation at Disney World in fact, I got an email from my web hosting service, Dreamhost, letting me know that a certain script was making unreasonable demands on one of Dreamhost’s database servers and it had been disabled for me. They asked me to take a look at it, optimize it, etc. No big deal. My genealogy software was a version behind so I updated it and made some other changes in hopes that would clear up the problem and notified Dreamhost. They responded a couple days later with some additional suggestions and I made a mental note to poke at it a bit more when the opportunity presented itself, but otherwise considered the problem solved. It was an inconvenience, but a reasonable action for Dreamhost and they were fairly prompt in responding to email.

On Sunday I received another email from Dreamhost. The same software hammering the same database. Instead of letting me know that the other changes did not solve the problem, and taking the offending script offline again, they decided to take the database itself offline and deny access to it. The email did mention that a backup of the database (containing many years of work) could be provided, but 3 days later no one at Dreamhost has responded to any of my emails. I could understand their decision in this case as well if they were in any way responsive to my attempts to try and contact them. But to destroy my work (as far as they know) and turn their back on me I don’t understand. At all. In fact the email seemed to suggest that I find another hosting company. A suggestion I may have to take them up on.

It’s funny because “reliable” is not the first thing that jumps into most people’s minds when describing Dreamhost. Combine that with the fiasco of exposing thousands of FTP passwords and the $7.5 million billing error (oops) and you would think they would be willing to go the extra mile with those customers that have stayed with them in spite of their foul ups. I’ve stuck with them because it’s cheap and my site is in no way mission critical and most importantly, I’m lazy. If my site were critical of even moderately important, Dreamhost certainly wouldn’t be hosting it.

Since Dreamhost has yet to respond to my emails I’ve had to take matters into my own hands. The main culprit was likely spiders such as Googlebot and Slurp, so my robots fie has been changed. You would think that after the 30 gozillionth time indexing a file that has not changed that Google would understand IT ISN’T GOING TO. I mean look how often I’ve posted to my blog lately. Anyway, I’ve also changed my htaccess file blocking large chunks of IP addresses that didn’t look right (if you can’t see this just let me know, ha!). And finally I’ve created a new genealogy database from a backup. Hopefully this will not provoke the wrath of Dreamhost and get my hosting shut down completely. But if this site disappears you’ll know what happened.

Update: Not half an hour after posting this I got a response from Dreamhost. The changes I made “sound like an acceptable solution” and the genealogy database has been re-enabled. Good deal. If only I’d gotten this response two days ago!