Switching Servers – The Purge

I’ll admit, I’m a bit of an analytics junkie. I check it every morning and take a look at how fast my site has been loading. Call it a sickness, call it webdevery, whatever. This site is essentially an on-going test for me. Things I might be scared to do on a client site can be tested here. So when I realized that my site was down 28 times this month and the average page load time was around 16 seconds, I knew it was time for a change. Switching servers wasn’t something I had to do, but it was something I wanted to do and was long overdue.


Back in 2010 I searched for my first web host. While others I knew were diving in with Fat Cow and GoDaddy, I chose Dreamhost. For a while there I was extremely happy. It was a great place to start and allowed me to create my own databases and essentially have complete control over everything. Domains were median market price (changing soon to $12.95) and support was generally pretty good.

But things started to take a turn and I told myself, well, let’s just wait this out.

If you couldn’t tell from those tweets, things didn’t get better and my relationship began to sour mid-2012 when Dreamhost decided to change their hostnames. This caused a wide variety of issues and I wasn’t too thrilled about it. Then this past month they had some major downtime issues (see chart below). Charts are from pingdom.com.

Screen shot 2013-05-22 at 12.25.56 AM

Those spikes are all roughly an hour and a half. So what about response time, server-wise.


The chart on the left shows the last month. Can you tell when I switched hosting? You may say that’s not fair, because maybe it was a bad month. That’s what the chart on the right is for, which shows you that it’s been worse before.

Yes, it was time to cut ties. What’s worse is that I was using MaxCDN and WP Super Cache and it was still that slow. Mind-boggling.

Enter Web Faction

I at first thought about switching to Media Temple, but my experience with them was just kind of meh and it’s a bit pricy. Then Mr. Greg Green recommended Web Faction to me. Full control over my database names (something that is pretty limited with Media Temple) and the ability to use any type of web app. It’s like Web Faction was made for developers. Sites may take a bit more setup for some, but I’ve not had any issues. They also give you great stats on both disk and bandwidth usage.

I’m not sure why I didn’t do it sooner, but I finally switched the DNS to Web Faction and am now much happier. No down time so far and speeds from 9 seconds down to 3 seconds. Can’t complain about that.

The one thing I forgot to mention is that Web Faction doesn’t do domain names…but that’s the only issue I’ve found so far. I love you Web Faction, please don’t betray me. Best hosting out there for $8.50 a month.

Take a look for yourself right here.

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[…] you’re not familiar with Web Faction, you should take a look at my switch from Dreamhost to Web Faction to see why it may be a good idea. Other hosts I’m currently using include Digital Ocean and […]

John Hartley is a Director of Product Engineering at Beam Dental in Columbus, OH. With 6+ years of leadership experience he has worked in startups, agencies, and began his career as a freelance Front End Developer. Always looking to iterate, this blog is a place for him to share his knowledge as well as hone his craft, challenge assumptions, and build a strong base of leadership and management knowledge. Connect with him on LinkedIn

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