I tried to access Vagabond Journey.com a day after the roadkill excerpt aired on CBS News Phoenix, and I could not access my own site. I received a warning message from my web browser notifying me that the server was busy and that I should try my site again later.
Tuesday, November 25, 2009
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So I called my host, Hostmonster.com, who, up until now, has always provided good, solid service and a very on-their-shit support staff. I intially talked with one rep who said that the problem was because I needed to clean out the cookies in my browser and this was not a problem with his company, my web host.
“I just checked your page and it is OK, you have WordPress, you have a blog.”
“Yes, it is true, I have a blog, but I am in Arizona and I cannot access it.”
The last thing that I want a company whose service malfunctioned is try to blame the problem on me. I knew what was going on: I received a rise in traffic due to the news segment and my host capped it. I called my host back, hoping to talk to someone who would actually look at my site and let me know what was really going on.
I called back. A different rep answered.I explained the situation again — this time a little more thoroughly.
“Yes, we have had to throttle your site a couple of times.”
There it was, the honest truth.
He explained further: my website is on a server with 60 other websites, and no single site can take up more than 10% of the CPU on the server computer at any time. “If we allow your site to receive all of the traffic that it is receiving then it would cut out other people’s sites and make them run slower or become unavailable. If your site gets more than 100 visitors an hour it may get throttled.
It made sense, though I was still angry: why was I not notified of this when I signed up for using their service? Why was it not written out clearly in my user agreement:
Unlimited bandwidth, unlimited domains, 24/7 customer service, but you better not get more than 100 visitors an hour or we will throttle your ass!
Vagabond Journey.com is now bringing in more than 100 visitors an hour under normal circumstances, so any dramatic boost in traffic would lead to the site being throttled.
The host representitive was honest, and it probably was stated in the fine print of my user agreement that I could only use a certain amount of the CPU on the server per hour. Though I cannot say I knew, or even really know now, what CPU is.
This was perhaps my error.
I thought that unlimited bandwidth meant that I could receive an unlimited amount of traffic.
I obviously did not have the proper knowledge to make an infomed decision at the time I signed up. Though at the time I signed up, Vagabond Journey.com was just getting started, and the host that I have been using was good for it. I was dissappointed in my circumstances, though no longer angry.
Perhaps this is just a normal turn on the path of a traveling webmaster. I talked with Andy Hobotraveler.com about this, and his advice was clear: you will move your site to many hosts, many times, until you can afford a dedicated server.
The tech rep continued, “This happens to a lot of sites, when they first get started they use cheap servers, then when they get bigger they need to go somewhere else.
He was correct: I went for a $7 a month service, and I got what I paid for.
What are my options?
I can put Vagabond Journey.com on another shared server with a different company with a higher CPU allowance, though still, ultimately, have limits to the traffic I can receive.
I can put Vagabond Journey.com on its own server. This would cost a lot of money — 50 times more than what I have been paying — but it should be able to handle any rise or boost in traffic.
If I am going to continue trying to get press coverage for Vagabond Journey.com, I need to have the server capatibilities to handle the interest derived from such coverage.
This is now a high traffic, professional website, I need to have a professional system to back it up.
“If this is what you are going to do,” spoke my mother when I told her the situation, “then you need to do what you have to do.”
Vagabond Journey.com recent traffic
Four days after the news segment aired, the story has begun making its way around the internet. A lot of traffic is coming in. Apparently, many people are hoping to gross themselves out by going to the How to Eat Roadkill tip. The page is circulating the internet, links are coming in, traffic is booming. This traffic is temporary, but the links stay. I take it.
I checked my site meter today, a couple of days after I wrote the above portion of this travelogue entry, and found that I will probably go over 4,000 unique visitors today. This is far more visitors than 100 an hour — the amount that the host rep said could trigger throttling.
I am not sure what is going on, there is probably no for for me to be sure. The ticks and knocks of web servers and the tinkerings of the internet are, joyfully, beyond me. But I do know that VagabondJourney.com is outgrowing the hosting service that I am using. If 10% of the server CPU is not enough today, it definitely will not be tomorrow.
Vagabond Journey.com is growing, the site is entering into its adolescence.
I wrote the following in the beginning of 2008, when Vagabond Journey was just a child, bringing in 450 visitors a day:
“Vagabond Journey is still a child, I have to keep telling myself. I must be patient. It was born on November 1, 2007. It is not even a half year old, and I am pleased with the progress that has been made so far. Websites are like children. You create them on a fun whim, and then you have to take care of them for their whole life: they grow, change, fail, and succeed.” –Raising a web site child
Potholes, dead ends, false starts, and steep slopes are always parts of every road. Changing hosting services is just a part of the growing process.