Hosting Woes Continue

You probably haven’t noticed but my server has been going down at least once every two days. The Apache web server process is dying and I don’t know why. I just have to turn it back on by hand.

After the cluster fuck, I moved to Media Temple. They seemed like a good fit, but turned out to be a little too good. On the Dedicated Virtual plan I got with them ($50/mo) they expect you to have an onsite admin at all times. They don’t offer any tech support.

I emailed to ask them what was going on with my server and they responded with directions for reading the error logs through SSH or some shit.

So it looks like I’ve bitten off more than I can chew (and afford) with them.

Last time around everyone was creaming over Do you use them? Any problems? Any major successes? Did they survive the “Digg Effect” for you?

At least I dont have 48 hours to decide like last time. I can take my time, plan ahead and make the transition easy.


Nevermind: Server Karate was performed by Farris and I’m just reaching my guaranteed Memory limit rather often. Memory upgrades with Media Temple are outrageous, but I’m definitely not moving back (down) to shared hosting. That is unless there is a new share hosting provider with HIGH Mem and CPU limits.

Looks like I’m well on my way to need a REAL dedicated box.

Posted in Comic Blog.


  1. Actually I don't agree with that. To me the defining factor between geek and nerd is less about knowledge, and more about social characteristics. Both a geek and nerd have a certain mindset, and tend to be well read, particularly on trivia in their areas of expertise. For instance, and band geek would probably know all kinds of music trivia, and likewise a computer geek would tend to know a lot of computer trivia, and of course logically a movie geek would know a lot about movies. The defining characteristic between a nerd and a geek is really more how socially inept they are. A nerd has no social skills, will tend to bumble around, and generally fails to pickup or understand social queues most people take for granted in conversations (interesting comparison to aspergers syndrome there, something many geeks/nerds are accused of being borderline on). A geek should be able to sit down with just about anyone and have a conversation, a nerd on the other hand would struggle unless they happened to be talking about his area of expertise.

  2. As a former web admin of a VERY heavily trafficked site, you seem to misunderstand exactly what kinds of requirements a webserver has. Assuming you're serving static content, you can get by with a pretty weak box. I'm talking something in the lines of a 500 Mhz CPU, and 512M of RAM. Your limiting factor in that case is of course your ISP and whatever transfer caps you have in place. For something doing dynamic content a more robust system is of course required, but that can scale wildly depending on what your doing, what languages you're using, if everything is running on the same server or if you have a separate DB server, and even if the guys who wrote the code knew what they were doing or not. Honestly I'd be highly surprised if he's using more than 512M of RAM to host this site, and if he is I'd suspect shoddy code on the server.

  3. Hey, give me some details on this and I'll see if I can help you out (I'm a web developer by trade). What language are you using for the backend, what's your memory cap, and what's your average memory usage. As I said in another post, you probably shouldn't be using very much memory as most of the contents of your site is fairly static, and most of the dynamic content (IE this comment system) is hosted externally.

  4. oh, here we go, the continuous debate of "nerd vs geek." now that both terms are so fashionable and everyone (even celebrities! hot ones!) is claiming to be one or the other, it's funny that "you're no geek!" has actually become an insult. ;-P

  5. I really didnt want to start this debate. Just dont try and call me out and NOT being a geek (which I am because I feel it in my very DNA) because Im not down with proper server maintenance skills. Thats a cheap shot.

    I know what it means to me, and I'm ok if others have different definitions. I just dont care for people challenging my identity.

  6. Fashionable or not has nothing to do with it, I've always considered myself a geek. I read hitchhikers guide to the galaxy in 5th grade, and LOTR about the same time, as well as started to dabble in C and x86 assembly around then. My favorite movies and books have always been more of the sci-fi variety, and I'm an avid gamer tending to prefer the RPGs and strategy games. The fact that it's become somewhat fashionable is of course an interesting development, although I have to wonder how long that state will last.

  7. I'm not misunderstanding anything in terms of server requirements. My comments are less about server specs and more about talking to someone know has done this before or has a similar website, serving similar content, with similar traffic patterns. He can use this as a guide when finding the right host/provider and it will most likely meet his needs.

  8. Ok, fair enough, but you're initial comment about not thinking a $50/mo server was going to cut it for a high traffic site made it seem you thought the traffic was the major factor. The server I co-managed put through a few gigabytes of transfer a day, and only cost if I recall (this was a few years ago) $65 a month. The server box itself is only maybe 25% of the determining factor. Another 25% is the ISP, and the remaining 50% is your website design. Depending on how you lay things out, and what sorts of load balancing, cacheing, and optimizations you have in place, the load on the hardware as well as network transfer can be scaled up and down rather drastically.

  9. Im not. In reality, there is NO shared hosting plan that can handle my site. The prices and stats are attractive but its lack or dedicated RAM and CPU that kills a website. Im on a dedicated Virtual hosting set up now. The next step is dedicated. My box, my site, no one elses. Its about 3 times more expensive and requires an IT nerd to keep it working. When the time is right, Ill make that move.

    Thanks for the suggestions.

  10. ok, but if you ever want any advice on servers or applications let me know. Like I said, you probably shouldn't have that big a demand for memory running something like this site, but that depends a lot on the language. I know PHP can be rather rough on memory and likewise on CPU in some buggy versions (server I used to admin went from 20% CPU usage to 95% after a PHP "upgrade" without any changes to the source code), but PHP still seems to be the dominate choice for most non-commercial sites because there are a number of fairly good free frameworks available for it.

  11. I like the comic, it's not half bad, but the more I find out about you the more I question whether the tag line should be "A Geek Webcomic"

    "I emailed to ask them what was going on with my server and they responded with directions for reading the error logs through SSH or some shit."

    You're no geek…

  12. James, you seem to have confused "geek" with "nerd." I have never claimed to be a code monkey, programmer, IT Guru or any other such wrangler of 1's and 0's.

    Geeks love TV, comics, movies, and fandom. Nerds love PHP, SQL, Ruby, AJAX, Ghz and Tb.

  13. Yeah I noticed the site was down for a bit today, glad to hear things are okay for now again. On an unrelated note, where's episode dozen of the sexy podcast?

  14. With the amount of traffic this site gets I can't believe that you think that a $50/mo host is going to cut it. It seems like your traffic is increasing in addition to spiking dramatically on occasion.

    My suggestion to you is to check with others in your field. Send an email to the web comic guy in Austin(don't read that comic and can't remember the name from your earlier post where you did a guest strip.) Send an email to Penny Arcade. Send an email to xkcd or whatever that comic is that always seems to be on digg. In short, reach out to some fellow web comics people. Some people who read your site and post may be able to help but most likely 99.5% of them don't run a web server that gets major traffic.

Leave a Reply