Greater City Providence

Epic webhost #FAIL


If you tried to visit our site at any time since Tuesday morning, you were likely met with an error message of some sort, or a temporary message about our site being down. Temporary turned into five days as our hosting company, Dreamhost failed us spectacularly this week.

If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, you got the play by play of our annoyance and desperation through the week as we submitted support ticket after support ticket with no response other than cryptic “we’re working on it” messages from reply robots.

The short story is, the server our site is hosted on had a hardware failure on Tuesday morning. Dreamhost attempted to move everyone on that server to new hardware, but that process failed, forcing them to fix up the old server, restore from backup, then move to a new server. While our site was half moved from one server to another, then back, then restored from backup (kind of), various things within the WordPress install reported back failure errors to anyone trying to visit the site.

Over the days we received various automated replies about things supposedly being back “tomorrow” and some people having service, but slow. With our random WordPress error messages and our inability to get a handle on where exactly Dreamhost was in their process (since we never got a human response to any of our requests for information), we were left to twiddle our thumbs and fume.

Misery loves company and we weren’t alone, here’s some of the chatter from Twitter:

Late Saturday (remember, we went down on Tuesday), we received a message that indicated that the various server moves might be done. We were having a consistent WordPress error message regarding one plugin. We visited some of our new Twitter friends sites and saw they were coming up. So we went into FTP and removed the plugin we were getting the error message on and hey presto, we were back online.

At this point, we’re still not positive where we stand regarding the server. Have we been moved to a new functioning server? Is the movement of sites done? Our last robot reply from Dreamhost indicates that we should be on new hardware at this point.

New hardware be damned though, we’re once and for all done with Dreamhost at this point. One of our readers who does this web stuff for his real life job has kindly volunteered to move us to a new hosting company. That move will probably take place Monday and itself will likely result in some downtime. However, we have experience with Bluehost (the service we’re moving to) and have had no problems and good service from them, so we hope to have things sorted next week.

After that, we’re planning to work on more robust backups and some scheme to mirror the site elsewhere so we won’t be left dead in the water like this again.

So we’re nearing the end of our long nightmare. Thanks to everyone for hanging in there, your understanding, and everyone’s offers of help.

Greater City Providence

Promoting the smart urban growth of the Greater Providence region.


  • I concur – bluehost is the way to go. I tsupport full MySQL, PHP and WordPress plus plugins.

    I’ve never had an outage with them and if there was planned maintenance I’ve been notified well in advance. Plus my first exposure to them was their $4.99 a month plan, now $6.99 but well worth it. I prepay out 3 years at a time.

  • I have a couple other sites on Bluehost now. Also, I have a friend I do some web work for and I sent them a really amateur question about doing something, and they wrote back within the hour with a very reassuring message that what I was doing was right and to be sure to ask if I had any other questions. So, I like them.

  • Bad form deleting comments that aren’t offensive. I again point out, all 5 of those tweets listed in the article are Steve Peters. No Mimes Media is his transmedia company. Metacortechs, Webishades, and Mimes Academy are all trasmedia/arlternate reality games he produced, and he is tweeting “in character”. Great research guys.

  • Actually, we didn’t delete your post, we had to reinstall our database again as part of moving away from Dreamhost and we reinstalled it from a backup that was taken before your post. Great research troll.

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