It’s no secret that Media Temple’s new Grid-Server hasn’t been anything less than a total nightmare for all using it. I posted numerous screenshots from time-to-time when my site would go down. If I had done that for every time it was offline, I probably would have run out of storage space on my Flickr account. 😛 In all seriousness, though… how long are people going to stick it out? As happy as I am with A Small Orange, I still have a couple others sites on my (mt) account and therefore still feeling the pain. I’ve simply been too busy lately to bother moving them all over, but I’m going to have to soon as it’s taking its toll on my sanity.

After posting my last screenshot just a few days ago, Mr. Tim Dorr (aka, The Big Orange at A Small Orange) dropped a comment. The wheels immediately started turning, so I tossed an email his way and we got to talking. I thought it would be great if we could someone help people out who are in this shitty situation. It’s a tough one, it really is. Media Temple has had such a glowing reputation for years, but this Grid-Server has been a total disaster. When I joined (mt) last year, I thought I would never have to move again. Unfortunately I was wrong and I really didn’t know where I was going to go when things never seemed to get better. I decided to try out A Small Orange as I had heard some great things regarding their customer support and recent track record.

It’s been a couple months now and things have been smooth as butter. Everything seems faster across the board, including email. My client would often hang looking up mail on the (mt) server, but nothing like that on ASO. When I launched Dashboard Themes on January 1, my post was Dugg almost instantly. I got in touch with ASO support to let them know they can might be in for a big hit if I were to make it to the frontpage. I heard back from Mack right away and he assured me he had a window open and would be monitoring the server I’m on for the rest of the evening to make sure nothing goes down. And sure enough, he did just that. We had a few emails bouncing back and fourth and things generally went smoothly. There was a short period (less than half an hour) where they had to “suspend” my account after other clients started complaining about performance issues. After Mack spoke with his manager and got my site back online, I asked what the policy is moving forward should this happen again. To which I was told they would do what they have to to mitigate the load to ensure they don’t have to take any sites offline. A little extra-extra love for the server in question and everyone’s happy.

That might sound sucky to some – having your site go down during such a crucial time. But honestly, things could have gone so much worse. The fact that I had someone I could reach through the entire evening who was monitoring the server and making the necessary adjustments was more than enough to let me relax and simply enjoy all the attention and watch things happen. Previously with other hosts, after putting in a support request at a critical moment, I would hear back days later with a generic “everything looks fine from here” email, which is a little more than infuriating. 😉

Anyway, back to the conversation I had with Tim. He’s well aware of the (mt) hurt and when I proposed helping those out that are going through their third consecutive month of constant down time and increasing wait periods for replies from customer support, he was all for it. If you use my referral link and sign-up with A Small Orange, they’ll throw in a free month of hosting. Not bad, right?

I hope this comes in useful for those who really need a break. And for those that are content with (mt) and willing to stick it out, good luck to you!

*Note: All of the A Small Orange/ASO links in this article are using my referral code, as well as the link in the footer. Simply click on one of those and proceed through the checkout.

37 Comments

Thanks for doing this Matt. While I am disgusted with (mt), I’m not ready to move yet. Things are slowly improving. This month I’ve only had one unscheduled downtime, and it was for less than an hour. There was another period of downtime, but that was to correct the problem which caused the first downtime, and was scheduled over night.

Technical support is also improving. I sent in a ticket the other night and got a response back within an hour. A month ago that would have been 8+ hours.

Finally, the infamous "MySQL Connection Error" issue appears to be being dealt with. From what it seems, they just don’t have enough servers operating on the MySQL section of the Grid, and they’re working on adding them.

While things aren’t perfect, I do feel a genuine improvement. Now if things don’t continue to improve I may start looking again, but for now I’m content.

(mt) was able to survive a Digg my site endured the other day, and as long as they can continue to do that as well as keep me up 99% of the time, I’ll be happy.

I’ve been with (mt) for a while, but I don’t think I’ll be switching anytime soon. As far as the hosting issues everyone is complaining of, I haven’t had one — something I attribute to the fact I’m not on the (gs) yet. I can’t stand their lack of support (my last support request from last week was answered three days after the fact with a generic response), but luckly I don’t have to contact them much. However, when my term expires with them, I’ll be moving to ASO. It’s good to know that their support is up to speed.

I for one am confused about all these complaints about (gs). I’ve been on (gs) for a few months now and have only experienced one downtime.

Am I missing something?

I’m also on (gs) and haven’t had cause to complain. My support questions are answered pretty quickly, I’ve not noticed any downtime, and aside from dropping FTP connections more frequently than I would like, I can’t really complain at all.

Has it just been downtime, Matt, that is the problem?

I’ve got no experience with (mt), and thanks to you I probably never will have as well ;). I’m now hosted at One.com and it seems fine from here.

By the way: What have you done to your beautiful site? I hope the Google Adsense spam is a test. I think it spoils the site’s design. I can even recall you not linking Adsense at all. Don’t get me wrong mate, I just think it’s ugly.

Well, you guys are the lucky ones I guess. Definitely not the same people who have been commenting on my screenshots on Flickr. 😛

I don’t want to get into a whole lot of detail as frankly, I’m completely sick of complaining about it. But I was experiencing outages on a daily basis – up to 4 or 5 times and normally lasting about half an hour each. For the most part, it was mysql related. In any case, whenever I heard from support about it, I received the same canned response. It got old real fast.

@Auke: You must have come to my site via a search engine as that’s the only time AdSense is displayed. Google me, did you? And you’re right, it’s ugly as shit, but I get a ton of traffic from search engines, so I’m trying to make a quick buck from those that don’t stick around.

I always see the ads as well, and I come from a feed reader. But it doesn’t particularly bother me.

Hope the move to a small orange helps you out.

Thanks Ben. I’ll try and fix that ASAP. Sorry about the ads for anyone using Google Reader – you’re definitely not supposed to see them.

@Ronald: Hehe, the project I’m on this week is hosted on the (gs) and it’s been slow as shit all morning. I had to talk myself out of posting a "go, look now, it sucks!" comment to all of you. The dropped FTP connections totally sucks too.

Hmm, I was just thinking, the people who say they haven’t had ANY issues with (gs), is your site MySQL-based or is it static pages? From what I understand it’s the MySQL portion of Grid which sucks ass, so that may explain why some people haven’t had issues.

It’s truly tragic how Media Temple dropped the ball with the grid server, especially considering how flawless their reputation was before and indeed their service.

I saw the downfall coming though as soon as the grid server switchovers began, accompanied with complaints of various types; combined with a general slowdown of all my PHP page load times, I decided to get out early. Glad I did as from reports it never did get much better, and sites hosted there remain nowhere near as snappy as they were before.

I’m now happily using the European Servage, who actually operate a venerable low-key clustering solution that’s pretty nice and have been around as a host for years. Most hosts beat Media Temple at this stage though, unfortunately.

This reminds me the comment scrivs made long back on ur blog.

Of course I have nothing but good things to say about MediaTemple, but that’s because not only am I the President of MediaTemple, I’m also a client. Wait, that doesn’t sound right…

ROFL

Good old A Small Orange, they’ve aways been the best for me. Never had and serious downtime and when I did they responded to support in a matter on minuites. ASO, we love you ^^.

Good call on the referral ideas too Matt.

@Ronald

The one outage I did recieve was due to SQL, but I’ve only had one to my knowledge, and yes a portion of my site does run off SQL

I might keep a closer eye to see if I’m missing outages though, but service has been fine for me.

Grr, my website is still slow. Not to mention (mt) has yet to acknowledge the ticket I sent in this morning.

Do I still get the 2 months free if I order a year of ASO using your referral? 🙂

No, my site is down this morning! I think I must have jinxed myself or something. Anyway, ASO here I come!

@Ronald: Ah, good question re: 2 months for signing up for a year + 1 month from me. I just emailed Tim to see if that would work. The bonus month is credited to your account once you make your first payment. So if you pay for a month, you get the second month for free. If you pay for a year, you’d get your bonus month after that term has ended. I’ll follow up on that when I hear back from Tim. 3 months free would be sweet!

And yeah, (mt) has been brutal since yesterday morning. I should have waited until a weekday to post this. 😉

Heard back from Tim already (I should have just waited to post that comment, heh) and yes, you would get 3 months free when it’s all said and done. Whoo!

I ordered already. Hoping to get my site switched over (excluding waiting for DNS) today. It’s my last day before my next semester starts, so I want to get this dealt with before I have to worry about other things.

Matt, I just finished moving my site. Was as painless as possible. Thanks once again for getting this setup.

Oh man…

How many times must it be said: "past performance does not neccessarily indicate future performance".

Your website is an investment in yourself. Clients invest in you when they pay you to plan and implement their websites. Treat yourself and your clients as shareholders: don’t disturb them and try before you you buy-in heavily.

This isn’t the first such page I’ve occasioned full of outcries over (mt)’s appetizing belly ache, but seeing the web properties involved, I am astounded!

Why on earth would you disturb the hosting of such valuable properties that require a highly available environment? and move them in the great unknown? Aren’t you admitting to being a bad admin?

Is it too much to (a) wait a few months for it to less than shiney new but proven to be fit? or (b) signup for a couple months, drop a set-it-and-forget open source LAMP application to test the waters, and eat the $20/mo cost as a research and development? or (c) setup some monitoring scripts to check for service availability (mysql and DNS). I know every time I my application can’t connect to Pair’s mysql due to network interference.

Yes, I have a (dv) for my domains and yes I have clients. For me and them I’d love to lower TCO, but I tested (mt) grid server with a domain I have no major commitments to… I saw the headaches (mt) was having but I did not have them.

If (mt) could have done better to beta for longer and with a wider audience, so too could have you, all of you… skip the simple steps and theirs nothing but problems afterwards.

– Indigo

I made the switch from MT to ASO back in November, shortly after whining about it in the comments here. I’ve never been happier with a host. I’m spending a tad more, but damned if I don’t still get more than what I’m paying for thanks to the support and hosting quality.

@Matt: I’m pretty darn sure I did not google you, since I’m a regular visitor of you site. However I’ve been using Google’s feed reader recently and added your feed. If I go to your site from there, it shows them ugly ads. And I totally agree on you making a quick buck from those that don’t stick around. If I may ask: Howmuch is that ton of traffic from search engines?

I think in the interest of full disclosure you should say what you are getting out of this deal if anything.

I’ve been running sites on MT for five years without issue. The GS has been a pain but all host wl flame out at one time or another the tech is too comlex and the myriad of potential failures to vast.

Small Orange will burn sooner or later and then they will fix it, it’s the nature of the beast, when GS is fully operational it will be a very powerful hosting solution for many small to medium operators. Even when the bugs are ironed out it will still tank from time to time.

All web services do, most of the time you don’t notice though!

peace

I see that (mt) just published a blog entry about their MySQL problems. They explained the situation, admitted many faults, talk about their solution, and apologized to those that experienced outages.

I experienced outages on several of my sites. Luckily, I wasn’t getting dugg at the time. 😉

http://www.mediatemple.net/weblog/2007/01/19/anat

Heh, I remember how ASO was created – a bunch of people on the Neowin forums clubbing together to rent a dedicated server. Don’t think any of us back then imagined it’d get this big.

Well, WP 2.1 isn’t compatable with (ss). I was looking at ASO’s plans to see if it would be worthwhile to switch, and I’m only just noticing how darned expensive they are. 🙁

My site’s on (gs) and is MySQL based, haven’t experienced any problems here.

To be honest this is the first time I’ve heard of anyone having problems with it, haha.

Hey, I saw you used A Small Orange and I checked them out and right around that time I needed a new server and I choose A Small Orange. So far I am really liking their service. Thanks for the tip.

Hi, i signed up for ASO yesterday using your referral link, and paid my first month, yet i see no mention of a free month anywhere on my invoice or in my account… Am i credited with that when the first *renewal* payment is paid? Or is this offer no longer valid? (In which case you should post an update here just for fairness…)

Btw, thanks for your post, i am a Dreamhost refugee and i was looking at MT as a possible alternative, but your and the many other similar reviews were really helpful in finding a more reliable host to try…

Thanks,

Kati

I fully agree with @Emma.

You really should disclose the wonderful kick back we all know you’ll be getting from ASO for this glowing article and however many referrals you get out of this.

I’ve been with ASO since the initial launch, and I agree that they are wonderful. That being said, a little disclosure/honesty on your part would be appreciated.

@xxdesmus: "The wonderful kick back" I get from this is the same as every other ASO customer would get – the monthly value of whatever service is purchased credited to my account. Where my referral code is different, is in new customers getting the free month of hosting.

Very tempted by ASO which seems the ideal solution – EXCEPT that their site says they dont provide night-time support, which we really need. Anyone had any experience with this issue?

Hey, I just purchased hosting plan at Small orange. I searched Google for refferal code and found this article.

I entered it-you should get some money 🙂

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