I originally titled this post “24 hours to decide: Dedicated hosting instead of shared hosting?” but the more I have thought about this and discussed it with a few others, the more this situation seems like web hosting extortion.
When I first started podcasting several years ago, I admit I had some grandiose dreams of one day having a popular podcast and blog. Before I had much experience with podcast filesizes and download quotas from web hosting providers, I posted all my podcasts to The Internet Archive (for free) and had explored the possibility of paying for a LibSyn account just for hosting my podcast files, since their pricing is so reasonable for podcasters and offers unlimited bandwidth for accounts. Eventually I realized my monthly bandwidth quota from my hosting provider was REALLY big for my predominantly audio-only podcasts, and because I had technical problems (eventually) with the CCPublisher application which I used to streamline the uploading and meta-tagging process to the Internet Archive, I started at some point just publishing my podcasts to my own server. I also realized at some point that many schools block the archive.org domain, so from a content filtering / accessibility standpoint it was/is preferable to host my podcast files on my own server.
This morning when I got online, my browser showed a “403 Forbidden error” when I tried to access my blog site. I logged into my account with my current web host, Siteground, and saw I had some new trouble tickets. The most recent one stated that my account had been suspended for a “Server Resource Usage Violation.”
I have installed a new instance of Moodle this fall on the same server account where I have my blog, and that Moodle installation could be generating an additional server load on my account which is not related to my primary WordPress installation. One of the biggest problems with this situation is that my web host has literally pulled out a “CPU usage” graph out of the blue and said (I am paraphrasing here):
You have 24 hours to start paying us $179 per month for your website, or at a minimum $100 per month. We’ve deactivated your account to get your attention. Start paying.
To date, I’ve been paying about $90 per year for my hosting account with Siteground. I’ve been very pleased with them, especially relative to my previous webhost, and I don’t want to change. I am loathe to start paying almost $200 a month for my website, however! At $179 per month that is $2,148 per year. Compared to the $90 per year I’ve been paying, that is a 96% increase in charges. (If I’m doing my math right here.) Goodness gracious. This feels like extortion.
This is the CPU utilization graph my web host provided to me, to “prove” my account is utilizing more CPU cycles than a normal account. I asked to see the historical data on CPU utilization, and was told they have just been keeping this data for the past 2-3 months. I am asking again to see this historically presented to help troubleshoot if this is a new problem or something that has been ongoing for a long time.
This is my AWStats graph showing accesses to my blog and website in the past year:
My site does get a lot of hits, but it does not look like these accesses or the bandwidth used on my account has really spiked much recently.
This screenshot shows the amount my web host has recommended that I start paying per month immediately ($179) instead of my current $90 per year:
I do currently use a WordPress caching plug-in to take some of the pHp access load off my server, and I’ve used this for at least the past year. To help determine if the additional server load is being caused by hits to my Moodle site (which may indeed be insecure and not locked down as tightly as it should be) I used CPanel to password protect that directory on my website:
A friend of mine also recommended that I use a free program which will send my server log files through a parser, and let me readily identify what URLs or files are getting the most access and potentially causing problems. I haven’t found one to use yet but plan to do that soon.
At this point I am asking my web host to provide me with all the historical stats they have, even if it just goes back the past 2-3 months, on the CPU utilization of my site. I also am going to ask for direct access to CPU utilization stats, and a recommended way to compare those utilization stats to my server logs to find out where the high utilization is coming from.
$179 per month is a lot to pay. That would be a “new” used car payment. Certainly this would be something difficult to explain to my wife for our family budget.
If you have any other suggestions on courses of action I should pursue in this situation, I’d love to hear your ideas.
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If you're trying to listen to a podcast episode and it's not working, check this status page. (Wes is migrating his podcasts to Amazon S3 for hosting.) Remember to follow Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wesley's Facebook pages for "Speed of Creativity Learning" and his eBook, "Playing with Media." Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Mapping Media to the Common Core / Curriculum."
On this day..
- Tough Creative Love: The Why and How of Creative Action - 2012
- Breakthrough Thinking by Peter Diamandis - 2012
- Encouraging Creativity in Education through Community & Technology - 2012
- Leading a Culture of Innovation by Sir Ken Robinson - 2012
- Creating Oral History Interview Videos on an iPod Touch - 2011
- iPad Doorprizes, Clearly Announced Conference Recording Permissions, & Ustreaming #micon - 2010
- Carl Anderson on Learning and the Purpose of School (video) - 2010
- Controversial Anti-Abortion Education Campaign at UNT - 2010
- Utilizing Social Media (in schools and for citizen journalism) #collab21 - 2010
- Google Profiles, Online Reputation Management, and Digital Footprints - 2009