The dialog with my current webhost, Siteground, which I explained in my Thursday post “Is this web hosting extortion?” continues today. As you can see from this screenshot of the Siteground hosting features, NO WHERE are limits on CPU cycles or server executions mentioned:

Shared hosting terms do not address CPU utilization or execution

I requested that Siteground technical support provide me with historical data indicating if my website CPU/execution statistics have spiked recently or been consistently high. Thursday’s email I received from them indicated I had exceeded defined limits (it was classifed as “abuse” of my hosting contract) and I asked for evidence/proof. They responded by sending the following graph, which has the X-axis labels obscured making it impossible to determine the date/time range and interpret the graph:

Graph allegedly showing CPU usage Sep - Nov on Siteground

This is the full message I received from their tech support, dated yesterday (Fri Nov 14) in the morning:

2 days to optimize website or start paying 12+ times more per month

This was my reply today. Hopefully they will give me the 30 days I’ve requested to explore options. At a minimum, they are demanding that I pay $100 per month for my hosted website instead of $90 annually. They have given me until Monday to decide. Again as I wrote previously, this feels like extortion, particularly when they are not able to provide me with a web-based interface to monitor the CPU usage and execution stats for my site which they allege I am exceeding, and have not to date EVEN DEFINED WITH SPECIFICITY what those CPU usage and execution limits are, or if those are part of my hosting contract.

In a comment to my original post, D Nstone referenced this post from Andreas Viklund where he ran into a similar situation with Siteground about two years ago. Yuk. This “tastes bad” to me and is certainly stressful, since my blog is very important to me and having my ISP take my site offline and demand I immediately start paying them more than ten times my current hosting fee, when these issues have not been previously documented or communicated to me before last Thursday, doesn’t seem reasonable and certainly isn’t fun to work through.

Here’s my message today back to Siteground technical support:

[TO SITEGROUND TECHNICAL SUPPORT]:

I certainly appreciate you providing me with 3 days instead of just 24 hours to work on my site and determine what I am going to do. As I will explain below, however, this is a MAJOR price difference in yearly/monthly costs. I am requesting 30 days to optimize my site, research my options, and either choose to pay for one of the higher cost hosting options available from Siteground or move my site to another hosting provider. Please let me know if you are agreeable to do this.

At the outset I must say, however, this approach by Siteground of springing CPU cycle graphs on me out of the blue when this is NOT something you provide a way for me to dynamically monitor as a customer – and when this is NOT something I have been warned about previously although my page accesses / site popularity has been even higher in the past year than it has been in the past month– strikes me as an underhanded and deceptive sales practice which feels like extortion. It is as if someone at Siteground just noticed that my site is getting a lot of hits at said, “Hey, let’s force this guy to start paying at least 10 times more per month for his hosting than he is now. We’ll get his attention by deactivating his site 48 hours after we send him an email about this.”

I do appreciate the fact we are having a dialog about this, and as I have said consistently, I am not averse to paying more per month for my hosting costs. I do recognize that my website receives a lot of page accesses. I am objecting primarily to three different things which you have done:

1- Not provided me with a dynamic way to monitor CPU usage of my site, like the web-based interface you provide for me to monitor monthly bandwidth and total storage on my site.
2- Not provided me with a reasonable amount of time to research my options and decide whether to start paying you more than 10 times my current hosting costs per month, or move my site to another host.
3- Not provided notice on your advertised terms for shared hosting sites that CPU and execution limits are imposed which:
A: Are not trackable / monitorable directly by customers
B: May guarantee anyone with a popular website will not be able use this shared hosting option
C: Has vague and ambiguous terms which are not specifically defined, making it difficult for customers to ascertain the validity of Siteground claims that contractually-agreed upon CPU usage/execution limits have been exceeded.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wfryer/3031835543/

The graph which you provided me yesterday from 13Sept – 14 Nov does show my account username at the top, but the dates on the graph have been obscured / are not readable so there is no way for me to confirm this date range.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wfryer/3032662526/

Again, I have asked for a dynamic, web-based way to monitor my website CPU utilization and executions. The two monthly limits which you advertise for shared hosting accounts are:
1- Monthly bandwidth
2- Total storage space available

Both of those items can be dynamically monitored online in my customer account area. There is NOT a way for me to monitor CPU utilization and executions, however. I have requested this access / ability and appreciate you have sent me another graph– but with all the dates on the x-axis obscured there is no way I can read the graph. Why are the dates on the x-axis if this graph obscured? If this shows statistics for my website from Sep – Nov, as you claim, I do not understand why you would obscure the date/time labels on this graph.

It addition, it is not clear to me where in my contract with Siteground I agreed to a limit on the number of CPU cycles and executions my website is permitted to consume on the shared hosting site. I have asked for this clarification in previous emails, and you have been unresponsive to this request.

In summary, I am asking you:

1- For 30 days to optimize my site and research my options for what I should do.
2- For direct access to monitor my site’s CPU utilization and execution statistics on the server.
3- For documentation of my site’s historical CPU utilization/execution statistics on a graph which does not have the X-axis labels obscured/covered up, so the graph can actually be read/interpreted.
4- For clarification about where contractual terms for CPU utilization/execution limits on my website have been spelled out for me, and what those terms specifically are.

Again I want to thank you for providing me with additional time to keep my site up and fully functional. I hope to continue my relationship with Siteground as a customer. Since moving my website and other sites to Siteground from POWWEB many months ago (in the summer of 2007, as I recall) I have been VERY happy and have been a big advocate for Siteground in recommending you as a web host to others. I hope I will be able to continue as as happy and satisfied customer as I determine with your assistance the best course of action for me to take given the access statistics for my site.

Wes

As I indicated previously, if you have other thoughts / ideas / suggestions I’d love to hear them.

In addition to my time extension I’m most interested to learn what the specific contractual details are of the shared hosting account CPU usage / execution limits.

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  • Jim Cottrell

    I read the reviews at this site: http://www.sitegroundreviews.com/ . It seems that others have had similar experiences to yours. Others have also felt that the features advertised are not what the company really offers or at least the company omits important limitations of the services offered.. One can surmise or infer an interesting business model based on happiness vs. amount of hosting needs. Siteground my not have the desire, capacity or expertise to host just anyone that signs up with them.

  • http://teacherlab.net Steve Bullock

    Hi Wesley,

    Looking at the previously posted graphs from sitegrounds it looks like the obscured x-axis is due to the labelling – all the times are squashed up together. A long timespan on the axis means that there are so many labels it’s unreadable. Not an excuse for them, just a comment that they’re probably not trying to be evil (in that way, at least).

    I’ve been using Dreamhost for a while for personal, low-usage sites and backup. They offer ridiculously high disk space and bandwidth, but are very up-front about their limitations. They also let you switch between shared and VPS very easily.

    http://www.dreamhost.com/unlimited.html
    http://blog.dreamhost.com/2006/05/18/the-truth-about-overselling/

    Hope this helps
    Steve

  • Joe

    1st, congrats on getting that kind of volume. Unfortunately, what your hosting provider is doing is pretty normal for the industry. All shared hosting providers drop their top 2% of customers and make money on the bottom 50% that never do anything. The next step option is probably a VPS service. You will be charged for CPU, Memory and Bandwidth. Prices start at $20 a month. A couple I have used are linode and rapidvps, but there are tons of them out there. Good luck

  • http://www.downes.ca Stephen Downes

    If it’s any consolation, I’ve been paying $120 a month for a dedicated server for the last couple of years. Once a website reaches a certain level of traffic, it is not reasonable to place it on a shared server. This is especially the case if it involves applications such as WordPress, Drupal, etc.

  • hello

    i  am also having the same problem with them

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