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Lessons Learned: Switching Internet Hosting Providers

Painful as it was, we have completed the move of Nerd Vittles to BlueHost with new links for RSS and Atom feeds. Everything is once again perfect in paradise. Right! For those that are contemplating a blogging career, here’s some advice. Don’t! But if you must, quit your day job! Since we don’t have a 9-to-5 job (other than Honey Do’s, of course), this wasn’t a problem for the Nerd Vittles’ staff of one. There were some lessons learned though. And we thought it might be good to share a few of them just in case anyone else ever gets the itch to contribute something to the public good.

Lesson #1: Think First, Then Build. When you create your blog or any other web site for that matter, build it on the assumption that it’ll be moving somewhere else soon. Stated another way, be sure you have complete access to and control over all of the components that make up your blog. If it’s in a proprietary format (ours wasn’t, thankfully), you’re stuck with no control over escalating costs and really very few options. And don’t do anything stupid like hard-coding web links and images in your articles that may not work when you change the domain of your blog. We’ve still got a few weeks of cleanup to go so hang in there with us as we put Humpty back together again.

Whenever anyone tells me what a great deal Google Mail is for email with 2 gigs of storage for free, I always have a little private chuckle wondering what will happen the day that Google decides a better business strategy might be to start charging for stuff. Just think of the revenue stream that $10 a month per account would bring in. Now think of $20, $30, you name it. There’s a reason that open source is a good thing besides being free. It gives you technology independence. Look at all the poor folks running Windows XP that are totally dependent upon Microsoft. And now Microsoft wants to get in the antivirus and anti-AdWare business. Gee, that’s a shocker! The people in those businesses might want to talk to the WordPerfect folks to find out how much fun lies ahead competing head on with the company that totally controls the operating system under which your application must run. But, remember, Bill has spoken. Windows updates will always be free. Heh heh!

Lesson #2: If It Sounds Too Good To Be True. Yep, always remember the old saying that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Particularly with Internet Hosting Providers, the competition is unbelievable. Makes you wish you could see a little of that in the petroleum industry, doesn’t it? We’re pretty good at scouring the Internet for good pricing, but there’s a big catch to great pricing. Most of them don’t really mean it. Unlimited bandwidth: don’t ever believe it. As soon as you start using it like it was, you’ll get the boot. Too-Good-To-Be-True bandwidth: ditto. When you find providers that are offering more bandwidth than you could ever possibly use, don’t get the warm and fuzzies. If you start actually using all the bandwidth you’re paying for, expect "issues." Simply put, some hosting providers are a bit like the banker in Mark Twain’s old adage: "A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain."

Having been on both sides of the ISP and IHP support fence, I’m sympathetic to the nightmares of being a provider in today’s technology world. There are lots of abusers out there just looking for a free ride and an opportunity to trash any system they can get their hands on. But we at least like to think we’re different. We run a blog that actually helps people with technology, and it doesn’t cost users anything … other than an occasional whine for a donation. Anyway, you get the idea. This is business from the host provider’s perspective, plain and simple.

The bottom line goes something like this. An Internet hosting provider buys a $2000 server and expects to house 200-400 people’s accounts on that box. When you start using that server’s resources like you own the place, your days are numbered. This isn’t necessarily a bandwidth issue, but the two are certainly related. If your site is consuming 100+ gigs of bandwidth a month, you’re not going to make a lot of friends with your 399 co-tenants unless they each happen to have a two-page web site with family pictures. And, when they bitch to the hosting provider, guess who becomes the expendable commodity in this financial equation.

Lesson #3: Don’t Mix Business and Personal Sites. Tempting as it may be to keep all your eggs in one basket, DON’T! We learned this one the hard way. When the friction begins over the business site, your personal stuff is also at risk. That means your email and, more importantly, the email of the Little Mrs. and the kids is in jeopardy. It’s one thing for your non-revenue-generating business site to go down for a day or two. Your family doesn’t really mind that. It’s quite another if access to all their personal stuff gets cut off. So, to put it in crystal-clear perspective for you, mundy.org/blog is no more… except for a few redirectors. It’s nerdvittles.com now. We’re still on speaking terms with our old provider, and the new provider is delighted to have us as a customer including generous ad support for our site. That’s a WIN, WIN in our book!

Lesson #4: Expect the Worst. Ah, yes, life’s other little lesson: "When It Rains, It Pours." Just be prepared to suck it up and weather the storm once it begins. Here’s life’s guarantee. It won’t just be moving your blog that’s a problem. It’ll be a few other personal things rolled in for good measure. You can dream these up yourself, but expect some of them to happen. And, of course, you can always count on a new version of Asterisk@Home hitting the street during the move. And it has. We’ll get on it shortly with our good sense of humor restored … assuming the pioneers don’t discover too many new problems here and here.

Want More Projects? For a complete catalog of all our previous Asterisk® projects, click here. For the most recent articles, click here and just scroll down the page. Get your Headline News the easy way: Planet Asterisk, Planet Gadget, Planet Mac, and Planet Daily. Quick read, no fluff.

Got a PDA or Web-Enabled Smartphone? Check out our new PDAweather.org site and get the latest weather updates and forecasts from the National Weather Service perfectly formatted for quick download and display on your favorite web-enabled PDA, cellphone, or Internet Tablet. And, of course, it’s FREE!

Who Is This Guy? Ward Mundy, the author of this Asterisk@Home series of articles, is a retired attorney who spent more than 30 years providing legal and technology assistance to the federal courts in the United States. Today he serves as a principal in Ward Mundy & Associates, a technology consulting firm in Atlanta, Georgia.


  1. Hi, Like me I think thousands must have benifitted from your asterisk tutorials. I am eagerly waiting for your article about interconnecting multiple asterisk servers. When will it come out.

    [WM: Sooooooon.]

  2. Glad to see you are back up and running! I was going through some of your ISP-In-A-Box guides this weekend, and thought maybe they had gone away.

    A question about your hosting move, if you don’t mind: I noticed that one of your earlier web hosting recommendations was WestNIC.net, and much of the current advertisement on your site is for bluehost. Did you switch from one of these two the other, or are you using another host entirely? I am curious to know what hosting company and option you have chose for your own needs.


  3. Whoops! I reread the post and realized that you state right in the beginning that you are now using bluehost. Reasons for the switch? Recommendations on web hosts now?

    Thanks again!

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