In our ongoing quest to improve the user experience of our visitors (i.e. YOU!) and to ensure the website will actually stay online during spike traffic, we started exploring the possibilities of moving the Mana Pool website to a new server. This proved to be a little more complex than we initially thought – but ultimately we got there.
Our “old” host: DreamHost
As many of our regular visitors know, we’ve been having some minor issues lately with DreamHost. Still, we’re pretty happy with them and they’re doing a fantastic job for the vast majority of the websites we host with them. DreamHost is one of the most reliable choices in the budget hosting market – so if you’re looking for something affordable where you can host as many websites/domains as you would like under 1 account – we highly recommend them. We have had some forums and sites running with them since 2006, which receive in excess of quarter of a million page views a month and this hasn’t proven to be a problem at all.
Mana Pool however, is quickly outgrowing the shared hosting environment. The site has been showing a significant growth since its launch in early September, with visitor numbers increasing exponentially. We know the site isn’t perfect, and that’s exactly why we’re working so hard on making improvements where we can!
Since we don’t want to end up in a situation where a single Reddit or Digg spike could set our shared hosting on fire and throw ALL our hosting down, we’ve decided to move Mana Pool to a server of its own. The plus side of this should be that things will become a lot faster the coming 2 weeks, as we can implement a lot more tweaks and customisation!
Our solution: GigaTux
One of the major concerns we have, as an independent review website, is cost. However, we are even more concerned with speed & reliability so we had a pretty challenging task ahead of us: to find a host which isn’t just fast, reliable and provides a great service – but one which is also affordable! That combination is pretty tricky to find in the hosting industry, especially if you want a decent server specification on top of that.
We approached a couple of well-known hosting brands, the market leaders in the industry but were thoroughly unimpressed by their support and general response level. They ranged from unprofessional to incredibly overpriced to offering virtually no support when things go wrong. One even outright told us that if we would get too many visitors they would switch us off rather than work with us to reduce resource load. (Or upgrade the server…)
Long story short – this all changed when we met the owner of PositiveVPS. They’re a relatively small company which branched out to offer VPS hosting, so they’re still trying to carve a place for themselves in the industry. Obviously, working together with a smaller company like PositiveVPS has its risks – but it also comes with several large advantages:
- PositiveVPS have given us a very personal, direct service and assisted in setting up the server and getting things up and running.
- When the first server install was slightly sluggish, PositiveVPS responded immediately, analysed the problem and provided a solution.
- We have direct contact with the owner for support and emergencies.
- Recognising our need and situation, they provided us with a tailored server / quote which fits us perfectly and has *everything* we were looking for.
We did have a few hiccups and a slight issue with communication due to different timezones, but less than two weeks after we completed the migration, PositiveVPS was taken over by GigaTux. GigaTux contacted us to let us know of the new ownership and were happy to continue the relationship under the same terms.
The advantage of this change was that GigaTux is a little more established and based in the UK – eliminating all communication issues in one fell swoop. They’ve moved us to a more secure server environment and worked with us to ensure the performance of the site is exactly as you would expect and desire.
If you’re outgrowing your shared hosting or are otherwise considering a VPS to host your websites, we would strongly recommend you take a look at GigaTux – their service is great and their prices are very competitive. With the acquisition of PositiveVPS, GigaTux is branching out in the US so you can get a server in the best location for your target audience.
We’re very happy to have GigaTux on-board as our hosting partner!