Why I Dumped Storm on Demand for Hosting

by | Building Websites

With the number of website hosting companies springing up all the time, one would think it would be simple to find one that takes care of its customers. Well, I found one, but I went through a horrible experience to realize it.

I put my largest website on Storm On Demand servers after the company was recommended by Pat Flynn. I trust and really like Pat, but this one particular recommendation didn’t go well for me–and that’s not his fault.

I have been working with Storm on Demand for about 2 months now. Transferring my wordpress sites over was simple and they offered to migrate my wordpress sites onto Storm on Demand for a reasonable fee.

While their migration services were reasonable, I found the price of their hosting to be quite high compared to other hosts I’d worked with; however, I was willing to pay the increased cost in hopes that their acclaimed customer support would be worth the money.

Immediately after switching, the site became sluggish. The sluggishness was more than half a second here or there when running speedtests. The slowness was readily apparent. I ignored the slowness for a few days in hopes that we could work the kinks out, but then things got worse.

I began receiving frequent automated emails from Storm On Demand saying that the server was found in an out of memory state and was rebooted. This was a bad sign, but I still had high hopes.

I called in to customer service at Storm on Demand by Liquid Web and a customer support person immediately answered the call, which I was thrilled with. He worked through my problem, made some Apache changes on the server, and said the problem should be fixed.

More server crashes–almost daily. I grew tired of the sluggish website performance and crashes, so I called in to support again and again. One support person reconfigured my caching settings, many of them made Apache changes, add more monitoring services to the server, etc.

This is when I became frustrated with Storm on Demand. I was paying around $250 per month and they couldn’t keep my site running fast and the server running reliably. Still, I loved that I could reach a customer support person instantly when I called.

I called many times, and started to get the run-around. The support person would answer the call, say they would make some changes and email me back, the support ticket would stay open for a few days and then I would get an email response that the ticket had been closed. “But wait!” I said to myself. They can’t close the ticket if the problem isn’t fixed! They did this a couple times which frustrated me even more.

Then, I released Confrontational Jim (he’s my evil twin and he appears on scene when Patient Jim has had enough!). I called in and asked to speak with a supervisor. The supervisor listened to my problem and passed me to a senior system admin at Storm on Demand.

The senior sysadmin looked at the site in depth and what had happened over the course of more than a month. He said that I simply needed a server with more RAM. This cost me an extra $100 per month, but I was relieved that it would fix the problem.

On May 29, 2012, the site went HAYWIRE! I had written a very popular blog post and the site went down immediately when the post was published. The server crashed repeatedly during the first hour and most people received errors that the site was out. I was missing out on huge traffic.

I went in to my dashboard on Storm On Demand and increased my server size to 32 gigabytes! That should be way too much ram for a site of my size. The dashboard informed me that I could do a “Quick Resize” during a period of high traffic to fix the problem, so I did it. The “quick” resize took several hours to complete and I received dozens and dozens of emails and comments from frustrated fans who couldn’t access my site.

So I’m dumping Storm On Demand and switching! The hosting company I now use for all of my large sites is Synthesis which is owend by the popular site Copyblogger.

Here’s why I love Synthesis:

(1) Where a 32 gigabyte server on Storm On Demand couldn’t even handle the traffic my sites get, a single shared 2 gigabyte server on Synthesis easily handles my traffic and never goes down.

(2) I wish that Synthesis offered phone support for emergencies and I would be happy to pay for it if they did; however, they are quite responsive to email support inquiries.

(3) They are obsessive about security. I had a Synthesis guy call me to resolve an issue that he proactively found.

(4) The price can’t be beat! For $147 per month, I get a server that runs several large websites with high traffic. The server is fully managed, and it never seems to go down. Excellent. I was paying hundreds of dollars more with Storm on Demand!

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