The online home for Greg Leedberg, since 1995.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Major site changes

Friday was a major day in the history of Leedberg.com. For just the third time in the 10 years this site has existed, I've changed webhosts. Previously this site was hosted by Yahoo! Web Hosting, and as of Friday, it is now hosted with DreamHost.

There were several reasons for this move. For one, I've been thinking for quite a while to move away from Yahoo. I started looking for new hosts as early as 2 years ago. Yahoo is a bit overpriced, in my opinion -- $15 a month. Which doesn't sound like a lot, but you don't get much for it. Just 100MB of disk space, no scripting languages (other than the horrible, horrible Miva), a lackluster webmail interface, a lackluster site control panel, no databases, no visibility to the customer as far as upgrades and new features go (if there in fact were any), no 24/7 toll-free help line, and on and on. Really just a very basic service.

DreamHost, on the other hand, costs just $8 a month, and you get a whole lot more. 2.4GB of disk space, 600 email accounts, every major scripting language (including my favorites, PHP and Perl!), MySQL databases, a great webmail interface (SquirrelMail), a great control panel for the site, and what seems to be a good attitude towards keeping customers "in the loop" when changes occur.

It wasn't just the comparison of features and price, I had other issues with Yahoo as well, which came to a head recently. Namely, sending mail through Yahoo's SMTP servers does not work if you check your mail using IMAP (it can be fixed, but the fix is far from straightforward, and definitely not sensible). Now, that alone isn't a huge issue, maybe. Except, that it was because of this that I discovered that Yahoo's customer service is horrible.

Now, I have a fair amount of computer and networking experience. So, when I first discovered that SMTP did not work reliably by Yahoo, I did some diagnostics and try and figure out what the problem was. I was able to determine that the problem did indeed lie with Yahoo's SMTP servers, as I was able to use several other SMTP servers just fine (both ones within my ISP's network and some outside of it).

When I emailed Yahoo about the problem, and detailed what I did to narrow it down, I got a response saying that many ISPs block outgoing SMTP and that that was probably it. I responded by saying that I knew for a fact that that was not it, and re-iterated how I had determined this (namely, I can access several other SMTP servers that are outside of my ISP!). They said they would put some people on the problem and try and figure it out.

About 2 weeks later, I get an email. "It must be your ISP." Argh! I was so angry that I sat down for 2 hours and figured out the (convoluted!) solution. I emailed my solution to Yahoo... partly to prove that, no, my ISP is NOT blocking access because I CAN access your SMTP server under some strange circumstances, and also because if someone else has this problem, I would feel better if Yahoo was able to offer a solution.

But in the end, I was so frustrated by the situation (namely, that Yahoo didn't seem concerned about my problem at all), and knew that there were better options, that I decided to switch to DreamHost.

Now, switching webhosts is no small task, especially when email accounts are involved. But, everything seems to have switched over fine. I switched to the PhpBB forum system at the same time, since DreamHost supports PHP and MySQL. So far, I am really impressed with DreamHost. I highly recommend them if anyone is looking for a webhost.

This came off almost like an advertisement for DreamHost, but hey, this is what I've been spending the last few days doing :)

Also, I start my job at Raytheon tomorrow. Wish me luck! I'm really excited to find out just what I'm going to be doing and who I will be working with.

Also, just to make a long post a little longer: the new forum is, of course, empty right now. So, post some messages in there! Talk about what ever you want! Please!