Shared Hosting

While working on the site for The Recorder (Central’s newspaper) I’ve had to deal with what we were going to do for hosting. CCSU currently runs all club websites on a Microsoft IIS server. There isn’t even database access so we’re left with either static pages or crazy ASP flat file systems. Neither of these was what The Recorder wanted. Their current system was ASP and seemed as if it was on the brink of collapse.

After a quick check of prices we came down to GoDaddy. I use GoDaddy for all my domain names, but I never thought of having sites hosted there. None of my personal projects were “mission critical” so I thank ZoomCities for hosting them for free on a fast VPS. I can’t put a major site on a free hosting provider though. I wasn’t involved in budget discussions, but they settled on the 24 month Unlimited plan. It’s $13.49/month or $323.76 for the whole shebang. Obviously there are limitations to that. There are physical hardware limitations, but one thing I can’t get over is the speed.

Since it is an “Unlimited” plan I bet a lot of people host a lot of illegal files and are sucking the bandwidth of the shared server, but it seems overly ridiculous. Look at these statistics that compare ping time with my site (dweitz.net) and the recorder site.

--- dweitz.net ping statistics ---
10 packets transmitted, 10 packets received, 0% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 15.594/17.816/20.278/1.380 ms

--- therecorderonline.net ping statistics ---
10 packets transmitted, 10 packets received, 0% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 97.226/98.067/101.293/1.112 ms

I haven’t forgotten about speed of light differences though. GoDaddy’s servers are in Scottsdale, AZ while the server I have my site hosted on is in Ashburn, VA. Those two sites are about 2,203 miles apart from each other. The speed of light is 186,000 miles/second. So that means data can travel at a theoretical limit of 186 miles per millisecond. So every 186 miles we can add 1ms difference and not fault the server. For 2,203 miles that would be a difference of 11.8ms. So for round-trip that would be 23.6ms added. So if that GoDaddy server was in Ashburn the response time would be in the area of 73.626ms round-trip minimum. That’s a difference of 58.032ms between the two. Even if you slow down the routes between here and GoDaddy it wouldn’t be enough to bridge that 58ms gap.

I can’t blame GoDaddy though. A lot of service providers oversell their shared hosting. 1&1, Bluehost, and Dreamhost just to name a few. If you want to go to a dedicated virtual server it starts at $50/month most places and that’s a basic package. You get a lot more value add with a shared hosting package. Most people are going to be stuck with shared hosting still though, unless you have enough advertising or a massive budget to pay for dedicated hardware.

I hope I get FiOS in my area soon so I can build a server and run it from my house just for the heck of it. Having a server in my kitchen was one of my childhood dreams. I had messed up dreams as a kid.

(PS: First Post of 2009, w00t!)

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