Why I left Lunarpages

It seems that whole world has conspired against me during this last week of March. My personal and offline life has turned upside down and it seemed that was not enough, the misfortune and suffering had also spilled into my online engagements.

How it started

In the midst of an all-time low point in my blogging stint, my previous web host, Lunarpages.com suspended/moved this blog into one of their stabilization servers because it was using up too much system resources. Not because one of my posts had tasted the Digg effect or has been StumbledUpon or promoted to the front page of Del.icio.us nor have my site traffic has suddenly increased 5x, but because of some scripts or plugin with poor coding.

At first thought I had the following scenarios in mind that could’ve caused this problem:

  • My site was hacked and a malicious script was implanted for an attack on other websites or massive spamming campaign
  • The database was ‘poisoned’ with queries that used up too much server resources
  • A plugin has gone berserk and started to screw things up from under the hood

Much to my bewilderment, the support team told me that the culprit was the nimble WP core index.php file! o_0

They were also generous enough to immediately offer the following solutions, of which I will quote directly from their support email:

You have the following options: 1. You may upgrade your package to the VPS Plan. The VPS Plan is a larger package designed for current customers who have outgrown our shared hosting packages. For more information on the features and pricing, please see http://www.lunarpages.com/virtual-private-server/
2. You may upgrade your package to our Dedicated hosting plan. For more information on the features and pricing, please see http://www.lpdedicated.com/servers/linux.php
3. You may take steps to correct the problem.

Instead of making matters clear, it added more questions in my mind, how could I’ve ‘outgrown’ their shared hosting package with unlimited disk space and bandwidth when my blog’s traffic was already at all-time low levels days before it was suspended?

My site traffic for March 2009 via StatCounter.com
My site traffic for March 2009 via StatCounter.com

I wasn’t even told of what’s wrong with the index.php file and so being a non-web programmer or WP code guru, how could I “take steps to correct the problem”? A search via Google and in the WordPress support forums yielded no useful results.

At that time, I gave them benefit of the doubt because after all, I’ve been hosted with them for the past 11 months and this is the first major issue I had with them. So I diligently followed their advice and took the following mitigation steps:

  1. Double-checked the integrity of the WP core files, I was using WP 2.7.1
  2. Removed the unused/deactivated plugins from the server
  3. Installed and implemented a cache using the WP SuperCache plugin

After all of that, they still report that my site was using too much resources and in addition to blaming the index.php file, they added the WP-PostViews plugin to the list of suspects.

Upon checking out the plugin author’s support forums, there was a thread where the exact same issue of the plugin allegedly causing excessive server load was discussed and something he said aroused a suspicion I paid little attention to in the beginning;

That has nothing to do with wp-postviews, but I would say time to change your host. They are basically squeezing thousand over sites into 1 server and overselling

Add to that the fact that I’ve never had issues with the WP-PostViews plugin in all the 2+yrs I’ve used it. Most of my blogger friends use it too and are not having trouble with it.

Looking back at the first set of solutions the support team of Lunarpages.com suggested to me, actually fixing the problem was the last amongst the choices, giving the impression that was the least of their preferred method of addressing this issue.

The first two choices, both involved me the poor customer paying up more money while they simply move me up to a new hosting package in the hope that is will make the problem go away and making more profits.

From this I could think of three possible conclusions:

  1. They’re starting to feel the recession and thus have to oversell
  2. Little customers like myself are at the least of their concerns
  3. They lack the competency or expertise to efficiently host WordPress-powered sites and fix them in case of problems

Which is sad really, for I have enjoyed my stay with Lunarpages.com up until this problem arose. The slow response time and roll-of-the-dice, DIY solutions they offered gave me the feeling that they were just waiting for me to give up and sign up for their VPS or Dedicated hosting plans. But I would have none of it.

So before even the support team replied, I was already on the lookout for a new web host, one that would have better support, more know-how with hosting WordPress and not burn a hole in my wallet!

But that would be for part two of this tale as I’ve taken too much of your time already. Thanks for reading this far and I hope to see you again tomorrow!

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