M6.Net was cheap and feature rich. Unfortunately, it was so unreliable I was forced back to Bluehost.com

After 2 years of hosting with M6.net, I simply could not handle the amount of downtime and subsequent tickets I had to submit in order to get service running again.

I was originally drawn to their feature laden .net hosting plans, and after a few months on their cheapest $3 or so plan, I upgraded to their $7 plan so I could host this site, and several low volume sites for my wife’s clients.  There were long periods of time back in 2010 and 2011 when I would go for months without an outage.  (as an fyi, I’ve been happily using uptimerobot.com to automatically monitor the site).

Sometime in 2012 they started crashing monthly, then weekly, and at times daily.  I had to tell support I was going to leave if they cant tell me why I need to keep submitting tickets to reset the sites daily.  The response was that Cpanel was the culprit and they could move me to a new server using websitepanel.  I jumped at the chance.. and heard nothing until one day that decided to migrate me, and broke every !@!# wordpress installation.  Now I’m a software dev manager… after MANY mails to support – the ‘wtf did you do?’ kind..  I decided fix it myself.  So, I set up a new default wordpress install and looked at the default values in the wp.config file to get the new server names, IPs, set proper folder security.  How many regular consumers do you think could handle that themselves?  I pictured people tearing their hair out waiting 3 days for a reply.. man.. hope none of you guys went through that.

The experience was less than impressive…  nevertheless I thought let’s give the new server a chance..   Again fine for  a few months, then the monthly… weekly… daily crashes came.  Only this time the previously very helpful (offshore) support staff would start to say ‘the site appears up’.  Bullshit, I would send screenshots, and meanwhile uptimerobot is filling my mailboxes for notifications on 7 down sites.  I created a subfolder to STORE all of the emails over the last year (screenshot below).  So I just gave up, and went back to Bluehost.  Not my favorite place in the world, but there’s something to be said for running wordpress on LAMP, and with people who do it for a business.  M6.net, gives you a ton of features, especially in the asp.net/SQL realm.. but PHP is running on IIS (windows servers) and it’s just inherently not as stable..  furthermore all their MySQL databases were running localhost on the IIS servers..  Again, tons of features, but just not reliable at all for what I was doing.

So here I am, on Bluehost.com with 5 of those sites, some 5 months later.. and not one downtime.  Im happy.. I have my life back, they have my $7 a month (well $5, I had a promo coupon).  I don’t have Asp.net, or SQL server….but I do have a dev server in my basement that has those.  In hindsight, I think M6 is probably best used as a dev environment, in that there are so many features and technologies they provide, and you don’t have to worry so much about uptime on a dev box.

Here’s just a tiny sample of the downtime issues I had with M6.Netuptime 1 uptime 2

 

 

No longer using Somee.com’s free web hosting, but it wasn’t so bad.

So, I signed up for a plan on m6.net that allows me to host 12 different sites for $7.75 a month.  Everything from one host? much easier for me, and a good price too.

So, Somee.com’s free service was ok, the biggest thing I didn’t like was their banner ads enforced on the top of the page.  Other than that there was uptime that constantly hovered around 92%, something I probably could’ve achieved hosting at home on a Virtual Machine server, or an old desktop.    

The other odd thing was the fact that they will shut off your site if the average of all the files in your webroot is over 150kb per file.  Add a few movies or pdfs, and yolu’re pretty much not going to stay live on their free site long.

BUT – AS ALWAYS – any free web hosting service is a great thing, and Somee.com was ok if you can live in with those 3 drawbacks.

 

The 150kb policy email:

 

"The service: website mojobudgie.somee.com,
Has been disabled for the following reason: Website's average, per 
request bandwidth have exceeded a limit that is set for the website 
hosted with a free hosting package! Although we do not limit the file 
size that can be uploaded or downloaded from your website, we set a 
limit of 150KByte on average file size that can be downloaded from the 
website hosted with free package. The average is calculated every 
several hours for all files together, including *.html, *.asp, *.aspx,  
*.jpg, *.png, *.gif, *.mpg and other text and media files. Your website 
is scheduled to start again in about 12 hours, or you can start it 
manually  from our control panel any time. But if you will not take 
actions to decrease the average file size that is sent from your website
 it will be stopped again and you are allowed to start it 5 times only. 
You can also switch to any another hosting package where such 
maintenance is not performed.! "

 

 

A sampling of the uptime graph

 

www.mojobudgie.com
----------------------------------------------------------------------
date          uptime       dns   connect   request      ttfb      ttlb

2010-10-22     98.97     0.159     0.206     0.206     3.087     3.090
2010-10-21    100.00     0.279     0.326     0.326     3.083     3.087
2010-10-20     94.95     0.104     0.333     0.333     3.442     3.443
2010-10-19     94.95     0.155     0.417     0.417     3.142     3.146
2010-10-18     95.88     0.062     0.263     0.263     3.222     3.224
2010-10-17    100.00     0.116     0.164     0.164     2.982     2.986
2010-10-16     49.48     0.155     0.202     0.202     1.675     1.677
2010-10-15     95.92     0.050     0.131     0.131     3.330     3.382
2010-10-14     94.95     0.045     0.121     0.121     3.375     3.378
2010-10-13     98.96     0.115     0.288     0.288     2.863     2.865
2010-10-12     95.92     0.111     0.279     0.279     2.780     2.784
2010-10-11     77.00     0.432     0.601     0.601     2.772     2.775
2010-10-10     95.96     0.036     0.205     0.205     3.039     3.042
2010-10-09     96.94     0.100     0.302     0.302     3.037     3.097
----------------------------------------------------------------------
minimum        49.48     0.036     0.121     0.121     1.675     1.677
maximum       100.00     0.432     0.601     0.601     3.442     3.443
average        92.13     0.137     0.274     0.274     2.988     2.998

 

BlogEngine.net and Somee.com’s free ASP.Net 4, MSSQL 2008 hosting

After months of being too busy, I got a chance to rehost the blog.  This time I’m trying out a free ASP.net & Microsoft SQL Server hosting service from Somee.com.  I also switched from the XML powered version of BlogEngine.net to use a SQL server backend.  I needed to do a find and replace, removing all [dbo]. and GO references in the installation script, however, after that the BlogEngine setup SQL worked flawlesly and within a few moments I had a partially working site.

the hosting specs;

when you setup your Somee account you choose the .Net flavor you want 2, 3.5 or 4

  • you can also choose MS SQL2005, or 2008R2.  Both are Express editions (a big reason I dont want to use Brinkster.com, as they only allow Access databases)
  • you get 150mb of storage space
  • you get 15mb of SQL data storage, and 20mb of SQL log storage
  • you get a FTP login (another big reason I dont want to use Brinkster.com)
  • you can host on your own domain (again, Brinkster only allows subdomain hosting)
  • they do place a banner of ads at the top
  • and a link back to somee.com down the bottom.  (Though Brinkster has no ads, so far I’m ok with it)

The site management tool is basic and as a free customer you only have a few things you can do; custom errors, report on storage space, setup SQL login, backup your databases, do restores… things like this.
You cant set granular file permissions or create pw protected directories.

Still getting a few odd errors saving certain types of data into BE’s tinyMCE editor windows now and then. will work it out and post the fix.

M6.Net review, and “to self host or not to self host”

“Hi – I saw your blog posting about WinHost and M6. I’ve been running my own web server for more than a couple of years but costs of hardward and bandwidth are (as you say) forcing me to frugally review my arrangements – I wanted to know your thoughts on M6.net now that you’ve been with them a few months. Thanks – I look forward to hearing from you”

This was a question I got a couple days ago from a reader, thought I’d share the response with all.

So, yea, this site is hosted on M6.net – on their basic plan and at their cheapest rate.  At the time I signed up I took a chance and bought the 2 year contract (which is VERY uncharacteristic of me, as I like to sample many hosting co’s).  I took the 2 year plan so I could get the lowest per month rate, as they offer multi year discounts.  Now in all honesty I was really making a big deal out of a little deal, because the amount of money I saved over 2 years wasn’t so great, maybe $50, and  I’m sure I could blow that on a beer night with some buddies real easy..  But with hosting and me, it’s all about the principle.

So I paid $90 for 2 years of hosting, for 2 sites on my one plan – with some gigabit of space.. and 1 MSSQL 2k8 db (which I haven’t really used yet).  That winds up being…. hmm $1.88 per site, per month.  For .Net 3.5, MVC and so forth

Yea, as much as I WANTED to justify macking together some uber small fanless pc bought in parts from Newegg.com with some scrounged frankenstein drives, maybe even with USB to IDE converters… tack it up under a desk and run my MSDN Win2k8 web, and make pretend I love sys admin stuff  (which is a lie, I only like it  when it works)…But, there was no way I could make the math work. 

Here in the Northeast USA kilowatt are like 15 cents sometimes more..

I actually made the following spreadsheet to help visualize my own subjective pros and cons of self hosting;

Now, it shows I’m a total PM & analyst, and a real dork.  But whatever, it helps me sleep at night.  I reviewed the cost & ‘feature set’ (to me this were things like what I can learn, what can annoy me. I gave 1 as the lowest score, and 4 as the highest ) for three self hosting options and two web hosting companies.
The 3 self hosting options were

  1. building a new mini pc like the MSI’s of Foxconns with an Intel Atom 330 dual core 1.6, which I honestly wanted to do…
  2. building a frankenserver out of  a cheap ebay pentium, and
  3. hosting it on the kids imac – running a parallels VM. 

The 2 hosting companies I considered were M6.Net and Mochahost.  I only considered these Asp.net hosts because they allow multiple sites per account, unlike Winhost.com, or PlanetSMB.com which only allow 1 site per account.  Btw, I use to love PlanetSMB and used them for 2 clients… that is until a few days ago.  I’m gonna bitch that one out in a week or two when I chill about their 2 days of f*!@#king downtime.

I digress.  So assuming Mocha and M6 had roughly similar feature sets – .Net 3.5, MVC, SQL2k8, multiple domains, and some gigabyte (will I ever even use 1GB?) of storage and bandwidth, it wound up being the most COST effective, and LEAST STRESS inducing to go for a 2 year deal plan with M6.Net. Mocha was pretty close, as suprisingly was the VM on the iMac, which I am SO glad I didn’t do, I just can’t imagine the amount of crashing it would run into… with all the legos starwars games running as a the kids user. 

My analysis was I would learn more and have way more flexibility with my own server (of any kind), but it would take more of my time and interrupt me at odd times, as well as cost more.  I just thought do I want to deal with this??  No.

Now…. Do I regret going with M6?  Absolutely not. 
While they’ve been running about 99.5% uptime (the stats below show a bad couple weeks, they’re usually better) it’s absolutely fine for what I do.  The support is prompt and courteous when I ask the odd question.  And that price is sure right.. and furthermore it’s just not interfering with my life.

4 out of 5 stars for now.

Typical uptime stats for this site:

www.mojobudgie.com
——————————

—————————————-
date          uptime       dns   connect   request      ttfb      ttlb

2010-04-10    100.00     0.003     0.059     0.059     0.330     0.390
2010-04-09    100.00     0.003     0.065     0.065     0.379     0.442
2010-04-08    100.00     0.003     0.059     0.059     0.332     0.387
2010-04-07    100.00     0.003     0.059     0.059     0.372     0.427
2010-04-06     93.55     0.003     0.061     0.061     0.408     0.468
2010-04-05     93.48     0.003     0.060     0.060     0.396     0.450
2010-04-04    100.00     0.007     0.063     0.063     0.333     0.390
2010-04-03    100.00     0.003     0.058     0.058     0.325     0.384
2010-04-02    100.00     0.004     0.060     0.060     0.382     0.442
2010-04-01    100.00     0.020     0.077     0.077     0.375     0.436
2010-03-31    100.00     0.008     0.064     0.064     0.560     0.617
2010-03-30     96.70     0.010     0.066     0.066     0.383     0.445
2010-03-29    100.00     0.003     0.061     0.061     0.341     0.404
2010-03-28    100.00     0.005     0.062     0.062     0.361     0.487

——————————
—————————————-
minimum        93.48     0.003     0.058     0.058     0.325     0.384
maximum       100.00     0.020     0.077     0.077     0.560     0.617
average        98.84     0.006     0.062     0.063     0.377     0.441

——————————
—–————————-———-

Some more 000webhost.com metrics

Thought I’d pass along latest metrics for a LAMP site I host at 000webhost.com for a friend.  Maybe 20 page views a day max . Plenty of downtime, but again .. it’s free.

Oh free monitoring provided by basicstate.com

———————————————————————-
date          uptime       dns   connect   request      ttfb      ttlb

2010-03-26     87.91     0.002     0.071     0.071     0.989     0.989
2010-03-25     96.67     0.003     0.078     0.078     1.299     1.300
2010-03-24     95.65     0.002     0.073     0.073     1.077     1.077
2010-03-23     97.83     0.004     0.114     0.114     0.969     0.969
2010-03-22     98.89     0.004     0.090     0.090     1.096     1.096
2010-03-21    100.00     0.002     0.110     0.110     0.675     0.675
2010-03-20     97.80     0.004     0.071     0.071     0.822     0.824
2010-03-19     98.91     0.003     0.072     0.073     1.114     1.114
2010-03-18     97.83     0.004     0.078     0.078     1.056     1.056
2010-03-17     98.90     0.003     0.075     0.075     1.110     1.110
2010-03-16     97.83     0.003     0.078     0.078     1.112     1.112
2010-03-15     98.89     0.002     0.086     0.086     1.176     1.176
2010-03-14    100.00     0.004     0.074     0.074     1.333     1.334
2010-03-13     97.80     0.002     0.077     0.077     1.070     1.070

———————————————————————-
minimum        87.91     0.002     0.071     0.071     0.675     0.675
maximum       100.00     0.004     0.114     0.114     1.333     1.334
average        97.49     0.003     0.082     0.082     1.064     1.064
———————————————————————-

(Hey look it’s really free web hosting) 000Webhost.com review

Free, and I mean free-no banner ads or other kind of annoying crap-hosting is out there.  There’s a few sites offering LAMP (Apache, MySQL & PHP) based hosting with FTP access.  Now, as a rule of thumb you really get what you pay for.. and I’m not complaining at all about any free service, because.. well it’s free and we should just take the bland porridge and say “please Sir may I have some more?”.  I’ll pass on some of my findings of hosting with 000webhost.com over the past year.

PROS: This one is obvious, it’s free – no banner ads, decent amount of space, has MySQL database with phpMyAdmin, and even gives you PHP 5.2.x.  Plus there’s ftp access which means you dont have to fuss with some hokey web based file manager so they can spam your eyes out with partner ads (eh-hmm brinkster.com)

CONS: I’m gonna bullet these out…

  • You absolutely need to get some traffic…  I think about 10 page views a day on average but don’t quote me.  If you don’t get traffic, your site goes bubbye.. deleted
  • FTP is absolutely unreliable.  Yea they give you 1.5GB of storage space.  Good luck trying to upload even 300mb of it.
  • MySQL gets hammered and crashes a lot.  So if you try running wordpress… well I guess you TRY to run wordpress
  • Backups don’t really work, there’s a disclaimer saying the online backup tool fails regularly with sites larger than 100MB or so.

RELIABILITY:

Here’s a snapshot of site uptime for a MySQL based WordPress install – gets about 20 page views a day, but the site is undoutable one of hundreds if not thousands crammed into one of their servers.  Usually once every 2 weeks or so, MySQL will be unavailable for about half the day… usually right in the middle of the day.  I never ever bothered emailing support as it’s FREE hosting, and I just think they’re doing us a favor..and they’ll figure out from one of hundreds of other hostees that their site is down

 

date          uptime       dns   connect   request      ttfb      ttlb

2010-01-21    100.00     0.002     0.119     0.119     0.563     0.563
2010-01-20    100.00     0.003     0.124     0.124     0.458     0.459
2010-01-19    100.00     0.002     0.161     0.161     0.514     0.515
2010-01-18    100.00     0.003     0.089     0.089     0.390     0.391
2010-01-17    100.00     0.002     0.094     0.094     0.369     0.369
2010-01-16     98.90     0.002     0.096     0.096     0.395     0.395
2010-01-15    100.00     0.002     0.083     0.083     0.387     0.387
2010-01-14     65.22     0.002     0.052     0.052     0.260     0.260
2010-01-13    100.00     0.003     0.094     0.094     0.399     0.399
2010-01-12    100.00     0.003     0.093     0.093     0.402     0.403
2010-01-11    100.00     0.002     0.075     0.075     0.377     0.378
2010-01-10     98.90     0.002     0.087     0.087     0.571     0.572
2010-01-09     98.90     0.008     0.084     0.085     0.481     0.481
2010-01-08    100.00     0.003     0.119     0.119     0.494     0.494

——————————


minimum        65.22     0.002     0.052     0.052     0.260     0.260
maximum       100.00     0.008     0.161     0.161     0.571     0.572
average        97.28     0.003     0.098     0.098     0.433     0.433

Now, here’s the uptime log for another site that is pure HTML, and gets about 40 views a day


date          uptime       dns   connect   request      ttfb      ttlb

2010-01-21    100.00     0.002     0.049     0.049     0.115     0.115
2010-01-20    100.00     0.002     0.083     0.083     0.153     0.153
2010-01-19    100.00     0.002     0.051     0.051     0.117     0.118
2010-01-18    100.00     0.004     0.086     0.086     0.141     0.141
2010-01-17    100.00     0.036     0.139     0.140     0.230     0.232
2010-01-16    100.00     0.002     0.051     0.051     0.115     0.115
2010-01-15    100.00     0.002     0.051     0.051     0.102     0.102
2010-01-14    100.00     0.003     0.149     0.149     0.239     0.240
2010-01-13    100.00     0.002     0.051     0.051     0.110     0.110
2010-01-12    100.00     0.002     0.050     0.050     0.105     0.105
2010-01-11    100.00     0.004     0.051     0.051     0.105     0.105
2010-01-10    100.00     0.002     0.049     0.049     0.101     0.101
2010-01-09    100.00     0.002     0.049     0.049     0.102     0.102
2010-01-08    100.00     0.003     0.050     0.050     0.102     0.102

——————————


minimum       100.00     0.002     0.049     0.049     0.101     0.101
maximum       100.00     0.036     0.149     0.149     0.239     0.240
average       100.00     0.005     0.069     0.069     0.131     0.132
As you noticed, that’s some pretty good uptime.  In fact, if you just need to host a low traffic HTML site and don’t mind occasionally fighting with your ftp client as it disconnects from their servers, 000webhost.com is totally worth a try. If you have anything remotely important to host, save yourself the pain and go spend $3 a month and go to PlanetSMB.com.  I’ll post some uptime charts for two sites we have hosted there soon, it’s WELL worth the money. 
Lastly, if you’re thinking of hosting a database driven site there (unless you’re just monkeying around learning PHP & MySQL) don’t even bother trying to host a site that you need to count on being available.

Winhost.com web hosting review

My experience with Winhost.com was a short three months, but they impressed me.  I used the monthly ASP.Net hosting plan – $4.95 for 1 domain name until I tried out M6.Net and gave it a good side by side review.  Ultimately, I chose M6.net because for about $3 a month (paid over 2 years) they let you host 2 domains on your account.  It really just came down to a frugal matter of costs for this site, which in essence is just a hobby for me.  The way I looked at it, over a 2 year period I could host two sites for about $90 on M6.Net vs $240 on Winhost.com.

That said almost everything else I found about Winhost was better – the servers were faster, Blogengine.net installed dirt simple (even in MSSQL mode), heck they even let you hook up IIS7 manager to administer your site!  Winhost also has MSSQL 2008 support, which you can hook up SQL manager (or management studio express) too… sooo much more user-friendly than the typical web interfaces a lot of these hosting providers give you.

If I was setting up a site for a business, hands down I would’ve chosen Winhost over M6, and I am a little sad to let them go.  Look for a review of M6.Net when I have a chance to let this blog settle in on their servers.

For the record, here were the specs I had on my Winhost account;











Windows 2008 Hosting
WinHost BASIC Windows Hosting Plan

Web Hosting Fees

 
Windows Hosting Monthly Fee
$4.95
Hosting Plan Billing Cycle
Month to Month
Web Hosting Setup Fee
None
Long Term Contracts
None
New Domain Name (.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info)
$10.00/yr
Domain Whois Privacy
$5.00/yr

General Windows Hosting Features

 
Website Disk Space
1000 MB
Monthly Bandwidth/Data Transfer
50 GB









Windows 2008 hosting
windows 2008 hosting
IIS7 Hosting (Internet Information Services 7.0)
iis7 hosting
IIS7 Manager Access Allowed
manage hosting with iis manager access
Remote Delegation Supported
remote feature delegation support
Switch Between Full Trust and Medium Trust
full trust and medium trust support
Switch Between Integrated and Classic Mode
asp.net integrated and classic pipeline mode support
URL Rewrite Module
microsoft url rewrite module support
Site Memory Allocation
100 MB
Isolated Application Pool
each site hosted in isolated application pool












Microsoft SQL 2008 Hosting
free sql 2008 hosting
SQL Data Hosting on Separate Servers
sql 2008 hosting on separate server cluster
SQL 2008 Database Hosting Disk Space
100 MB
No. of SQL 2008 Databases
1
SQL DBO Rights
dbo rights for sql hosting
Stored Procedures
sql stored procedure support
Full Text Search
sql full text search enabled
SQL Management Studio Access Allowed
manage with sql management studio
ASP.NET ReportViewer Control
asp.net report viewer control
SQL DSN
Unlimited
Microsoft Access Database Hosting
Unlimited
Access DSN
Unlimited



















ASP.NET 3.5 Hosting SP1
asp.net 3.5 sp1 hosting
ASP.NET 2.0 Hosting
asp.net 2.0s hosting
Run Multiple .NET Applications
multiple asp.net application hosting
ASP.NET MVC Hosting
asp.net mvc hosting
Silverlight Hosting
silverlight hosting
ASP.NET AJAX Hosting
asp.net ajax hosting
Entity Framework Hosting
entity framework hosting
LINQ Enabled Hosting
linq hosting
/bin, codebehind
codebehind and bin folder support
XML Web Services
xml web services support
Windows Communication Foundation (WCF)
wcf hosting
Microsoft Charting Controls Compatible
microsoft charting control support
Classic ASP Hosting
classic asp hosting support
PHP5 Hosting
php5 hosting
WAP Enabled Hosting
wap hosting
Flash Enabled Hosting
flash hosting
HTTP Streaming Enabled Hosting
http streaming enabled
Dedicated SSL Support
No
Shared SSL
No