Dreamhost have been through another rough patch this year. A break-in, a DDoS, and unfortunate rants from ex-customers. The latter appeared on Digg with its claim of 83% uptime, so I decided to check that. I got a free account with HostTracker and got them to ping the site once every 15 minutes. They send an email whenever the site is unavailable to their bots. After 3 or so months, the cumulative uptime is apparently 99.46%! This result is highly suspicious. For a start, HostTracker has the habit of sending Error Alert messages when the site is fine, and sometimes not sending them when it isn't. More damningly, an "Error Alert"/"Operation Restored" email pair once reported a downtime of over 14 hours, and yet their web interface still reports a total of only 11 hours and 27 minutes, ever. HostTracker is thus not particularly useful. Others may be better :)
In the last week, HostTracker has sent out an email detailing their attempts to move some freeloaders like me to paid accounts. You can apparently buy 100 years of premium service for the low, low price of $2899.99. That'll see you through to the year 2107, by which time Wikipedia says the FAT filesystem's date field will overflow. I recommend that any prospective customers considering the 100 year deal send HostTracker an email around about January 2106 to check they've upgraded to a better filesystem, giving them a year's notice just in case they haven't.
I find Dreamhost's files forever feature ("every file you upload is stored by us forever, with no recurring cost!") more credible than any guarantee of 100 years service despite being, technically, infinitely more generous. But despite a glowing daily report of uptime, personal experience tells me my server has been down for hours at a time, and slow for days at a time. I exchanged emails with their support crew (who are by and large excellent), and we never found out what the problem was. It just disappeared.
So: to get back to Dreamhost. There is one more amusing anecdote to tell before the denouement: when I posted in the DDoS thread on dreamhoststatus.com, I got an email from one of their rivals! What separates this from run of the mill spam was that the email was addressed to my non-lab6 email address, using my full name. Those do not appear on this website. The perpetrators had obviously gone and looked up my details using WHOIS! Spammers I can handle, but stalking spammers are a scarier prospect.
Despite all these grumblings over Dreamhost, I'm pretty happy with what they offer. Tons of resources, ridiculously cheap, and an amusing blog. The only downside is the uptime, and for ~£12 a year, I can live with that. That's using one of those $97 off coupons though, so it remains to be seen what else is available for ~£60 a year when the time comes to renew this October.
Oh yes, and since everyone else is doing it, use the promo code GIVEMEYOURCASH when signing up to Dreamhost! You get a measly buck off anything you order, but also the warm fuzzy feeling of supporting this website throughout the long, hard years to come. Or, you know, go for one of the $97-off coupons. It's fine. Really. No hard feelings. Seriously. Have a nice day. Watch your step on the way out. Yes, it's that way. Go on. A bit futher. That's it! Hah! Gotcha wee miserly neebr!