Back on February 3rd I mentioned signing up for Media Temple’s MySQL GridContainer. The GridContainer is an add-on to their Grid-Service (gs) shared hosting package. After about a week of horrible performance I cancelled it and went back to the standard Grid-Service.
The container seemed to be plagued with problems from the moment it was activated. My sites exhibited sluggish performance due to high latency, and the container crashed every 8-10 hours. And, there’s apparently no auto-recovery or notification of a crashed container, so it’s totally up to you to monitor the uptime of your site. This, in itself, is a deal-breaker for me.
My trouble with Media Temple actually started before the GridContainer was even activated. I submitted the container request on 1/28, and received a response the same day saying it was in the queue, and I would receive an additional email when it was ready to use… typically within one hour. On 1/31 I contacted them again because I hadn’t received another email from them, and the container wasn’t operational yet. Their response was to apologize for the missing email, and to inform me that the container activation had only taken 15 minutes and had been active since 1/28. This, of course, was a blatant lie! There was never any doubt that this wasn’t true, but I did later confirm with their tech support rep that their log recorded the activation on 1/31. Now, everyone makes mistakes, and this was no big deal to me, until they chose to lie about it. That’s just crappy, and a little surprising for a company that supposedly prides itself on transparency.
In addition to poor performance, the migration to the container actually corrupted an installation of WordPress I had running on a sub-domain. That site / database became totally unusable and had to be deleted. Luckily for me, that installation was for a test site for an upcoming project, and losing it didn’t do that much harm. However, the fact that this happened is totally unforgivable.
The “advanced reporting tools” that Media Temple boasts about being part of the GridContainer were totally useless. The built-in query analyzer was logging hundreds of thousands of (phantom) slow queries, but the report did not identify which database was having the errors.
I called tech support several times during the week, and they offered no explanation as to why the container was crashing. Their best-guess was my site was maxing out the resources of the container. This is actually a typical Media Temple response. They generally blame the user and rarely want to entertain the idea that the problem could be on their end.
It’s worth noting here how the typical Grid-Service works. All sites on a particular cluster run on a shared installation of MySQL server, called the SmartPool. If your site starts using more than it’s allowed resources, it’s flagged, and temporarily moved to a GridContainer. When usage returns to normal the site is moved back into the SmartPool. They do this so other sites around you don’t suffer the “bad neighbor” effect. Optionally you can buy a GridContainer for full-time usage, which is what I was trying to do. If you’re operating in the SmartPool, you can only be moved to a container so many times per month before you get in trouble.
The fact that Media temple was telling me that I was maxing out the resources of my container just didn’t make any sense to me. The fact is, my site was never flagged when it was on the SmartPool (which has half the resources of the container). If I wasn’t maxing out the resources of the SmartPool, how can I possibly be maxing out the resources of the container. To me, this means one of two things:
- There is something wrong with my GridContainer, or
- The reporting tools on the SmartPool aren’t worth shit, and sites can use far more resources than they’re supposed to and never be flagged.
I tried to convey this logic to the Media Temple tech support reps, but they were unwilling to concede to either of these points.
Ultimately they increased the buffer on my container and at the same time I started using a caching plugin for WordPress. One, or both, of these things seemed to have solve the problem of crashing. However, the container just didn’t live up to it’s hype, and I didn’t think it was worth $20 extra per month, so I cancelled it.
As this post has started to run a little long, I’ll write a followup post with some thoughts on Media Temple in general, and if I plan to stay with them.