Archive for January, 2008

“CPU Quota Exceeded” – Not anymore…

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Bluehost.com and Hostmonster.com have a CPU quota limit in place to try and mitigate the server problems that a single user or a small set of users can create. This is custom software that we have written ourselves. I know of no other shared host that has this ability to limit cpu quota by user for Linux.

The problem has been that our software was written at a time when single or dual cpus were the norm. This was the case when Bluehost first started. However, our current servers have at least 8 cpu cores. Most of our cpu intensive software is also multi-threaded and can be effectively distributed across multiple cpus effeciently.

Because modern cpus in general have more cores, run at a lower frequency, and most of our hosting software is designed to run in this type of environment it has become VERY apparent that we needed to update the way we calculated “cpu usage”.

Effective immediately (Actually as of Friday January 25th) we have altered the way we calculate CPU usage. Each user’s cap is now approximately double what we had it set to previously. Many users have complained lately that our cpu quotas were overly restrictive. I believe these changes should reduce the number of people that run into this problem by about 90%. We will continue to tweak our settings to stop only the most abusive of users on the system. This was never meant as a way to limit functionality, but rather a way to guarantee resources for servers that are shared by many users.

This should make life MUCH better for those users that have been bumping up against this limitation.

Thanks,
Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com – Hostmonster.com

Bittorrent and the future of the web…

Monday, January 28th, 2008

The web is many things to many people. For some it is email or chat, for others it is surfing all day, but for approximately 10% of internet users it is all about bittorrent. Bittorrent is file sharing technology that is amazing! It allows the distribution of small or often very large files to be divided among all the participating users.

This technology works better with more users participating. Where most technologies break down with an increase in user base bittorrent thrives. This technology works so well that many legit businesses use it as a means of content distribution. It also means that it is WIDELY abused for the distribution of illegal content such as movies, copyrighted music, and other media files.

Copyright issues aside I only have one big problem with bittorrent and similar technologies. They consume ENORMOUS amounts of bandwidth. When I say enormous let me explain – 5-10% of cable modem users consume more than 60% of the TOTAL bandwidth available from cable providers for Bittorrent and similar P2P file sharing technologies. Bittorrent is a pig!

This is what will happen in my opinion. First bittorrent will be ignored (Already happened), then ISPs will begin to de-prioritze bittorrent traffic in favor of more general protocols (HTTP,POP,IMAP,FTP, etc). Comcast and other ISPs are starting to do this now. Next, ISPs will try and block bittorrent all together which will fail miserably. Users will complain, content distribution companies will complain and push even more in favor of general net neutrality for all tcp protocols. Next, I believe some ISPs will try and offer internet service to customers at a discounted rate if their upload stream can’t be used with bittorrent and other p2p protocols. This will also fail miserably, but invariably some suit will sit in an office with a bunch of other suits and decide it makes sense not understanding that most internet users don’t know or care what bittorrent is, they just want their internet experience to be the same as its always been.

Finally, when everyone comes to their senses (ISPs) they will simply charge the customers for the bandwidth that they consume. If a user wants to participate in the bittorrent network they will use a lot of bandwidth and their internet bill goes up. If they don’t want to participate then they don’t have to and their base rate stays the same. This also will take away the free ride that so many companies get right now by distributing their content using bittorrent and having all the ISPs pay for their software to be distributed.

Pay for what you use? What a novel concept! I wish we could skip all the steps in between and just get to this point, but I have been around long enough to know that it simply won’t happen.

Matt Heaton / Bluehost.com / Hostmonster.com

The Unavailable Path…

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

So many of us are forced into making decisions at an early time in our life. These decisions vary from choice of employment, to who we marry, where we want to live, whether we want a family, and so forth.

For many these choices are easy to make and we are eager follow our chosen path, while others may find these more difficult. I see many people make the “easy” choice all the time because they are comfortable, or scared of the alternative, or just plain lazy.

The problem arises not when the choice is made, but when you are halfway down your chosen path. What do you do when you want to change your path 10 years after your choice? In most cases you can’t… Or, IF the option is available for you to change the direction you have chosen it is usually a painful and arduous process to successfully implement. It would require a new beginning, and a letting go of the familiarity of the past. It usually means leaving behind past successes (and failures) for the potential of future greatness in your new direction.

My advice – spend the time to choose the path you REALLY want before you start your journey. Know WHY you chose that path, and where you want it to go. If you don’t plan, then plan on failing.

Don’t find yourself on a road to x, when you wish you were on the road to y. You will only drive yourself crazy and put yourself in a situation that you can’t resolve.

Matt Heaton

When you stink you stink!!!

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

There is no other way to put it. We have been having major problems since around December 20th. Bluehost and Hostmonster have been growing at an incredible rate. I believe we are now the fastest growing hosting company in the world. With that growth sometimes comes severe growing pains. In the past I have been able to mitigate much of these growing pains with a little forethought and a hard working dedicated team.

These past couple of weeks have been a perfect storm of problems for our company. First, we have never seen so many signups at one time. Many days we experienced more than 850 signups in a single day. That can wipe out even the best support departments! However, the real problem resulted from many forced upgrades that HAD to be done at this time. These upgrades were coupled with forced upgrades from Cpanel itself.

When you force 700,000+ domains to switch from PHP4 to PHP5, replace Apache 1.3x with 2.2x on all servers (The main web servers for all our clients), change every users php.ini file to work in the new environment, and throw on new versions of Cpanel (that HAD to be upgraded because of severe bugs in their software) then you know things are going to break. And break they did!!!

We had bad problems with outgoing emails being delayed (Sometimes as much as 24 hours), we had tens of thousands of users scripts break in a matter of hours, we turned many users addon domains into standalone domains for no reason except for Cpanel bugs.

We built Bluehost on the mantra that we provide the best support in the industry and that we actually CARE about the customer. We have fallen off the cliff in the last two weeks on meeting this goal. I have personally been preoccupied these last couple of weeks and haven’t given Bluehost and Hostmonster the attention they deserve. I give you my word that this will change starting today.

We have worked out most of these pressing problems that our customers have had to deal with, but I am sure there are more issues to still be resolved. Thanks for your patience, and for those that weren’t so patient I don’t blame you :) We have taken our lumps and are back on track to being the best hosting company in the world.

Although there are many contributing factors to these problems the blame of course lies at my feet. As CEO the buck stops here and so do the excuses. I will make things right!!

Thanks,
Matt Heaton / President /CEO Bluehost Inc