Web Hosting Speed Issues…

Web hosting is a constantly changing animal. We have gone from 2 gigs of space for our customers to 50 gigs in less than 3 years. The average traffic usuage of our customers has grown more than 5 times in the last 3 years, and cpu usage for scripts and other user run programs has grown by at least 100%. How do we deal with these issues?

This is a huge problem, and one that needs a huge answer or customers are going to get very angry. This is where I come in. About three weeks ago I became obsessed with finding out every major inefficiency with our code, with Cpanel, and with Linux itself (The OS we run our hosting company on). These last few weeks have been extremely enlightening. I have learned things that I believe will make a huge difference in the speed of our servers and overall hosting experience.

I have an extensive background with computer hardware and Cody (Our main hardware guy/network engineer) is as good as you can find anywhere. Our servers are built from the highest quality parts and designed by Bluehost exactly for our needs. There isn’t a dell, or HP system out there that we wouldn’t stop on and leave in the dust that is in the same price ballpark as our servers.

We have learned that Linux I/O tracking, and especially disk I/O tracking is near impossible to track. This makes it VERY difficult to tell exactly which processes are eating up resources on the disk. We have solved this issue now thanks to Linux’s main man himself Andrew Morton who wrote a patch for our kernel specifically for us. Thanks again Andrew!! You are the greatest.

We have unbelievable new caching mechanisms that will be available over the next 30-45 days that will allow many customers scripts to increase 40-300% in speed with no loss to data or other major consequences. Everyone of our customers scripts will soon be stored and executed 99% of the time in memory instead of costly disk i/o and cpu cycles doing the work.

Cpanel, the 3rd party software control panel we use, will still be with us, but we are CONSTANTLY gutting it and throwing out huge portions of their extremely slow code and replacing it with our own custom pieces that work very well with their existing infrastructure but without the enormous speed penalties that exist in their current code base.

Why am I telling you all this? Because web hosting is changing! The demands you will make on our servers will be tremendous and we need to be able to handle it. We need to be able to not just handle it, but make it be as smooth and fast as possible. When we are done with many of the improvements that we are doing on our side other hosts aren’t going to be able to compete. The speed advantages with our systems will be too great.

That is my commitment to you – I will ensure that we update and innovate faster than the industry so that you can rely on technologies that runs todays applications the fastest possible, and still be able to run tomorrows software needs without looking for a different hosting company.

Speed is EVERYTHING, and we will give you the technology that will make your site faster, and provide server performance that is unrivaled in the shared hosting environment. This is coming soon! Test systems are already in place. When everything is ready it will be rolled out to all our clients as fast as we update all our servers. We will always continue to work hard for our customers, but most of all because we love to do it!

Thanks,
Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com

26 Responses to “Web Hosting Speed Issues…”

  1. Kevin says:

    I’m glad to hear that you are doing the best for us. I’ve already seen the problems that my site was having slip away in the last couple of weeks. My site already has fast generation times (~0.04 seconds), to see that to be even faster (~0.015 seconds) will be amazing. :) Even how minimal that is, the less the better as when higher loads come thats more load that the site can take.

    A very satisfied BlueHost customer,
    -Kevin :)

  2. Steve says:

    AWESOME Matt! i gotta say, since we got put on a new server our site is FLYING!! all the issues we had in the past (so far) have vanished! great job and i’m very happy to hear about the other improvements you’ve mentioned.

    -thanks for the update!

  3. I REALLY look forward to these changes! We actually had to move away from Bluehost for one of our servers because the scripts were taking too much CPU time. (But I still have 7 others at Bluehost/HM.)

    I’d REALLY like the option to add domains that don’t point to your name servers. I want to use my own name servers and point the A record to your IP address, but I can’t do that without calling tech support and having them add it manually. cPanel has the option to “Allow Creation of Parked/Addon Domains that resolve to other servers” Can it please be turned on?

  4. highnfar says:

    allow many customers scripts to increase 40-300% in speed with no loss to data or other major consequences

    really?

    will they exceed the 20% cpu limitation?

  5. Rick says:

    This is reassuring news so thanks Matt. I bought hosting here a couple of months ago because bluehost was rated highly in online reviews.

    My site has been suffering major problems with loading speeds and MySQL has at times become almost completely unresponsive. I’ve noticed that the CPU load is consistently high on my server.

    I appreciate that it is difficult to please everyone in a shared hosting environment and there will always be trade-offs as various domains compete for resources. However you are right to be concerned that your customers care about this. Site loading speed is a major selling point so I hope you will make good on these promises.

    To give them credit your techies have been very helpful and courteous to me recently.

  6. Markus says:

    Interesting area of thought, and possibly an important one. I know that you’re focusing on service (like in your post about going to the cinema), but eventually you’ll probably find that a good deal of your clients only need tech support with their first setup or if you (the hosting company) screws up.

    Like with me, I only problems setting up my DNS (as I’m not using BlueHost for DNS or domain registration) and then with your routing and firewall problems.

    Other than that, with the tools provided (like the excellent control panel and SSH access) I’m nostly able to figure stuff out myself (or with Google).

    Having said that, going to the movies is not primarily about popcorn and coke. It’s about seeing the movie.

    So, while I’m happy with the BlueHost popcorn and coke, I must say that your speed leaves a lot to be desired. I’m running mildly complex scripts … PHPBB and the B2EVO blog, and at times (late afternoon and evenings EST) a forum page which is about five screens long takes up to 10 seconds to load. And it’s not just script time, it’s also bandwidth, like you get a simple html code with a couple of small pictures and once the text is all there, the pictures take forever to load. So it’s probably Apache load or even congestion in the router or outgoing lines.

    I know that I can’t get business class leg space for the price of a coach class ticket and that subsequently you’re probably cramming more sites on your servers than which they can handle comfortably (like with cheap airplane tickets, they’re just putting in yet another row until it becomes unbearable and then maybe yet another).

    In any case, I’ll never use up your 999 gigs bandwith (and I’m sure due to the speed I even I couldn’t if I wanted to), but I’d be happy with a $15/month account with less people on the server, where everybody get’ a fair amount of bandwidth (say 25 Gig), but fair and realistic performance also.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I know that you never get 250 Gig for $7 per month (that was the deal when I signed up) so I expected to get what I pay for, that is cheap hosting. I was positively surprised with the speed of replies in tech support and the rest was more or less what I expected (including the routing trouble and speed etc).

    Because of that, I would have ended up hosting with laughingsquid.net (most likey their basic plan) … the only reason that I didn’t was that I wanted my own DNS and SSH which they don’t offer.

    So if you ever plan to offer less crammed hosting for a higher price, I’d be one of the first to sign up for that.

    Markus

  7. Joe Lovick says:

    This all sounds great, but will the code improvements be given back to the community, in the spirit of the GPL? i for one hope so.

  8. Kayla Fleming says:

    “Cpanel, the 3rd party software control panel we use, will still be with us, but we are CONSTANTLY gutting it and throwing out huge portions of their extremely slow code and replacing it with our own custom pieces that work very well with their existing infrastructure but without the enormous speed penalties that exist in their current code base.”

    I understand all that you’re saying, very well, but I feel we owe a lot to cPanel. It’s not so bad. =)

  9. Jan says:

    That’s great news! Servers were indeed becoming slow compared to a year or so ago! I can’t wait for this to be deployed!

  10. Taiseer NOUR says:

    Sir,
    i’d like just to let you know that we are eagerly waiting for the stated improvements and we can’t help waiting.

    SPEED is the magic KEYWORD to log in your customers HEART, Good luck .

  11. Sh1fty says:

    you shouldn’t tell your customers taht they can now run slower scripts, because then they’ll write even worse scripts and use more time and cpu. i (thank god) am very careful when programming (except when working at 4-5 am :D) because i’ve seen what poorly written scripts can do to a server :p too bad that your hosting is too expensive for me (i’m a highschool student :D) so i’ll have to go with host monster :(

  12. Reto Meier says:

    Hi Matt,

    really appreciate your last 2 posts!

    Two small observations:
    1) It seems that you (and BH) are great at tackling challenging issues once they have been identified. The CEO and visionary that you are, I would expect you to start thinking about and anticipating the next big issue before it manifests itself in a major way and perhaps even solicit some user input from a small set of your major users about the best way forward (example here would have been how to better handle the email catch-all accounts).
    2) Given that there are sites that don’t use much resources and don’t need high performance, and others that definitely do and therefore require upgrades and investments by BH, why not create a two-tier service / pricing model? Many users have expressed that they would gladly pay a few mor edollars more for better/faster sites.

    Just my 2 cents.

  13. Jeff says:

    I’m happy to see I’m with a company willing to work to help out the customer. It even improves my already un-failing loyalty to BlueHost :)

  14. Matt:

    As a recent transferee from PairNIC, I am happy to hear that you are directing your vision with goals like “Speed is EVERYTHING”.

    The largest complaint I had with my former provider was exactly that; speed. I’m in my 3rd week of hosting with you and so far I have been impressed with the faster execution of my code.

    If this does indeed become a major focus, I can tell you there you will have a great deal of happy clients. Fault on that promise however, and as you predicted – you might suffer the same fate as PairNIC.

    ;)

    -AJO

  15. Rhonda says:

    Matt, Thank you for this input, I for one am extremely glad & excited to hear about the changes being made. Over the past 3 weeks I have moved my sites around to 3 different servers trying them out (at a great expense as one went broke and I lost my money, 1 x was refunded and the other I am still sitting on after paying $150 AUD for the year). Must say I have not been happy with them at all as I love Bluehost and what they offer, so I will sit tight and look forward to seeing the new changes as they happen. (NB. Santa is not happy with me about the reduced spending money :()

  16. mike says:

    We are look forward to seeing the system improvement, especially the speed.

    Thanks,

    Mike
    http://www.oil-gas-news.com

  17. Steve says:

    DOH… i spoke too soon! website/email have been down since 9:00am 12/7/06! its currently 12:53pm.

    i think the new server i was put on crashed WAY faster than the old one. is that what you were talking about as far as upping the SPEED!?! (coughBOX196)

  18. Steve says:

    exactly Marcus!!! that’s what my entire week of meetings have been about! it’s either “pay $6.95 for ‘cheap hosting'” or “pay $300 for a dedicated server hosting solution” i can’t even say i’ll pay 60 bux for some uptime and speed, because noone (that i’ve seen) offers it. this hosting game is getting stupid. it’s like everything else, printers, cpus, gaming consols etc. it’s a nitch market for a while, turns out to be a truely great thing for a little while until everyone jumps on the band wagon trying to do the same thing and ruins it. turns it into a pricing battle that no-one can stop and leaves little run to do anything, risking going chapter 11

    more over, where’s the leverage? it’s not like we can say “my site’s been down for 4 hours, if it happens again i’m gone” cause in reality, who cares. there’s 20 of “me” waiting in line to sign up for this service so for now there seems to be nothing the consumer can do about it! at such a low price point there is no leverage to do anything. BH wouldn’t care if i left. what’s 6.95 to them!! like Marcus said … let us pay you more for better service!! i would LOVE to pay $50 for a less cramped server. with that said, will BH ever offer a dedicated server solution??

    it’s been really hard these past few months trying to defend my hosting company to my bosses until i’m blue in the face (getting it… BLUE lol) as it’s going down for hours on end at our most busiest time of year. i don’t have the resourced to even pull out and start somewhere else if i even wanted to. and even if i did… where would i go?? it’s all the same shared hosting game with vertual servers and such!! and i do feel blue host is one of the best out there, so if they can’t get the job done, what now?? there’s no where to go.

    i’ve always believed in the “you get what you pay for” adidg and i’d love to pay a bit more to get a bit more!!

  19. [...] Web Hosting Speed Issues…: “About  three weeks ago I became obsessed with finding out every major inefficiency with our code, with Cpanel, and with Linux itself (The OS we run our hosting company on).” [...]

  20. I have been with blue host for a good many years. I was happy until lately. I have been moved twice in the last year. The site just crawls. I can’t even open the C Panel. I have up graded to a hi out put CPU server. My site has a 1000 users I have to try and keep them happy. Blue host has given good customer support however I need speed. We will see how it goes on this one last chance. I will report back after the move.

    I have had 3 sites hosted here.

  21. Paul says:

    I think bluehost.com is great value and very reliable. Service and support are excellent too and we do appreciated this because we know this isn’t typical.

    I want to add to the comments about CPU limitations. The database behind our website is our asset. It is absolutely critically important to us. We make regular backups (in addition to those done by bluehost.com)

    It is now impossible to make a mysql database dump without exceeding the CPU allocation. This has the effect of taking our website down for 10 minutes each time we make a backup. The “This Account Has Exceeded Its CPU Quota” error is shown. Obviously we cannot continue with this situation and we are genuinely sad that we are having to investigate other providers.

    I wanted to add this comment because I want it to be clear that the CPU allocation is a real issue and will cause us to switch to another provider.

  22. Larry Rice says:

    Matt, I have quoted you below. Does this mean you will be able to charge those customers who are using more bandwidth , cpu, etc

    We have learned that Linux I/O tracking, and especially disk I/O tracking is near impossible to track. This makes it VERY difficult to tell exactly which processes are eating up resources on the disk. We have solved this issue now thanks to Linux’s main man himself Andrew Morton who wrote a patch for our kernel specifically for us.

  23. We have learned that Linux I/O tracking

  24. [...] is the CEO and uber evangelist of Bluehost, Hostmonster, and Fastdomain. Matt, in your blog ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 ) you claim how Bluehost is always improving. Nothing has improved for me since I [...]

  25. [...] Heaton is the CEO and uber evangelist of Bluehost, Hostmonster, and Fastdomain. Matt, in your blog (1, 2, 3, 4) you claim how Bluehost is always improving. But nothing has been for the better for me [...]

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