The road to SiteGround hosting, how we got here

I’m going to go through some history – some of which you know, and some is new. I’m mostly posting about SiteGround because chances are some day someone will wonder what an actual experience is with them. This is not a glowing review, I don’t do those, and it’s not me hating on them, this is just where we’re at today at under a month in.

After Pocketables was released/sold by Crowdgather, we moved to a company called Site5 for hosting. After being down for weeks on Site5 due to a hack, them deleting our backups so they could restore theirs which did not work, and basically telling us we were screwed because the backups were just a courtesy, (at the same time VaultPress decided to disconnect causing us to lose 18 days of articles,) we were contacted by Skystra who moved our 18-lost days site to theirs and things started to get better.

Until they weren’t. Long story short Pocketables getting 1000 viewers was overwhelming their hosting, taking up 25-35% CPU constantly, and we got told to fix it or leave. We did a fix, they said they’d monitor it and that usage had dropped significantly when I installed a bunch of plugins they recommended, a month later I was told it wasn’t fixed and we had until October 31st to go. So we got recommended SiteGround.

Site moved, the issue became clear as day as I could actually see in shell what was happening (not putting Skystra down for this, but I couldn’t see much with their tools,) – sometime in Pocketable’s history (looks like August 2012,) when they switched over to WordPress roughly a quarter of a million files were sitting in the directory where the logo is.

Every access of that directory pegged the CPU, yadda yadda, this is what killed our happy Skystra story and turned it into “hey remember those guys who saved us then chucked us?” – oh well.

So I was recommended SiteGround, which is what this is on as of October 10th 2020 or so. Getting the warning that the Inodes were way out of whack is actually how I tracked down that folder issue. But whatever… here’s some story on moving to them.

They have a plugin called SG Migrator. This goes onto your old site, and moves everything to your new site and you repoint the DNS. As we have 12 sites (which are unrelated unless you’re really into a neighborhood org and a splash page for a building and a couple misc things.) It worked for 10 of these sites, leaving only the two largest – Pocketables and theITbaby. OK, so not a dream situation. Moving a 20-year old 20 gigabyte site is a chore. I was happy that the non-main ones weren’t the nightmare but yeah.

SiteGround wanted about $60 to move a couple of sites and days turnaround, I did it the hard way instead. Asked a guy for help. Bam.

20 gig site was a trip, but got it done, go the inodes notification, and yeah. Tracked it down right after a restore.

With the site moved over did some stress testing, there’re images from early days missing I’ve got to decide whether it’s worth the inodes as we’re low and you can’t just buy another half million or so. Learned this in tech support chat #2 with SiteGround. Chat #1 was why their plugin wasn’t working. I was not particularly impressed with either response at this point as I was unable to restore the site and edit afterwards due to the inode limit.

Chat attempt #3 had me nearly attempting to cancel, this was due to some documentation issues they have that caused me to bang head v keyboard with the PuTTY configs. This lead me to realize there’s no way to talk to someone at SiteGround about what’s bothering you without actually submitting the “I want to quit if this isn’t fixed” and there’s no phone number either. Yeah, ticked me off a bit but maybe for the best as I eventually found what was wrong.

Support chat #4 came with the email move. I’d set up email, accounts, and as I have NOTHING on the server and an MX with a TTL of 5 minutes I sort of expected it would just work. When it was 20 minutes in and I was getting errors back that the mailbox did not exist I contacted them. I was told it would take up to four hours.

At about hour one the spam protection link started working on the back end hosting and some mail started coming in. GMail messages inbound still were being rejected by whatever server they were talking to (it was a new one from the bounce report,) but by about three and a half hours the SiteGround email servers were all accepting email for Pocketables.

This was not an MX DNS update delay, this was an army of servers being told one by one that they now hosted mail for Pocketables, and to accept it.

Now, one of the things I really do hold against them here is that plan says nothing about an inode limitation. In fact nothing on any of the plans tell you there’s a hard limit of 450,000 inodes. So we’ve got 20 gigs of space left and maybe a year’s worth of inodes left. There is no way to up it without hitting the dedicated machine hosting either.

Certainly not a spot I planned to be in when getting onto the site and running into something that really should be shown in the plans.

So, off to reduce some inodes, decide if 10+ year old picture content needs to be maintained.

So, just so it doesn’t sound like I’m pooping on Siteground, I gotta say if you’re not running a 20+ year old site with 20 gigabytes of media I think you’re going to like them. The SG Optimizer seems pretty clutch, and the site migrator is absolutely great, when it’s not dealing with a 20 gigabytes site that’s been around since 2000.

If you click on SiteGround anywhere up there we get a referral. I’m going to say at this point I am kind of impressed by some things, annoyed by others, and generally this is just a 10-15 days in thing. Got any questions, let me know.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts