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Some time ago, I tried paying a reseller of GoDaddy.com's hosting services for hosting that provided me with the ability to run PHP scripts. (It's called HostingDude, formerly CompleteOnlineSolutions, which is a subsidiary of Wild West Domains.)

It was $4 per month. (Not much, you might say, but keep in mind that if my ISP didn't block port 80 incoming then I could set up my own server for $0/month.)

At first, it worked fine. Shortly after though, I started noticing a 15 second delay between my requesting a page and its appearing in the browser. I asked their customer service people what was going on. They immediately blamed me and my PHP code. I carefully went over my PHP and improved some things and the delay appeared to go down to 5 seconds--still unacceptable.

Then after a while, they delay went back up to 15 seconds. At some point, I tried accessing a basic HTML file that I had on their server and, lo and behold, the delay was something like 10 seconds.

That's 10 seconds from plain HTML page request in the browser to its appearing in the browser.

I called back and got the runaround, same as before, with them issuing demands that I tell them precisely when it was happening and promising to fix it. When I later offered that information, of course they did nothing about it and I canceled the service.

This was my first experience using a hosting service and it really turned me off.

My question is, what caused this huge delay? Is there a feature of Apache that permits putting a delay in there, or did they just overburden their servers?

Mind you I did ask to be switched to a different server and they refused to allow it.

Then I have a secondary question as to why this happens:

I still have domains with this GoDaddy reseller and I've noticed that every once in a while, their domain masking service spits out an empty HTML file rather than providing the that would show my page-- which is hosted on my ISP's servers for free.

Thanks.

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Setting up your own server is not, in fact, $0 per month. –  mattdm Feb 6 '11 at 17:01
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1 Answer

One can pretty much do anything with Apache, so it's possible to introduce a delay, but doing that would actually require more server resources and therefore cost the provider more. It's much more likely that the server was overloaded or there was another similar problem.

However, I'm going to side with the hosting provider in first blaming the PHP application until you can prove otherwise, and asking you to narrow down the problem into a very simple repeatable test-case. Performance issues are sometimes hard to nail down, and without specifics, at $4/month, it's just not something they can afford to chase. Or, to put it another way, hosting is an area where there's no free lunch, so if you want to take best advantage of a cheap provider, when you have problems, do your best to make everything dead simple for their underpaid, undertrained, and overworked support staff.

Suggestions would include: benchmark over time from several remote clients, and from localhost on the system if possible. Include both your main application, simple static HTML pages, and very basic PHP. Correlate performance problems to actual user load where possible. And so on. If you hand this to them on a platter and still don't get a good response, sure, switch to something better.

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Maybe you missed it, but I mentioned I was also getting a 10 second delay, consistently, with plain HTML i.e. no PHP. And, just today I went to my website and got "Connection Reset" from the server, so I had to reload. –  user69705 Feb 6 '11 at 20:30
    
Sure. But "at some point" isn't very much information. Did it happen every time? You add now that it was consistent, but was it consistent for two minutes or over the course of days? Where were you connecting from? Was it slow from elsewhere? And so on. You may feel like you have good-enough answers to these questions, but really, if you're using very cheap hosting, you everything in a very neat package. That's one of the hidden costs of such a cheap service. –  mattdm Feb 6 '11 at 21:18
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