First off let me be clear, Mediatemple.net was not directly responsible for the downtime on hosting-reviews-exposed.com.
Before this all began I had already entertained in October 2011 the idea of migrating, after all traffic was up and the site was performing slower. Not to mention a month earlier another site that shares this account had its database moved by MediaTemple.net. Per usual the tech at MediaTemple did not bother to check their work. The site was offline for at least 8 hours. This is something that can easily sour me on a company. They simply do something and do not bother to see if what they did fixed a site or made it worse.
By mid-December 2011 it became clear that that there were some serious problems with Hosting-Reviews-Exposed.com. Pingdom shows that I had 132 outages. Per my last post I had not had a lot of time to dedicate to this site, and the sites that shared the account at MediaTemple as they were not in any shape or form income makers. Between a death in the family and a rather serious customer trying to regain a nice sized 5 figure a month income. But December 22st would change that. As I would have a 5 hour outage and unlike the other outages this time the server would not recover within a few minutes.
The problem ultimately was with a plug-in that did the fancy color bars that told you what posts were popular that week (personally glad to see it go as I thought it was tacky). After removing that plugin, the site ran perfectly. MediaTemple.net’s response was to disable every part of my site leaving only bare bones WordPress. On top of that they disable the theme for my site. Though clearly they realized that was a mistake because 5 minutes after doing so they re-enabled the theme before I could. Keep in mind it was Rackspace that pointed to the exact issue.
MediaTemple wanted to shoot first ask questions later
I am not a telephone person. I hate my cell phone. You can thank this bank called Bank of America (who stores their money in the Caribbean), they cured me long ago of ever wanting to talk to someone on the phone for customer service. Maybe someday I will go into my gripe with them. About the only thing that will get me on the phone to talk to someone is a site being down. I made it to a point to put a ticket in first with MediaTemple. But it was pretty clear I should call them after all Mediatemple has this 20 hour response time up when I post a ticket. In the cyber universe an hour is an eternity too long. I grudgingly listen to reggae music while on hold. Not that I hate reggae music, I truly love it. It just should not sound like it’s going through a broken speaker that puts out a lot of static. Anytime I was placed on hold I had to bear with this, which is why I requested not to be placed on hold. The first time I was on hold I had to endure 12 minutes of this. My mood was pretty sour after listening to this tortured music, not like I could have hit mute. I mean from a business stand point it would have made sense For MediaTemple to go with something neutral like elevator music, unless of course it has the same static effect that wore my nerves thin.
Keep in mind I am not a programing person, I am a graphics person. I delegate the non-design part to other people. Perhaps that’s something I should have explained to the person on the other end at MediaTemple. Since my usual web master (whose name is on the account with MediaTemple) was busy with the holidays, I figure why not hand this off to Mediatemple. I asked how much it would cost for them to remedy this. I mean seriously, I offered more money to make the problem go away. Next thing the guy on the other end went in to a ramble on stuff I could hardly understand. The part I did understand was the word theory; after all I am someone that wanted to be in a field of science (biology). The way he used the word theory is that he speculated on what the problem was and that they did not have concrete proof of what the problem was. It was at this point I had to ask if this meant he had any idea of what was wrong. because it seemed like he didn’t. He told me that he did know exactly what was going on. Hence no need for the word theory. But clearly his conclusions were that it had something to do with my plugins as he disabled all of them, and even the theme for my site. After another ramble I thanked him for bringing the site back up and told him I will have it migrated off to another provider. This is where I notice that he disabled my theme
MediaTemple.net trying for Redemption
Shortly after hanging up I had contacted Rackspace because I wanted to look for another solution. The MediaTemple tech I was on the phone with updated the ticket and wanted to arrange for me to speak with a supervisor to try and retain my account. They were supposed call me around noon. At the same time he had re-enabled the theme to hosting-reviews-exposed.com.
While in contact with Rackspace and telling them about my problem with MediaTemple while trying to re-enabling plugins slowly to see which ones were slowing the site down. It was Rackspace that pointed to top posts plugin. Enabling every other plugin but this one, I could see a drastic improvement in service.
Two hours before noon, the MediaTemple supervisor decided to change the time to 3 pm. Since I had missed the update too late and had a client to deal with I missed it, honestly I saw no point in updating the ticket. By 5:15 pm he updated the ticket.
Before I go any further, this is a point where he could have changed my mind, he could have pointed to what was the exact problem. But what I got was a very lengthy list of suspects and:
“Please let me know a good time and number to reach you at, I’m available Tuesday – Friday 10am-9PM.”
This was December 23, 2011 Thursday so a total of 3 days where any host has a chance to win me over. Heck even Virtuallis and Dialtone had someone to talk to on the 24th and 26th of December. Keep in mind they were lousy companies that were eventually bought up. Sure he can celebrate the holidays, and yes I do celebrate Christmas, but it has not been a full day off for me since I became self-employed 13 years ago. Perhaps MediaTemple.net did not have someone to do crisis management during a Christian holiday?
The worst of it was the MediaTemple.net supervisor while not calling on time, had decided that he would list every single plugin that I ran in conjunction with WordPress and how many in quantity that I had on the other sites that shared the server. I can’t say that impressed me. It pretty much pointed the finger at every single one as if they were the problem. This had me believing MediaTemple.net knew less about what was going on than they had led me to believe. They could not point to any particular plugin that was the cause of the problem. Never mind this is after I disabled the plugin that Rackspace had pointed me to for almost 24 hours, and I had updated the ticket with that information.
After that and up to the time I migrated the site had run better then it had in months. In fact if it had ran this well before I would not have been inclined to migrate off MediaTemple.
I was not beyond being talked out of migrating to another provider. Between the loss of a family member, a new client with a ton of work, the holidays, the cost and time of having someone migrate this site and other sites, and on top of that going from $40 a month to $150 a month I would have loved a reason to not migrate.
But they were unable to do what RackSpace did in a few minutes, and that is point me to a problem. Another problem that I have not really got into is MediaTemple.net’s in house control panel. If it worked that list of plugins would have been shorter. I should have told him that part of the reason that there were so many had to do with the fact that their control panel did not delete sites that I tried to get it to delete. While the control panel says we have 15 sites, you can login through ftp and see that there are 20. Keep in mind I said I am not a technical person, but I do know how to use FTP, meaning there is a serious issue when I can see this problem. Yeah I guess I suppose I could have contacted them in the past to fix this. But I am not here to debug their stuff for them. That is the job of whoever develops the MediaTemple control panel. Another annoying aspect of their control panel is adding a domain to the control panel. It is not instant like most control panels, it can take up to 15 minutes for their control panel to add a domain (the process relies on a cron). I figured after a year and half that MediaTemple.net would have this fine tuned.
Is MediaTemple.net WordPress Friendly?
When you search for “Mediatemple WordPress” you find they have landing pages just for WordPress. But it has been my experience a lot of plugins do not work with their service. One in particular vital to someone that does not know how to back up their site, case in point is BackUpBuddy. There are some others that I am not mentioning purely because some tricks of the trade are up to the software providers to get out there, and the less that know about them the better off I am. But I found myself constantly having to reenter my serial numbers in. At first I had thought it was the plugin developers favoring cPanel. After all a very popular control panel, you go where the masses are. But after relocating for the first time WordPress sites on RackSpace I am more inclined to think it was MediaTemple.net. BackUpBuddy is working perfectly. Also those licensed plugins are not asking me to re-enter my license information. MediaTemple is not as WordPress friendly as they could be.
Final thoughts on MediaTemple.net
MediaTemple.net is capable of great things. I would like to think they are a step above companies like Hostgator.com and Godaddy.com. But there are things like this that keep me from wanting to list them in the big boys club. They have done what I wanted to do which was to create a control panel. There is defiantly room for a competitor to cPanel. But it has been an unfinished product in the 1.5 years of my using it.
Then there are things like this:
Is this the point where I tell you that you should avoid MediaTemple.net at all costs? Their control panel while being home grown, is an unfinished product. At times they seemed understaffed. Don’t even mention outsourced support to them (regardless if it can be done successfully).
Despite these failings MediaTemple is not a company that I will ultimately lump with the likes of Virtualis, DialTone, OChosting, FastServers/Layeredtech), and Burst.Net. They may very well be in the same position as Server Beach. Which honestly after my first dealings with them I would have told you to avoid Server Beach. But before I left the hosting industry I was approached by a company that had bought them out. Frankly the sales person they had contact me had changed my mind, though I had left by the time my previous company started using them. It was because they did what those companies I listed as failures would not do, and that is to seek redemption. MediaTemple did at least try to do some damage control, something I can not say about those I list as failures.
Regardless of how this ended, I can’t say that I would not consider MediaTemple in the future.