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Rails hosting review, 7 months later

March 2010 update:

Please understand that this post is very old and completely outdated. The Rails hosting spectrum has changed drastically over the past few years.

Read updated reviews here: The Best Ruby on Rails Hosting Services

Exactly 7 months ago, I wrote a very popular article about the various Rails hosting providers on a budget (shared hosting). That article is the most popular to date, and every month hundreds of people looking for Rails hosting advice arrive at my site. This is a short follow up.

Site 5

I’ve been using Site5 for a long time and I ‘m confident enough to suggest them to my fellow developers.
(Yes, if you get a plan from them through my links, you also support this site)

The current available plans are:

Plan Space Bandwidth Cost
Silver 10 GB 200 GB $6.97
Platinum 27 GB 750 GB $16.97

All these plans feature shell access, unlimited ftp/email accounts, and multi site capabilities (Gold and Platinum have a complete admin panel for up to 2 and 5 sites respectively).

These Ruby on Rails hosting plans include MySQL (of course), a series of Ruby gems (if you request it, they install more), SVN and Switchtower.

Customer service tends to be very fast and competent (above all Rails savvy), and they go the extra mile. I once asked them to install rmagick, gruff, feedtools, rubyzip, builder, ajax_scaffold_generator, pdf-writer, flickr and capistrano for me. On 4 different websites. I got a friendly answer in less than an hour. All done.

They are not perfect (no shared hosting service is) but they are good enough, and for the low monthly rate, they may be the best bang for your buck.


Give Site5 a try. In the worst case scenario, you can always fall back on their nice 60 day money back guarantee.

Update 08/31/2006: After careful consideration I’ve decided to remove my comments about Dreamhost. While what I said was entirely factual, and I don’t believe there is anything wrong with pointing out criticisms that are available on the net, what I had intended for my post to convey was that in my experience Site5 was a satisfactory service. I was not out to compare Site5 with numerous other hosters that I’d not yet tried myself.
I’d still advise any readers who are interested in cheap Rails web hosting to do their homeworks with Google before picking up one hoster or another.

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15 Responses to “Rails hosting review, 7 months later”

  1. Bob says:

    I’m sorry, but you’re being a bit slimey. Sure, the text you quote is a summary of the variety of ways a company can be graded with an “F”. But the detailed BBB report on Dreamhost makes it clear what the reason is — the BBB does not like how Dreamhost handled complaints channeled through the BBB.

    Here are some more relevant quotes from the report:

    On complaints:
    “Our complaint history for this company shows the company gave proper consideration to some complaints presented by the Bureau. Although in some cases the company failed to respond to complaints.”

    On licensing and bonding:
    “We know of no licensing or registration requirement for companies engaged in this company’s stated type of business.”

    On government actions:
    “We know of no government action taken against this company.”

    On advertising:
    “No question about the truth of this company’s advertising has come to our attention.”

    On other considerations:
    “We know of no other matter or practice relating to this company that may assist you in your consideration of this company.”

  2. Bob,
    “slimey” is a completely offensive and undeserved word.

    If you go to the company report on BBB, and you click on “full rating explanation”:
    you will get the definition that I quoted.

    I was beign entirely factual. However I understand that quoting the definition of their rating maybe misleading, therefore I’ve included the reason for their F rating.

  3. Mike says:

    Nice blog. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  4. Jeff says:

    Antonio, I’m with you. Your detailed report hardly deserves the word “slimy”. Bob simply reiterated what you said — “BBB does not like how Dreamhost handled complaints channeled through the BBB.”

  5. michael says:

    dreamhost hosts over 300,000 domains. 22 complaints in three years doesn’t seem out of the ordinary.

  6. Gabe says:

    I have a lot of web hosting experience. I currently host sites with Dreamhost, Site5, TextDrive, CIHost, ServInt and Rackspace.

    The first thing is that anecdotal evidence is pretty much bullshit. No matter what a host does, someone is not going to like it and probably complain loudly. The bottom line is that _all_ hosts have problems, and shared hosting is always a crapshoot. Ultimately, the most important thing is the ability to solve problems as they arise.

    Dreamhost has a ton of experience in this arena. They have dealt with countless DoS, network, and usage issues over the years and have improved their systems as a result. How will Site5 handle these situations? No one knows until they happen.

    I have an expensive reseller plan with Site5 have been getting the runaround for months. The server I’m on goes down on average every 2 days. This has been going on for 5 months, and support always says the same thing, “we’re diagnosing the problem and working to make sure it doesn’t happen again”. Except nothing ever changes. Dreamhost has tools to profile CPU usage (hence the complaints about getting shut off for too much CPU usage), but Site5 does not appear to have anything. I’m guessing when loads climb they just start inspecting process queues.

    I’ve noticed sometimes mysqld starts consuming all the CPU causing load to steadily rise. Well Dreamhost has dedicated database servers which offers more fine-grained load management.

    Dreamhost also has facilities to quickly move high-load sites to temporary servers to handle slashdottings without affecting other customers on the same server.

    On the issue of disclosure, Dreamhost posts all service issues that they are working, even if it only affects one server. Site5 is attempting to improve transparency, but they have a history of censorship in their forums and in their blog comments.

    Finally I’d just like to say does include some flat out lies. For instance, they say there’s no way to monitor your CPU usage, however their panel does allow you to turn that on. They also are willing to work with you to diagnose CPU utilization problems. Maybe you think that it’s a better situation to go to Site5 where they don’t even know how much CPU you’re using so you can host a popular PhpBB forum or a ton of WordPress plugins. But remember you are on a host with 30 other people, and if any of them happen to be a heavy resource user then you are basically screwed at Site5.

    I don’t think its fair for you to post things about Dreamhost when you’ve never actually hosted anything there. It’s one thing for disgruntled customers to air their grievances, but you’re basically just scraping up whatever dirt you can to make Site5 look better. only has 4 complaints, no comments, and is full of misinformation. FWIW Pete @ Dreamhost has responded to the BBB issues “here”:

  7. Thomas says:

    Dreamhost gave me many problems so I am looking forward to changing hosting provider. I can’t decide between Site5 and TextDrive hence I’m reading reviews about them.

    To the previous commenters: I use Dreamhost and I don’t like their attitude. Their customer service was terrible. Bashing BBB is plain stupid. BBB is not perfect and there is some criticism ( but they are not an extortion company or blackmailers as Dreamhost depicts them.

  8. Samuel says:

    Hey Antonio, I like the integrity and respect that I see in your posts. I added you to my feeds.

  9. Sergi says:

    My own experience with a rails application (Typo) installed in Dreamhost is terrible. I’ve been cut for days twice, and every few hours my application stops responding, and trying to kill all Ruby processes does not solve the problenm. At present I’m looking eagerly to switch providers, but I’m not sure where to go.

  10. Bill Carpenter says:

    Anyone heard of I am looking at them, they have the ability to add instances of mongrel servers, and not overly expensive to do so, nice to have if you need to add capacity. I really dont know anything about reliabiltiy etc..

  11. Peter says:

    I recently gave up on Dreamhost (because it’s way too slow for Rails) and I am using HostingRails with a 2-instance mongrel setup.
    It knocks Dreamhost’s socks off. Really impressive. And great value for money. Support has been lightning fast and incredibly helpful as well (again, far beyond Dreamhost).

    I’ve only been on with them for a week, so I can’t say anything about long-term reliability. So far, I’m really happy.

  12. Mike @ SEO G says:

    I’ve been testing both Bluehost and Site5 for hosting though I haven’t loaded rails apps up yet. The control panel on Site5 is pretty slick and one advantage is that the way they do the proxy I can manage domains while at work — usually control panel stuff gets blocked by the company firewall. I’ve found Site5 to be quickly responsive when I’ve had questions and overall they seem pretty slick, but time will tell with how responsive the rails sites are.

  13. zack says:

    thanks for writing this… great help to a seeker like me.


  14. Hank says:

    Dreamhost has been slow and crappy, and it costs a lot. I’m switching, possibly to site5.

  15. Tom says:

    Antonio, I appreciate your coverage of RoR hosts. I recently (2/6/2007) gave Dreamhost a try. What a disaster! After two weeks of mysterious mySQL spikes (which literally caused applications like Gallery and WordPress to time out), non-existent “everything is fine here” tech support, FTP near-stoppages, I too have moved my hosting elsewhere.

    Dreamhost deserves their “F” for bad performance, bad service, and their “ones born every minute” approach to hosting. (I have alternative hosting on Site5, Hostexcellence, a private hosting service, and some other sites.)

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