Why rules for domain hosting

I pay a cheap annual fee - $97/year - to host, and some others at Dreamhost. Today I went to and the site was down.

I checked the usual suspects:
  • did I let my domain registration expire?
  • is DNS set up correctly by my registrar?
  • is DNS set up correctly by dreamhost?
  • is my local network connection flaky?

    These turned out all to be working, so I tried some more stuff - SSHing and FTPing to the site. Both of these worked. I assumed that the Apache HTTPD server must have crashed or something, so I decided to give up and ask tech support for a fix.

    Dreamhost has an thorough, easy-to-navigate tech support site. It uses a rich Ajaxey form to request help and it gives suggestions for common problems based on how you fill in the form. The suggestions they gave were spot on - did my domain registration expire? does FTP work? etc. Access to a Real Person via email is easy and I quickly submitted the form a description of the problem.

    Within an hour, my site was back up and I received an email describing what had gone wrong. The message described that someone else on my shared server somehow crashed our common Apache server. I'm not mad - Dreamhost gives its users liberal access to the underlying services, and so with this great flexibility it's possible to crash a server.

    But I am highly impressed with how quick the problem was resolved, and how knowledgeable their tech support is. I've bought cheap webhosting from lots of places and there's occasional problems with all of them. The thing that makes Dreamhost great is their people. When problems do happen, it's fantastic to have smart people on call, taking care of me.

    PS - although this is an unsolicited testimonial, I do participate in the Dreamhost referral program. If you need webhosting, sign up with Dreamhost. If you the promo code JESSE, you save $87 and I get $10 off my annual fees. Or use the code PUBLICOBJECT to save the full $97.