Traffic Tricks by Hosting Providers.

I already wrote once about hosting troubles which we had with this site a while back. Today we had another trouble to one of the European hit servers for ClickAider project.

We had purchased this 1and1 server few months ago, before we were running into troubles and as it was running well and because we have rather quick and automated fail over if it ever crashes we do not get into too much trouble.
There is however yet another traffic trick surprise which we got into.

When we purchased the server we specially looked for traffic limits and 1and1 looked very good from the glance view. Promising Unlimited Traffic with 100Mbit transfer speed and when we got the server it indeed had 100Mbps connection.

Yesterday we’ve noticed server responding slow, showing packet loss as well as very large ping times compared to other servers in the same network. Checking with 1and1 support of course was useless – “if you shut down the web server you do not have any packet loss means it is your application problem”. I specially asked them if they could have enabled any traffic shaping or have any concurrent connection limit on their firewall or something similar – they told me they do not.

Looking closer at the problem I discovered my NIC is now switched to 10Mbit/Half duplex mode which was not enough at the times.
Checking with 1and1 support again I was told I’m switched to 10Mbps because I used over 1TB of traffic over month.
Now I’m given the option to unblock it in the control panel manually but I have to do this each 250GB of traffic manually after it blocks, which is of course unusable for any real use.

Indeed you can find about this limit in fine print but not from the outlined offer.

This is not the first time I run into the problem. The last one was with other provider and was even funnier. I got the server with
3000GB per month of traffic, however as I started to put any traffic on it I found my server is down and I was told their system simply shuts down the server if it uses more than 3Mbit/sec for more than 24 hours. And that was not even in the fine print.
The funnies thing is if you do the math here – if you use 5Mbit/Sec for 30 days 24 hours with 100% efficiency you can use only 970GB worth of traffic, which means their advertised offer is simply unreachable with such restrictions.

Generally in my experience (which is at large extent focused on inexpensive hosting) I found it much better to work with Co-Location than dedicated server hosting. If you get a rack or two, especially from the smaller company (which will make you significant client) you can get fair treatment. On other hand if you’re unlucky if will be harder to move servers to another location than simply stop renting one dedicated server and get another one. Typically used 95% Commit + Overcharge payment is also fair pricing which means hosting provider is interested for me to use more traffic, not less.

There are some surprised in Co-Location market as well but as setting up your own location is more involved you tend to check things more carefully. For example 24/7 support may not be such or it could be a guy living 30 miles from data center which can come where within an hour during the night if you need him. The “remote hands” may also wary a lot in price and quality.

The other interesting surprises I had were about power consumption. First you really need to make sure what power consumption is stated. Many data centers even though they give you 20A of power will only allow 80% peak use, which makes it 16A. In other cases you could get the amperage you can use fully. Of course I do not speak about 110V vs 208V difference which is pretty obvious one. Another gotcha with power is power availability and density – quite often there would not be extra power available or power density allowed per rack will be very low. Hurricane Electric in one of their data centers for example allows 15A of power per rack and this is it – want more power buy another rack.

Going forward we plan to host our consulting business web sites MySQLPerformanceBlog, Percona high quality dedicated server, mainly to keep it isolated from everything else and be secure, while for our other projects such as ClickAider as development and test servers and some other projects we have in works we will need to organize our little data center in the next few months.

For ClickAider this however would not be good enough – to minimize latency we need several GEOIP based locations which gather the data and that would be way to expensive to organize multiple data centers. So for the coming months I will be on lookout for dedicated physical or virtual servers in different parts of the world.

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Comments (13)

  • Daniel Cousineau

    They are building up a data center in Bryan/College Station, TX (a few miles from the Texas A&M Campus). Fibertown is the group managing the setup and I’m sure would be excited to have any clients they can get:

    October 17, 2007 at 4:46 pm
  • Brian O'Kelley


    Would love to talk about your geo distributed server needs – we’re launching a global cloud computing service called AppNexus, and this sounds like a great fit.


    October 17, 2007 at 5:28 pm
  • mike

    1and1 has probably the most horror stories out of any provider. i’m not surprised.

    October 17, 2007 at 5:52 pm
  • anonymous :P

    Try excellent support, fair prices.

    October 17, 2007 at 10:44 pm
  • Cameron Watters

    If you haven’t already, take a look at Joyent. If your app can run on Solaris, their Accelerator product might be adequate, and they seem to be fairly generous with the bandwidth and they’re specifically targeting high-traffic customers.

    October 18, 2007 at 7:18 am
  • Matthew Montgomery

    Also, you might investigate ServerBeach ( They have solid network and very reasonable, straight forward pricing. It was stared by a founder of and funded by Rackspace. They even hosted YouTube’s video content prior to the Google acquisition so large bandwidth customers are not a problem.

    October 18, 2007 at 12:21 pm
  • Kevin Burton

    I’d recommend ServerBeach… its’ what we use at Tailrank. By default you’ll get 2TB of transfer and they basically won’t play games.

    I wrote up a review of ServerBeach if you’re interested.

    October 18, 2007 at 7:06 pm
  • Alt

    I recently helped move some servers for a couple of companies over to Amazon EC2. It’s nice to have near-instant scaling if needed and you pay for the bandwidth you use (at fairly reasonable prices) which means they won’t cut you off if you use too much.
    Let me know if you want more info on how we did it or how it all works.

    October 21, 2007 at 8:42 pm
  • Chris Mospaw

    I had a run-in with 1 and 1 a few years ago. They suck so hard I thought they were a vacuum company as well as a “hosting” provider. If they were the last hosting company on Earth, I would have to go back to the analog internet.

    October 23, 2007 at 7:13 am
  • Justin

    If you look at they have a great resource listing many hosts, feedback, etc. I have used ServInt (dedicated server) in the past, and they worked well and responded very quickly to support questions.

    With a colo, consider the risk if your server has a hardware failure. It’s then your responsibility to fix it, which may be tough if you’re not in the same city as your colo. With a dedicate server, if a hard drive or something else fails, it is the responsiblity of the provider to fix it.

    October 29, 2007 at 10:48 pm
  • peter


    You’re right about the collocation of course, however this is solvable if you’re dealing with decent hardware and Support. For collocation I deal with for affiliated companies we use Dell hardware with onsite support.

    Over two years for about 40 servers we had few hard drives, one memory and one RAID controller failure in all cases Dell technician would come or send hot swap hard drive for replacement and you’re good to go.

    The only thing is you should be OK with boxes being dead for few days… though if you’re designing your system without single point of failure it is not the issue.

    October 30, 2007 at 1:31 am
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