Check out my birthday video!

My wife did a hysterical birthday video for me. If you don’t watch and read her blog, you should.

I think I made a mistake choosing Redwood Virtual

I think I made a mistake in choosing hosting providers for my Linux Virtual Machine. Currently, as you can tell if you visit my actual site, my site is performing incredibly poorly. It’s been better today, but there’s someone on the same physical machine as I am (or multiple people) who are sucking the physical processor dry. Doing simple things like removing files can suck up the processor for seconds at a time, leaving the website and email unresponsive.

I chose Redwood Virtual as my hosting provider because they were cheap. I suppose that was my first error. I’ve always been a believer in you get what you pay for, but in this case my expectations were not high. My site is not high-traffic, I run email for 3 active users. I could run this on a P200 just fine, but I’m not even getting that kind of performance. Very frustrating.

Here’s the email I received back from, two days, after I sent it. Obviously, the bar for customer service is pretty low there.

Clint Sharp wrote:


I’m again experiencing very poor performance on my LVM. Last time, you told me I was probably swapping, which I am, but not enough to make it the problem that I’m experiencing. One web page load is currently maxing out my CPU for 30 seconds or more. I’ve done everything I can from the web server side to maximize performance (caching on WordPress, etc), but there’s nothing I can do if the CPU is behaving like low-class pentium. Obviously, this must be because I’m fighting for resources with other LVMs which are using more than their fair share of processor (or perhaps I’m using more than my fair share, I’m not sure, this is my first Virtual Machine experience). I’d be happy to upgrade to the $20/mo LVM if it would improve my service (it would eliminate the swapping issues I do have, which would help performance, although, with the amount of swapping I’m having now, it wouldn’t help much).

Pentium performance is probabaly what people get on a shared Xeon.

If upgrading is going to cause much downtime, please let me know, as I’d like to know before you do it.

I don’t think upgrading will help much. Other people run web sites with no problems. I don’t know much about wordpress, but if it is doing disk writes on every page load (ie, caching), that is probably more of a detriment than a benefit.

To maximize performance on a shared server like this, it is best to keep disk writes to a minimum and use the CPU in spikes, instead of at a constant rate.

Keep in mind that if you _or_ others continuously load the CPU, then your (or their) particular virtual server is limited CPU wise – so, the rule is simple, if someone plays nice and doesn’t harm others’ performance,
then the performance of your server is also not degraded.

Jeremy Goldstein

As you can see, I offered to spend more money with them, but apparantly more money does not equal better performance. This is my response from them. I guess I shouldn’t expect something for another couple of days (heaven forbid they actually respond and give me a chance to make a decision before the end of the month and they automatically bill me again). I’ve removed the portions where I was responding to him line by line, as the majority of the content was at the end of the email.

Exactly my point! I play nice. I have no extensive CPU intensive tasks running other than log analysis, which runs every day during the evening while I’m asleep. In every interaction I’ve had with your support organization, you’ve simply brushed me off. You must assume that all your customers are some sort of newbies, but I’ve been administering UNIX-like systems for 10 years. I know what I’m doing.

Is this what you call customer service? Thankfully you didn’t use the “you’re probably swapping” excuse your company used the last two times I complained. I have absolutely no facts to give you other than my experience on my VM, but the performance sucks and you don’t seem to care. I have no tools to tell me what the physical machines statistics are, and I have doubts that you have any tools to tell me what VMs are using what portions, because if you did I think it’d be in your interest to make sure people are playing nicely so customers like me won’t think you’re offering a poor service. Your response basically told me that somebody might be using more than their fair share of the CPU, but you don’t know, and it’s obviously too late to check because you took two days to respond to my email. I ran this exact same software configuration (except for some minor differences) on a Pentium III 600 for well over a year before I moved the service here. I was sharing the machine with two other friends (shared root) and their services, and never once did the site I’m running for web and email ever come close to even using 5% of the CPU continously. Based on my experience there and my experience here, I’m getting incredibly poor performance. I’m not asking for much, but if I’m getting the equivalant 100 mhz guaranteed of CPU I’d be surprised.

I’ve offered to pay you more money to improve the service and you’ve basically told me that won’t help. Paying you for a higher class of service doesn’t put me on a machine where I share the CPU with less virtual machines? Do you have any options for me that don’t involve switching my stuff to another service?

Honestly, I don’t know if you’re the owner or you can speak with absolute authority for your organization, but it took you TWO DAYS to respond to this email. I’m not expecting world-class customer service for what I’m paying, but a response in 24 hours isn’t too hard to manage I wouldn’t think. If you have a superior, I’d definitely like to speak with him before I go shopping for some other service. I suppose I get what I pay for, and I went with the cheapest option available, but you have far underperformed my already low expectations with totally poor customer service. You could have easily made up for my problems with the service by actually seeming to care. Please put me in contact with your superiors if you have them, if you don’t then please let me know so I can start shopping for other options.


One thing I neglected to mention is that I do WordPress development on a G3 300 running Gentoo (and before you say something, no I barely compiled anything on it, so I’m not doing it for super-l33t optimization). It runs things significantly better than this VM does. Anyone who reads this actually use a Virtual Machine provider? Unfortunately, I like to control my own destiny so to speak in terms of software, so I’m looking for somewhere that offers me a Linux or other UNIX-like (BSD, Solaris, etc) virtual machine at around $20 a month. Any recommendations?