Posts in Reviews

Dreamhost Hosting Review

If you don’t know who Dreamhost are, just write Dreamhost on Google 😀 they are one of the largest hosts nowadays and up until recently I was a big fan and a client for over 10 years, wow! 10 YEARS! So as you all know i tend to only review hosta i stopped using, so why have i left Dreamhost?

First lets start with some history, for a while Dreamhost was the home of a bit of weirdly offbeat hosting, their hosting setup was unique, their culture was unique, their services were unique, also it was one of those hosts that gave you freedom, even when you screwed something over or abused some of the services or just didn’t have your wordpress well setup they were lenient and most of the times helpful, it wasn’t about oh its your fault or i cant do anything, it was a matter of helping you out even if it was your fault, their hosting was weird but cool, you never cared about how much space you were using or resources cause it just worked!

And from a very affordable price you had a ton of extras to play with it was a playground feel and something very unique on the hosting industry, it reminds me of when Gmail started, you just had so much to work with now, even with kinks you always forgave cause… well lets just say it… Dreamhost was awesome!

And although i had move most of my sites and apps to vps/cloud/dedicated hosting, i still was very happy with my Dreamhost account!

Was? Oh yeah since about 2 years ago, they changed and a lot and besides the culture part… well it was fun but its not the essential, the change was in their network and features, the moved from a clustered type of hosting where i have to say it had the occasional downtime but overall it was fantastic speed and resources to a plain basic shared hosting setup one that is very stifled on resources, a hosting account that at its max had 20+ sites all running a lot of traffic, including a buddypress social network and a forum, now cant handle 2 wordpress sites at the same time without giving 503 errors.

Now compare that with a test vps i have that also has 2 pretty new wordpress sites but getting there, this vps is KVM with 256mb of Ram and 1vcpu, is it awesome, no? but after a well setup (nginx/apache/mariadb) its running those 2 sites like butter its almost native speed, while on Dreamhost you basically traded that slight instability for basic performance, those 2 sites load slowly and i guess any more php sites and my account would die, by the way i was paying 7$ a month on Dreamhost and i pay 1$ a month on and altough Dreamhost “gives more” like control panel, backups, the most important part, the hosting is pretty weak!

The fact is that shared hosting on Dreamhost is dead, they want people to move up to VPS, to their Cloud Offerings, to their Specific WordPress Offerings or Dedicated, they went were all the other hosting companies have been going since… well forever! They give you a great offer on shared hosting, but the shared hosting is so restrictive that any usage above a very low margin will probably need to upgrade, thats fine, but that wasnt the Dreamhost I sign up for!

Dreamhost could easily put nginx in front of apache, or just tweak their shared hosting to be as fast and streamlined as possible but they of course have no incentive for that, when you sign up for their vps you can do that yourself so they can do it, it reminds a bit of my issues with webfaction and their weird limitations…

Also i tried 2 times their VPS platform, the first time was a bust well mostly because their shared hosting was still in the old platform so it was literally moving to something worst with more limitations in everything, the second time around it was better but for that price and performance i expected a big leap from the shared hosting, i was using the shared mysql but than again why would i need to pay for vps and then for vps mysql, its just plain not good.

I also asked to be moved in the last 6 months to another datacenter and they did it, but nothing changed, still plain boring performance and hosting, this wasnt a easy decision i really liked Dreamhost, my kind of hosting, but they arent anymore, and so i move to bigger and better things, so to finalize this… yeah i left and im not going back, and sorry to say that ill probably also pass on their cloud offerings, burn me once… ok stopping the rant >_< sorry sorry, here is a resume 😛

Dreamhost Strong Points

  1. Awesome Control Panel
  2. Basic Hosting Feature Set
  3. The Shared Hosting Price is Alright
  4. Good Network

Dreamhost Weak Points

  1. Shared and VPS Hosting has Weak Performance
  2. Shared Hosting Increased its Limits
  3. The VPS Hosting Price is Expensive
  4. Lost Some Extra Features
  5. Its Price point has lost Value (You dont get the same bang for buck you once got)
  6. Lost part of its Nerdy/Tech Culture and Charm
  7. Uncertainty Regarding New Features (Adding then removing features)

Webfaction Hosting Review

So I was a user of Webfaction hosting for a year, and nooo don’t take my dramatic image that Webfaction sucks! Hehehe it just sucked a little but it failed quite a bit, lets start from top shall we.

Webfaction is a shared hosting provider, it kinda sits between traditional shared hosting and running a VPS/Cloud/Dedicated hosting, its basically shared hosting with the basics plus lots of the resources and freedom of having control of most of your account, sounds great? Yeah i thought so too!
After some issues with some of my hosting i decided about a year ago to keep a part of my sites on  dedicated and some on shared hosting, so Webfaction looked like my perfect choice for a shared hosting provider (my end goal was 3 Webfaction accounts), still before singing up with I sent a e-mail with some questions, one of those was regarding the PHP and if that would run from the memory on the server or if it was included since their site doesn’t state that clearly, i was told that i wouldn’t need to worry about PHP since that was part of their setup and thus outside of my personal memory, only if i installed my own apps would i use up that memory, great!
So moving some of my sites over i had to get used to their control panel and system, that has some particulars compared with other shared hosting, but nothing too complicated and in some sense pretty cool, like the ability to run folders with just Nginx for example (bypassing the heaving Apache), still it took a while to move things over (about 8 sites, with 10GB of data, 5 MySql databases), performance wise it wasn’t all that good, i had some downtime (3 times at least) and weird issues like blazing speed one moment and crawling and timing out the next, after some back and forth with support (that although reasonably fast they are very bland with replies and tend to not give details on issues) and about 3 months in and more talking with support the server was moved to Cloudlinux and that would fix the issues.
And yes it helped, kinda, now i wasn’t getting those server wide glitches but started getting out of memory issues, were support sometimes telling me its my fault and other times telling me it isn’t a issue and shrugging it off, and that was my normal operation with Webfaction for another couple of months, with my sites going down all in a row, i had 8 sites on Webfaction, because i never had outstanding hosting, I moved the only important site out, but still the performance wasn’t improving, 2 of the sites were placeholders and the rest were smallish static or wordpress site, the total traffic per month was like 5GB to 10GB and around 1000 visit per month for the combined sites, my contacts with support always started with me asking what was the issue and they say that PHP was running and had to be terminated and me replying that i was told PHP wasn’t a issue and i don’t understand why PHP is running out of memory if i barely have visitors, and finally shrugs or promises that it would magically get fixed.
This kept going on, at one point support wasn’t even able to determine what was the PHP file that brought the site down (apparently support doesn’t have access to logs or Webfaction doesn’t make any logs of these issues), but since it wasn’t always the same domain even i was unsure, suffice to say it was a pretty miserable experience, so after 7 months in, i quit Webfaction and moved everything over to another one of my VPS (and yes the performance has been fantastic and PHP runs like a dream), i paid yearly so my fault there, so here is a resume of what i think are the strong and weak points of Webfaction hosting.

Good Points

  1. Feature Filled Hosting Platform, from php, python, perl, git, django…. you name it.
  2. Good Control Panel, although tricky, after you get used to it, it has some great features.
  3. Good Hosting Specs, with plenty of space and bandwidth.
  4. Lots of Control, of your hosting with shell account and the ability to run your own software
  5. Good Fast Network, at least in their Amsterdan location that i used.
  6. Really Good Community, they showed a lot of ways to go around issues and some of the things you can do on the platform.


Bad Points

  1. Support isn’t Knowledgeable, at least of their platform or lacks any real access, they are polite but i needed answers, not shrugs and reboots, especially when they say its a issue on my side and then point me to a “optimize your site” article as a solution for a plain WordPress site that received 10 visits that day and was able to crash my entire account!!!!
  2. Monitoring the Server wasn’t Proactive or Fast, every-time i had a issue even if the entire server was down it seemed like a surprise to support (and i don’t go running for support, I normally wait 30min or more just encase its some reboot or small glitch), not too sure what they are monitoring :/
  3. Although told otherwise PHP is considered an App, so every time it runs it takes memory from your account (in my case between 30Mb and 60Mb, so i had 256Mb of RAM at the time = i can only run around 5 instances until their prevention tools shut me down), so if you have 1 site you are good and you can run multiple PHP processes, if you have 5 or 6 like me, or if you have a very popular forum or WordPress site, you will get shutdown FAST (check Webfaction’s “tools to prevent server high loads” and “cgroups” and “Cloudlinux”)
  4. It doesn’t use Standard Configurations, so you get some issues and incompatibles with some scripts, of these 4 its a issue you can fix easily by searching the forums.


So to summarize, Webfaction likes to compare itself as a superior VPS, but it really isn’t! a quality VPS is unfortunately superior (at least in availability of resources), even a smaller one, the now 512Mb of RAM on Webfaction isnt superior to a equivalent VPS, were you can run a LAMP (+Nginx) stack with 150Mb of RAM and plenty of space to run PHP and anything you want smootlhy, its just a bit more work to setup hehehe, i would say if you have just a couple of sites and you want a good shared hosting with more freedom than the average Shared Host than Webfaction is a nice choice and like Webfaction likes to say hosting for developers (so expect issues?!?), but if you want to run critical software or if you need your sites to run smoothly, then Webfaction is unfortunately not the best choice.

Moving Away from PointDNS

[ Rant Warning ^_^’ ] Since i have most of my domains on ResellerClub and from my tests on DNS performance, ResellerClub DNS is like me hosting my own DNS (it will be slow and probably only on one location), its kinda the bare minimum, so I’ve used other DNS services, but ended up going with PointDNS, it had the basic features and pretty good performance, but since they got bought/sold/merged into Copper, they have been changing more and more of their basic features!

I don’t mind adding new features and asking money for them, that’s perfectly reasonable, but going back on previously free features is where i draw the line, i feel cheated, well not in the sense that i have to pay (altought now i do!), but in the “you got me here with these features” cheated (ie i would never have used PointDNS if they didn’t have these features).

Taking back features is like going back on your word and so i have lost confidence, they decided to make their e-mail redirects paid, but since i only need hosted DNS for less important domains or 3rd party hosted domains (like hosted in Blogger, Tumblr…), that feature is pretty helpful for me, so I’m moving away, I still think they have a pretty good, clean and reliable DNS service, but at this point even using ResellerClub or hosting my own is a better alternative, as of now I’m moving to NameCheap DNS!

Positives of PointDNS

  • Clean Layout
  • All the Basic Features
  • Reliable DNS Service

Negatives of PointDNS

  • Inconsistent Layout
  • Inconsistent Pricing
  • Turning Standard Features into Paid
  • Lack of Support/Manual
Update: A Couple of days later they send a e-mail cutting from the 10 free domains i used to have to just 1, gawd, no respect for customers, they give 30 days to decide… extortionist much?

Review of Tresorit “Secure” Cloud Sync

In my quest for some good secure cloud hosting/sync aka Dropbox clone, ive tested and used a lot of diferent cloud sync providers, might as well start posting my findings, today im starting with TresorIT, coming from Hungary, being their main features their client side encription and any folder can be synced.

So lets start with the install, I installed it on a Windows7 Laptop, that went fine and started fine, standard stuff here, i do note that this soft is installed on a very strange place (it installs on AppData instead of Program Files), also it created a ton of .tresor or .tresorit hidden folders, a bit weird but nothing much.

On running its a bit bare with information, username and password (so i assume the client side encription is done with that password) and off it goes, syncing away, however there is no way of knowing what is it doing, also its not as fast as say Dropbox or Skydrive, but the worst thing is that if you turn it off and delete a file and then turn the program back on… it wont retrieve the file from the server… so whats the point here?

That is pretty much standard syncing operation (if the software is not online at the time of the deletion you bring back the file from the server or if there is a new file update the file on the server, you dont erase the file on the server), so basically if there is corruption or you accidentally delete a file, or if you need to retrieve a file from the server online you are screwed, so what are you syncing for?

Yeah as of now TresorIT is pretty much useless, if you want syncing without protecion of data you might as well choose Bittorent Sync, its way safer (cause you at least know more about the security than blindly trusting TresorIT), its way quicker (on LAN its Blazing!!!!) and well if you delete something you are also screwed anyways!

TresorIT Advantages:

  • Stable enough Software
  • A presumption of security

TresorIT Disadvantages:

  • Basically if it stores files in the cloud, yet there is no clear way to access them if you need them (so what the point?!?!?)
  • Lack of information on syncing
  • Not the fastest of the bunch
  • Weird Instalation on Windows 7
  • Contacted Community and Support about issue, didnt get any reply from support >_< meh cryptic organizations dont give a nice vibe!

If you reeeeaaalllllly need to check them out, its!

Blogger Changes for Worst

Ok, I admit it! I use Blogger, actually i use it on 2 of my sites (this site! and on ecchi), the reason for that
is mostly legacy, that and they are 2 fanboyish sites, where i randomly
post random stuff, so there is no big need for more control or whatnot,
they exist mostly as scraps and places to vent, after all thats why
sites like Blogger, Tumblr or exist, to make it easy as
pie to publish content, or so it would seem.

So why am im not
enjoying the new Blogger? its a much needed refresh after mostly years
of neglect! True, and change in my view is mostly always a good thing,
but this new blogger feels and seems like change for the sake of change,
like when Adoble launches a new product line or Firefox launches a new
version (both have a tendency to instead of improving the old to push the new), so what are my gripes?

The Blogger Dashboard

the new dashboard is a remake of the old one, thats fine with me, also
there are some good things about it, showing some micro stats and some
quick links (although those were also on the old layout), thats good! if
you have 2 blogs, but if you have 20, its pretty shitty! the whole
design, is so wide and white that you are lost in it, it takes so much
room that only 5 blogs appear.

Also the new dashboard is
incredibly slow, everything takes a couple more than it should, Google
sees html as slow, AJAX is the way of the future, everything updates
itself, its all seamless and awesome!!! well No! Not really, the
whole thing is a mess, its like when you click on a link on a html site
you feel the microseconds to jump to the next page, its like a snap
feeling (page refreshes to show a new page), here you have the slow drag
feeling, the page doesn’t refresh but it loads… eventually.

whoever designed this was high on orange and on wasting space, from the top down, first
grey bar you have the blogger logo and on the other side my nickname and
some links to edit my profile or google account… great use of
space, especially on 2 features that… humm everyone uses all the time?

bar you have my nickname again and the title! my blogs! oh how sweetly irrelevant, on the other side of the bar you get 2 drop-downs, one for
language (something i like to see all the time and change constantly to keep myself
fresh) and options, of course all of these options are absolutely
positively super duper handy! Here they are:

  • Blogger Help – The first option? I think this needs no further comment.
  • Send
    – Hum? Im seeing double, in the bottom there is a button saying
    the exact same thing, hell that button is on every page!
  • Connect to Google+ – Yes we all know Google hates Orkut.
  • Old
    Blogger Interface
    – My favorite option! i think it should have its own
    button and be called “Go back to the new new blogger, its the same as
    the old but still better than the new”, ohh maybe thats too much text
    for a button, but im glad it made it into this crowded options menu.
  • About New Look – For when “Blogger Help” and “Send Feedback” is just not enough!

you get the blogs displayed, of course to create a new blog, you just
click the button “New Blog” you cant miss it, cause that tiny button is
taking a 1\3 column on the left side, I also like the responsive design
tweaks, but just if you have 1024px or lower screen, if you go higher
you just get extra empty space… how responsive of you.

also decided to continue including the reading pane (basically a poor
man’s google reader), who uses this? Let me think of a time i needed to
get into my blogging software to read other peoples shit? hummm suffice
to say its not practical, its not nice, its basically throwing random
feeds at you. Ohh and of course it takes half the screen and there is no
way of minimising or closing it, you just have to try and use a bit of
imagination, and think of a blogger dashboard without that oversized rss

The new dashboard also hangs/goes into a infinite loop if
you try to login forcing https, yeah, who wants encrypted logins…
what do you have to hide, blogger guy! no one reads your cat blog

The Blogger Editor

Did i say
the dashboard was slow? sorry i mean everything is slow, its slow in
firefox, safari and even google’s chrome, its slow by design, if you
concentrate and listen… listen really well… you can actually hear
the screams of javascript dying, thats how slow, unresponsive and
obnoxious it is!

But when it eventually loads something, you are greeted with even more white and orange, its like writing in a Sunnny D comercial, its so refreshing that im actually becoming orange blind.

Here however there is a somewhat better use of the white space, but still their “responsive design”
leaves a lot to be desired, their sidebar on the left side only
minimizes if your screen is small, if its large its always open, no
choice, also on the “Compose” side of things you have a tiny tiny box to
write, while on the “HTML” you have a large box, and going back and forth
actually loses formatting (a space written on html is not translated into
compose, you literally have to put the html tag for space or
paragraph), thats just silly, the HTML part on a editor is not really to edit html its to tweak the code of a post…

Also your infinite image posting
options, not that its a bad thing, i prefer more than too few, its just a bit confusing, like
you dont know if you are posting images on Picasa or Blogger (or is that gone?) from Picasa or from Google+ or from your webcam, where
do those go? into Picasa or Google+, i dont know… maybe i shouldn’t touch it more!

The New Themes / Dynamic Views

Should i mention those weirdly, barely functional, cooliris wannabe clones (being cooliris kinda a apple coverflowish clone), javascript infilled, bloat hazardous new themes?

Who had this great ideia? Hummm? I bet it was the same guy that designed the new blogger, he just went nuts on a power-trip, the new themes are simply not good, they break a lot of function and usability for the sake of fancy effects, blogs are to be read and enjoyed, not to be wowed by fancy sliding effects, although nice, they add little to nothing for the reader/visitor, it actually makes it worst.

  • These new themes are slow! – You betcha, a theme that has a loading icon is already a sign of bad things to come (like a software with a splash screen), especially when blogger staff says they load 40% faster… what? ohh you mean after the long loading signs it becomes faster? ohhh no? it must be one of those “perceived faster”, or maybe a sidebar is 40% of the design, if we kill a sidebar… 40% faster! by the way the screenshot on top of a dynamic view loading was super easy to take, no need to hurry before it finished loading…
  • These new themes are not easy to navigate! – They aren’t! Sure the fonts are nice and readable, but you can choose any font for your blog, but try and navigate anywhere on a dynamic view…  let this scrolling quest begin!
  • These new themes are all basically the same! – They are and half of them aren’t even that nice, and most are made for a specific kind of formated posts, so any average blog will look like shit in them!
  • These new themes have crippled search! – Try it on a average sized blog… i dare you! … to find anything…
  • These new themes have no sidebar! – So they basically want to push oversized, slow jazzed up tumblr themes on everyone… nice…

We all know Google quit the “Dont be evil” some time ago, and although i still use some Google products i cant say i trust them all that much, for sure me, like most of you will stay very clear from things like Google+ and Google Drive, as i would never sign up my cat to Google+ , if not the subpar facebook clone, the risk of his account getting banned and all his cute kitty pictures being lost forever… NOOOOO!

But when did Google stop making clean, simple and fast designs? Google Search is as bloated as ever, sometimes i have difficulty searching cause im writing something and instant is firing off and pages are loading and i realise that i cant even concentrate on what i was searching (and yes i know you can disable it, but how many times have i disabled instant or safe filter to have them show back on later on, even when im logged in!), what happen to the mili-second clean pages of search? what happen to clean, simple UI’s and focused design on one thing that does one job awesomely well!

Well, yeah the new updated Blogger sucks, its slow, buggier, way more complicated than it
should be, not that user-friendly and overall a disappointment, and
most likely when this new blogger turns into the official one, ill have
to pack my bags and move over to tumblr, apparently the only sensible offering on
the market today.

Note: Why no, well I also have
some minor issues with since they seem in comparison with
blogger and tumblr, the ones that offer less options and flexibility, ohh and worst! they are way more picky about the kind of content they let you publish (the 2
blogs i had there were “suspended” at one point or another), yes i know its their choice and
platform, and yes they eventually un-suspended me, but that just makes
me stay away.

Note 2: As I wrote this post on Gmail and
copy pasted to Blogger, im sure Google tracked that action down, later today some Google manager will look at that log and think … humm this should be on the next Gmail build! so just after the Gmail+, Google will launch the brand new Gmailer+ hey and its a success already, from day 1 it has a bazzilion users! Blogging right from your Google+ i mean Gmail, ahhh you know what that means! Humm now that i think about it… at least it would be a better Blogger!

Apache OpenOffice 3.4 Vs LibreOffice 3.5.3

So I’ve been using LibreOffice on multiple computers on the office, as an obvious alternative to Microsoft’s Office, now the reason for moving from OpenOffice to LibreOffice was purely because Oracle is probably the most untrustworthy company in the world (i joke, i joke, but they surely seem a very anti-opensource company), so with the spin-off LibreOffice and especially because they were joining with Go-oo, i thought the move to LibreOffice was the right one!

See my main concerns (and probably like most other users) with Office software are:

  • I need basic Office Functions (Writer/Calc/Presentation);
  • I need compatibility with Microsoft Office documents;
  • I need Performance (Opening fast, closing fast, editing fast, if possible low memory and low cpu)!

What i noticed first with my change to Libreoffice is that it was slightly slower than OpenOffice, i thought it was a bit strange since Go-oo was a bit faster than OpenOffice, still the difference dint seem much at the time and i put if off as the excuse from the LibreOffice camp that the focus right then was on code clean up.

So now that OpenOffice practically died off at the hands of Oracle and was handed down to the Apache foundation to try and become a more open source project again, i kinda would like to give it a go, at least to see how the performance is, so with OpenOffice 3.4 just coming out, lets make a comparison!

Basic Office Functions between OpenOffice 3.4 and LibreOffice 3.5.3

Well there are already a lot, especially on the LibreOffice side of things, but not all are for the better, sure LibreOffice has more tricks and features, but most are to my view (the view of someone that wants a basic office software for a business) mostly irrelevant, also Libreoffice color change is kinda obnoxious, who wants fluorescent green/blue/yellow documents icons? Besides that, i would say in basic office functions OpenOffice and LibreOffice are on par.

Office Compatibility between OpenOffice 3.4 and LibreOffice 3.5.3

Well almost the same, even tough here i kinda have to give a nudge to LibreOffice, since it has way less warnings and quiz options while opening Microsoft Office Documents, the OpenOffice “oh jesus christ i see a macro” warnings are a bit of a overkill and annoying, but yeah they both work pretty good with Microsoft Office documents.

Performance between OpenOffice 3.4 and LibreOffice 3.5.3

I’m using pretty modern computers (multiple core cpus, 4GB ram, fast 7200rpm hard drives), one with Windows XP the other with Windows 7, yes 
I’m  not going to compare on the Mac or Linux cause 
I’m  not using them on the business side, also although this isn’t all that scientific, 
I’m  going to take some precautions, my scheme will be installing/rebooting, running cold/running hot, also 
I’m  not tweaking any of them for performance, this is out of the box performance, on both 
I’m  only installing the writer/spreadsheet/presentation programs, on both 
I’m  disabling quick start.

The small.doc is 40KB, the large.doc is 25MB with plenty of formatting and embedded images and graphs, the small.xls is 45KB and the large.xls is 4MB with 20 sheets lots of calculations and graphs.

Note: I’ve removed the cold start, since they both acted pretty much the same, if starting cold, it adds around 16 seconds whatever the document and whatever the software (that sucks on both software’s). I also removed the Windows XP graphic cause it was kinda the same, although all a bit slower than on Windows 7, but that computer is also a bit slower than the Windows 7.

So as we can see, OpenOffice has better performance once warmed up, especially on the large.doc, the difference in opening is huge! Almost half the time to open, and with smaller files it also consistently outperformed LibreOffice, also OpenOffice was very responsive on the Large.doc, while LibreOffice kept hanging while i was scrolling or editing, also for the same document Libreoffice used 43MB of RAM, while OpenOffice used 35MB of RAM.

So now i’m not sure if i should move all my computers back to OpenOffice or if i should wait for LibreOffice 3.6 in a month’s time, but i do hope that both distributions start focusing on performance, i think if OpenOffice keeps improving its performance like this, that it really doesn’t matter the clean code and all the nice bells and whistles of LibreOffice, most business will make the decision on performance (literally the biggest reason to buy Microsoft Office is performance) to stay with OpenOffice or go back to it, just like me.

Note 1: Seems i should have published the documents i used in this comparison, sorry about that, my fault! but like i said in the comments they were random office documents, i promisse ill make a better comparison when LibreOffice 3.6 comes out!

Note 2: Also the Windows XP computer has Microsoft Office 2003 (the only office i have ever bought) and all of the files i tested open INSTANTLY! and in COLD START! even the huge 25MB file, although it seems in that one it only loads the first 6 pages, but scrolling down it keeps showing the rest pretty quickly and smoothly, soo i would add that in the performance department LibreOffice and OpenOffice have still a long Long LONG way to go, even in 2012 they are no comparison in performance to a 2003 software.

Cloud Storage – Skydrive’s Storage Claims

Guess I’m back to talking about cloud services, still this time
I’m on Skydrive’s tail, when this new Skydrive was announced on the MSDN blog, there was something that i found odd, the reason Microsoft decided to give 7GB of free space to new users, the reasoning being that 99,94% of all Skydrive users only used less than 7GB! Ill even give you their graph!

Neet, but something seems off, and some things do come to mind…

  1. Skydrive was a crippled service, less we not forget but the fact that Skydrive wasn’t that popular, was that you had 25GB but you could only upload files through a web form, you had like 100Mb limit for file size, stuff like that, with this… of course the vast majority didn’t have the time or patience to upload a lot of files to Skydrive, its completely different from the service that Skydrive is offering now!
  2. 25GB was the calling card, the reason you had so many users in the first place was the 25GB, even though it was hard to use the space, people like big numbers.
  3. There will be some storage envy, even with pretty spanky awesome lower storage price tiers and older users being able to have their 25GB, people that before ignored Skydrive because it was a crippled service, will now just compare it with Dropbox, Google Drive and such, hell with Dropbox you can get way more than 7GB with referrals, and Dropbox is still the superior service!
  4. 7GB is a weird number, it IS! 8GB or 10GB would be better, or better yet, keep the freaking 25GB, if most people just use 7GB there would be no harm at all! RIGHT!!!
As a sidenote I’ve tried this new Skydrive and i must say it works pretty well on windows 7 (on mac it sucks bad, since its only available to lion), comparing with Dropbox that uses like 60/80 Mb of Ram and about 2/3% CPU, Skydrive uses about 10/20 Mb of Ram and barely touches CPU, it also runs pretty smoothly, so good job there Microsoft, shame about the storage shenanigans.

Google Drive and Cloud Storage

So Google just launched Google Drive and although this has been quite a week on the cloud, and the response from the web to “Google’s Dropbox Clone” has been mostly “meh”, i do understand the sentiment, it is basically a Dropbox Clone, sure it has some new features but those are mostly baked into Google Docs already, so what is my view on this Goggle Docs+ i mean Google Drive…

Oh Shit it does Sync!

That’s awesome if it was released in 2006, its 2012 now and there are plenty of sync everywhere including cloud services, some more simple, some more fancy, but that’s pretty much the service, Google launching it now, feels and seems like an afterthought, because Microsoft and Apple went into it, they better do it as well, also it pretty much does only that, its a sync engine for Google Docs and that service although cool is not that awesome and it doesn’t replace at all using a local office software.

Oh Snap Google Owns Me!

So most of us are loyal and use a lot of Google Services, i know i do, and the day some algorithm in Google decides to suspend my account for some random reason (ie a bad Google Adwords ad, or putting my nickname on Google+ or whatnot), and of course i can trust the non-existent Google support to help me out, so yeah, using Google nowadays should be done with a backup/alternative always in mind.

Worst! Google unfortunately resides in the USA the home of such nice things as the Patriot Act and the reason why a lot of companies don’t host any personal/private information in the USA, cause its too easy to just go into your files, you need warrants and judges to go to your home to check your computers, but going to your cloud files… hummm not so much, and with the latest CISPA, it will just get worst, if banks/governments dont trust putting anything inside US borders, why should we trust Google with our stuff?  (ie i know most other cloud hosting are on US, im just stating the fact that Google is also).

Oh Jeez i have to Pay!

So Google launches Drive and decides to updates its storage price, and the web gives a sigh…

If Google Drive was launched with the previous storage prices it would have been an awesome cloud hosting mini revolution, i would see people using and integrating Google Drive in lots of different ways just to find uses to that cheap pricing on storage, but no! the new prices are 4X or more expensive than it used to be, and now its price is just on par with the cheapest of the pack, so why choose Google Drive? Not on storage price!

Its a Google App Engine all over again, they start with a really cheap price and then when people start using it they change the rules of the game, so if anyone is already deep down on Google Services and needs more storage, they will have to pay 4 times or more just to have THE SAME STORAGE THAT THEY USED TO HAVE! its ridiculous and in my opinion its another huge fail from Google.

But wait it gets worst, now with the new storage prices, Google Services have all different storage limits, like Gmail has 10GB, but Drive has only 5GB and Picasa has 1GB what? but Google+ Photos is unlimited, its ridiculous and besides making it more complicated it also kills the gmail “you never have to delete an e-mail ever again” popular slogan, cause now gmail storage stopped growing… thats just sad T_T so sad…

Oh Wow it kinda Sucks!

Ok so Google Drive is syncing to Google Docs, but…no not really, since your documents formatted with Google Docs wont sync, yeah thats right, they will only live only on the Google cloud, so when Google kills your account those files will be lost forever, nice file sync Google, its mostly one way… plus at least in my opinion, not supporting linux is just another silly mistake.

Also Google’s new “all services have the same terms of service” makes Google retaining/granting ownership or license of any material you upload, unlike competing syncing services, if you put something on Google, even if you delete it later on, Google still owns some rights to it, i know! its fucking embarrassing and ridiculous.

Oh chucks i quit!

So whats my take on this Drive… humm ill skip this one, it kinda just makes me dislike Google even more, the old Google ignored users, but this new Google just doesn’t respect its users, Google’s moto “dont be evil” is pretty close to becoming moot.

Cloudflare Review Part 2

So a couple of months ago i did a test and review of Cloudflare, it was getting popular and i wanted to check it out, so why a second part? Well 2 reasons, first instead of using it for a week, now i’ve used it for a couple of months on a couple of my sites, so i have a better view of the service, second cause i still have a couple of gripes with Cloudflare but also some nice tips to share.

My Hits with Cloudflare!
So like i said i’ve been using Cloudflare for a while now and i would say, its still a hit and miss for me, but mostly a hit, even with hosting your DNS through Cloudflare (and therefore losing control of your DNS ), but to be honest, unless you are paying for the really good DNS hosting, Cloudflare’s DNS service is far superior, i know, cause i’ve used a lot of free and paid dns hosters and hosted my own and i checked it here, with just a couple of tweaks/added services their DNS could compete with the best.

Now in terms of site performance i would say its pretty spanky awesome, i’ve had sites that were literally hanging for dear life bashing the server and just by turning Cloudflare on, it not only relieved a lot of the stress on the server but also turned the site speed way up, that’s by far the best thing about it, how much performance and how easy their CDN/Proxying system is.

My Misses with Cloudflare

But there are still today a couple of gripes, the first and largest is with their security settings and their intermission publicity type of thing they do when they block a user, as far as feedback from my visitors, i would say 100% of my visitors freak out when they reach a site and they are greeted with the cloudflare “you might be infected”! its just a fact, they expect to see a site, it really doesn’t matter if they are infected, their network is bad or they have an unlucky ip, its just not standard web usage to go to a site and be greated with something else, it feels like a pop ad or intermission ad to force someone to do something, what sites like (i made them up, but you know what kind of sites im talking about) do all the time while spamming Google, its a disaster in terms of usability and no type of customization will ever change my mind, people never expect a warning from a site, even Google disabled their “you might be infected” because people freaked out even if it was with the best of intentions.

There are also some misses with the “html,css,js…” optimizations, with external objects (javascript mostly), with search engines, 1 of my site was heavily penalized while switching to cloudflare (and yes turning it back after a week made it slowly return to normal, it was weird and it was reported to cloudflare staff), but 2 other saw a huge increase on traffic (I MEAN FREAKIN 400% more 300.000 users HUGE WAY!), probably due to getting faster, hehehe so again hit and miss.

What is the Cloudflare Structure?
Cloudflare seems to work a bit like this, they get datacenters on popular internet hubs around the world, popular in the sense that a lot of traffic goes through them, i would bet that altough they spend quite a bit on hardware, that they dont pay or pay very little for bandwith and do what most large providers do and have peering agreements, thats were the free cloudflare users come in, altough clouflare provides a free service they kinda need those users to have enough critical mass for these peering aggrements to be worthwhile for both parties, so altough we arent paying they need the free users, note that this isnt something evil, its awesome win-win for everyone.

The Economics of Cloudflare
How do they get paid! Humm i would say affiliates (through their detestable intermession security warning and through some of the plugins), and of course paid accounts, on this i wonder why they start the price at 20$, maybe they think most of their free users have only 1 site, and if they have more they only have to pay 5$ for each after that, well in my case at least for now its simply not economicaly viable to pay for clouflare pro, for 20$ a month you can buy yourself a whole lot of hosting, even with the added savings of a Pro account.

How do I use Cloudflare

  • Basic Security Level: Essentially Off (because the bonus of blocking potential bad users doesnt outweight the really horrible spammy intermission alert)
  • Caching Level: Aggressive
  • Minimim Expire TTL: 4hours (but adjust this to the update schedule of your site)
  • Auto Minify: JS=OFF CSS=ON HTML=ON (avoid the JS, until now it hasnt work in any of my sites and also makes Googles PageSpeed Apache Addon freakout)
  • Rocket Loader: OFF
  • Outbound Links: OFF
  • E-Mail Address Obfuscation: OFF
  • Server Side Exclude: OFF
  • Always Online: OFF (still a good feature, it only shows a bar on top saying that the site is currently offline, i just turn it off as a personal preference)
  • IP Geolocation: OFF
  • Browser Integrity Check: OFF
  • Hotlink Protection: OFF

Yeah i disable most of the features, dont get me wrong if you need it or its good for you, please turn it On, still the only feature i really cant live with is the Basic Security Level for the reasons i already ranted about hehehe, but hey, freaking thumbs up for Cloudflare its free and it works pretty damn good, my only real gripe is with the security warnings, i would prefer pure blocking than any kind of  warning, the more transparent and white-label the better and im really waiting for their announced new pricing scheme to see if i can get a few pro accounts for a couple of my sites, but even so Cloudflare isnt perfect, well damn if it isn’t pretty close.

Google Adsense is Ridiculous!

This shit keeps getting worse, talk about monopoly, i follow google adsense rules to the letter and i still keep getting the “review of your account we found that you are currently displaying Google ads in a manner that is not compliant with our program policies”, the fact is that im always in compliant, but since there is no recourse with Google, there is no one on the other side, i have no choice but to NOT use Google Adsense on that site, its silly, stupid and arrogant.

Why? Cause they give you no choice! and i quote “Your AdSense account remains active. However, if we continue to find problems, we may disable your entire account. Therefore, we suggest that you take the time to review the rest of your network to ensure that all of your other pages are in compliance with our policies.”, the sites in question, are pretty big sites, galleries, blogs and directories, there is no adult content or linking to adult content, but Google decided that it links to Adult sites!

What? what are the urls of these sites that Google considers to be adult sites?

Who? are these sites, it could be any comment on the blogs/galleries or site on the directories, this is the 4th site that was found in “violation”, well last time i checked the internet is all about linking, then all the fucking internet is found in violation of google adsense policy! they dont give a fuck, they change the rules in the middle of the game all the time, im a tiny client on their list, but ill tell you this, I keep finding myself getting more and more stressed with Google’s bullshit and that has consequences, not today, but some day.

Free Hosted DNS Review YAY… I think…

So i got an e-mail from EveryDNS warning that they are moving on from the freemium model into the dyndns paid DNS (they were merged or acquired some time ago), that’s cool, i guess, i was only using them as backup DNS for Hostcult, since that domain runs pretty much all our hosting (so if it fails 90% of my sites start failing), before i was just using my domain registar DNS ( ResellerClub ) and they pretty much failed a lot on me over time (with glitches, maintenance, performance issues), so having a backup DNS was a pretty good idea, so with this e-mail from the now defunct EveryDNS, i think i have a opportunity to check my options (and in the process share them with you all).

So why not choose a professional/paid DNS? well if i don’t find a good alternative, them ill probably pay for it, but DNS is such a thing that 95% of the time im running it myself on each server, i only really need dns for off server domains or for my main hosting domain, so checking the free alternatives seems like the place to start, so i’m doing a showdown between: Hosted VS ResellerClub VS InternetBS VS NameCheap VS CloudNS VS Hurricane Electric VS PointHQ VS XName VS CloudFlare.

Added info for the tables:
Europe Avg: A 24 hour average from my computer in Europe.
Monitoring Avg: A weekly average from Pingdom DNS (From 2 locations in Europe and USA), 5min intervals.
Monitoring Spike: The worst performance for that week from Pingdom DNS (From 2 locations in Europe and USA), 5min intervals.
Uptime: If it was online or not.
Location: where the DNS server is.

Local DNS

Europe Avg Monitoring Avg Monitoring Spike Uptime Location 170 129 419 100% USA, TX 166.5 109 325 100% USA, TX

Notes: Running on Cpanel, Complete DNS functions.
Restrictions: None.
Comments: Well running your own DNS isn’t perfect but its simple and doable, the client when doing a DNS query will have a quicker time, connecting again to the site (since both are in the same place), also changes to DNS are done quicker, overall good if you are hosting the sites on the same place as the DNS, and not that important the reliability, since if the server is down, the DNS being up or down is irrelevant.

Branded ResellerClub DNS

Europe Avg Monitoring Avg Monitoring Spike Uptime Location FAIL 112 301 100% USA, TX FAIL 98 293 100% USA, TX FAIL 105 283 100% USA, TX FAIL 82 258 100% USA, TX

Notes: Didn’t get any response from my own tests >_<, Average Control Panel, Complete DNS functions.
Restrictions: Its only available for domains hosted there.
Comments: Humm ResellerClub is my main domain registrar, and my current main dns host, but like i said above and as you can see on the tests, ResellerClub leaves a lot to be desired, its average at best, normally not so good, it also doesn’t help that all of their servers are in the same place.

Un-Branded ResellerClub DNS

Europe Avg Monitoring Avg Monitoring Spike Uptime Location FAIL 93 275 100% USA, TX FAIL 77 219 100% USA, TX FAIL 88 212 100% USA, TX FAIL 118 363 100% USA, TX

Notes: Didnt get any response from my own tests >_<, Average Control Panel, Complete DNS functions.
Restrictions: Its only available for domains hosted there.
Comments: Much like the Branded, the Un-Branded DNS is kinda slightly better, that makes it even more disappointing since i use the branded, ResellerClub is average at best, normally not so good, it doesn’t help as well that all their servers are in the same place.

InternetBS DNS

Europe Avg Monitoring Avg Monitoring Spike Uptime Location 175 88 245 100% Canada, QC 133.5 91 205 100% USA, NJ 109 74 176 100% USA, TX

Notes: Average control panel, Complete DNS Functions, although ns-uk has uk in the name, its actually hosted in USA, weird…
Restrictions: Its only available for domains hosted there.
Comments: Well InternetBS is also one of my domain registrars, and i can say im pleasantly surprised, even though my own test weren’t awesome, the weekly average shows that they perform pretty well, so kudos to InternetBS for a solid DNS Service.

Namecheap DNS

Europe Avg Monitoring Avg Monitoring Spike Uptime Location 95.5 78 200 100% FAIL 95.5 82 188 100% FAIL 178 72 187 100% Germany

Notes: Good Control Panel, Complete DNS Functions.
Restrictions: None.
Comments: My last and least used domain registrar was surprising, not only do they provide DNS services for free to anyone, but the performance was outstanding, they clearly know what they are doing, this is one of the best candidates to this point, excellent job.


Europe Avg Monitoring Avg Monitoring Spike Uptime Location 60 86 190 100% FAIL 160.5 88 242 100% USA, TX 112.5 72 233 100% Bulgaria

Notes: Good Control Panel, Complete DNS Functions.
Restrictions: Free for only 3 Domains.
Comments: Cloudns has a good panel and a pretty good DNS performance, even tough a bit weird, clearly their ns1 performs awesomely well, while the other 2 are a bit more weak, also hosting DNS in Bulgaria is just plain weird, you should keep DNS near major backbone transit facilities, that’s what i think.

Hurricane Electric DNS

Europe Avg Monitoring Avg Monitoring Spike Uptime Location 232.5 119 265 100% USA, CA 229 196 740 100% USA, CA 234 194 712 100% USA, CA

Notes: Average Control Panel, Complete DNS Functions.
Restrictions: None.
Comments: Hurricane is kinda horrible in everything, clearly putting all their DNS servers in their facilities in California, doesn’t help little old me half way across the world or anybody else for that matter.

PointHQ DNS (No Longer Recomended!)

Europe Avg Monitoring Avg Monitoring Spike Uptime Location 63 111 242 100% FAIL 133.5 110 238 100% FAIL 228.5 92 210 100% FAIL 63.5 96 225 100% FAIL 67 73 186 100% FAIL

Notes: Good Control Panel, Complete DNS Functions.
Restrictions: Free for only 10 zones.
Comments: PointHQ has some servers closer, some server further away, still pretty good performance overall, but i wonder, normally a browser checks the first nameserver or it just chooses randomly, so you want a excellent first nameserver performance and then good performance from all the secondary ones, with PointHQ we don’t have that, if my browser checks dns3 im gonna have to wait 3 times more than if i was lucky and it choose dns4, so yeah, its ok i guess.
Update: Yeah its now fully paid! And they kinda screwed their users, so i would skip this one!


Europe Avg Monitoring Avg Monitoring Spike Uptime Location 83 79 302 100% France, Paris 69 106 336 100% France, Roubaix 109.5 118 311 100% France, Villeneuve

Notes: Good Control Panel, Complete DNS functions.
Restrictions: None.
Comments: Xname has been around for some time, and it shows, in a good way, they have some great performance, and i find it even more remarkable because all their DNS is in France, but USA monitoring still was quick, that just shows that you don’t need to put DNS servers across the world to give good performance, good job.

CloudFlare DNS

Europe Avg Monitoring Avg Monitoring Spike Uptime Location 175.5 70 235 100% FAIL 178.5 65 173 100% FAIL 178 71 203 100% FAIL 176.5 93 245 100% FAIL

Notes: Basic Options, Lacks DNS Functions.
Restrictions: None.
Comments: What is cloudflare doing here? well cloudflare can also host you DNS, you can disable their CDN system, so basically you can use it as a pure DNS host, that’s why its here, so i have to say its weird, on my personal tests it goes from blazing fast 62 to 284 that’s why it has that average, also their system is probably a distributed one, as it doesn’t matter what dns server i point to, it will always reach the same place, probably they are leveraging their own CDN for their DNS hosting, and that’s a good thing, check the weekly average, that’s some impressive performance, with cloudns and namecheap with close results, probably cause all 3 are leveraging some sort of CDN cloud system as well, still it seems inconsistent at times and the lack of full DNS features, kinda kills it from the start, but still something to watch out for the future.

So what am i going to use, well most likely ill go with Namecheap and maybe Xname or Cloudns as backups, Namecheap clearly has a combination of full features and outstanding DNS performance, and also a namebrand you can trust with something as important as DNS.

As a sidenote, good job everyone, 100% UPTIME!!! YAY!!! (i include myself on this, so *pat pat* on the back) also i know this review is a bit unfair, DNS is more than these checks, and everyone can have a bad day, you just need a DDOS on one of the nameservers and bye bye average, also there are tons of providers missing, but i choose these ones according to popularity and namebrand, since that makes this choice of providers a bit more trustworthy, still i think this is a good broad view of them and good enough for me to make my choice.