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CavemanJoe
 Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 12:38 AM UTC (Read 8571 times)  
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Right, forum thread for this...

I need a Linux-based dedicated server.

I don't need much space. Improbable Island in its entirity - database, Enquirer, Dev version and all - only takes up a few hundred megs.

I don't need to run a mail server, or to have any mail-related options (spam filtering and the like). I redirect all of my email to my GMail account. Seriously, who still uses a desktop-side email client in this day and age?

I don't particularly care what control panel is installed, if any. This server is going to be for Improbable Island only.

I do need a lot of data transfer. A hundred and eleven gigabytes last month, and it's only gonna get bigger. I'd be comfortable with a terabyte or so - for now, anyway. Unmetered would be better, but being a web host myself (albeit, admittedly, a shared hosting reseller) I'm very wary of companies who offer "unmetered" data transfer and don't charge the prices that would justify it. A company offering unlimited data transfer for a couple of quid a month is gonna go under pretty sharpish.

I do need a fast CPU. That's the biggest concern, and that's why I need to go dedicated rather than VPS or suchlike.

I need people to take care of the server. I spend a lot of time on the game itself, and I don't want to have to spend more time cocking about with the server it runs on. If I do, then Improbable Island would be a full-time job and it sure as hell doesn't pay like one (usually, anyway - today has been great, thanks guys!).

I jump around a lot between the USA and the UK. A company that operates internationally, with two different 24-hour phone numbers I can call - one in each country - would be at a great advantage.

I would like a defined SLA, which explains in no uncertain terms what sort of support I can expect, and what sort of compensation I'll get if the company can't keep to its SLA.

I would like local, dedicated call centers. I want the people who I talk to on the phone to be the same people who look after the servers, ideally in the same building. Certainly not halfway across the world. Also, I'd like the telephone staff to be dedicated to the company I'm talking to (not like the job I used to work, where I'd answer the phones on behalf of five different companies).

No Mickey-Mouse components. Western Digital or Seagate hard drives only. Maxtor in a pinch, but they'd better have damn good backup facilities. Hitatchi under no circumstances. Kingston or Crucial RAM, no unbranded rubbish.

I would like daily backups, ideally offsite. I don't mind not having a mirrored SATA setup if it'll save me fifty quid a month at the possible risk of losing a day's worth of data. But no more than a day's worth, mind.

A company who accepts PayPal would be at a serious advantage. All my money - from selling hosting, designing websites, and from advertising income and donations for the Island - comes in through PayPal. If I have to do a transaction with someone who doesn't take PayPal, I have to wait a week for the money to go into my bank account. Not terribly efficient. It's not a deal-breaker, but it'd be a big advantage to any company I consider.

I want a monthly contract. No annual contracts. Improbable Island is doing great just now, and I have no reason to believe it won't do very well in the future - but you never know. I'm prepared to pay a little extra for this flexibility.

I want to be able to cancel if I need to. I don't want to be told that I have to fill out a form and fax (FAX! IT'S 2008! WHO THE HELL STILL USES A FAX MACHINE?! /rant) it to their headquarters and then wait a month. Stuff like this is unprofessional and old-fashioned, and being a 21st-Century businessman, I've no patience for it.

No late fees. Not that I'm likely to pay late, you understand - it's just that fees like this are unlawful at common law, and I don't want to buy from a company who uses them. It's evident of other shady/predatory/outright unlawful business practices.

I would like it all at less than a hundred pounds a month. While I'm at it, I'd like the moon on a stick, and a pony.

A hundred quid is about two hundred dollars. In February and March, you lot donated about four hundred bucks in each month. You've donated two hundred dollars today. I think we'll manage. Smile


 
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CavemanJoe
 Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 12:39 AM UTC  
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First on the chopping block:

RACKSPACE
Yup, they're the best. Everyone seems to agree that they're solid as a rock. Unfortunately, their servers start off at three hundred odd quid a month, and that's more than I can afford right now.


 
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CavemanJoe
 Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 12:46 AM UTC  
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BODHOST - bodhost.co.uk
Seem to have support numbers I can call both from the UK and the USA
Phone was picked up when I rang it at midnight. Fifteen minutes later, the line goes dead while the bloke's mid-sentence. Hmm. Gonna try the Live Chat now.

Core 2 Duo Intel E4500 2.2ghz, 1gb RAM, 3TB data transfer, free setup

69/month

Doesn't seem to be many reviews, but the ones there are seem to be generally positive (one or two bad ones, natch - but people are ten times more likely to publicly complain than publicly compliment). They seem to have problems with their phones going up and down all the time (gee, really?) but the quality of service, from the reviews I've read, seems top-notch for the money. And apparently (again, from reviews I've read) their support staff are literate and can actually string a sentence together (shock!), which is a BIG advantage that you just don't get with most hosting companies.

I've got a good feeling about this one.


 
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CavemanJoe
 Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 01:21 AM UTC  
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Just got out of Live Chat with a BodHost bloke:

Chat InformationPlease wait for a site operator to respond.

Chat InformationYou are now chatting with 'Ron'

Ron: Hello Dan

Dan Hall: Hey, Ron. Smile

Ron: How may I assist you today ?

Dan Hall: Well, I need a dedicated server.

Ron: Great

Dan Hall: I got notice from my current shared host that I'm using up too many CPU minutes, so it's time to move on up. Smile

Dan Hall: I actually called you guys earlier tonight, but the phone cut out mid-sentence.

Dan Hall: Since then I've been reading some reviews, and you seem decent enough, especially for the money.

Dan Hall: So a dropped phone call hasn't put me off too much. Smile

Ron: Smile

Ron: Please let me know which server you are looking for ?

Dan Hall: I've compiled a list of what I need... It might be easier for you to just read the forum post and let me know if you can sort it.

Dan Hall: I was looking at the basic 69/month one for now, with a view to upgrading later.

Dan Hall: Here's that forum post:

Dan Hall: http://enquirer.improbableisland.com/forum/viewtopic.php?showtopic=421

Dan Hall: Most of it is your basic dedicated server stuff, but there are a couple of pertinent points in there about PayPal etc.

Dan Hall: It's the fact that you guys operate internationally that's got me interested in you specifically.

Ron: we are providing our services world wide

Dan Hall: Good, good...

Ron: our servers are located in UK

Dan Hall: Excellent. So if I'm in the USA, and I have a problem, I can call a number from there and you'll be able to take care of it?

Ron: we will provide support to all our customers irrespective of customers location

Ron: we also have servers in USA

Dan Hall: Aye, I think I saw the US site... but I do need a lot of data transfer.

Ron: Please refer following link for UK dedicated server

Ron: UK Dedicated Server

Dan Hall: The prices would probably work out cheaper, but I do, I think, need a UK server. And the servers on your US pages top out at 2tb a month data transfer.

Dan Hall: Yup, been to that page - been studying it quite intently, in fact.

Dan Hall: So, if I were to rent one of these servers from you, would you be able to install AWStats for me?

Ron: Great

Dan Hall: I mean, everything else, I can handle myself, but I'm used to AWStats being installed automatically.

Ron: we can provide you AW Stats

Ron: for that you will need to order for Control panel

Dan Hall: OK...

Dan Hall: All right, that's not a problem.

Dan Hall: Thanks Ron - I've got a lot of looking around to do, obviously, but right now you're head and shoulders above the rest. Hope to order from you soon. Smile

Dan Hall: I'll let you guys know if I've got any more questions.


I wasn't just being polite, from what I've seen they really are quite good compared with what else I can expect for that kind of money. But the search continues - I've got a few days, after all.


 
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CavemanJoe
 Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 01:49 AM UTC  
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HostGator look pretty good... DragonPrime users seem quite happy with them too. A little more expensive, but plenty of positive reviews.

Gonna have a word with their Live Chat people in a minute. Will update this thread on how it goes.


 
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Velle
 Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 02:02 AM UTC  
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Might be worth looking into at least inmotion If you look at the semi-annual billing, it isn't too steep. Not sure about UK connections, but it does seem to have a lot of recommendations going for it. Thought it might be worth a quick scan at least. I'll keep looking about to see what I can find. Gonna see if I can find more UK based ones instead of US. The UK servers I have found are..well...bloody expensive when converted to US Dollar amounts. You'd think with a sister who lives in Surrey I'd have a better handle on currency exchange *d'oh*


EDIT*** they do have UK servers it looks like.


 
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CavemanJoe
 Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 02:06 AM UTC  
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From the chat with the HostGator bloke:

Chat InformationPlease wait for a HostGator operator to respond.

Chat InformationWelcome to HostGator Live Chat! You are now chatting with 'Ben F.'

Ben F.: Welcome to HostGator, how may I assist you?

Dan Hall: Hello!

Dan Hall: I'm in need of a dedicated server.

Dan Hall: But I'd need some questions answered, first.

Ben F.: I will be glad to assist you.

Dan Hall: Good, good.

Dan Hall: It's for a PHP/MySQL-powered persistent browser-based game.

Dan Hall: I got the warning notice from my current shared host this morning, telling me I'm using up too much CPU power.

Dan Hall: I don't need much space, but I do need a lot of data transfer and a whole CPU to myself.

Ben F.: I see. Just the Basic dedicated server should do then.

Dan Hall: So basically I'm after the $174/month Linux server.

Dan Hall: Yeah, that's right.

Dan Hall: But I've got a lot of companies to look through before I can make my decision.

Dan Hall: So,

Dan Hall: I've written down the things that are important to me,

Dan Hall: and they're in this forum post here:

Dan Hall: http://enquirer.improbableisland.com/forum/viewtopic.php?showtopic=421

Dan Hall: (hosted on the site that I'll be moving to the dedicated server)

Dan Hall: Do you guys take PayPal?

Ben F.: Yes we do.

Dan Hall: Marvellous.

Dan Hall: Do you have a UK presence, or is it exclusively US?

Ben F.: We only have an office in the US.

Ben F.: Our datacenter is at Dallas, Texas.

Dan Hall: Well, you've got the Live Chat so that's not so much of an issue. It's 24 hours, I take it?

Ben F.: Yes. Phones, live chat, and emails/tickets support are all 24/7

Dan Hall: Very good.

Dan Hall: I take it that your dedicated servers are sold as a managed solution? There'll be someone there looking after it for me, so I can concentrate just on the game itself, not on the server it runs on?

Ben F.: Yes they are managed.

Dan Hall: Good, good. What's the situation regarding backups?

Dan Hall: Are they offsite, do you do them daily, that sort of thing.

Ben F.: You would have to "provide" backup on your own dedicated server. We don't have a backup plan that comes with it.

Ben F.: You can purchase a backup service from a 3rd party provider

Ben F.: Or you can order a secondary drive and get it setup to backup there.

Dan Hall: Like, in a RAID setup?

Dan Hall: How much are we talking for an extra drive?

Ben F.: http://support.hostgator.com/addons.php

Dan Hall: Aha.

Ben F.: Additional hard drive / daily backup drive- 80gb drive is $200 one time or $30/monthly 200gb drive is $300 or $40 monthly.

Ben F.: If you order the Elite server for example, that comes with 2 drives.

Ben F.: So you can have the 2nd one setup as a backup drive if you wished.

Dan Hall: Gotcha.

Dan Hall: Is there a way... and I'm going to sound like a complete noob here, but... Is there a way that I can set up a cron job to do a complete database dump and send it to my local computer via FTP or E-mail?

Dan Hall: (we're talking like a 100mb MySQL database, here)

Ben F.: You would need an FTP server on your computer.

Dan Hall: I can do that.

Ben F.: It can be setup for email.

Dan Hall: OK. Is that the sort of thing that you guys would provide support for, or is that beyond the scope of what you do?

Ben F.: You can request our admins to set that up for you.

Dan Hall: Rock on.

Ben F.: Is there anything else I can help you with?

Dan Hall: No, I think that's it. Right now, you're top of the list.

Dan Hall: Thanks very much. Smile


 
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Velle
 Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 02:27 AM UTC  
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Couple more that might be worth looking at:

theplanet

mediatemple

and with that I will get out of the way Laughing Out Loud


 
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CavemanJoe
 Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 03:35 AM UTC  
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I completely forgot to check out The Planet.
We may have a winner.


 
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Velle
 Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 06:50 PM UTC  
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Eek! So what is the verdict? C'mon, waiting on pins here.


 
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Dutchdoor
 Friday, April 04 2008 @ 01:05 AM UTC  
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Oops. Forgot to log in before that last post. What's up with anonymous posting? People should OWN their words!






Yeah, yeah, yeah! What's the word? Am I going to have to find some other, inferior, way to kill thirty minutes or so a day? That would make me very sad.


 
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Dutchdoor
 Friday, April 04 2008 @ 01:06 AM UTC  
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Oh, maybe it didn't let me post that anonymously. Sorry. Off topic and suchlike. Just correcting my earlier mistake.


 
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CavemanJoe
 Friday, April 04 2008 @ 03:31 AM UTC  
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Guys, please.
I know you're anxious to know what's happening with Improbable Island. The short answer is: we're not going to disappear, no matter what happens. It's just a question of where we go from here, and how.

The long answer - forgive me if this is a little disjointed, but I've just got home from the pub and I usually take my weekly alcomofrolics of a Thursday... Maybe I should explain that first. I drink of a Thursday night rather than a Friday or Saturday because there's a lovely pub close to me called The Raven, where most patrons happen to be self-employed like me. Self-employed folks can choose any night of the week as their equivalent of Saturday night, and mine happens to be on a Thursday. So, on Thursday nights, I get rather squiffy in the company of like-minded folks, leaving Saturday nights free to hang out with friends, go to the pub again or whatever. This, I consider my reward for working... well, something along the lines of "Every fecking hour that the Gods send." (there are bad sides to being your own boss... notably that if your boss were someone else, he'd probably tell you to go home after twenty hours. Wink ) So yeah, I'm usually drunk on Thursday evenings. Smile

Anyhoo... Yes. I've gotten the list narrowed down to three or four. Lemme see if I can find 'em...

Right. Firstly, HostGator, who I've already linked to. The sales staff seemed not too determined to make a sale, but instead to actually listen to what I had to say and help me in my decision. That was nice, and points for them. They have public forums where you can bitch and moan to them, and they'll try to sort out your problems - and if they can't, then the negative reviews remain there as a reminder to their staff to do better. That kind of openness really appeals to me - as you lot know, I'm very open about how I run this game, and I dig that sort of approach to life. Plus, they take PayPal. I'm very, very confident about them. Bad points: a hundred and eighty bucks a month.

Secondly, The Planet. Plus points - good reputation, good prices. Bad points - seems to be a server-only deal. I spend enough time on Improbable Island as it is. I don't want to have to look after the server as well as the game.

Thirdly, Hosting and Designs. Good points: Another LotGD server called GothDragon has very good things to say about them, and they're very, very reasonably-priced. Bad points: they're a little too cheap, and being a webhost myself, I know that you get what you pay for. No disrespect to GothDragon, I'm just a bit funny about paying what something's worth.

Fourth, these German guys. Good points: Reasonably priced, Eco-friendly, seems a good service, recommended by German LotGD'ers. Bad points: I know only enough German to know how to order a beer. Expecting them to speak my language would be terribly rude, and learning German just for this would be rather more effort - I hate to say it - than I would be prepared to go to. Plus, there's a three-week waiting list, and I have only one. Frown

Now, we talk about money. So far, in April, since the Donations Drive began, you lot have donated $435.48. That's enough for half a year or so of a halfway-decent server, or a couple of months of a very good server.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm absolutely over the moon with this amount. I never once in my life expected that complete strangers would send me money just because I set up something that entertained them, and your combined generosity has reinforced my faith in the common kindness and decency of humanity in general. I thank you for it, all of you, from the bottom of my heart, and I mean that. The problem is, I'm now put into the situation where I have to decide:

a) Do I get a cheapish, probably slightly crappy server, and use this four hundred-odd bucks to finance it for the next six months?
b) Do I get a much more awesome server, use this money of yours to run it for the next two months, and make this a bi-monthly thing?

I don't really want to do a Donations Drive every other month. You lot really have come through for me, beyond my wildest expectations, and I think it would be greedy and cynical (and unrealistic) of me to expect you to do this on a regular basis. So, a good deal of this money is gonna get saved up for later use no matter what we do. But there are other things to consider, such as:

c) If I removed the adverts from the site altogether, would you lot happily pay more for me to carry on doing this? (it'd certainly speed up the site a bit - advertising usually brings in about ten bucks a day, and if the difference in donations would make it worth removing the ads, I'd do it)

d) Should I make this a full-time job? Would you lot pay me enough to drop my other projects and focus entirely on the Island, eight hours a day?

Those last two are probably questions to be answered post-ten-thousand-players.

Anyway, I've got a few more days to make my decision. Today was mostly made up out of consultancy work, and tomorrow I've gotta drive my mum around a bit (just had an operation on her wrist today), but I'll certainly have plenty of time to ponder the question. If you lot have anything to contribute, now's the time - my phone will alert me to answers to this thread, so I can think about it while I'm driving around tomorrow.

Before Monday, we'll be on our own server, no matter what. It's just a question of what server, out of the millions out there. But I'm sure we'll figure it out.


 
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Velle
 Friday, April 04 2008 @ 03:51 AM UTC  
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Diego is a sweet kid, but I would be wary of recommendations from Goth Dragon, just because they have not been near as huge as the island has been at any point in it's history, so the impact of something this big might be too much for this company, even on a dedicated machine. I assume the German server was recommended by Nightborn and Seekey. If so, they might be able to tell you if the company has english speakers available or not... okay, maybe not, but might be worth asking. Both of them are extremely helpful and gushy sweet (most of the time). What about the server that DP uses? You had brought them up before, curious to see what you thought of them


 
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JaseDakota
 Friday, April 04 2008 @ 04:29 AM UTC  
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I think HostGator's open attitude definitely sells for them. But that 180 is very ouch, but I'd throw my vote in with them. Especially since they'll actually listen to what you need and your problems and do what they can to help, that alone would be word a few extra bucks. IMO.

I'm on a rather low income lifestyle but I'd totally try to donate whatever extra I could once a month or so. Making this game a full time job would be a huge step I imagine. Something that would take alot of thought. Personally I'd ease into it. Try out taking the ads off and maybe have a Donation Drive every now and again. Maybe come up with a few more neat things for the Hunter's Lodge. See how that goes, if it goes well then maybe think about making the switch to full time.

If I had the dough I'd definitely shell out weekly if I could. I love this game. Only reason I stopped playing in the last few days was to help keep the bandwidth low so the ebil server peoples don't shut the site down early.

*Coughs*Anyhoo. That's my two cents anyways. I'd prolly be more helpful if it wasn't past midnight and me exahuasted. >_> Anyways. *Gets off soap box, goes to bed*


 
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Velle
 Friday, April 04 2008 @ 02:16 PM UTC  
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Most LoTGD sites have a donation bar that tells how much money is needed and how close to goal the site is. Once the bar is filled the entire site has such perks as lowered healing costs. If you set up a donation bar at like 150 to 200 a month, so that people will see how much it takes to keep the site going, you will make those donation goals without having to pledge drive. On DM we have our set to 100 dollars and many month we get well over that amount as do many LoDG sites that have the bars.


 
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Anonymous: Loranys
 Friday, April 04 2008 @ 03:32 PM UTC  


I love that idea Velle. It becomes a challenge to get the perks, and those a more expendable income would likely be willing to donate more just to get the numbers up there.

I'd say keep the ads. $300 a month is nothing to sneeze at, and they aren't that invasive


 
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CavemanJoe
 Friday, April 04 2008 @ 08:34 PM UTC  
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Quick update:

HostGator's still favourite, I reckon.


 
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CavemanJoe
 Friday, April 04 2008 @ 08:48 PM UTC  
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Longer update:

Regarding donation incentives - yes, this is something I've thought about today. I figure it'll be something like this:

$200 - The Server Survives for another month.
$500 - Newbie Tuesdays financed - woo new players!
$600 - Half-price healing for everyone!
$800 - Advertisements become optional. You choose whether or not to display them, by changing your skin.

Once we've got a dedicated server set up, I'd also like to finally set up my accelerated and tournament games.

The tournament server will run for a month at a time. The winner gets a real-life prize. Players can donate to the tournament server for unfair advantages, and the more donations we get, the more awesome the prize will become. Sound like fun?


 
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JaseDakota
 Friday, April 04 2008 @ 08:53 PM UTC  
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Sounds awesome to me!


 
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