BlueHost Servers Down Due to Power Outage in Provo, Utah

Today, from about 2:10 to 3:10 MT (by my calculations) my bluehost.com and hostmonster.com hosted websites were down.

Twitter provided some clues as to a power outage, and I searched for Blue Host’s headquarters and found the Salt Lake Tribune’s article about Provo, Utah’s massive power outage.

Within 1 hour, the sites were all back up, but tweeps around the country were ready to stage protests and transfer hosts as a result.

I don’t know how old WordPress bloggers are, but I still remember the days when I had to put two 5.25 inch disks in my IBM XT computer to boot it up, which took several minutes. I had to swap out the data disk with the applications disk to save my work. The only way to communicate with someone rapidly was via FAX machine, which required typing a letter on a typewriter, printing it and then dialing a number. In other words, compared to the 21st century, it was like having to send all your communications via Morris code on a telegraph machine.

We have such HUGE expectations in our new computerized era of how things should work. Mostly, we want it fast, and we want it NOW! And if we don’t get it now, we feel tremendously frustrated and put out, even when we’re paying less than 1/3 the price for a shared hosting plan than we would have a decade ago.

Down Time

I’m grateful for power outages. They remind me of the reality of this physical world unconnected by fiber optics and electrical grids. I spent three weeks in West Africa last year, where the Internet speed was 2 kbps. Twitter.com wouldn’t even load. I could tweet via my cell phone but could not access Twitter’s home page or any of its settings pages, making it impossible for West Africans to even set up a Twitter account.

The night I landed in Accra, Ghana, I was driven to my friend’s house, where the street and courtyard were in complete darkness. I was led to a room lit by a single candle and told, “It’s lights out.” “Lights out” was expected in Accra and there were no backup generators. The electricity just inexplicably goes out city wide a few times a month. People hang out and talk and dance a lot more than they do here, maybe because they aren’t always plugged in.

Today, via Twitter, I was able to ascertain within minutes what was happening with Blue Host, and by the time I got around to reaching my client’s whose sites are hosted on Blue Host via phone, the sites were back up.

Maybe we should use power outrages as an opportunity for real down time — get offline for a short while, take a walk, smell the spring blossoms, and just “be” for awhile. After all, we’ve got it pretty damn good compared to other countries and the days of the first PCs, and maybe we don’t need to have all our needs gratified instantaneously all day long.

In the past, we put up with all kinds of outages and breakages and shortages.  It was something to be expected from life. Things don’t always work, and the power sometimes goes out. Time to chill.

Happy blogging! May the force be with you and your backup generators never fail.

Angela Bowman

Front-end WordPress developer since 2007 building highly custom websites for nonprofits and small businesses. Experienced in nonprofit administration, grant writing, and technical writing. Love high altitude hiking and backyard chickens.

14 comments on “BlueHost Servers Down Due to Power Outage in Provo, Utah

  1. Angela, actually am a server admin, but my work involves (among other things) managing the local servers here, so I really have no time to manage the online host.

    If things are so straightforward with KnownHost, I might just take a look and try their services. Thanks for pointing them out, might come in handy.

  2. Angela, I agree, but VPS hosting takes either: a) a great deal of your time if you want it cheap enough (that’s unmanaged, and generally with no automatic failover), or b) a great deal of money (and i’m talking big money) if you want decent support and outsourced management.

    We are in a business situation right now where none of those is possible. Probably the “b” option would be more reasonable (since the online store is the source of our business), but the “getting there” part requires human and economical resources which our (admittedly small) company can’t afford to invest right now (we, however, as i said, pay much more a month than your typical blog, even within hostmonster, to have a higher availability server).

    However, the panic and the uncomfortability are still reasonable… you are paying for a service you are not getting… it’s cheap, yes, and it’s no VPS, i know… but they are offering what I want from a host: a php/mysql host, and POP3 email service.

    I didn’t choose their price, they did.

    The fact that I have to hire a whole VPS (which is, far more expensive and far more complicated to manage, and would probably require some dedication on our part, or a whole bunch of money for something far bigger than what we need) just to have those three things, because they have unexplainable outtages (or at least, they won’t explain) is enough to not be happy with them.

    *However… i must admit that i’ve tried several shared hosting companies over these years (some more expensive, some cheaper) and they are all about the same, so choosing to go with one of the cheapest ones was the wiser option.

    Paying anything less than a managed-with-automatic-failover-VPS will always lead you to these same problems, be it $5.95 a month, or $100 a month… so paying $100 a month for the same, is out of the equation 🙂

    • I agree on a few points, but for speed and security, I’ve really liked Known Host. The cool thing about them is that they will do a lot of the set up and respond to any requests you have via their online support tickets. It’s costing us about $35/month + cpanel cost for the VS2 hosting and so far, the reliability, speed, etc. has been great. I’m not a server admin, but when I have a question, I send it to their support team, and they respond within 15 minutes and will get in and do server tweaks for me. I know a couple development firms in Denver/Boulder who use them for all their client’s sites. I think they are more reliable than the shared hosts.

  3. My work host is down too… which is a pity since i’m paying extra (at hostmonster) for a “high availability, high cpu” server… i’m not paying $5.95/month like most people with a blog, indeed i’m paying more than double that (still not a lot, I reckon, but….)

    Taking our source of revenue is an online store… the fact that it’s down it’s giving us some serious headaches.

    Of course we’re thinking of moving (taken it’ll probably grant us a few more headaches while moving)… but we have work times, and thousands of customers… it’s not that we can just “go and pick up the phone to call them while it comes up”.

    I understand your post, but not all situations are the same at all.

    Web hosting is not a commodity for us… it’s the core of our business, from which several people earn their family salaries… taking that times are being hard enough right now to make any business… having your business completely shut down because of your hosting company going down, is enough reason to panic.

    The analogy for us, would be ALL our providers suddenly not be able to take the goods to us, and our store being shut so customers can’t come in (while they can just go to any other store and buy there). Panic is more than reasonable for us.

    • Hi Javier,

      I totally understand. It’s different when your website is your source of business revenue, that is why I would NEVER go with a shared hosting provider or someone like Host Monster or the likes for such a crucial business function.

      You need to get VPS hosting with a reliable company, like Known Host. That will cost around $360+ year, but is worth it and necessary if this is an important business account. There was a great podcast at WordPress Podcast on web hosting. I highly recommend that everyone who has an important blog or e-commerce site that can’t afford down time listen to this interview: http://wp-community.org/2010/03/30/inside-look-web-hosting/

      I am hosting my VIP sites with Known Host. The reason for my particular take on the down time with Blue Host in this post was because many of the people who complain about down time with shared hosting have low volume sites with personal blogs or really haven’t taken their sites seriously enough to get a VPS with a good hosting company that has redundancy set up.

      Good luck!

  4. Bluehost is down again, as of today September 16th!

    All of my sites are down and neither live chat nor the phone lines are working. It seems a transformer caught fire or something and the downtime will last a few more hours.

    My first inclination is to get very angry, but you’re right, I should just take a deep breath and relax. Overall their service has been very good and this was apparently some type of act of god out of their control.

    • Hey Ollie,

      Sorry to hear that. I see that my sites are down, too! I had no idea until you commented. Hopefully it will be up soon. The trials and tribulations of shared hosting! I’ve started hosting important sites with Known Host. They don’t have phone support but respond within 15 minutes to all support tickets via email. Much more expensive than shared hosting, but it’s worth it for sites you can’t have go down.

      My post here is from earlier this summer. It’s a drag their down again tonight. I’m glad I didn’t have anything I had to do with a site this evening!

      On Twitter, I see a tweet that ETA to be back up is 1 am MST time

      Angela

  5. iPower are, in my opinion, a good company. I currently host with them and from what I’ve seen, there hasn’t been any downtime problems and the support have been able to sort out the problems I’ve had. My overall opinion? Definitely recommended.

  6. Thanks for this article. I’m currently using BlueHost as my web host and so far, they seem to be pretty good. I’m not sure, though, what other people’s opinions are about the specifications of the hosting plan they offer, as you could get more from another host.

  7. Bluehost.com was down again today. That makes twice in 15 days that my sites have been down.

    We are living in modern times. Why can’t Bluehost be reliable? I get the impression they are hosting 2 million domains on a dozen Pentium II computers in an outhouse somewhere in the Utah desert.

    Time for Mohamed to find a reliable web host.

    • There have been good discussions on web hosting on the LinkedIn WordPress forum. Known Host is good, but you’ll pay a lot more. I’ve found Blue Host to be quite good for shared hosting compared to places like GoDaddy and Network Solutions, where page load times are exceedingly slow. Our sites on Network Solutions were hacked three times in the past few months, twice from server level hacks on the same server causing our sites to be down for three days and absolutely no way to get through tech support. They deflected responsibility and increased their Internet ads. Crazy. So, all things considered, Blue Host isn’t so bad.

      Another host you might check out is DreamHost.

  8. hmm, this isn’t the first time my Bluehost server has gone down. I didn’t even notice yesterday, but then I was in a kindergarten graduation ceremony at the time. Google has been known to go down too, so nothing is fail safe. Like you said, it is a fact of life.

    Heck, I remember life when we actually had to write letters and put it in the mail! I remember life before Fedex…

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