bong, bong, bong…

Well the bell has sounded. I’m done with ixwebhosting.com as my webhost. Frankly, their customer support is awful. It puzzles me that they are marketing themselves as the “business choice” for web hosting and yet their service is definitely not of business caliber. I guess if you’re a business that is just looking for a simple html page to give basic info on your business you’ll be okay but if you’ve got dynamic content running on your website – ixwebhosting is definitely not a good choice.

Over the past year and a half I put up with slowdowns, outages, and email problems as the normal “costs” of a cheap shared hosting plan. But the last straw for me was my experience in the past week. Here’s the breakdown.

1. Over the weekend (March 27-30, 2008), ixwebhosting.com moved all their servers (and customers) to a new data farm. I was warned well in advance of this move via email and also warned that this would mean downtime of about 48hours. There was nothing wrong with that – and they did their customers right by communicating what was about to happen. The move was done to put us on new servers and make things run faster and better – or so we were told.

2. After the move, (on the Sunday), I noticed that the website DNS had propagated but the mySql db wasn’t connected. I went on live chat and received the news that the dns hadn’t propagated for the mysql db’s yet. The support guy gave me the ip address of the mysql server and all was well again. (+1 for customer support)

3. On Tuesday I noticed that no emails were being sent from any of my website installs (db backup scripts, comment notifications, new user signups for the orgseries support forums etc.). I filed a support ticket with ixwebhosting.com explaining the problem. I did some research on my own and discovered that it was most likely due to the way they had set up their servers to use the php core mail() function (and sendmail binary). I added these notes to the ticket and then waited for the answer…and waited…and waited. Keep in mind that prior to the server move I had no problems with WordPress processing and sending mails. Over the course of the next few days I went on live chat multiple times to see if I could get someone to acknowledge the ticket and let me know what they were doing. When I got someone (no doubt they were busy with support requests after the move) – the person would always refuse to answer my questions and simply say that I would have to wait for a response to the ticket (and that it would come “soon”). In my last live chat conversation (on Friday) – the customer support rep even said, “Don’t post anymore to the ticket – you will get an answer soon.”. Of course I’m going to post more info to the ticket if I think it is relevant and no one is putting any replies there!

Finally, on Sunday I received a reply from Elena Yarkina on my ticket. Unfortunately, for ixwebhosting.com that reply was the last straw. Here’s the full text of the ticket I submitted…

Darren Ethier, Wed Apr 2 19:36:10 2008
I’ve use WordPress which uses the php mail function in tandem with the sendmail settings (compiled in php). Prior to the big move of servers this worked fine across all my domains that use wordpress (for registration of users, etc.). However, after the switch it is not working.

I have checked the error logs to see if anything is showing up there but with no luck.

Has anything changed on your end in the big move – either something didn’t get set up properly or you made a decision to block usage of that function?

Darren, Ethier, Wed Apr 2 19:47:05 2008
Is phpmail() enabled?

Darren, Ethier, Wed Apr 2 20:05:46 2008
I made a simple php script using the standard php mail() function to test if it is working or not and I can confirm that mail() is not working as expected (i.e. no mails are getting sent out.

This is a critical function for all the various uses it’s put to with my website installs – I’d appreciate knowing if anything is being done about this?

Darren, Ethier, Wed Apr 2 20:09:47 2008
Do I as user have permission to access the sendmail binary? see http://ca3.php.net/mail

Darren, Ethier, Thu Apr 3 21:34:08 2008
I just got a jumble of mails from the past week arrive in my mailbox – is that because things are fixed or in the process? I’ll keep this ticket open as I monitor this over the next couple days (unless you post something here to the contrary).

Darren, Ethier, Fri Apr 4 12:55:23 2008
Okay, it’s still not fixed. It looks like things are getting held in some sort of queue as I haven’t received any mails from recent tests I’ve conducted (I’ve waited over 2 hours to see if the emails will be received).

I’d appreciate some sort of response to this ticket – I’m starting to get disturbed by the lack of communication. I understand you’re busy with the move but at least a “we’re working on it and here’s the eta” would be appreciated.

Elena Y., Sun Apr 6 02:39:05 2008
Ticket Status was changed from Open to Resolved
Dear Darren,

Thank you for using our services!
Please let me apologize for any inconvenience. By default, the mails that were sent using the scripts were sent from the server with the sender’s address httpd@webxx. Most of the Internet providers block the mails with such address and that is why we had been getting the complaints about the non-delivered mails all the time. The improvement lies in the opportunity to force the sender’s address change with the help of the additional command line parameter in mail() function. You should add -f parameter to sendmail binary directly in call to mail(), e.g. mail($sendto,$subject,$message,$header, ‘-ftest@yourdomain.com’); and this should fix the issue.

Should you have any further questions please let us know we are available 24/7.
Kind regards,
Elena Yarkina
Technical Support

Darren, Ethier, Sun Apr 6 18:07:19 2008
Ticket re-opened
Finally! Thanks for the response but I’m sorry I don’t buy it. Prior to the move I had no problem with WordPress (and related scripts) sending out mail using the mail() script and certainly no problem with my email provider blocking it. Now, after the move you are asking me to go in and change all the core code for a popular open source blogging software to fit the way you’ve set up your servers (which is contrary to the majority of shared server webhosts on the market)? Not only that, but this is the “solution” you give me after me waiting nearly 4 days for a reply?

I’m sorry, but you’ve just lost a customer.

It simply boggles me as to why a web host would require customers to do this level of coding to adapt popular open source programs to work with their server idiosyncrasies. Especially when there were no problems prior to the server move. Not only that, but from her “helpful” response I’m not even sure Elena read my entire ticket!

Oh well, consider this a “heads up” to all my readers that while I switch hosts over the next week there will be intermittent times where unfoldingneurons.com (and my other websites) will be unavailable. I still haven’t come to a final decision where I’m going to move to so if you’re reading this and have any suggestions I’m all ears!

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Darren

My name is Darren Ethier. I'm the owner of roughsmootheng.in. I'm the father of four children and husband of the most beautiful woman in the world. My passion is technology and it's strategic use in ministry. I also love anything to do with leadership and the wise use of words. I'm also the developer of the popular WordPress plugin Organize Series. Since THAT'S not enough to keep me busy I also work as a core developer for a great plugin called Event Espresso

3 thoughts on “bong, bong, bong…”

      1. Thanks for the reply Darren. I’m still with IX, they finally fixed my phpmail issue. I’m definitely still having performance issues with them at certain times of day. 2 interesting issues have popped up recently, the first was when i was uploading a 10kb php file via FTP, and i got a server error saying that the disk was full lmao. So i called and was told that someone had abused the server and they would have it worked out soon. The 2nd issue was the other day when i was using FTP to do some updates and i started to get an error that said that I couldn’t log in due to the maximum amount of connections already being connected (100). Again, i called in and was told it would be fixed soon. In fairness, both issues were fixed quickly but if people can use all the disk space and concurrent FTP connections, cant the the performance of the http service be impacted as well? IX claims there are no problems with my http service performance ,but this is going to be what breaks me soon. Iv looked at host monster and iv really searched and looked at reviews. Anyone have any experience with them?

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