The webcomics blog about webcomics

Looks Like The Real Webcomics Business Opportunity May Be Infrastructure

This is apparently the season for webcomics hosts to sudden deny access. After Ryan North‘s forced exodus last week (for being too awesome, as I recall), we find this morning that Girl Genius has exceeded its bandwidth allotment and been pulled from the interwebs. Now, lest you think this is a mere technical glitch or accidental oversight, here’s what we get from the Studio Foglio LJ: is down, probably until the end of the month. Kaja is working to fix it, but things are progressing slowly.

We’ve exceeded our monthly allowance of bandwidth. Unfortunately, our service provider doesn’t offer any more, we were already buying as much as we could. We’ve found another provider that we like, and are working on the switch. It may take a while. (emphasis mine)

The host in question, by-the-bye, is Network Solutions, whom you may have heard of since they’re one of the oldest, largest, and most important vendors of network capacity. Hey, Network Solutions? These webcomic things are kind of big these days, and getting bigger; you could be making money off this situation, but instead you’re driving away a high-traffic site. Business logic: QUESTIONABLE?

Fortunately, those looking for their GG fix can head over the Girl Genius LiveJournal, where apparently things like “load balancing” and “network capacity” are not foreign concepts. Damn good thing, too, ’cause today’s installment features a pissed-off Jägermonster, violence (but I repeat myself), and very good coffee. You might say it’s genius.

network solutions? Do they offer vitual hosting and dedicated hosting solutions? Because as far as I’ve seen I’ve only noticed shared hosting offered by network solutions, and if that’s what Girl Genius is using then I’m not surprised… shared hosting means that you’ve got hundreds, if not thousands, of accounts on a single server, and a site as popular as Girl Genius is going to suck up a disproportionate amount of site resources…

Beats me. From Network Solution’s page on web hosting:

When you’re choosing a Web hosting company, you’ll be asked to make decisions about how much data storage and data transfer you need. Don’t be too concerned – you can always increase your quantities if you find you need more.

… which certainly seems to imply virtual & dedicated, but those words don’t actually appear anywhere (near as I can tell) in their product descriptions.

I also can’t find any kind of pricing that would indicate that you can, in fact, add storage and/or data transfer (other than just purchasing a different package).

That’s not necessarily virtual & dedicated, a lot of companies simply let you add data storage and data transfer in blocks of mb or gb tacked on to the monthly fee.

But what really might have killed them was CPU utilization, which is not something an ISP lets you monitor (unless you have a virtual or dedicated server) — if they were running a database-driven site on a shared hosting account their database usage could have consumed more CPU time than the provider was comfortable with.

Ahem…. Dreamhost!

I’ve heard a number of people complain about Dreamhost being very sluggish. Apparently it keeps its databases on a separate server from its websites, and that increases the amount of time it takes for database queries to be performed. I don’t have any direct experience with it, though. I’ve heard a few other people swear by them, so I guess it depends on the server you get when you sign on.

For the little price they charge, I can’t complain about Dreamhost’s speed. Shared hosting is never the optimum solution and each provider has their own quirks. But I should be so lucky as to ever bump into their bandwidth limits. They do offer dedicated hosting if that’s what is required. (Efficient programming and/or caching also goes a long way in solving a lot of speed issues.)

For the record, the main website is back up now.

[…] Is there such a thing as being too popular? Late last week, Phil and Kaja Foglio’s Girl Genius exceeded its bandwidth and was shut down by its ISP — despite the Foglios’ purchasing the highest bandwidth package that said ISP had on offer. The strip is now back online, and its creators are currently shopping for a more suitable service provider. (Above: excerpt from last Friday’s Girl Genius strip, which suffered readus interruptus from a short-sighted ISP, ©2007 Studio Foglio, LLC; second link via Gary Tyrrell.) […]

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