This is a blog post that I've been wanting to write for a very long time, and due to several recent emails and posts in our User Support Forum about web hosting, I thought now would (finally) be a good time to write up a blog post on why quality web hosting is so important when running Jamroom - and why the quality of your hosting provider can have a larger impact on Jamroom then other PHP scripts.
First off you'll need to bear with me while I back up a bit and talk about something that I've seen a lot of in the almost 6 years that Jamroom has been online - the desire by many users to get the cheapest hosting possible. This is a completely understandable position to take - you're trying to minimize any recurring costs that might be involved with running your site, and in the beginning (when you may not be making money), you want to have the least amount of money flowing out of your pocket on a monthly basis. Again, this is understandable - but really only to a point. An analogy I would use is that you've just plucked down big money for a new 50 inch LCD TV, and now are determined to drive all over town trying to find the cheapest pair of "rabbit ears" you can to put on your new TV. Is this going to give you a high quality picture? Of course not - most people who plunk down their hard earned cash for a monster TV end up getting some sort of "bronze" or "platinum" digital TV package through their cable/satellite/fiber provider, because after all - what's the point of having HD support if you can't use it? The same can be said for hosting providers. Going for the "all you can eat for $5.00 per month" type of hosting provider is going to get you the same type of "service" you would get with your bunny ears - it might work, but when you want to start doing new things with your Jamroom (like grow), you'll find that having 2,000 (or more) other websites on the same server you are on is going to cause a small problem.
This leads me to my next point - why Jamroom.net has partnered with JBServers. Many of you that are long time Jamroom users already know about JBServers, and why they are the only hosting provider we recommend. Recently I received an email from a Jamroom owner, with some questions and concerns about our relationship with JBServers - most importantly, the feeling that Jamroom was being designed to ONLY run on the JBServers.net servers. While initially I couldn't understand why the user would feel this way, I realized that over the years that we have been working with JBServers, it has become very easy to say "if you were hosting on JBServers you would not have this problem" - without ever really making it clear that there are thousands of Jamroom sites around the world hosting on other hosting providers besides JBServers. Our goal with Jamroom has never changed - to provide a powerful platform for building your social media community. Since by far the majority of our customers do not host with JBServers (despite our best efforts!), it only makes sense for us to try and make sure Jamroom runs on as wide of a variety of hosting providers as possible. This means everything from cheap (even free) hosting plans, all the way up to dedicated servers at Rackspace that run $1K a month and above. With literally hundreds of different operating systems, versions of PHP, versions of MySQL, versions of Apache, caching accelerators, as well as OS and user space process limitations, it's a constant effort to ensure Jamroom runs on 99% of the systems out there. With JBServers, we know our customers are going to be in good hands - not only because they run great servers on a top notch network, but because there is no other hosting provider that comes close to the level of Jamroom knowledge and experience that Jonathan at JBServers has - he runs his own Jamroom sites and is involved with the day to day support of the Jamroom community.
With that said, I want to take some time to point out the reasons why quality web hosting is so important to the success of your Jamroom site, as well as to the perception of your site by your veiwers.
Dependable daily backup system - the time will come when you will need to restore a song or video that one of your users accidentally deleted, or a set of files that were accidentally overwritten. Even though it may seem like it WON'T happen, it WILL. It may not in the first year, or in the first two years, but if you've been online long enough, you WILL eventually have a problem where you need to reload. I can't tell you how many times one of our customers has been a bit distraught when they realize their "cheap" hosting provider's last backup of their site was from 60 days earlier, and they now have to explain to all their existing (and new) customers why their media is missing. More then any other requirement to look for in a hosting provider, I would personally say this is NUMBER ONE. You have one chance to make a good impression on a user or member, and often one BAD impression is all it takes for them to take their profile elsewhere.
Knowledge of the system - this variable really comes into play when you're having a problem with your site, and need a quick resolution. A hosting provider that understands Jamroom will often be able to get your site restored much quicker - many hosting providers that are not familiar with Jamroom will simply tell you that it is a script issue, and to contact Jamroom Support. While we try our best to make sure we assist quickly, this can often make the issue take considerably longer to resolve, as the hosting provider will insist we "prove" the problem is server related.
Unrealistic prices for services - (unfortunately) most users make their web hosting decision based on this factor alone - price. They often see "unlimited everything" for $5.95 per month, and think it is a great deal. However, the truth behind this price is that the offering isn't even close to being "unlimited" - as soon as your site begins to grow, you'll be asked to "move up" to a dedicated server (in order to handle your usage), or leave their service. Their ENTIRE business is built around the fact that most people that place a website online will receive NO traffic - this is how they can get away with placing several thousand domains on a single server (I've seen as many as 25,000 domains on a single server). However, once you open your doors to your users, and you get a couple dozen viewers streaming videos or songs online, you'll likely get an email from your hosting provider asking you to upgrade or move - we've been involved with dozens upon dozens of moves like this - moving their existing Jamroom site over to new hosting. Regardless of what they tell you, quality network bandwidth, quality servers, a robust backup system and knowledgeable personnel all cost money.
Customer Service - while I have saved this for my last point, it is by no means the least important - there is going to come a time when you need assistance from your hosting provider to do something on your server - change a setting, fix a login issue, try to find out why you're having a problem installing a script - whatever it may be, you're going to call on the hosting provider to get their help. When you go with the cheapest hosting you can find, their motivation is to NOT help you - as soon as they have to get a support person involved with fixing your problem (or even just having them look at it), any "profit" they were going to make from your account is gone. I can't tell you how many times we have worked with hosting providers to try to get them to make a small change in their server PHP configuration, or get them to move the users site to a new server, and pretty much have run up against a brick wall. Their entire business model is based upon volume of accounts, not quality of accounts, and you see that in their operations.
Thank you for bearing with me through all of this - I know this is a longer-then-normal blog post, but I want to make sure everyone understands why quality hosting is so important to running a successful Jamroom site - your hosting provider should be a partner with you, with the goal of making sure your site is running the best it can - if you're not getting that type of service from your provider, you might consider changing hosting providers.
broschats, 09/23/11 16:58:11
I got my license updates, Thanks! Sincerely.
broschats, 09/23/11 16:50:38
I run Jamroom on my own server, using Centos 5.6 (just updated to 5.7) and it is running in a VMWARE session. And it runs very well. Be advised that doing what I am doing would probably cause a new operator to rip his brains out and pay for a dedicated server but if you are adventurous, I totally say Go for it. It is a learning experience and you have complete ability to quickly modify and see the results or ruin everything and smile when you fix it. For Development purposes before you start ramping up for business you can use a DSL or cable connection with a dedicated IP and at least 1MB uplink. Then when everything is the way you want it and you are a super admin, Move it onto a network operations center with a wide pipe, like rackspace or server central or the service Big Guy is suggesting. Cool thin about virtual machines is that you can move your system to another computer and you always have backups that dont require restoration to go live. You just run it.....
broschats, 09/23/11 16:36:46
Ooops My post is off topic, Pleas feel free to remove it. Anyway. I gave you guys stellar reviews on your products in my initial excitement a few years ago, At least have someone send me an e-mail telling me how backed up you are or even better, Send my license info.... Have a great day, I will be here dealing with the latest issue of Centos 5.7 upgrade and the disapearing shoutcast autohash making streams unavailable. Live is a never ending trouble ticket. :)
broschats, 09/23/11 16:31:49
About that support, It is with love and interest in manifesting universal harmony, Not to exclude that I have work I wanna do, that I submit this post. I would like to suggest that you update the Licensing Distro System to allow users to change targets for License Updates in the event that they may change their e-mail address to something other than the one they originally ordered with. Especially since, Folks like me on eastern time Pay Child care for time that I have to work and Plan my work with the idea that a service like this should come out flawlessly or at least resolutions be forthcoming quickly. For example, it is 12:24 EST and I documented and e-mailed my issue at sometime around 5:am est 2:am Cali time. I have not had any acknowledgement nor resolution at this point.
P.S. I have an Unlimited V 3 License and have updated to Unlimited 4, and cannot access the Special Forum Section Nor can I access my License info for my upgrade because I changed my e--mail address in your system and signed up with a different one. Big Guy is knowledgeable but I hate waiting. Just sayin.
DJVileroy, 03/03/11 16:11:28
omg this blog is nominated for the nobel prize....
Lucky for me a good friend owns a ISP with multiple datacenters, so i got unlimited everything for a box of beer.
But in general i agree those cheap hosters are mostly crap.
Its better to pay a bit more knowing that you can expect a bit more then starting your site and see your baby grow, and just when everything goes smooth and nice you face the fac that you are suspended due over usage or whatever trick they pull on you.
jcable, 10/24/10 15:57:16
One note on vps servers, in one way they are great affordable, configurable and for the most part are a great option..... But
Vps boxes typically lock down some section of the core os kernel, they have too (it's really shared too) if you ever get your site to a stable point where you really want to unleash the power of jam room. Your just not going to get what you want out of a vps either...
Jr relies upon so many server dependencies and libs: GD, ffmpeg, x264, perl, php and that's just the 'core' of JR if you really want the most out of JR and run with latest technologies on it's OS backbone a dedicated server is the only way to achieve JR enlightenment ;)
also, this might be helpful choose your Linux distros wisely ie. centos tends not to release the latest and greatest compiled updates whereas an os like fedora tends to stay up on multimedia libs more frequently this is by design.
these apps really unleash the power of the JR core it's nice to have the newest latest and greatest...not entirely necessary but it can help grow a site in our experience....
Once again JR is awesome and their support is top notch... Thx again JRstaff
jcable, 09/28/10 03:40:08
We've been using Jamroom since v2, we've hit almost every bump along the way through the years and we've grown as the JR system has its gotten better and more complex. I can contest that JR is one awesome piece of PHP, PERL etc but in order to run a stable growing community choose your hosts wisely and unless you have the linux knowledge, a host like JRServers is a great choice.
We tried the shared route and used a VPS for awhile but ultimately we had to run to our own dedicated server in order to have enough control over apache, etc to really configure things the way we wanted. It really takes some time, thought and configuration into running JR... but when you do the results with make you .. ;)
Lynnbird, 08/21/10 20:09:43
I opted for VPS service about a year ago, and am still learning how it works.
I've never gone for the all you can eat for $5.95/mo line either. More like
$25.95 for all of that and extras too (Like Virtual Private Server).
Now that I've decided to give JR a try, I'm glad that VPS is there!
JoyfulDreamer, 08/19/10 04:12:31
I ran into the (apparently common) situation where the PHP configuration was NOT changeable, because it would affect EVERYONE on the shared host. Honestly, I outgrew the restrictions (I had other sites also) and decided to get my very on VPS solution! :) 100% control baby! :D Just make sure you get good support - it truly makes all the difference, even for VPS/Dedicated solutions. In either case, MAKE BACKUPS PEOPLE! LOL 8)