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Damn It Jim, I’m a Writer, not a Webmaster (On DreamHost and its Amazing Tech Support)

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DreamHost has the right tools

I’ve been using DreamHost since I transferred my blog from Blogger over to and went ‘self hosting’. I chose it among competitors for four main reasons:

  • It’s inexpensive
  • It is committed to ‘Green Hosting’
  • It had good reviews
  • It doesn’t promote itself using tasteless sexist ad campaigns during the Super Bowl

To be honest, I had no idea whether I’d made a good choice or a bad choice until today. Since I’ve been with DreamHost, I’ve had remarkably little down time, with most of that my own fault (see title again, particularly the first half), and only a couple of hours in four months the hosting service’s responsibility.

Yesterday, I was fiddling with the site, (doing amazing and wonderful things, I thought) and when I updated the page, got ‘Database Not Connected’. A few refreshes, and still not working. Tried to log into PhpAdmin and got the ‘too many connections’ error (found out much too late that there was a very simple fix for that – delete browser cache and try again – but too late is too late). So, decided to restore MySQL database. (Well, pressing buttons works for The Doctor.) Did so, and suddenly my website was asking me to install WordPress.

Time to panic.

Spent several (many) hours fruitlessly fiddling, trying to restore the site from backup (I will be replacing backup addons the moment I have the go-ahead to play with my site again – this article is being written in Open Office while I wait).

To make a long story (somewhat) shorter, I spent most of a day and night making things worse.

Then, I went to work at the Real Paying Job(tm), still unable to get the website up.

When I came home, I apologized to the many gods of Chaos (who shall not be named here, lest I call them down on my life) and opened up chat to DreamHost’s tech support.

Almost immediately, ‘Sam’ (Samuel C) came on board. I don’t know anything about Sam except that he is patient, knows his way around the mess I made, and has a dry sense of humor.

Poor Sam is currently (as of 8:00 pm Monday night) manually restoring over 100 tables in my database, after succeeding at getting my site ‘more or less’ running. I am under strict orders to mess with nothing until Sam is done.

At which point I will attempt to go at least 24 hours without re-borking the website.

In the meantime, as a thank you to DreamHost tech support, and an endorsement of my chosen hosting service, I have created a promo code for anyone who is interested in signing up for DreamHost. If you enter the code ‘DANCEWITHME‘ when signing up with DreamHost, your setup fees will be waived, and you will get one free lifetime domain registration and one free lifetime unique IP address.

Dang. That’s pretty good. I wish I had used a promo code when I signed up. Don’t forget to DANCEWITHME for savings on your hosting service.

See, this is what I do for you when I am happy with your product or service. AT&T? You will never get a product endorsement from me. You neither, Comcast.

In the spirit of the dance, here are the questions for you:

  • Have you ever refrained for asking for help when you were way over your head? Why?
  • Are there different situations that make you more or less likely to be willing to ask for help?
  • What has been your experience with tech support at various companies? Who stood out as outstanding? Who stood out as terrible?
  • If you are a tech support person, what gives you patience when dealing with a mess someone clearly made by not asking for help?
  • What makes your day from a customer? Why?

Short question batch, because, well, I’ve had a long day, and it’s a lot more fun to get back to chatting with Sam.

  • DreamHost (
  • DreamHost presents…. DreamScape! (
  • World Backup Day and Foolish Bunnies (
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