Until last week I had nothing but positives to say about totalchoicehosting, but now I need to sound a note of warning to all moodle users.
As your site grows, you may find problems with their servers - they might complain about overusage of mysql and/or cpu. In the space of 4 days, my school site went from a state of having no problems (and no warnings from them) to being totally banned ('suspended').
They did not provide me with any clear explanations of the problem (eg how often or exactly when it occured - was it general usage, the cron, a hacker??). I got the impression it was probably the cron and switched it off. Then last Thursday week (just after I had presented a brief INSET session to school staff) they pulled the plug - and didn't even answer my emails for a day.
So how big was the site? Well, 200 registered users, about 20 courses and with a maximum of 1000 page hits (logs) in a single day, but more often about 300. This doesn't seem very heavy to me.
What is the moral of this?
Totalchoice works great for small Moodle installations, for testing Moodle and for non-critical uses. But if your school or business depends on it take care!! Basically they decided they didn't want me and forced me off their server with almost no warning.
Thanks to Martin for helping me migrate to Moodle.com in 24 hours!!! Just the update service he provides will save me many hours over the year.
Ray Le Couteur
www.totalchoicehosting.com is great for testing and small site purposes, but for production purposes http://moodle.com/hosting is the best option.
A Moodle server with 200 users and 20 courses is neither a testing nor a small site installation. If you look for it in the forums, you will see that many Moodle sites have been banned from many hosting services mainly because of their heavy use of CPU and Database calls.
http://moodle.com/hosting is the solution for medium to high use Moodle sites, since it is optimized for Moodle and Martin does know exactly how many resources does Moodle need for any installation. It is worth its prize (just $50/month)
www.totalchoicehosting.com is the "starting point" to play with Moodle installs on the Internet and for small sites (after testing it in your own desktop computer). You cannot get more for $5/moth.
I do reccomend you to copy and paste your post to www.findmyhosting.com where you will have a sure reply from www.totalchoicehosting.com and they will have to justify this banning. Just go to: http://www.findmyhosting.com/addrating.asp?id=5330
Totalchoice provide reliable, low cost hosting - however, they do this by being very strict about those who are heavy resource users - this probably means any medium sized Moodle site.
Certainly it probably won't cope with more than about 15 simultaneous users (at a guess).
As to resolving the problem, my main gripe was their lack of communication with me: no warning about increasing usage, no indication of when the overload was occuring or what module or command was causing the problem. When specifically requested they said it was too many simultaneous Mysql queries (but no further details).
They were not interested.
I suppose that's how they keep the cost down.
NB: very happy with my new hosting at moodle.com
A couple of days ago this webhost suspended my site also. They said that it had crashed their server and that if things didn't improve "we will have to look at other options". They reconnected the site very shortly after it was suspended though.
I haven't followed this through with them as I have been so busy the last couple of days, but I fear that the same thing might happen to me as happened to you Ray. Perhaps they will pull the plug without any warning. It's lucky that the university semester is almost finished in case that happens.
So I am thinking about my options for the future. In my case I'm not in a position to sign up with moodle.com although I am sure that would be the best option and I hope to do that down the track.
I am going to post my question about a possible option under a new thread.
This was the comment by totalchoicehosting after I queried them about the problem:
"It usually isnt the traffic with a moddle [sic] site, it is the cpu resources it requires to operate a moodle site. Moodle is a huge resource hog, and in a shared server environment it can cause significant problems. One site using excessive resources causes problems for every other site on the server."
Is this a fair comment?
Hosting companies with $5 accounts typically squeeze betewen 200 and 300 accounts onto a single server. They have to so they can be profitable. As a result they are very sensitive to load issues.
Moodle.com (for example) runs under 20 average Moodle sites on a typical machine, and that's with everything tuned towards running Moodle as fast as possible.