Hosting Issues

So I have had this hosting provider since 2005 and they have been bought out a couple times.  Some of the pluses though include the fact my email is hosted in Exchange, unlimited disk space, and supposed unlimited bandwidth (found that today).  I have never had any issues at all requiring extensive customer support until this past week.

Starting last week Windows Live Writer stopped posting correctly to my blog.  It had happened intermittently previously and I figured it was another glitch.  After the issue didn’t clear in 24 hours to the support console I went.

Date Type
09/15/2011 12:10 AM EDT Ticket Created
09/15/2011 12:10 AM EDT Barron Barnett contacted PowWeb
Subject:

Problems with libXML2

Customer Quote:

Earlier this year I started using XMLRPC to post content to my blog. Start in July I had incidents where posts would have the tags brackets(<>) stripped off. I ignored it figuring it was a glitch when it started working a couple days later. 

Starting about the middle of last week though this issue has become permanent. While I was normally easily able to work around it, the work around fails when I am posting images. 

Have there been any changes to the server configuration recently? 

I know it was not caused by a site configuration change because 3 other sites all exhibit the same behavior that are not used as frequently. 

Currently this is still just in the annoyance category, but as I start needing to put more pictures in content its’ going to increase on my ladder. 

All assistance I could find online pointed to server configuration with PHP version and libXML version issues. 

Thank you, 

Barron

09/15/2011 4:00 AM EDT Updated Ticket: Work in Progress
09/15/2011 7:53 AM EDT Updated Ticket: Work in Progress
09/15/2011 8:51 AM EDT Updated Ticket: Work in Progress
09/15/2011 9:50 AM EDT PowWeb contacted Barron Barnett
Subject:

[P08757884000000000] Problems with libXML2

Comment:

Hello, 

Thank you for contacting Support. 

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. In order to further investigate on your issue, please get back to us with the following information: 

1) Exact steps to duplicate your issue. 

2) URL of the page. 

3) WordPress username and password. 

Thank you! 

Sincerely, 

Kaila Pearson 

Customer Support

09/15/2011 9:19 PM EDT Barron Barnett contacted PowWeb
Customer Quote:

Drupal User Info: 

Username: TestUser 

Password: 

URL: http://www.the-minuteman.org Full URL varies based on post title, it happens when content is published or sent as a draft to the server. Reproduction steps below show how to make it appear on the front page. 

Reproduction steps: 

1) Configure Windows Live Writer for an “Other services” blog and point to http://www.the-minuteman.org 

2) During configuration tell it to identify the blog theme. 

3) At this point configuration will hang because the post displayed on the front page website (http://www.the-minuteman.org) is incorrect. For example I get the following: 

pThis is a temporary post that was not deleted. Please delete this manually. (1eb91935-d1da-4e9a-85fd-82ce1220f24d – 3bfe001a-32de-4114-a6b4-4005b770f6d7)/p 

This should actually be: 

<p>This is a temporary post that was not deleted. Please delete this manually. (1eb91935-d1da-4e9a-85fd-82ce1220f24d – 3bfe001a-32de-4114-a6b4-4005b770f6d7)</p> 

But the tags were stripped, and the inner text passed through as part of the blog post text. 

Alternatively, you can skip the theme detection and attempt to post to the blog through Live Writer. The content within the post will exhibit the same loss of tags. 

Draft posts can be open and viewed from this listing: 

http://www.the-minuteman.org/admin/content/node 

For some reason the tags are being stripped off and every piece of information I have found points to server configuration, not blog software.

09/15/2011 9:30 PM EDT Updated Ticket: Work in Progress
09/15/2011 10:54 PM EDT PowWeb contacted Barron Barnett
Subject:

[P08757884000000000] Problems with libXML2

Comment:

Hello, 

Thank you for contacting Support. 

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. Could you please get back us with the exact URL where you are trying to login to Drupal admin page, so that we can assist you further. 

Please reply to this email with the requested information, so that we can assist you further. 

Sincerely, 

Riley Malson 

Customer Support

09/16/2011 12:26 AM EDT Barron Barnett contacted PowWeb
Customer Quote:

This is not tied to my Drupal web browser interface but the XML-RPC interface that different external programs use to post content. 

The symptoms of the failure are visible on my blog. Here is an example post that failed. 

http://www.the-minuteman.org/content/2011/September/15/failed-test-post-Barron-Barnett 

09/16/2011 12:27 AM EDT Updated Ticket: Work in Progress
09/16/2011 12:41 AM EDT Updated Ticket: Work in Progress
09/16/2011 12:41 AM EDT Updated Ticket: Work in Progress
09/16/2011 2:31 AM EDT PowWeb contacted Barron Barnett (Resolved)
Comment:

Hello, 

In order to further investigate, could you please get back to us with the Drupal admin login details. 

If you have any further questions, please update the Support Console. 

Sincerely, 

Mae Silva 

Technical Specialist

09/16/2011 8:24 PM EDT Barron Barnett contacted PowWeb
Customer Quote:

Here is the primary user account information: 

Username: Barron Barnett 

Password:

09/16/2011 8:44 PM EDT Updated Ticket: Work in Progress
09/16/2011 9:49 PM EDT PowWeb contacted Barron Barnett (Resolved)
Comment:

Hello, 

Thank you for your reply. 

I have checked there is no error logs to investigate further on this issue. Since Drupal is the third party application I suggest you to contact the vendor of the application. 

If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to reply through Support Console. We are available 24×7. 

Sincerely, 

Neville Kodner 

Technical Specialist

09/17/2011 1:26 AM EDT Barron Barnett contacted PowWeb
Customer Quote:

I have investigated the drupal forums regarding this issue and I have gone one step further and mirrored my site on to a local development server I use for updates. 

The mirrored version of my site, a fresh copy of files and snapshot of the database, placed within my test environment works as it should. I fail to see how this is my blog software or site configuration when I can turn the problem on and off by placing it on my test server here or uploading it to Powweb. 

Not to mention the fact that it was running reliably at the beginning of August and I have not done any changes to configuration other than unrelated module updates. The issue also has seemed to come and go, finally becoming permanent over the past week. I initially ignored it thinking it was a glitch because it would come back later. 

All information I have been able to find regarding this type of issue online points again to the web services host, not the drupal software. 

My test server is running PHP 5.3.2 

Apache 2.2.14 

SQL Version 5.1.46 

Here is the exact error in the Drupal forums: 

http://drupal.org/node/415566 

Here is a similar issue in the Drupal forums: 

http://drupal.org/node/347298#comment-1209085 

http://drupal.org/node/347298#comment-1295684 

I’m confused though since you guys are running 5.2.17 and the issues reported were with 5.2.8. However this has turned on and off entirely on it’s own on your servers with my altering absolutely nothing in the configuration or settings within my blog. Meaning something changed in the hosting configuration. 

There are no error logs because it is a function erroneously stripping out data that it should not. Drupal gets a result from a function call that it thinks is correct but is in fact wrong.

09/17/2011 1:28 AM EDT Updated Ticket: Work in Progress
09/17/2011 1:37 AM EDT PowWeb contacted Barron Barnett (Resolved)
Comment:

Hello, 

Thank you for your reply. 

We support PHP version 5.2.17, Apache version 1.3.33 and MySQ version 5.0.45. 

If you have any further questions, please update the Support Console. 

Sincerely, 

Ariel Danson 

Technical Specialist

09/17/2011 1:42 AM EDT Barron Barnett contacted PowWeb
Customer Quote:

Has your supported versions changed since June? Something has changed and it doesn’t appear to be by my hand. I created a virgin test site and it is having the same problems. 

I have been using Windows Live Writer since January without issue until about the middle of last month.

09/17/2011 1:42 AM EDT Updated Ticket: Work in Progress
09/17/2011 1:46 AM EDT PowWeb contacted Barron Barnett (Resolved)
Comment:

Hello, 

Thank you for getting back to us. 

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. We have not changed the supported version recently. Please reinstall the application or contact the application provider to fix the issue. 

Thank you! 

Sincerely, 

Aden Nelson 

Technical Specialist

So maybe I’ve been spoiled by the company I work for by the fact that we think customer service is a big deal.  Ownership of a problem is a big deal.  Making sure the customers problem is solved is a big deal.  Getting to root cause is a big deal.  Notice how it was marked resolved long before anything was actually solved.  Very quickly they blamed it on third party software without any actual proof.

This company has totally shifted the blame for the problem from them to me. Ignoring the fact that this has happened on two independent Drupal installs who’s configurations haven’t changed.  No single individual took lead to deal with this problem and just bounced it around.  I’m stuck copying and pasting the source code from WLW into the submission form in Drupal.  Any pictures I want to submit become an arm twisting game of getting the URL correct to point to the image if I’m uploading it.

I just checked, I have prepaid 2 years of hosting starting in Nov 2010.  That gives me a year to come up with a new hosting solution and a solid game plane for site and email migration.  I will actually probably move earlier because I pay per month for my Exchange hosting and if I can find it cheaper, that’s money back in my pocket that I haven’t spent yet.

In the past I was more than happy to recommend Powweb to friends but given the first time I really had a serious issue and support utterly face planted.

If anyone has any input on what the problem might be, here’s an example of what happens when I submit through WLW currently.  I have disabled the TestUser account, and regenerated a new site password for myself since they think this issue is resolved they no longer require access.  Keypass makes stuff like this much easier to handle.  I am NOT going to close this ticket until I find a resolution to this problem.  WLW worked without issue from January to the beginning of August.  At which point I had a few flaky issues, but they always came back.  Then last week it died permanently.

I am going to continue posting new content, I won’t be putting many of my own pictures up except through my photo gallery.

So I am all ears on good hosting providers that support PHP, MySQL, and Exchange services.  I’ve got time and if I move early I’ve got some side sites that can live out there that can die around November 2012.  I know I could host myself, my bandwidth out in BFE though isn’t that great and I hate general IT maintenance with a passion.  So fellow bloggers, what would you recommend.

Barron is the owner, editor, and principal author at The Minuteman, a competitive shooter, and staff member for Boomershoot. Even in his free time he’s merging his love and knowledge of computers and technology with his love of firearms.

He has a BS in electrical engineering from Washington State University. Immediately after college he went into work on embedded software and hardware for use in critical infrastructure. This included cryptographic communications equipment as well as command and control devices that were using that communications equipment. Since then he’s worked on just about everything ranging from toys, phones, other critical infrastructure, and even desktop applications. Doing everything from hardware system design, to software architecture, to actually writing software that makes your athletic band do its thing.

About Barron

Barron is the owner, editor, and principal author at The Minuteman, a competitive shooter, and staff member for Boomershoot. Even in his free time he’s merging his love and knowledge of computers and technology with his love of firearms. He has a BS in electrical engineering from Washington State University. Immediately after college he went into work on embedded software and hardware for use in critical infrastructure. This included cryptographic communications equipment as well as command and control devices that were using that communications equipment. Since then he’s worked on just about everything ranging from toys, phones, other critical infrastructure, and even desktop applications. Doing everything from hardware system design, to software architecture, to actually writing software that makes your athletic band do its thing.
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4 Responses to Hosting Issues

  1. Linoge says:

     Not sure about Exchange functionality, but Dreamhost provides everything else, and I have been very happy with them over my four+ years with them.  If you go that route, I can probably gen a code that gets you a discount or somesuch (and, of course, helps me too 😉 ).  

  2. Richard says:

    This is caused by an issue with the LibXML2 library that PHP uses. Powweb have obviously updated this library without realising. More information can be found here: http://blog.hoofoo.net/2009/01/14/wordpress-patch-for-problamatic-libxml2-version

    • Thanks for the tip.  I informed Powweb that this was the issue.  I had spent some time digging high and low, and then they pulled the ever convenient, “There is no problem with our configuration, it’s your website.  Contact the software vendor for support.”

      They claim there has been no configuration changes on their end.  I call BS because it acted like a patch roll out looking back on it.  As people had issues they reverted back and finally on this last shot they made it permanent. 

      I am already investigating alternatives to go elsewhere.

      I am also going to look into editing the WLW plugin for Drupal to see if I can create a modified version that will at least work until I can move to another hosting provider.

  3. Frustrated101 says:

    funny I get the same problem with Readyhosting.com and it happens the technical supprt is by the same guy Neville Kodner….. its crap