Response from DreamHost Regarding Its Ongoing Nightmare

My web host, DreamHost, recently moved its operations to a new datacenter, resulting in major outages and headaches for myself and its many other customers (see “Regarding My Site’s Downtime” and “Ongoing Server Problems Test My Patience, Hamper Productivity“). So overwhelmed with complaints was its support staff that the company resorted to canned responses to customers’ inquiries.

For my own amusement and to soothe my frustrations, I’ve provided DreamHost’s response below. I can only hope that the company resolves these problems soon and learns from its mistakes, because I really have no interest in switching hosting providers. I’ve been with DreamHost for many years and I’ve grown quite comfortable with their service and its myriad features.

On a side note, the support tech notes that WordPress had been generating a large number of server errors for DreamHost customers, possible due to database connection issue. The tech then goes on to describe how to reset the theme to the WordPress default. With all due respect to DreamHost, I shouldn’t have to change my site design because my host is experiencing massive problems. Furthermore, when WordPress can’t connect to its database, it provides an error to that effect, not an internal server error. I tested this today with a dummy installation of WordPress 2.8.6 and received a very simple “Error establishing a database connection” message, not an internal server error as DreamHost purports.

Now, on to that canned support message:


We’re quite sorry about the problems you’ve been running into today! Our admin team recently upgraded the network in the data center where your machine is located. Unfortunately, we had a major network outage last night that caused one of those upgrades to no longer work correctly.

Now here’s where things get tecnical. Sorry if your eyes glaze over while I geek out over the details…

Basically, after the network outage started happening, we had to reseat the Gigabit Interface Converter (GBIC) that was no longer being used. Once the GBIC was reseated the network started working correctly. In fact, all of the problems and packet loss went away again.

As it stands, our admin team is closely monitoring our network. They have been since this weekend’s data center move – but we are now on even higher alert since last night’s network outage.

Even tho I said this before, it bears repeating:

Sorry about all the problems!

I’ll be straight with you – our team is in a bit of a rough spot (from a networking standpoint) as we integrate all the new machines to this data center. If you are noticing any lingering problems do not hesitate to reply to this message.

Addendum: We’ve noticed that WordPress is returning 500 errors for a large number of customers. This is possibly due to problems with accessing the database that were caused by the network issues.

If you happen to notice this happening to your WordPress install, you have two plans of attack:

1. You can change the “template” and “stylesheet” settings in your wp_options table to the value “default”. After you’ve done this, visit your site again. It should hopefully come up.

If it does, go ahead and set the value back to what you had previously and go about your day.

2. If mucking with the database isn’t your thing, go ahead and change the name of the folder your current theme is in. You should be able to locate the theme folder via FTP or SSH in the “wp-content/themes” folders wherever your copy of WordPress is installed.

Doing this will make WordPress freak out (since it can’t find the files it needs) and flip your site back onto the Default theme. Then you can visit your site – which should be coming up in stripped down form – log into the admin interface and change your theme back to your preferred one.

As I said previously, please contact support if you are still noticing any issues. Even moreso if our bulk issue mover managed to put you into the high volume support queue when your intial ticket wasn’t even related to outages or WordPress 500 errors. We earnestly want to assist you with your problem and get your site running ASAP – so anything we can do to help, we will.


P.S. I also need to apologize for using a canned response. The amount of support that was generated by this problem called for it tho. If I could have responded to each question individually, I would. I hope you understand that.