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And Still More Notes on Mosso

Continuing in the Moving to Mosso series, I’ve come across a few more issues that anyone considering moving to Mosso should consider.

I’ve been with them for over two months now, and am very happy with them. Like the previous article, these issues are not dealbreakers – at least they are not to me – but they’re things I didn’t know about until I had made the switch, so it may be helpful for you to know in advance.

No access to memcached or APC caching modules

While this wouldn’t normally be much of an issue in many cases, if you have a very high traffic website, you may want to consider caching your dynamic pages so that you don’t exceed your allotted cpu cycles. From what I hear, Mosso is working on supporting APC and setting up a memcached server, but as of right now, it is not available.

There are, of course, other caching options such as PEAR’s Cache_Light and Zend Cache, or the “quick and dirty” method – but when you’re using query-heavy third-party software such as vBulletin, where implementing a scripted cache involves a significant amount of work, it’s a bit of a drag.

No editing a domain after you create it

Unlike other control panels, you cannot edit a domain name once you’ve created it. If you decide to change your domain name, you’ll either have to handle redirection through mod_rewrites to mask urls, or create a new domain account and then download+upload the content and databases. Hopefully you won’t have to do this often, but I admit I was surprised to discover that not even the tech support guys could facilitate editing a domain name once the account was created. Bit of a pain in the ass, but hopefully it won’t come up again.

Node/cookie weirdness

This one threw me for a loop, but now that I know about it, it’s an easy thing to work around. The way the load balancer works, a cookie is set when you access a page on the server, that tells the load balancer which node you came from, so that your sessions can be preserved. The only hitch is that if by some fluke you hit a server node error (meaning the load balancer couldn’t find a suitable node within 60 seconds), that cookie can keep sending you back to the node that isn’t answering/doesn’t exist anymore. This sounds rather complicated, but it’s actually not:

If you hit a server node error, and continue to see the server node error although people on other computers can see your site just fine, try clearing your cookies. I know, I know – it sounds like bullshit – but when you clear your cookies, the load balancer will stop trying to send you to a non-existent node and will find a suitable working node for you.

I’ve only had this come up once, but it was frustrating an confusing until we got it figured out. And as always, many thanks to Robert Collazo in their tech dept for his eternal patience and amazing dedication to getting to the bottom of things.

CPU-based billing

As you may already know, Mosso uses CPU cycles as part of their billing determination. You are allotted 10k CPU cycles, and are charged one penny per cycle if you go over.  For most people, this will not be a big deal at all, however because most servers don’t report on your CPU usage, it can be challenging to figure out how many CPU cycles you’re using until you’ve made the switch. The vast majority of Mosso customers don’t even come close to exceeding their allotted CPU cycles. I happen to be an exception, largely because one of my sites gets over a half a million media-and-databasae-heavy pageviews a month, and I have 100 other sites ranging from very large to very small on the box.

What this ultimately means to you is that it is absolutely in your best interests to make sure your scripts and sites are running at peak efficiency. Double-check your database indexes, implement page caching where applicable, turn off gzip compression, etc. While you likely won’t find yourself needing to hoard your cpu cycles, knowing that the steps you take towards efficiency could impact your wallet is a compelling reason to take a hard look at your sites and figure out where you can do some fine-tuning, which is, overall, not such a bad thing.

Thoughts so far

I’ve really been quite satisfied with the speed, uptime, and absolutely the support provided by Mosso since I signed on in January. Nothing I’ve come up against has been dealbreaker material, and the few issues I’ve had have been resolved quickly and professionally by their support staff.

Although it may seem like much of my review is nitpicking on what you can’t do on Mosso, that’s only because the rest of it just *works*, so there’s not much more to say about it. I could go through the list of what just *works* to balance out the arguably-bad with the good, but that would be stupid. Great uptime, great support, great price. Happy customer.

Ready to give Mosso a try?

If you’re interested in giving Mosso a shot, they offer a 30 day risk-free trial (money back guarantee) – and if you use the promotional code REF-SNIPE, you’ll get a $25 rebate/refund on your first month’s bill. If you’re still not sure or you have more questions, follow @mosso on twitter. They’re very responsive, and often quite funny.

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About snipe

I’m a tech geek/dev/infosec-nerd/scuba diver/blacksmith/sword-fighter/crime fighter/ENTP/warcrafter/activist, and the CTO at Mass Mosaic in New York City. Tweet at me @snipeyhead or read more...
  • http://www.nflgridirongab.com/ Sujeet Patel

    Just out of curiousity, how many CPU cycles did you end up using for the month? I run a blog network with about 40 WordPress sites, and we average around 400K visitors a month. I’m currently running on a dedicated server, but I’m also tired of the sysadmin duties, and Mosso seems like an interesting alternative.

    Thanks!

  • http://www.nflgridirongab.com Sujeet Patel

    Just out of curiousity, how many CPU cycles did you end up using for the month? I run a blog network with about 40 WordPress sites, and we average around 400K visitors a month. I’m currently running on a dedicated server, but I’m also tired of the sysadmin duties, and Mosso seems like an interesting alternative.

    Thanks!

  • http://www.snipe.net snipe

    Hi Sujeet – I ended up going way over – 21k cycles out of an allotted 10k – but I also have about 100 sites on the box of widely varying cpu usage, including two sites running vbulletin (which is easily the BIGGEST cpu hog of any third-party software I have installed.) Even sites with relatively little traffic are high up towards the top cpu-users when they’re running vbulletin. It’s MUCH easiesr to keep wordpress installs in a lower cpu-range using WP-Supercache. Vbulletin doesn’t have any kind of sophisticated caching, so it just pigs out on resources.

    Those two vbulletin sites take a big bite out of my available cpu, and none of the wordpress sites I have come close to that level of visitor-to-cpu ratio.

    So I guess what I’m saying is, our situations are so different, I’m not sure how helpful I can be – but you can probably talk to someone at Mosso and they should be able to provide some benchmarking (with the assumption that you have or can have WP-Supercache set up), since they host a good many wordpress sites. With Wp-Supercache, they should be able to tell you something like “an average Supercache-enabled WP blog that gets 100k visitors a month uses $n cpu cycles.”

    Obviously, the number of plugins you have installed will impact your cpu, but Supercache makes a static HTML version of the page, so it significantly reduces cpu loads.

    Hope that helps :)

  • http://www.snipe.net snipe

    Hi Sujeet – I ended up going way over – 21k cycles out of an allotted 10k – but I also have about 100 sites on the box of widely varying cpu usage, including two sites running vbulletin (which is easily the BIGGEST cpu hog of any third-party software I have installed.) Even sites with relatively little traffic are high up towards the top cpu-users when they’re running vbulletin. It’s MUCH easiesr to keep wordpress installs in a lower cpu-range using WP-Supercache. Vbulletin doesn’t have any kind of sophisticated caching, so it just pigs out on resources.

    Those two vbulletin sites take a big bite out of my available cpu, and none of the wordpress sites I have come close to that level of visitor-to-cpu ratio.

    So I guess what I’m saying is, our situations are so different, I’m not sure how helpful I can be – but you can probably talk to someone at Mosso and they should be able to provide some benchmarking (with the assumption that you have or can have WP-Supercache set up), since they host a good many wordpress sites. With Wp-Supercache, they should be able to tell you something like “an average Supercache-enabled WP blog that gets 100k visitors a month uses $n cpu cycles.”

    Obviously, the number of plugins you have installed will impact your cpu, but Supercache makes a static HTML version of the page, so it significantly reduces cpu loads.

    Hope that helps :)

  • http://www.nflgridirongab.com/ Sujeet Patel

    Thanks for the info! I spoke at length with someone at Mosso, and it sounds like a good alternative to my dedicated server. There’s really no way to estimate what kind of CPU usage I’ll end up using, so I’ll just have to keep an eye on my usage stats for the first month and make sure it’ll suit my needs.

    Sujeet Patel’s last blog post..Rams GM Bill Devaney: A Man of the People

  • http://www.nflgridirongab.com Sujeet Patel

    Thanks for the info! I spoke at length with someone at Mosso, and it sounds like a good alternative to my dedicated server. There’s really no way to estimate what kind of CPU usage I’ll end up using, so I’ll just have to keep an eye on my usage stats for the first month and make sure it’ll suit my needs.

    Sujeet Patel’s last blog post..Rams GM Bill Devaney: A Man of the People

  • http://ocaoimh.ie/ Donncha O Caoimh

    Nice to see Supercache working well for you! :)

  • http://ocaoimh.ie/ Donncha O Caoimh

    Nice to see Supercache working well for you! :)

  • http://www.snipe.net snipe

    Hi Donncha – wow, it’s an honor to see you here! (Googling to see who’s talking about WP-Supercache, were you? Hehe) I’m a huge advocate of your plugin, *especially* now that I’ve moved to a cpu-based billing environment. Really excellent work – and you should know that all of the Techs at Mosso push WP-Supercache like crazy :) Thank you so much for providing this fantastic plugin to the WordPress community.

  • http://www.snipe.net snipe

    Hi Donncha – wow, it’s an honor to see you here! (Googling to see who’s talking about WP-Supercache, were you? Hehe) I’m a huge advocate of your plugin, *especially* now that I’ve moved to a cpu-based billing environment. Really excellent work – and you should know that all of the Techs at Mosso push WP-Supercache like crazy :) Thank you so much for providing this fantastic plugin to the WordPress community.

  • http://www.rubicontechventures.com/ Dax

    Hi Snipe, I have moved to Mosso and am running a WordPress blog on the site. I have not been able to successfully get the SuperCache settings to work. The following is from their KB article (http://help.mosso.com/article.php?id=328):

    If you see output like this, then it’s working:



    If you see output like this, then it’s not working:


    I of course see the second option. I have followed their directions and other then some changes not being necessary (they were already matching) and a couple of lines they say to comment out not being there, my install matches.

    Any hints or ideas why it’s not on? Thanks for any help!

    Dax

  • http://www.rubicontechventures.com/ Dax Davis

    Hi Snipe, I have moved to Mosso and am running a WordPress blog on the site. I have not been able to successfully get the SuperCache settings to work. The following is from their KB article (http://help.mosso.com/article.php?id=328):

    If you see output like this, then it’s working:



    If you see output like this, then it’s not working:


    I of course see the second option. I have followed their directions and other then some changes not being necessary (they were already matching) and a couple of lines they say to comment out not being there, my install matches.

    Any hints or ideas why it’s not on? Thanks for any help!

    Dax

  • http://www.rubicontechventures.com/ Dax

    Should I be surprised the code snippets didn’t show. :) Dumb on my part I know. Here this should work:

    If you see output like this, then it’s working:

    If you see output like this, then it’s not working:

  • http://www.rubicontechventures.com/ Dax Davis

    Should I be surprised the code snippets didn’t show. :) Dumb on my part I know. Here this should work:

    If you see output like this, then it’s working:

    If you see output like this, then it’s not working:

  • http://www.rubicontechventures.com/ Dax

    OK, one last try. The following should all have comment tags around them. I’m removing them to get them to show:

    If you see output like this, then it’s working:

    Dynamic Page Served (once) in 0.350 seconds
    Cached page generated by WP-Super-Cache on 2009-02-11 11:34:32
    super cache

    If you see output like this, then it’s not working:

    Dynamic Page Served (once) in 0.350 seconds
    Cached page generated by WP-Super-Cache on 2009-02-11 11:34:32

  • http://www.rubicontechventures.com/ Dax Davis

    OK, one last try. The following should all have comment tags around them. I’m removing them to get them to show:

    If you see output like this, then it’s working:

    Dynamic Page Served (once) in 0.350 seconds
    Cached page generated by WP-Super-Cache on 2009-02-11 11:34:32
    super cache

    If you see output like this, then it’s not working:

    Dynamic Page Served (once) in 0.350 seconds
    Cached page generated by WP-Super-Cache on 2009-02-11 11:34:32

  • http://www.snipe.net snipe

    LOL I knew what you meant – the comments came through in the notification email the first time. :) I’m not sure, but let me look into a little. Seems to happen sometimes on Mosso sites. Will figure out why and let you know.

  • http://www.snipe.net snipe

    LOL I knew what you meant – the comments came through in the notification email the first time. :) I’m not sure, but let me look into a little. Seems to happen sometimes on Mosso sites. Will figure out why and let you know.

  • http://www.snipe.net snipe

    Hi Dax – good news – I think I have an answer for you.

    Drop these lines from the .htaccess file:

    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !^.*[^/]$
    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !^.*//.*$

    Clear your WP cache, logout and manually delete your domain cookies, then reload a page on your site a few times and check the source.

  • http://www.snipe.net snipe

    Hi Dax – good news – I think I have an answer for you.

    Drop these lines from the .htaccess file:

    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !^.*[^/]$
    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !^.*//.*$

    Clear your WP cache, logout and manually delete your domain cookies, then reload a page on your site a few times and check the source.

  • http://www.rubicontechventures.com/ Dax

    Thanks for the quick help. Those lines were not there. While trying to hunt the issue down I went to the web site of the plugin (innovative idea, I know) and found some instructions that it doesn’t tell you in the KB article or the module settings page itself. Here’s the instruction:

    — SNIP —
    Remove any existing instances of WP Cache, as WP Super Cache is a drop in replacement. Don’t forget to delete the files wp-content/advanced-caching.php and wp-content/wp-cache-config.php. Also comment out the WP_CACHE define in wp-config.php.
    — SNIP —

    I had already removed WP Cache (although I always wondered if it needed it since you have a Half-on option that says WP Cache). What I needed to do were the removal of the two files and the WP_CACHE comment out steps. Now WP Super Cache seems to add them all back, but must have removed something that was old WP Cache and not nice for Super Cache. Now I’m getting the “What you should see” lines from the KB article.

    Thanks again for the quick help and giving me some brain food to find the solution.

    Dax

  • http://www.rubicontechventures.com/ Dax Davis

    Thanks for the quick help. Those lines were not there. While trying to hunt the issue down I went to the web site of the plugin (innovative idea, I know) and found some instructions that it doesn’t tell you in the KB article or the module settings page itself. Here’s the instruction:

    — SNIP —
    Remove any existing instances of WP Cache, as WP Super Cache is a drop in replacement. Don’t forget to delete the files wp-content/advanced-caching.php and wp-content/wp-cache-config.php. Also comment out the WP_CACHE define in wp-config.php.
    — SNIP —

    I had already removed WP Cache (although I always wondered if it needed it since you have a Half-on option that says WP Cache). What I needed to do were the removal of the two files and the WP_CACHE comment out steps. Now WP Super Cache seems to add them all back, but must have removed something that was old WP Cache and not nice for Super Cache. Now I’m getting the “What you should see” lines from the KB article.

    Thanks again for the quick help and giving me some brain food to find the solution.

    Dax

  • http://www.snipe.net snipe

    Sweet – glad you got it all sorted! :)

  • http://www.snipe.net snipe

    Sweet – glad you got it all sorted! :)