Limitations of SiteGround VPS Cloud Hosting

One of my websites was recently disabled by SiteGround web hosting for exceeding the “monthly quota of 800,000 program executions.” There was no prior warning to the outage since I received a notice that I was at 90% of my allowed usage and a notice that I had exceeded 100% of my allowed usage simultaneously. Had I received the 90% warning when I actually reached 90%, I could have avoided downtime. The quickest way to bring the site back up was to upgrade my SiteGround account to the VPS Cloud Hosting plan, so I upgraded.

Now that I’ve had the site on the new plan for a few days and learned a bit more about its limitations, I’m not too thrilled. I had been considering the upgrade for some time, so when I contacted SiteGround’s customer service with my questions a few months back, I was told numerous times how flexible the service was. The impression I received was that I could tune up or down my allocated resources, by myself, at will and pay only for what I needed at any given time.

My primary concern is being able to withstand sudden short traffic spikes without having to always pay for a high powered server that sits nearly idle 99.9% of the time. SiteGround’s VPS Cloud hosting plan seemed to be a good solution since you could easily use online sliders to change the number of CPU cores and RAM allocated to your server. However, I’ve come to learn there are several limitations that make frequent resource changes unviable.

For starters, any increases in CPU, RAM, or disk space must be prepaid for the duration of your current plan’s time period. This means that if you’ve prepaid for 6 months of service in order to receive a 10% discount over the monthly plan’s rate, and are at the start of that 6 months of service, you must pay for increased resources ahead of time for the entire 6 months. So if you’re looking to increase from 2GB of RAM to 3GB of RAM, which costs $10 extra per month, you have to pay $60 up front if you happen to be in the first month of a 6 month prepaid period.

You may be thinking, like I was, that it’s fine prepaying for the extra resources since you’ll just be credited the unused amount when you downgrade back to the lower resource allocation a week, a month, or however long later. Well, that isn’t the case. If you pay for more resources and then downgrade, you lose your money. SiteGround does not give a refund or account credit for unused resources regardless of how many months you’ve prepaid for. If you upgrade your server from 2GB of RAM to 3GB of RAM 1 week into a 6 month plan at the cost of $60, and then decide to downgrade a couple weeks later, you will not receive $50 back like you may expect. There is no benefit to downgrading during a prepaid period. Once you upgrade, you’re stuck with at least those resources until your plan is up for renewal.

Speaking of downgrading, remember those handy easy to use resource sliders I mentioned earlier? Well, they only move one way, and that way is forward. If you want to downgrade any resources, you have to submit a support ticket to be “manually” downgraded. I’ve used plenty of dynamic VPS hosts which allow you to modify resources yourself in any direction, but SiteGround is not one of them. Having to submit a ticket to downgrade, while it does seem unnecessary, is not a big deal. It would normally only mean overpaying for a day or so as you wait for staff to make the changes, but again, since SiteGround doesn’t refund unused prepaid resources, there’s really no point to ever downgrade unless it’s a day or two before your plan is up for renewal.

If you’re looking for a VPS hosting plan that you can easily modify at will and pay only for the resource you use on any given day, SiteGround is not the hosting company for you. Due to the downgrade limitations, at best, SiteGround’s VPS Cloud hosting plan should be considered dynamic only on a month to month basis. Even then, it comes with the stipulation that you can never take advantage of their prepayment discounts if you want to keep your resource usage flexible in both directions. My final gripe with the service is that there is no way to see a historical chart/graph of your server’s resource usage to know if you’re overpaying for resources that you don’t need. It seems like SiteGround’s VPS Cloud Hosting service is intentionally designed to make it easy to increase resources and get stuck paying more money, all while making it difficult to tune the server to your needs or determine if you’re overpaying.

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Thoughts on the Amazon Fire Phone

Yesterday, Amazon revealed their fist smartphone, the Fire Phone. While I don’t know if it will be a successful product, it’s not what I expected the phone to be. When I look at the Amazon Fire Phone, I see a product trying to go after the the flagship phones like the iPhone, the Galaxy S5, the HTC One M8, and the LG G3. That’s the opposite of what I was expecting, or more accurately what I was hoping for. I was hoping for a phone to go after the US carriers and their pricing model.

I don’t mean I wanted Amazon to become a cellular service provider. I mean I wanted Amazon to make the Motorola Moto G with a twist. The Moto G is a wonderfully unremarkable phone that sells for around $179 off-contract. It does the basics very well and manages to stay cheap. I wanted Amazon to build a phone similar in specs to the Moto G and sell it for $99 off-contract. I’ve read that the Moto G costs $123 to make. Considering its manufacturing costs have probably come down since it was released 7 months ago, let’s assume that Amazon could make a phone on par with the Moto G and sell it at cost for $99. Even if the phone had to be sold for $125 or $149 to break even, the following thoughts don’t change much.

The problem with selling a phone for $99 off-contract is that the American audience has, unfortunately, been trained to think in terms of on-contract pricing. A $99 off-contract phone would be a free phone on-contract, and a free phone on-contract to America’s cellular market is a cheap phone that nobody wants to own. Amazon should have used the American consumer’s on-contract mentality in their favor.

Let’s look at the iPhone pricing. A 16GB iPhone 5S is $199 on-contract and $650 off-contract. That means a 2 year contract is worth $450 to the cellular industry. If a phone costs $99 off-contract then, according to that iPhone contract math, it should cost -$351 on-contract (i.e., $99 minus $450).

Amazon should have made a Fire Phone that costs $99 to manufacture which was Free and came with a $350 Amazon gift card if you signed a 2 year contract. Heck, make it a $300 gift card and use the $50 to market the hell out of hit. That’s the type of disruption I was hoping to come from Amazon.

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Recreating the cover image of The Instagram Handbook for Brands

Today, Instagram posted about releasing The Instagram Handbook for Brands. The Instagram Handbook for Brands
I liked the cover design, so I recreated it. Here are the various version I created:

(1080px by 1080px)

Instagram Handbook Cover - Replica
Recreation without Text
(1080px by 1080px)
Instagram Handbook Cover - Background
Desktop Wallpaper
(1920px by 1080px)
Instagram Handbook Cover - Wallpaper

iPhone 5/5S/5C Wallpaper
(1136px by 640px)
Instagram Handbook Cover - iPhone5/5s Wallpeper
iPhone 4/4S Wallpaper
(960px by 640px)
Instagram Handbook Cover - iPhone4/4s Wallpeper

Here is the Photoshop PSD file.

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