000webhost Woes

In the recent past, I have used 000webhost on numerous occasions which include personal and professional projects, all requiring free web hosting. Till I hosted static HTML/CSS/JS based pages on the website, functioning was smooth and I was quite happy with 000webhost, until I decided to install a phpBB forum on one of my websites; as an experiment. 000webhost on the registration screen has put forward a claim stating that the Fantastico Script Installer is available to free users with a limitation of ten fixed scripts. Incidentally, phpBB was one of the ten. I tried to install using Fantastico, but experienced an error I had experienced every other time I tried to use the script installer: “The installer is under maintenance, though you can use it if you are a premium user”, to put it crudely. This error message is always there, whenever free users click on Fantastico. How is it that the installer is always under maintenance? I believe it’s just a scam to make free users upgrade to a premium account.

Without giving a damn about their “available” script installer, I went in for a manual installation. Installing phpBB on a forum is not that tough, it’s a simple process, you just have to click through it. Setting up the requisite MySQL database wasn’t a pain as well. This was the easy part, and installing the forum on the website from scratch up to the point where the /install directory is deleted was no hardship. The problem arose during the usage of the forum.

Let me put this is a time-sorted fashion.

Zero Hour to First Six Hours: No traffic except me on the website, only one account on my forum, with me posting random threads. Functioning was smooth at this stage and I experienced no problem.

Next six hours: Sixth hour to Twelfth Hour: Minimal traffic on my website, a few friends began to show up, and the twelfth hour saw 4 members on my forum. Occasional error in loading, the server was “apparently busy” because only 4 users on a minimalistic forum were somehow managing to take up 100 GB of the monthly allotted bandwidth. (Sarcasm)

Twelfth Hour to End of Day 1: Complete mayhem. The server was down more often than up. It was during this stage I lost my patience and filed a ticket with the support staff. Oh, and to put a mention: I knew the site was down because I had retried after clearing my cache, then through a proxy, then finally I used a website to check whether my website was just down for me or for everyone (http://www.downforeveryoneorjustme.com/). The results, unfortunately, were that the website was down for everyone. Towards the end of this stage, support shot me back a reply (co-incidence, the speed, I believe). The reply was most unhelpful and the volunteer staff advised me to do the things I had already tried, stating that the problem was not at their end, but mine, most probably. Of course, the person who replied did so in a very dulcet tone, but the message got through. Oh, and just so I don’t forget, the support staff gave me a really shining solution to my problem: UPGRADE TO A PAID ACCOUNT.

It didn’t take time for them to roll back their words and say that that problem was at their end, and not mine with a message that “the problem will be rectified soon” and if not, the users will be informed of the status in one hour. One day passed; there was no change in the status of the network, nor was there any information supplied as promised by 000webhost. The error message disappeared soon, but the problem did not; it persisted.

Miffed, I have closed my existing support ticket and soon plan to port from 000webhost. As a final conclusion, I’ll just say that 000webhost is good for standard 5-page static websites, but beyond that, it doesn’t get worse. I don’t say that the free 000webhost account is useless, because it has its advantages too, and is not like some other free hosts like 5gbfree where you have an e-mail limit when you send e-mails via PHP scripts, but out of 10, I’d give it only 4.

Any feedback, or an account of your own experience(s) with 000webhost or any other web host, good, or bad, would be appreciated.