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  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard
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    CDN to Avoid: Highwinds (review)

    Many of you at Sitepoint have seen my posts for a long time. Some are seeking help, some are providing help, and some are just open discussion.

    I'm also sure to warn people about companies (especially hosting companies) that should not be used.

    I will remind people to never use Hivelocity, as that has to be the most shady dedicated hosting company out there; they literally stole money from me. And do all you can to avoid Powweb for shared hosting; their service is okay, but they only can hose you in terms of payments and refunds. To see what I mean about Powweb, pay for a year and then try to cancel a month later. They keep the entire year, and charge you a flat fee for canceling early. Crazy.

    So now I will warn you about CDNs. Highwinds! Used to be Bandcon, I had the decision between Highwinds and Edgecast. Edgecast was slightly more expensive (about 15%), but dang do I wish I had gone with them.

    Highwinds has been nothing but a problem since the beginning. I run videos through them, and never before have we seen so many failed requests to access content. Our negative feedback on videos not working went from about one email per month, to 2-3 per week. And to top it off, this CDN actually goes down. All your files will just stop working, something that I thought impossible for a CDN.

    So, if you are looking for a CDN, avoid Highwinds at all costs; seriously, having your own dedicated server for media is so much better than Highwinds.

    That's my two cents. I'm calling Edgecast tomorrow to see how soon I can change over and try to rid myself of this mistake. (Tonight was the last straw when the entire CDN literally went down for some three hours or more)

    Cheers!
    Ryan
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  2. #2
    Twitter: @TimIgoe silver trophy TimIgoe's Avatar
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    Any sevice can go down if there is a single point of failure, being a CDN doesn't actually mean they have completely removed points of failure, just they have a means to distribute loading of files for your customers.

    I don't have any experience with Highwinds myself so I can't comment on what they are like.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard
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    For the price, I thought that meant no chance. If failure occurs somewhere, other parts of the network pick up the slack. That was my assumption.

    Ryan
    Upcoming Movies - Movie News. Updated Daily.
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  4. #4
    SitePoint Enthusiast solevangelist's Avatar
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    I like Rackspace Cloud Files [^]. They now use Akamai. Their previous CDN, Limelight, was also very good speed-wise but I think they moved to enable new features. CNAME support is one such feature people were crying out for.

    One thing I do hope they add is "root object support" which enables Amazon's CTO, Werner Vogels, to host his static blog solely from S3 (Free at Last - A Fully Self-Sustained Blog Running in Amazon S3 [^]).

    If you like APIs then Microsoft's Windows Azure's CDN has a very nice API with theirs which is perhaps a little more fully featured around things like permissions than Rackspace or Amazon.
    Last edited by EastCoast; Mar 19, 2012 at 19:16. Reason: Edited link
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  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Thanks for tip. I'll check their pricing.

    Ryan
    Upcoming Movies - Movie News. Updated Daily.
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  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Alright,

    Had a chance to talk to some people at Highwinds on Monday. It seems that I was the only one on the entire CDN to have issues, and my issues might have been limited to the West Coast of Canada, USA and Mexico. They have offered a nice credit to alleviate the situation.

    I've had a few people report back in on their locations and they all seem to be in the Western half of the continent. Comes as sort of a relief, though about 40%+ of our traffic is from this territory.

    The outage was supposedly a fluke that should never happen again, so it looks like I will be sticking with Highwinds for the time being.

    When it comes to the disappearance of the support, it seems that there was a coincidental error that prevented my emails from reaching HighWinds until 7AM; when they were actually sent at 11:20PM, 11:25PM, 11:38PM, 12:50AM, 12:52AM, 12:53AM, 1:58AM and 2:02AM. So the lack of support might have just been a badly timed happenstance.

    For those of you who were curious, I also got on the phone with Edgecast on Monday. For the exact same package I have with Highwinds, Edgecast was $400 more per month (so about 25% higher).

    I'll keep this thread updated on future progress, but things are looking up again.

    Cheers!
    Ryan
    Upcoming Movies - Movie News. Updated Daily.
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  7. #7
    SitePoint Wizard ~ServerPoint~'s Avatar
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    I have seen a lot of threads about other companies as well here and on other forums and some people become very nervous when their site is down. As rule in the situation of issue web hosting company do not have any time at all to send notification immediately.
    I believe if you have been using the company for ages you must be much more loyal to it.
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  8. #8
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    The CDN should also provide redundancy, thats sort of the point of a CDN. To distribute traffic as well as provide redundancy.
    If one POP is down, it should know that and stop trying to serve traffic from that location and only serve from the remaining POPs while re-directing the down POP traffic to those that are up.

    The users closest to the down POP may see a latency increase but it will be minimal and is way better than being DOWN.

    Very surprised that this can happen with the Highwinds CDN.
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  9. #9
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    Highwinds is one of the worst when it comes to realiability

    Highwinds is one of the worst CDNs when it comes to reliability. Their development shop is poorly managed and turnover is very high. There is no documentation so with the high turnover of employees they lose more and more knowledge about the platform every time people leave. Last month the CDN went completely down two times in one week. Clients were furious and had every reason to be. They release products before they are fully tested just so they can sign some big new customer. The customers figure out soon enough how terrible the service is and leave. I can tell you for a fact that if you value your business and need stable, reliable service steer clear of Highwinds for their CDN product. Load testing?!? Helloooooo!

  10. #10
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    I'm not quite sure how you would know about the turnover at Highwinds, unless you've actually worked there. Because, I can tell you first hand, that it's simply not true. This takes away from your reliability statement, too. As far as Beta testing, the customers know before they sign on which products are in Beta and which are fully up and running.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Zealot coloradojaguar's Avatar
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    Even redundancies can fail. Not that I'm defending Highwinds at all but sometimes a fail which can't be immediately rectified can occur. I really haven't heard much about the company before now but I will keep it on my radar. It is good to be able to put together a list of big "no"s for hosting.
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