CPU minute restrictions removed

From the current newsletter:

No more CPU minute restrictions!

“Crazy overselling!” What’s that all about? Well, if you like to read, http://blog.dreamhost.com/2006/05/18/the-truth-about-overselling/ will explain it all! And see that little “post-script” at the “bottom”?

Well, we’re sick and tired of people being sick and tired of getting disabled for “cpu minute” overages! ESPECIALLY when we don’t even have any real set “cpu minute” levels for plans, or a tab on our web panel where you can track your usage.

So “guess” what?! We’ve changed our “cpu minute” “policy” “for the better!” We no longer HAVE any limits on “cpu minutes”. Maybe it’s just semantics, and maybe it’s just “crazy overselling”, but as long as your site or scripts aren’t causing problems with the server, you are IN THE CLEAR!

Let’s say you’re not IN THE CLEAR though.. don’t worry! We’ll work with you! We’re adding a BUNCH of new servers to help “get” the average load per web server down, and we’ll work with high-load people to get their usage down or their butts onto a new server that can handle it. What a sweet web host.. let no one accuse US of “crazy overselling,” and we won’t accuse THEM.

It’s kind of hard to tell from the above exactly how the policies has changed, but by looking at the updated CPU Resources FAQ in the Wiki, you’ll notice that the following has been changed.

The following:

What’s an acceptable CPU minute limit?
We typically like to see our shared customers keep to about 50-60 CPU minutes per day.

has been replaced with:

How much CPU can I use?
We’re very flexible on this. Basically, as long as your site isn’t affecting the performance of the server, you’re fine!

Once your site starts to adversely affect the shared hosting server you’re on though, we may have to take action. If your site is just causing the load to creep up on your machine, we’ll try and contact you and give some suggestions on how to make your site less resource-intensive. If your site (or just a particular script) is causing the entire server to become unresponsive, we may have to take immediate action and temporarily disable whatever was bringing the machine down. Hopefully the problem was just a one-time thing that can be fixed! If it turns out to be an ongoing issue, we may need to move you to a different server eventually.

The following section has been updated from:

Can I buy a shared hosting account that can use more CPU resources?
No. Unlike disk usage or bandwidth, CPU minutes are a hard limit set by the machine’s hardware. When you have a shared hosting account, you will impact the other users on the server if you go over your limits, regardless of what kind of account you have. If you cannot reduce your usage, you must purchase a dedicated hosting package.


Can I buy a shared hosting account that can use more CPU resources?
Since we don’t have hard limits on CPU usage at all, we approach each situation on a case-by-case basis. If, even after moving you to a new server, your site is still causing problems, we may try and work out some sort of agreement where you get a close-to-empty server all to yourself in exchange for upgrading to a higher plan. But again, this is all on a case-by-case basis!

There are also some interesting comments in the DreamHost Blog from DreamHost employees:

Michael writes:

The reason that plans don’t come with a specific amount of CPU is that it is not a hard limit. To give you an idea: only 3% of DreamHost users use over 60 cpu minutes. The highest for yesterday was 750 cpu minutes but I have seen as high as 1250, which is the equivalent of your own very powerful dedicated server. (say a 2.8Ghz Xeon)

Of the 3% ‘heavy’ users, 5% have been moved to servers with fewer customers to help with stability. So, one tenth of one percent of DreamHost users are on special servers due to their heavy usage, but that only means that they are moved to a machine with fewer customers while they try to optimize their site.

Jeff writes


Ultimately, our job isn’t just to provide stuff at a low cost – it’s also to keep sites up and running. If any customers’ site disproportionately impacts other customers in a negative way, we reserve the right to disable it immediately (usually just until the problem is fixed, ie. by changing the MySQL query to use indexes, etc). While as a matter of necessity we may not be able to give you any warning, we _should_ let you know shortly after this is done so that you have a chance to deal with it. If not, that’s not right on our part.

I think this compares favorably to many other hosts, who will just disable the account. The whole “limbo” system, while imperfect, allows for customers to get things fixed up without greatly impacting our customer basis while still keeping their sites up.

My guess is that they have removed the 60 CPU minutes guideline to avoid people conceive it as a hard rule that would get you booted out if broken. They now emphasize that if you’re among the one per mille that are moved to a new server because of high usage, you shouldn’t see it as a punishment, but as a mean to optimize and trim your site without affecting other sites on your server in a negative way, and if you take these steps you can continue hosting with DreamHost.

It that context the wiki has recently been updated with quite a few troubleshooting guides for some of the most popular software packages like Coppermine, Drupal, Gallery Image Album, Joomla/Mambo, Movable Type, WordPress, etc. with tips on how to minimize the CPU resources.

4 Responses to “CPU minute restrictions removed”

  1. Linked from: DreamHost Newsletter - June 2006
  2. Pete Happy DreamHost Employee says:

    As an overall goal with these changes, we are trying to avoid the situation where we promise big allowances that you can’t manage to use. As you can see from the wiki history, we used to take a “60 cpu minute per day” approach to this, but we have now made the decision not to pester people about high usage until it’s actually impacting the machine. There’s no numeric line that gets drawn anymore, it is a purpose-based line now: Are you or aren’t you interrupting service for other customers? We feel this is a problem we can solve through balancing our machine loads more intelligently.

    Of course, if you run a script that’s just so incredibly abusive that it is crashing the machine repeatedly, we will still have to take that offline. That is still against TOS and hasn’t changed.

  3. Elliott Back says:

    Just so you know, a popular wordpress blog running the standard WP script with caching will still use what dreamhost considers to be too much CPU. Yet, now on dedicated hosting with a 3 GHz Pentium 4 and a Gig of Ram, it’s running smoothly. In all reality, Dreamhost cannot offer a service guarantee of uptime without regards to CPU usage. If you get too big, they’ll cut you off.

  4. Linked from: Dreamhost not so dreamy