Saturday, January 20, 2007


I just spent the last 4 hours trying to get my .htaccess files to work under my restrictive web host. I hope I don't have to go through anything as horrible as that ever again. It was like spending hours working on a jigsaw puzzle, only to find that you've got one missing piece that's preventing you from finishing what you need to do.

Let me explain: Apparently, they only allow a handful of directives to be used in .htaccess files, which to me sounds like only getting half a slice of pie instead of a full slice à la mode as you'd expect.

This reminds me of DRM in a way, crippling your use of their services, even though you're paying full price for what you'd expect to be everything you asked for.

And this isn't the only limitation their hosting plan offers: they only allow you to have 2 custom MX records, so when I wanted to use Gmail for your Domain, there was nothing I could do since Google needs you to set 6 of them in order for it to work properly. I was distraught, but I had the fallback option of using plain old Email Forwarding... or so I thought. So I set it up, and when I tried testing it to see if it would work, it didn't. I tried again days, weeks, months later, even just five minutes ago, and it still doesn't work. Sure, I could use one of their POP accounts, but the main reason I want to use email forwarding is because I prefer Gmail's user interface, and having to use a desktop client would completely defeat the purpose of what I want to do.

I've paid for the hosting already, so I guess I'm stuck with them for another 6 months, but after that I think I might sign up with another hosting company like Dreamhost, where they seem to be much more allowing of what you can do with your account, that is, unless Netfirms resolves all its problems. And the only reason I bought my Netfirms account was to support Amber, Jeff, Mikey, and Brian over at commandN (and because I needed a web host at that time). Ah, the deception of promotional discount codes...

And the worst part is, once I had figured out what was wrong in my .htaccess, I only needed to modify 1 line from the original file to make it work (if only I knew that from the beginning).

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Mike Laz said...

Sorry to hear that.
I would however look at dreamhost. I have been using them for a for almost 6 months and I have nothing bad to say. Plus if you use the promo code mikelaz you will get $25 off.

Mike LAz

Brent said...

I use Google Apps for Domains too. You shouldn't have to use all of the MX records. Using the two lowest-numbered ones should suffice.

I recommend you stop using a hosting service and start using a Virtual Server. Go and get an unmanaged Linux Virtual Server from Tektonic - - and you will have root control over a complete Linux machine with 256M ram, 10G hd, and enough processing power that you can run all your websites on it and still run a full X server without it breaking a sweat. All for US$15 a month

I got one this week, and it was ready for me 20 minutes after I signed up. I got the Debian one (they also do Ubuntu, Suse, Centos and Fedora 4 or 5) and using apt-get, very quickly I had tons of stuff installed and was vnc-ing into it to use Monodevelop to write csharp apps on linux, just for fun.

If you don't have a credit card, you can get a less capable virtual server from for US$10 per month via Paypal regular payments.

Restrictive *anything* will then be a thing of the past.

Gabriel said...

Mike: Thanks for the reply. I'll be sure to keep that in mind.

Brent: Using only the first two MX Records works, although little things like automatic mail-forwarding don't work (not that I need to use it). I'll have a look into Virtual Servers; it looks like an interesting solution. Thanks for the link.

Amber Mac said...

Hi there -

We'll make sure that Netfirms hears about this...our contract with them is near its end (a few weeks away), so it's still up in the air as to our next sponsor.

Please email me at if nothing gets sorted out and I will make sure that we work with you to remedy the issue.


Jeff said...

Yeah, Gabriel, we'll definitely bring that up with Netfirms directly. Very sorry to hear you are having these problems, as we certainly appreciate that you were making the effort to support us. We are obviously very concerned about promoting only high quality products and services, so we will see what we can find out for you.

Thanks for your support,

Jeff MacArthur

Gabriel said...

Thanks a bunch Amber and Jeff. I really appreciate all this support you're giving me. Keep up all the great work on the show(s)!

Sandy Kemsley said...

I had exactly the same problem with Netfirms, and documented my rather tortured time with them in a series of posts here. Eventually, I moved my hosting over to GoDaddy, and even managed to get a refund from Netfirms for the unused portion of my contract.