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So I just migrated our site to dreamhost because they are free for non-profits. However, right after I switched the nameservers over to them they changed the IP address of the site. So first they propagated out IP address x.x.x.180, then they switched it to x.x.x.178 and had to propagate that out. Point being it meant a lot of downtime since a lot of big DNS servers (like google) thought the address was still x.x.x.180 for up to 5 hours after they switched it.

This is compounded by the fact that most our visitors to the site live here in Unalaska and we have local DNS servers that take a LONG time to update (like a day or more) since we get all our internet over satellite. So every time Dreamhost changes our IP address it can mean > a day of downtime for us in our community. So my question is, how often do these changes take place? I asked Dreamhost support and they gave me a vague response:

I wish I could say, however those changes happen at random times. They're not that frequent, maybe even months between updates, but there's no way to know for sure.

First, I hardly believe that they don't know their own system well enough to give me at least some estimate or average. Second, is it worth looking at other providers so that I can get a static IP address? We were hosting the site here originally and hadn't run into this problem since we have a static IP here.

We don't get a ton of traffic but usually around 500 hits a day or so, sometimes more if our stories are featured on statewide or national news broadcasts. So hours of downtime every time Dreamhost "randomly" decides to move our server location can be bad for our readership.

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The IP address of your actual website is changing!? That sounds crazy?? I would have expected that would only happen if the site was physically moved to a different server (as @DreamHost suggests in the 2nd part of his answer). The other thought is... you get what you pay for. –  w3d Apr 11 '12 at 22:29
    
Reading all of this seems really fishy, and I agree with @w3d - you get what you pay for. If your stories are being broadcast on statewide or national news, ask them to sponsor your site and pay for a few years of hosting. I know a few hosts that offer GREAT reliable hosting for +/-$100/yr. –  Christopher Apr 12 '12 at 4:16
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1 Answer

I'd like to clear up a couple of things mentioned here; we definitely do not know any exact times/estimates for when the IP of a shared Apache service might change. It is true that it does not happen frequently, as it largely depends on when reconfigurations or hardware restarts/upgrades are needed, or in the other rare case of your sites being moved to another server.

That said, we also offer unique IPs, that should only change in that same event of being moved to another server: http://wiki.dreamhost.com/Unique_IP :)

~Sean | twitter.com/DreamHostCare

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It says explicitly that getting a unique IP doesn't guarantee that it won't change, it's still not a static IP. I don't care if I share an IP address with other sites, I just want it to stay the same! And even if you don't know when it will happen it would be nice to say, send out an email warning people when it does happen so they don't wonder why their site is down while the DNS is propagating. –  pjreddie Apr 12 '12 at 1:25
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