TypePad’s Growing Pains

    October 27, 2005

TypePad seems to creaking under the strain of its own success. For some weeks now, I’ve been observing (and experiencing) constant server timeout problems when posting to this blog.

And I’m not the only TypePad user who’s in this position.

In July, I posted with some frustration on the constant difficulties I encountered at that time. I tend to write posts offline using ecto for Windows, and this is what I said in July:

[…] What’s been happening is that, on average, about two posts out of five don’t publish correctly usually due to a server time-out or data-receive error. That’s generally been the case for many months. It means I then have to log in to TypePad and re-publish from there. A real pain.

I did have lots of discussion with TypePad support in July/August and I do appreciate some of the tech issues they had at that time. And I’m certainly not having a go at TypePad with some minor little irritations or frustrations about the odd server difficulty here and there.

No, this is far more serious.

My experience for the past month or so is that I will encounter a problem with every other post I try and publish. For 50% of the time, I will get a server timeout error when publishing. Sometimes I get a ping timeout error. In all cases, publishing posts takes an awful long time, 2-3 minutes in most cases for each post I’m trying to publish. That’s ridiculous.

It gets worse – I have similar timeout errors when I try and publish comments and trackbacks. For those, I have to log in to my TypePad account and do it from there, which is when I actually see server timeout errors like this:

Gateway Timeout
The proxy server did not receive a timely response from the upstream server.

That’s the most common and frequent error message. Sometimes there’s one like this:

Internal Server Error
The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

Whether I get server errors or not, everything just takes so much time. I sit mesmerized by the “Waiting for TypePad…” message in the browser status bar or the “Adding post to server…” message in ecto. As I said, with every post being published, and with every comment and trackback, it’s 2-3 minutes each time. Sometimes 4.

I even had an really alarming issue earlier this month when a US colleague sent me a screenshot of what he got one time when he visited my blog. The error said:

Access to the weblog you have requested has been suspended.

He said he was getting a similar error for his blog as well.

Although TypePad support said it was a temporary error, this type of thing is definitely not good at all. Anyone seeing that message on a business blog would likely be wondering about you and what’s going on.

Using TypePad is worse every day from mid afternoon (my time) onwards. I’m in Amsterdam so that’s 6 hours ahead of the US east coast. That slowdown clearly coincides with when everyone over there gets up in the morning and starts blogging.

I like the TypePad service very much. I’ve been a subscriber since July 2004 and I’m paid up through to August 2006. Even though I will soon be re-locating NevOn to a new location on my own server – most likely using WordPress, although I still haven’t fully made up my mind yet – I will still keep this TypePad account open.

When I speak to companies about corporate blogging, TypePad always enters the conversation. It’s a service I often suggest to people to use in their experimenting stages, or even use the service for their actual business blog. Yet based on my own experiences since mid year, I’m beginning to worry about saying that now.

Is TypePad really suitable for business blogging? is a question Rich Brooks asked yesterday writing in Business Blog Consulting. Debbie Weil is asking a similar question. And I see today that Toby Bloomberg is asking the same thing as well.

I’m asking, too.

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Neville Hobson is the author of the popular NevilleHobson.com blog which focuses on business communication and technology.

Neville is currentlly the VP of New Marketing at Crayon. Visit Neville Hobson’s blog: NevilleHobson.com.