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Hosting Companies – The Best, The Bad and the Unresponsive

I think I’ve found the perfect hosting company and the name is SiteGround. If you don’t want to read my entire tale of woe, read this first paragraph and then skip down to the bottom of this post and read the last 5 paragraphs under the section: Tale of Woe Ends Here – Silver Lining Begins. Everything else in between isn’t really necessary, but since I haven’t written here in awhile, I decided to get a bit long winded.

Beginning of my Woeful Tale

Several months ago I realized I needed to switch from my current hosting company, HostGator. I was growing increasingly dissatisfied with their service. The biggest problem was their apparent inability to keep my sites up and viewable to the world. The reason for purchasing web hosting is to ensure your sites are up so that web surfers can find them. Failing to do that is a major problem.

Back when I first entertained the thought of leaving HostGator I went from annual billing to monthly. This gave me the freedom of searching and switching any month when I found the right hosting company. Unfortunately, that was the only change I made. The thought of researching and switching hosting companies wasn’t something I looked forward to so I let things drag on.

The Straw that Broke the Camel’s Back

What finally lit the fire under my keister was the overwhelming number of notifications from Google informing me that they could not access my robots.txt file.  I received notifications daily.

Google Notifications

Each time I received a notice I checked to see if I could access the files and I could. However, at the time when the googlebot was roaming the Internet to index my sites it appears that my sites were down or things just weren’t accessible. That’s not good.

I found it odd receiving such notifications because my sites have been dormant for quite some time (my posting frequency here on NJFM should give you an indication of just how active I’ve been). Therefore, I knew it wasn’t anything that I had done; it had to be my hosting company.

On top of that I started getting an unbelievably high number “Page not Found” errors. I’m talking anywhere from 300 to 500 errors per site daily. When I went to investigate the issue, there seemed to be some kind of programming problem. I’m not a programmer and don’t fully understand the error message but I knew it wasn’t good and it wasn’t anything I had done. The Page not Found errors and “undefined/static” notifications were across all blogs.

Page not Found

Initially I thought my WordPress theme was at fault but quickly realized I use several different themes from different developers on my various blogs. All blogs were receiving the same undefined/static message so my themes were ruled out. I also ruled out the WordPress platform as the cause because if that were the case, the Internet would light up with folks chattering about it. I couldn’t find a single forum or conversation on the topic. The only other thing my blogs had in common was their hosting company.

Going to the Source of the Problem

Instead of allowing theories to roll around in my head, I attempted to contact HostGator. Since the problem had been going on for several days/weeks, I didn’t think it was an emergency so I chose not to call them. Instead I opted to use their chat feature. I quickly changed my mind when I was informed  that due to “unusually high” volume, it would take a while before someone would help using HostGator’s chat feature. They recommended submitting a ticket.

Submitting a ticket was a joke. I spent time properly explaining the issue (you know how we writers are, we have to make sure the reader understands exactly what we’re trying to say). I completed my explanation and attempted to hit “Submit.” Here’s the punch line to the joke:  HostGator deactivated the “Submit” button so it was impossible to submit a ticket. Nice going HostGator!

HostGator Submit Button

The Search for the Next Hosting Company

I started wading through the plethora reviews for hosting companies. I don’t trust all the online reviews because so many of them are written by folks who stand to gain financially from the review. Eventually I came across a company called InMotion, another large hosting company like HostGator. I fell for the hype. They offered up to 55% off the first year of hosting and had a 30 or 90 day money back guarantee. They also boasted of a 99.9% uptime so I signed up.

In accordance with their instructions, I backed up my HostGator files, uploaded the backup to InMotion and requested InMotion to restore them. That sounded so simple that I expected to be up and running in no time.

What a major disaster. When I attempted to log into my account (using the URL provided by InMotion), I ended up being directed to a URL for a website that I had long since removed from my HostGator account. Not only had I removed the files, but I accessed the SQL database and deleted the associated databases too. Having done so I don’t know how it could have been included in my HostGator backup. I don’t blame InMotion for this, but my backup included files for several websites. They picked one (of their own choosing) and restored it.

That wasn’t the worst part. The worst part was I was unable to access the site that they did restore. When I navigated to the link I got a blank page. Knowing a little bit about file manager and word press I went in to see if I could correct the problem. No can do. The next step was to open a ticket.

I tried using their chat system but that proved ineffective. I then opened a ticket, which gave me a turnaround time of way too many hours. Being a brand new customer I thought InMotion would try to provide excellent service. That wasn’t the case. Bottom line it took over 24 hours for me to get any “useful” response for getting my sites up and running. As a matter of fact, the sites never did get up and running. Instead, I requested a refund and started my search for another hosting company.

Tale of Woe Ends Here – Silver Lining Begins

I don’t know how I came upon SiteGround  hosting company, but I’m glad I did. What caught my attention was their expertise in WordPress and their excellent customer service. Since all my sites run on Word Press and I was still hurting a little from the InMotion customer service debacle, I decided to give SiteGround a try. This time, however, after learning my lesson with InMotion, I decided to transfer the sites myself. No backup and restore for this gal. It does take longer for me to go through the process of transferring each site but this way I know it will be done the way I want it to be done.

Running into A Glitch

Things were going along smoothly then I ran into a problem with one of my sites. I tried everything I knew, researched the net for an answer, but came up empty. As a last resort I contacted SiteGround. Thinking it would take forever to get a response, my husband and I decided to go out for a nice leisurely lunch. Imagine my surprise when within 10 minutes or less I got a response. I provided the requested additional information and in less than an hour they solved the problem. They explained what caused the problem so I’ll know how to handle it if I come across the same problem in the future.

Wait, it gets better. Later that evening as I was still working on my transfers, I received a phone call from SiteGround. They wanted to welcome me and make sure everything was going smoothly. I think I’m in love!

I still have a lot of work ahead of me but I’m happy to know that I’ve got the support of SiteGround behind me in case I run into something a little over my head (and yes, I did run into something a little over my head and like before SiteGround came to the prompt and thorough rescue).

By the way, SiteGround  has expertise in more than just WordPress. They have expertise in the most commonly used web applications. If you’re in the market for a new web host, I strongly suggest you take a look at SiteGround. I’ve been through several web-hosting companies in my years of owning websites. I’ve never had this level of customer service from any of them.

Web Hosting

(Yes, those are affiliate links in this post)

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Vidya Sury October 30, 2015, 8:00 am

    I had the exact same problem with HostGator – and in the middle of all those notifications (there were hundreds) they kept passing the buck to every possible thing. And customer service, omg – I literally had to go on vacation to have it sorted out – because I couldn’t focus on anything. It was so ridiculous. I read about SiteGround elsewhere…I can’t recall where.

    So glad to hear about their responsiveness. And so hard to get that these days post-sale!

    🙂 Always a pleasure to see a post from you, Felicia! Hugs.

    • Felicia October 30, 2015, 9:19 pm

      I’m sorry you had the problem with HostGator too, but it’s a little reassuring to know I wasn’t alone. The notifications were extremely annoying. It’s a shame that HostGator didn’t own up and let their customers know something was going on. A little information and honesty goes a long way. Oh well, I’m done with them. If you ever get totally fed up with them, SiteGround is the place to be. 🙂

      Stay well Vidya!

  • Marcel October 30, 2015, 6:13 pm

    I went with Parcom a few years ago and they were pretty good, but one of their things is no phone contact to keep prices down. At the time, they responded to tickets very quickly. I decided to go with them again recently and they are horrible. I signed up with the same account, apparently saved from last time, but received no instructions on how to access my dashboard, get to my files – that had changed – and my old passwords were not working. I contacted them three times and received nothing in response. Luckily, I was able to get up and running by going about it backwards (too much detail to explain) and figured out how to work their system by searching Google since I could not find the help files I needed by searching their site.

    I have also gone with GoDaddy (hate that name) and although they lied about their pricing and special, the customer service was way better. I will definitely try SiteGround next time around. Thanks!

    Also, good to see you on here, miss your posts, hope you are doing well in whatever you’re doing now. I don’t suppose you’ve written anything about KDP? I plan to put a book up (if I ever finish) and start a series (3-5 novelettes) and of course continue writing more from there. Any thoughts?

    • Felicia October 30, 2015, 9:16 pm

      Hi Marcel,

      I remember when I first started out online, I got such a big kick out of researching hosting companies and handling all the related work. Now it’s a big chore. I’m hoping SiteGround never changes because I really don’t want to go through this again. I never heard of Parcom, but will stay away!

      Haven’t written anything on KDP. To be honest, I had to look it up to see what you were talking about. 🙂 Boy, I’ve really been away from things. If I ever finish any of the several books I’ve got sitting on my computer I’ll check it out a bit more.

      Good luck with your books.

      • Marcel October 31, 2015, 9:11 am

        Whoa, I am blown away you didn’t know about KDP since you are a freelance writing guru in my opinion. Writer’s digest pooh pood (is there a proper way to spell that? lol) self publishing, but I have noticed that they are finally acknowledging that self publishing ebooks is a realistic route to becoming a career writer or a legitimate author. Right now, there is a lot of debate about whether authoring books by self publishing, especially using Amazon Kindle, creates greater career opportunities or because anyone can throw up anything now, that it decreases an author’s chance at success because of limited individual exposure – basically cheapening the whole endeavor.

        Glad you checked it out, hope to report success in a year or two.

        • Felicia October 31, 2015, 12:59 pm

          This freelance writing gal (not guru) has been out of the freelance writing arena for some time. I will, however, take a good look at KDP when I get back in the ring.

          I’m a big fan of self publishing. There are mixed opinions about on that topic, but I believe the cream rises to the top. There are good and bad self-published books just like there are good and bad books published the “traditional” way. Honestly, I don’t know why folks always have to debate new things. Makes me think of the Mahatma Gandhi quote:

          First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

          Marcel, touch base with us to let us know how you’re doing with KDP. I’ll share my learning experiences too.

  • Joni November 2, 2015, 12:45 am

    Its always, always good to see you post. I lucked out in that i actually could afford a data card this month for internet and that my crappy laptop actually let me get online…Oh how I’ve learned to appreciate everything I have or have had. When I do get going again…and I will…I can always count on you to have done the research already. And I do appreciate you sharing it.
    God Bles.
    Take Care.

    • Felicia November 2, 2015, 12:55 pm

      Always nice hearing from you Joni. I know you’ll get things going again because you’re a determined woman.

      Glad to help by doing the research and making the mistakes. Actually it’s more like making the mistakes which force me to research. 🙂

      Be well!

  • Ignatius November 2, 2015, 6:04 pm

    Hi Felicia,

    It’s good to see a post from you. I have also been unhappy with Hostgator. I had intended to find a new hosting service, but I procrastinated. Then, a couple of months ago, things seemed to totally fall apart there.

    Like you, I started to wonder if there was something happening with the theme I was using or if some previously well-behaved plug-ins were crashing into each other. I still can’t completely rule that out, but there seemed to be some other issue at work.

    I decided that it might be due to their new “Managed” Word Press Hosting. They were heavily promoting that at a significantly higher price than their regular hosting service. I thought they might be throttling back regular sites to get people to move to the more costly service. It’s also possible that the new service may have just stretched their resources way too far.

    Oddly enough, a few days ago, things at Hostgator turned around for me. Things are back to normal and my Adsense revenue suddenly turned back upward. I still don’t know what was causing the problem. It could have been a resource-intensive site on the shared server I was on or one of my other theories might have been correct.

    I would join you in strongly recommending that anyone who is looking for a web host avoid Hostgator or any of the other hosts that are owned by the same company. They have been having all sorts of issues.

    However, I’m going to sit tight for a bit before I move. I don’t want to rock the boat while things seem to be going right. I suspect this is just a lull before there is another Hostgator glitch, so I will probably be moving on before long.

    • Felicia November 3, 2015, 4:54 pm

      Hi Ignatius,

      Glad to hear HostGator is momentarily working well for you. I really tried to stay put because transferring so many sites is a lot of work, but now that I’m coming down the home stretch, I’m glad I transferred. I also learned a lot about how my “webmaster” habits changed over the years.

      Oh you mention Adsense revenue…what is that??? My revenue is barely existent. Hopefully now that I’m on new servers and have cleaned up a lot of the dead wood, I might give it another go.

      When you do decide to leave good old HostGator, keep SiteGround in mind. 🙂

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