And maybe it’s time you did to? I’ve been a loyal Host Gator customer on and off for just about 10 years. They have always provided great cheap service with little to no downtime. Then EIG purchased them and things started going downhill from there. The final straw? They migrated me to their Provo, Utah data center and things got even worse. Check out this article as I go through the reasons why I no longer recommend Host Gator and what I did to find another hosting service that works!
Note: I was not paid to write this article and all opinions are mine alone.
Bye Bye HostGator!
I’m like most bloggers getting started. No Budget and hosting had to be cheap. I wanted a cheap host to get started so when I hit it big *snicker* I would eventually migrate either to a dedicated server, VPS, Managed Hosting…etc. Until then I wanted to hit the ground running fast. With Host Gator I was able to just that. They were cheap, offered *unlimited* everything, and they worked! I was able to get my blog up fast.
For a long time they were great. Speeds were so-so. I was able to do what I needed. And they were a lot more stable than my prior hosting – a private VPS server that had um.. well it had issues hosting my WordPress site. So I was happy as a clam.
Until They Started Breaking Stuff
HostGator contacted me stating they were migrating the website over to a different server. I initially thought “Great! Maybe they are offloading some of the sites and I’ll get better service!” Little did I know I was actually being transferred to the EIG Dumping Ground – Provo, Utah.
The initial migration was straight forward. I had already manually backed up EVERYTHING and had a copy of the site on CodeGuard as well. So I wasn’t too worried. They completed the migration and all was well – until it wasn’t.
I went to login one day and couldn’t. Just a big 403 FORBIDDEN staring at me. Of course I calmly yelled “OH CRAP!” and contacted HostGator immediately. They had suspended my account and didn’t even email me. After talking with the first tech they said I was using too many resources due to a Cron Job with a plugin I was using (Some twitter plugin I was testing out..). Then they sent me the log.
After looking at the log it was apparent that someone was hammering my wp-admin and attempting to brute force their way to the site. I had to tell them what the problem was! It was pretty clear to me. I feel for someone less technical they would have been stuck in technical hell forever. The first tech escalated the ticket up to Tier II (or someone who had a clue) and they reviewed the notes of the ticket.
Take a look at the Log: hostgator-error (PasteBin)
A few hours later then contacted me back and told me that after the migration they forgot to re-implement their basic security stuff in the server configuration. This is actually good news – since you know. They actually do try and offer basic protection on their servers against these types of attacks.
*Whew* – I’m back up and rolling.
After that I started working on speeding up the website. I did my research online and read a million different articles on how to squeeze every bit of juice out of your WordPress install and slap band-aids everywhere to get it to load as fast as possible. I even went to HostGator’s FAQ and did what they recommended. So after doing the following:
So after doing all of the changes, tweaks, and praying to the speed gods I was able to get it down to:
I wasn’t happy – but I dealt with it.
After I had the site ‘optimized’. I then started getting hit with down times due to network issues with the new data center. So, now I’m done. D-O-N-E. I decided it was finally to bite the bullet and make the move off of HostGator.
Taken from Wikipedia:
August 2013 blackout
During the morning of August 2, 2013 the data center in Provo, Utah,experienced unexpected issues that affected customers of Bluehost, HostMonster and JustHost, and took down many of the dedicated servers owned by HostGator customers. The company was unable to respond to most phone calls because of the network outage at Bluehost’s datacenter.
December 2013 blackout
During the afternoon of December 31, 2013, the data center in Provo, Utah, experienced unexpected issues that affected customers of HostGator Company websites and Company phone services.
April 2014 blackout
During the afternoon of April 16, 2014, the data center in Provo, Utah experienced a networking issue in some server clusters that affected some VPS, Dedicated and Shared server customers of iPage, Hostgator, Justhost, Hostmonster, and Bluehost. The outage began at approximately 11:00 AM PST, affecting not only dedicated servers but also email delivery. As of 10PM PST on April 17, the problem was resolved for most users, but not for all. Users of dedicated servers were still finding it necessary to contact support to have remaining IP address problems corrected.
To recap so far as to why this happened and why I decided to leave:
- EIG purchased HostGator
- I was stuffed with a lot of other websites into their Provo, UT datacenter
- I was slowed down to almost unusable speeds.
- Network outages and downtime.
Aren’t You Being a Bit of a Baby About All of This?
No, they had set the expectation of a certain level of service and now continually failed to fulfill it. They aren’t even the same company I had signed up with originally. I understand that downtime happens. Things go wrong, servers fail, networks go down. But this note from their Forum killed it for me:
Our NetOps team is still working to resolve an issue with a router and working to restore services for all affected customers. Some sites are coming back online, though we appreciate everyone’s patience as we work through the issue. As we get more information, we’ll continue to provide updates here on the forums till everyone affected has their service restored.
Now, I’m no network engineer….
I do know this: You never have a single point of failure. Why do you think I backup my WordPress site THREE different ways. The Host, Manually, and through CodeGuard? Odds are one of them are going to get screwed up. The odds of all THREE being bad? Pretty much in my favor 🙂
Even in the tiny Data Center I helped managed way back when. We had three network providers coming into it. If one went down the network auto failed and was supplied from the other two. Also the internal network had banks of routers and switches to provide redundancy. If one went down – I’d get a page – and the network would keep on going. At least until the new Sys Admin decided to pull the plug on an entire rack one day… but that’s a whole different story. So to have them put up and update like that.
Scared me to death.
I realize that the guy was just trying to keep his customers updated. He’s under the gun to get things fixed PRONTO! But that kind of update took any kind of faith or credibility I had left in their business and flushed it down the toilet.
The Hunt For a New Host
I’ve been hunting for a new host for quite awhile now. Remember again – I’m like most struggling bloggers. I have no budget. I’m cheap. So I went through my options:
VPS – Managed or Un-Managed – Wow! The prices were all over the place. A lot of hosts up charge you death during sign up. And your limited with either the hardware they provide or the support offered for the cost. Which was hovering at right around $30.00 on average a month. So they were out.
Managed WordPress Hosting – I looked REALLY hard into Managed WordPress hosting. I really did want to like it. After reading the small print of most of them. I’d end up getting up charged to death again. Their base services are around $25-$30 a month starting. Then you are limited on the number of visits, websites, databases, bandwidth, on and on and on. They sound really great. In the end your trapped in a very limited box unless you pay out the wazoo for their service. Check Please!
[learn_more caption=”Concern About Visitor Counts”] This really worried me – How do they know how to capture a true visitor vs. a bot? If you look at AwStats on your web server (In CPanel go to the Logs section and you should see it there.) you will see a huge disparity of counts it shows vs. Google Analytics. A smart bot knows how to hide their HTTP header and mask as a regular old visitor’s browser. So there’s technically a visit right there. And if your website has been online awhile? You get lots of these little sneaky bots sucking all of your bandwidth and ‘artificially’ racking up your visitor count. I know I was getting 3 GIGS of transfer a month alone from all of them – and most of those weren’t visitors! Although they have explained how they capture hits. I’d do a bit more research before signing up with these types of services. [/learn_more]
Cheap Virtual Boxes – I looked into both of these companies Linode and Digital Ocean. They sound awesome. If you want to build your own server, firewall, email service, ftp, ssh, install linux, configure everything, and try to get your site to run properly without screwing anything up. I don’t have time for this!
Back to Shared Hosting – *Sigh* So I’ll have to live with crappy service. At least I’ll get my website up and be off of HostGator.
So I started looking into non-EIG owned hosting companies. I read Facebook groups (example: Advanced WordPress), browsed Google for a long time looking at reviews, checking uptimes, pinging servers, finding out all that was good or bad about a service. And asked others countless times until they finally stopped answering my requests. I finally got it whittled down to a few:
These all offer affordable shared hosting. So I did my research. I went to a lot of forums. A lot of Googling around. Finally I was so fed up I was just about to hit the go button for Site 5. Then I read this post from iThemes.
So crap – I’m tired of searching. I just needed to make a decision on a host and said my personal catch phrase in life when it comes down to the wire:
And went with BigScoots.
I didn’t even know they existed. It was a minor blurb on a Facebook Group I lurk at regularly. So I did some research on them and they had the least “noise” on the internet when it came to negative reviews. They seemed to have better transparency on how they run their business. And the sites I tested that are running on them seemed pretty quick. So I pulled the proverbial trigger and signed up for hosting with them. They are a bit more expensive than HostGator was. On the other hand they are nowhere near as expensive as other types of services for a single site. I went with their 150cc plan with a Dedicated IP added on. And I now have hosting for around $120.00 a year*
*This is what I paid as of writing this article.
Check out their price list for shared hosting to see if it fits your needs!
I’m sure I could have asked for them to transfer it. I’m a glutton for punishment and I’d rather do the work myself.
Transferring over to them was a breeze. I even followed the guide I wrote ages ago when I first transferred over to HostGator! (sans the mistakes). I know alot of people like cloning sites. I’d rather start fresh and re-import the data and re-configure everything by hand.
Call it sadistic if you like. I know that none of the bugs I had created through testing countless plugins etc. aren’t going to be transferred over when I migrate.
I even contacted support on Easter Sunday of all times as I had some free time to futz around with. The scary part? I was not only responded to. They had already fulfilled the request and did the work!
Do I Recommend Them?
Considering I’ve only been with them for a week? Uh, I don’t know yet? Only time will tell if I still have the same level of enthusiasm after being with them for awhile.
Like I always suggest – DO YOUR RESEARCH then decide for yourself. I’ve seen nothing but great reviews from just about everywhere I look though. They are a smaller operation than the big guys. So you need to keep that in mind as well. (Psst – keep an offsite backup of your website)
So only time will tell. So far I’m very happy with them! If you do decide to go with them? Let me know and I can get you a code to give you some $$ off of your purchase (i.e. affiliate code)!
OK Smart Guy – How Fast Is Your Site Now?
Well take a look below and decide for yourself. Not too shabby for a shared host eh? (That’s Amsterdam btw… not the U.S.)
- Wikipedia – List of EIG owned Hosting Companies (and avoid them!)
- Digital FAQ
- Yoast – Avoid HostGator