In June of this year I’ve written a blog post about leaving hostgator, after using them for almost 7 years. In November I’ve finally made the move to another hosting company.
Update, November 2015.
It’s been a year since I switched to HostWithLove. Here is the very detailed and full HostWithLove review.
The back story.
I have used Hostgator since 2007. Besides using them I have also actively promoted their services as an affiliate. As you can read pretty much all over this blog I only promote products and services that I personally use and enjoy. Hostgator is one of the most known hosting providers on the planet and I’ve been very happy with them until 2013 or so. I’ve started seeing more and more down time and sometimes my sites would go down for 4-6-12 hours at a time which is simply unacceptable. I also started having other technical issues with my sites and unlike before, HG technical support had become very slow and totally useless. It felt like most of their reps had no clue what they were doing, neither did they care.
After doing some research I’ve found out that Hostgator was bought out by Endurance International Group (EIG) in 2012 for about $225 Million. It appears that EIG has been actively buying out every hosting provider that was making some kind of impact on the market. EIG now owns over 60 hosting companies. However, EIG’s got a pretty bad reputation for one simple reason. Unlike small hosts who care about the customer and do everything possible to satisfy a client, EIG does not seem to care for customers at all, their main goal is less expenses and more profit. I get it, they are a corporation that needs to keep its shareholders happy but at what cost?
Finding the New Host
My hosting plan renewal is coming up on November 28th, so I’ve decided it was the perfect timing to make the switch to another host. I started doing my research on hosting companies (and there are thousands of them!). What helped me the most was the Web Hosting Talk forum (WHT). As you can tell by the title this forum’s niche is web hosting. Lots of users and hosting service representatives hang out on that forum and could offer great advice, often without trying to sell their own service.
After checking out over a dozen companies, one by one, I was surprised to find out that most of the ones I “liked” were owned by EIG and I wanted to stay away from that group. The more I read about EIG owned brands the more negative feedback surfaced. It seems like every single hosting company bought out my EIG became worse within months.
I posted a thread on WHT, asking people for advice. I listed my requirements, mentioned that it must be a NON-EIG brand, told them how much space and bandwidth I was using at the moment and I got quite a few suggestions. As I did more research I’ve narrowed my choices down to two companies: Arvixe and HostWithLove (I’ll call them HWL). At this point I started chatting with representatives of both companies which confused me even more since both companies seemed amazing. However, a few chats later I’ve decided to go ahead and sign up with HostWithLove.
Update November 2015
It’s been a year since I switched from Hostgator to HWL. I just wrote a very detailed HostWithLove review, feel free to check it out (there is also a discount code!)
Shared to Reseller
While gathering advice from WHT forum a lot of people mentioned that I should not be using a shared hosting plan. Shared plan means that all the websites you host on it go under the same cPanel account as add-on domains. There are a few issues with this. If one of the sites on the accounts gets too much traffic (aka abusing the hosts resources) the provider will have to shut down all of my sites, at least temporarily. The chances of this actually happening are slim but it is possible. For instance if a piece of your content goes viral and you get a few thousands visitors within an hour (or faster) – you will be abusing the resources.
Second issue (the most important issue) is getting hacked. If someone hacks into one of the sites, the hacker will get access to all of your websites and will be able to destroy all of them with a few clicks. Now this is scary stuff. I never thought of this before but it is the reality of any shared hosting plan. I had over 10 sites hosted on my shared plan and the idea of losing all these sites makes me cringe.
While talking to Cody from HostWithLove he offered me a Reseller package at a discount which perfectly fit my budget. Reseller package means that every single site has its own cPanel. If someone gets access to one of my sites it’ll end there, at that one site. So finally I went with a reseller plan. Peace of mind is priceless.
If you have never switched hosting you might not know a few important things.
- Do NOT tell your host that you are leaving them!
- Before you start the process, go to your old hosting provider and manually create a back-up of your account. Download that backup to your hard drive, just in case.
- Move to a new host.
- Change the DNS name server information on your domains. Hopefully you bought your domains from a specialized company like NameCheap and not directly from the hosting provider.
- Once everything has been moved, the DNS propagated and all your sites have been checked you can finally contact your old host and cancel your account.
It seems like many hosts delete your account instantly. As soon as you tell them you would cancel they simply go ahead and cancel, without giving you a chance to move your sites or even make a backup. Be careful, follow the plan and everything should go smoothly.
When I first started with Internet Marketing I’ve moved through quite a few hosts in the first months until I finally settled with Hostgator, Moving from one shared plan to another is pretty straightforward and most hosting providers will offer to do this for you for free as the process is fast and easy.
However, moving from Shared to Reseller is quite different. Shared account can be seen as one big file but when moving to reseller you’d have to break down that one big file into many small files and install them one by one. You’ll need to create a new account for each site, install Mysql for each site and… To be honest I am not technical enough to explain all the effort that goes into this. In fact I am not technical enough to do it myself. Once again, HWL chimed in with support. Usually hosts will charge you a lot of money to move a bunch of your sites from a shared plan into a reseller plan. These guys did it completely free! I wouldn’t be surprised if they paid their tech more money for this work than I will be paying for a year of hosting.
It took some time to move all of their website but the transaction was very smooth and didn’t require my involvement. Thumbs up to my new host for such great support!
Although HostWithLove doesn’t offer live chat support, their ticket system has been great to me so far. I’ve submitted a few tickets in the past week and they all have been answered very quickly. Cody explained to me they prefer e-mail ticket support because this way they’re able to document everything. If ever a client comes with an issue saying “you guys told me”, support team will be able to look through old tickets and see what exactly was done or told and when. I think that hiring a full time chat reps will also cost a LOT of money and the company will have to increase its prices, passing the expenses to its customers.
A few minutes ago I tried to get support by chat from Hostgator and guess what, the wait time for a rep is estimated at 30 minutes! As I already mentioned their support has gone down the drain and besides the long waiting time their reps are not the same as before and often aren’t helpful.
I’ve interacted with 3 support reps at HWL and they were all VERY knowledgeable. My tickets have also been addressed in less time than in hostgator chat.
Side Note #1.
As I mentioned in the beginning of the post I considered going with Arvixe which is a very reputable host with great feedback. I chatted with their reps on November 4th and got a nice vibe from them. However, in the end I went with HWL. Now get this, a few moments after I started moving my sites to HWL someone replied to my thread that on October 31st 2014 Arvixe was acquired by EIG. I can’t speculate on what’s going to happen to Arvixe now but judging by other companies who joined the EIG family – the future isn’t all that bright. I feel like I hit the jackpot by not going with Arvixe. I would hate moving all my sites to them and then moving them to another host a few months later. What bothers me most is that Arvixe reps knew I didn’t want to go with an EIG brand yet they failed to mention that Arvixe was sold 5 days prior to that conversation.
Side Note #2.
Wikipedia’s entry for EIG listed all of the brands owned by the group. However, in the past weeks someone has been editing the page and removing the list of brands. Is it done so it’ll be harder for people to find out if their hosting provider is owned by EIG? I am not sure of the reasons but I saved the list and I am sharing it here.
List of companies owned by EIG (as of November 4th, 2014):
- Arvixe LLC
- A Small Orange
- Berry Information Systems L.L.C.
- Escalate Internet
- Intuit Websites
- Networks Web Hosting
- SEO Hosting
- Southeast Web
- SuperGreen Hosting
- Webstrike Solutions
p.s. Seems like the list of EIG owned companies is gone from Wikipedia for good, making it that much harder for customers to see which hosting brands belong to EIG (Endurance International Group).
So far I have been very happy and satisfied with HostWithLove. When I first visited their site I was thrown off by the teddy bear and hearts on their sites, although it makes sense for a company with word LOVE in its name. The branding is unique and really differentiates the company from other hosting providers. Although their page looks “cute” I can assure you that the folks running it are very serious about the business.
There are a few other things that persuaded me to go with this company but I’ll keep the juicy details for another post. I will be writing a FULL HostWithLove review in a couple of months, once I can properly judge their service and support.
Final (Bad) Hostgator Experience
I moved all of my sites to the new hosting provider, I changed DNS and made sure everything worked. Only then I went to Hostgator to cancel my account. Of course you can’t just login and cancel, you have to create a tickets and here is how this went down for me.
– November 10th, 8:00am – I create a ticket asking HG to cancel my account ASAP.
– November 11th, 11:30am (yes, 27 hours later) – HG offers 2 months of free hosting, which of course I decline and repeat my request to cancel my account ASAP.
– November 12th, 11:35pm (36 hours since I replied to them) – HG tries to charge me $120 to renew my plan. I was lucky and the credit card on file expired a few months ago so they weren’t able to take any money.
– November 12th, 11:45pm – HG replies by saying that my account has been cancelled. 10 minutes after trying to charge me for the renewal. What’s also very interesting is that my renewal date is on November 28th yet they tried to charge me on the 12th, almost 2 weeks ahead… Obviously because I had a cancellation request and they figured it’ll be easier for me to stay with them than to ask for my money back. I am glad I left them.
Are you happy with your hosting provider? Comment below!