I’ve been using various hosting companies since before 1998.
I started many years ago with Geocities.com and after they closed moved to Yahoo hosting (nuff said…).
Settled with a company called Just-Hosting.com. It was an ideal plan for those days – C-panel; Fantastico; subdomains; mysql; pHp etc. Without warning, 18 months later, Just-Hosting became a disaster area – lots of downtime; no email response. Then I noticed:
- The site had been redesigned
- Fantastico disappeared.
- Found out that it had been sold to a new group
Ugh – managed to get out (And stopped all credit card payments!)
At the moment (May 2018) the Just-hosting.com domain is for sale.
I did my research – BlueHost had been around for several years. The plans looked excellent. There were no major black marks that I could find. Admittedly, there were no uptime statistics that I could find, however, it was recommended by the WordPress.org team which convinced me.
There was an efficient fast sign up process and responsive – if some-what brusque – email support (I’m in Australia – I didn’t fancy phone support).
Then my site went down – repeatedly. It was simply inaccessible. When it was down there was no server status page etc. to check. Emailed tech support and lodged a ticket asking what was happening.
I received this response:
We understand your frustration. We have been having numerous network issues the past week or so. We have moved locations and have had problems with our new setup, in addition we are struggling with a shortage of technical support agents. Both of these issues are being taken care of and will be resolved within the next 2 weeks. The server issue should not persist as that issue has been resolved. However the tech issue is still a problem, we have acquired more techs that are in training now but there is a time needed before they are ready to assist in support. We are sorry for the irritation and are working diligently to make the experience here at bluehost a much better one. If you are willing to stick it out with us a little longer you will be happy, if you choose not to, you may take advantage of the 30 day full money back policy. Or the no fee cancellation, we understand that issues arise and the host and client don’t always connect and we don’t want to to be tied to us if you would like to move on. Let us know what you would like to do and we will go from there.
Unfortunately – despite trying to stick it out with BlueHost they had too many problems at that time with my site going down every evening so I decided to move.
Remember this was 2005 – I believe BlueHost.com has GROWN and is MUCH more reliable now. It is still recommended by WordPress.org among others.
Eventually – after seeking advice at the EXCELLENT Web Hosting Talk Forums I found Site5. At that time Site5 were a bit of a maverick. Definitely client focused with excellent support forums and a creative management team who took a hands on approach to upgrading and re-designing their site/services. I signed up for a “MultiSite” account which renewed every 24 months with a guarantee of no price increase for the life of the subscription!
Overall the first 11 years at Site5 were fantastic…..Then things changed.
Boy how things changed! I noticed the forums had disappeared. No phone or even email support. I didn’t realise that they had been bought out.
In October 2017 – my billing cycle came up …It looks like a common story for Site5 now:
- Non-advised increase in costs despite promise of no changes. Never got an invoice only a receipt!
- Support has been castrated. Can’t open a ticket without going through live chat. Can’t email support or billing – without going through live chat; Can’t phone them… You get the picture.
- Their Facebook page hasn’t been updated for Months and their Twitter account likewise. That’s a real red flag nowadays.
- Live chat seems fast-ish (5 mins wait) but they stated they had no authority to alter anything about billing and there are no supervisors etc available (in existence?!).
Told them to cancel service at end of the billing cycle and immediately reverse the credit card charge for the next billing cycle. “Can’t do that” – Apparently I would have to wait until end of this billing cycle and for the cancellation to go through before they would refund. I couldn’t see why they got to keep my funds for another 2 weeks for a service I wouldn’t be using.
Happily I had full backups, so I went looking for a new Host.
My requirements were nothing extraordinary – 4 personal sites – 3 x WordPress and one personal home-built photography site. Small with low traffic. Shared hosting would probably be fine. Max budget – around US$10/month. I was happy to pay long-term as long as there was a cancellation/trial period at the beginning. Gotta have an escape clause 😉 .
Ideally I wanted C-panel – it’s what I knew.
Ideally <!> I wanted to keep away from EIG.
Again I turned to WebHostingTalk. Truly a goldmine of information.
Since I was last there it had expanded considerably. Lots of discussion about web hosts as expected, but importantly there was a lot of well moderated comments BY web hosting companies. Happily, also lots of “special deals” for forum members.
I received some very specific and welcome advice.
Firstly, endorsement that my decision to leave Site5 was appropriate and that my experience – excellent service prior to the acquisition and horrible after – was a common one.
Secondly, I would be better off looking for a so-called reseller package which would separate all my web sites from each other and allow me to secure and manage them individually. Candidates suggested (in no particular order) were:
Many of these companies had special offers in the appropriate sections of the forums.
So after looking at the particular hosts AND their offers I found this:
Siteground – Growbig shared plan – NOT reseller. $5.95/month = $142.80 for 24 months. 30 day refund policy. Then price goes UP! around $358.80 unless discounts apply; GREAT LIVE CHAT EXPERIENCE. I didn’t want to splash out on their reseller plans (weird system of buying “credits” for each site and too expensive for my taste.) However, I was concerned about security of my sites if they were all under the same account.
Hawkhost – Bronze reseller – 50 accounts = $218.32 / 24 months using lifetime recurring 25% discount…. 30 day refund policy. Email help was quick and reasonable. True reseller account so no issues with cross site exploits. WHM access etc
StableHost – Pro plan – shared non-reseller. Unlimited websites . Was Currently a 50% LIFETIME discount = $95.40/ 24 months. 45 day refund policy
StableHost – Basic reseller – 10 clients :- approx $238.80 / 24 months. Could get “free upgrade” to next plan 50 clients and more space but I wouldn’t use it.
All three fell within my budget. I liked Siteground’s initial contact best. I liked the idea of HawkHost’s reseller plan. I liked Stablehost’s non-reseller cost.
Setup was NOT painless because I had signed up using a VPN. I routinely use a VPN and apparently that raises red flags for many hosting providers. I had to provide detailed ID to confirm my identity and ended up being personally approved by the CEO! Overall it probably took about 12 hours but let that be a warning – Think twice about signing up for web hosting whilst using a VPN!
So what is my experience with HawkHost so far? Apart from the initial (admittedly small) hiccough things have been extremely smooth. I’m hosting multiple sites using different platforms. No major down-time and importantly I have confidence that if I have a problem/issue there will be fast support that is actually helpful!
I HOPE that it will be another 12 years before I have to go looking for another host 😀 .
Keep an eye on your host’s website. Changes MAY reflect a modern and progressive management or they MAY reflect new ownership. Be afraid of new ownership!
ALWAYS have an off-site backup for all your web sites. ALWAYS. Be able, willing and ready to install them on a new host site at the drop of a hat!
Personally I ALWAYS keep my domain names separated from my web host. There are too many stories of people being held to ransom by their old hosts with delays in releasing the name back to you. It may be cheaper initially to get your ‘free’ domain name with your hosting package but read the fine print – really. WHO owns the name. HOW do you get control if the company fails? There are processes in place but wheels turn slowly.
DON’T use a VPN during the sign-up process unless you’re willing to wait a while.
Oh – and Site5? Well they DID finally issue my refund – 2 weeks and several ‘live chats’ AFTER my contract ended. My opinion? AVOID THEM LIKE THE PLAGUE!