Friday, 13th December, 2013 – what should have been a nice ordinary day turned into a real nightmare and a day I will remember for quite some time, all thanks to HostGator.
The first week of December, I was already in the Christmas mood, looking forward to enjoying the weekend with my family. But oh boy, what a weekend it turned out to be!
But let’s start from the beginning:
In the morning I noticed that my blog was down. I use a website up-time monitoring service from Pingdom which sends me a text message whenever my website goes down (or up). Usually it only happens once every few months, when there are server upgrades etc. These downtimes are damaging but there’s not much you can do about them – it’s just part of doing business online. Sometimes they last for just a few minutes, sometimes it can be for up to an hour.
This time it was different.
When I saw that after an hour my blog was still down, I knew something was going on. So I went onto HostGator’s website to chat with a live rep. Wait time was 30-40 minutes but I had no choice.
To get to the point; HostGator had put my blog on hold because of increased traffic. Thursdays are generally the busiest days on my blog and that week indeed, Thursday set yet another new record in unique visitors.
I had already known for some time that I’d be moving to a better hosting package sooner or later due to increased traffic but my bandwidth allowance was still quite high and as HostGator promotes NO LIMITS on my hosting package, I thought I’m fine for as long as they don’t ask me to upgrade.
But they didn’t ask, they simply shut my website down.
No warnings, no emails – nothing! They just pulled the plug on a high-traffic business blog.
And that’s not all.
On that same day I started receiving emails from Spicy Auction Templates customers telling me that the templates are not showing up on eBay. Ouch, double hit!!!
Again, I went to chat with HostGator, waited another 30-40 minutes to reach a rep, and found out that yes – they had also shut down ONE DIRECTORY on my Spicy Auction Templates website. Again, due to increased traffic which was causing issues for them. Mind you – that one directory hosted some of the free SAT templates, which are used by thousands of people for their eBay listings.
Again – no warnings and no emails.
What kind of business does that? I have been with HostGator for at least 7 or 8 years, paid them thousands of dollars in hosting fees and this is how they treat me? NOT anymore!!!
I was angry of course, very angry! My weekend was spoiled, my business in a dangerous situation. I had to act fast to make things right.
At first, I wanted to just fix the issues they had with my sites immediately so that I’d have some time to find a new host and move all the sites over (dozens altogether).
I went on to live chat again – waited yet another 30-40 minutes until someone was able to take my request. I asked – what can I do to fix this issue right now as I’m losing money here!
Here’s the best part – the online chat representative said they can’t do anything about it and asked me to instead submit a support ticket.
So I did. I submitted two tickets, one for the blog issue and one for SAT.
And then I waited, all day long… no one replied to my “URGENT” ticket for over 12 hours.
By then it was already late Friday evening so I contacted live chat again (ANOTHER 30-40 minute wait time) and asked if they could escalate my tickets so someone takes a look at them BEFORE I’m totally screwed up? After some time, and getting a supervisor involved, I finally got them to reply to my tickets.
The explanation was short and to the point – your blog and that one SAT directory eats up too much server resources so we shut you down. Do what you want.
I asked them to quickly move my sites to a better, dedicated server – of course I was happy to pay for everything – I just desperately needed my sites back online! They said yes, they could do that but it would take 3-4 days and bearing in mind that it was Friday, it would be around Wednesday by the time I would get the dedicated server set up.
That was really the last straw for me – I’d had enough. I simply had no desire to deal with a company who treats customers like this. And as I had already done some preliminary research on hosting alternatives, I thought – why not sort it all out now for good. My weekend was spoiled anyway so no better time to get this done!
So which hosting company now?
I decided to move my websites to Bluehost – I’d heard nothing but positive things about them and after reading some further reviews on forums, I felt it was the best choice.
But I first wanted to get in touch with them to find out how fast they could get my sites moved over.
So I went to Bluehost’s website to get help via live chat (just like HostGator, Bluehost offers 24/7 live chat and telephone support).
After initiating chat, I saw that the wait time was just 5 minutes – so already a great start compared to HostGator’s 30-40 minutes!
After just a couple of minutes, an agent came online with the accompanying text – I’m chatting with another customer now so please be patient but I will try to serve you too, simultaneously. WOW! That’s what I call customer service – they don’t want me to hang around waiting for too long and are happy to assist me even if the agent is already busy.
So I told them my story and about what had happened with HostGator and the live chat agent assured me that would never occur with Bluehost – if there were any traffic issues, I’d be contacted and offered an upgrade in advance.
Then I asked about the timeframe needed to get a VPS set-up for me. To my surprise – he said he could do it right now, in just 5 minutes. Awesome! And he did indeed set-up me up then and there, without the need for me to create and wait for support tickets etc. – he even created my billing account and took my card details through the chat.
So in just 10 minutes or so I had a brand new VPS set-up for me on Bluehost and I was ready to transfer my websites.
I also decided that it was a good time to get some dedicated IP addresses for my websites. No problem! The live chat guy did these instantly, assigned them to my domains and I was good to go. That’s what I call exceptional quality of service!
Not forgetting the fact that I did all of this on a weekend!!!
The whole transfer process wasn’t that smooth as I had some very complicated set-ups, with multi-Wordpress installs and 10+ databases going on so I spent most of Saturday working on this process.
I was not alone though and for this I want to say a BIG THANKS to Bluehost’s support team. Basically, there was someone with me on live chat for the whole 24 hours, while I worked on the transfers. When someone went on a break or there was a shift change, I was transferred to another tech agent who was already completely informed about what was happening.
Unlike with HostGator, Bluehost’s live chat technical support actually DOES know what they’re talking about AND can do complicated, technical tasks right on the go. With HostGator, the usual reply was – you’ll have to submit a support ticket for this task (and then wait for God knows how long!). Not with Bluehost! Their technicians are awesome and will solve your problems right there on live chat, which is a HUGE bonus!
By Saturday evening, I had SpicyAuctionTemplates.com and AndrewMinalto.com moved over completely to my new VPS at Bluehost. Then all I had to do was change the name servers for these 2 domains and wait till morning for them to update for me to see whether everything worked as it should.
And it did, everything worked perfectly. The transfer was complete and after two sleepless nights, my websites were back online.
And that’s not all.
The loading speed for my blog and SAT website increased dramatically. It now loads super-fast, in the blink of an eye. 1-2 seconds max is not bad at all! On HostGator this number was 3-4 seconds and even more, depending on what kind of network issues they were experiencing.
So it was a real relief for me. Over the next few weeks I transferred all my other sites and closed down my HostGator account completely.
Yes, Bluehost is actually owned by the same company that owns HostGator – Endurance International Group (EIG) but it’s still a separate brand company with its own work ethics (significantly better than HostGator’s). I experienced this first hand with my real life ‘test’ when Bluehost was such a great help and assisted me non-stop for almost 24 hours!
Why is Bluehost better than HostGator?
- Quality of service. I haven’t done any special tests (apart from page loading times on GTMetrix.com) but all I know is that my websites now load much faster. They’re really lighting fast.
- Quality of support. As covered in this post, Bluehost’s support is far more knowledgeable and will solve your problems on the go unlike HostGator where live chat reps will only tell you to submit a support request (which no one answers for at least 12-24 or more hours).
- Price. Bluehost is actually cheaper than HostGator. Just take a look at these plans:
Unlimited everything: Host Gator starting @ $6.36/month VS Blue Host @ $4.95/month:
VPS hosting (4GB RAM): Host Gator @ $189.95 VS Blue Host @ $59.99/month:
As I use the VPS hosting package, the cost savings are significant! I will save $1560 each and every year!
A cheaper price AND better service & support? I know it sounds too good to be true but judging from my experience, that is exactly what Bluehost offers.
I can now say that my hosting company recommendation goes to Bluehost. Their prices are good, service quality exceptional and they have a very knowledgeable technical support team who can solve your problems then and there. What more can I ask for?
Obviously, I can’t promise it will be like this forever, as things do change. I remember when I started working with HostGator – they were also very good! Waiting time on live chat never exceeded a few minutes, support stuff was very helpful etc. But look what the company has turned into?
For now though, I’m perfectly happy with Bluehost and once again I’d like to say a big THANKS to all the tech support guys who helped me with the transfers.
And if you’re looking for a new hosting company, I really hope this story will help you make a more informed decision. Go with Bluehost!