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Things You Don’t Want in a Web Hosting Company

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I received promotional emails last week from BlueHost (“It’s been a while since we last saw you. Can we convince you to come back?“) and HostGator (“We’ve missed you at HostGator and we want you back.“)

BlueHost Hey Stranger We Miss You EmailCome Back to HostGator Email

It’s like that cold feeling when you get a text from an ex wanting you back…

Just for purely demonstrative purposes these are fake text messages using the language from each email.

hg-bh_ex_texts

All fun aside, these emails got me thinking and I decided to come up with a quick list of things you do not want in a web host. Some of the items listed below might only relate to larger web hosts like the two EIG owned web hosts that emailed me last week. Other things you might only find with some smaller hosts that are unprofessional and unreliable. Some are possible signs of quite rare trickster/scammer hosts that are only looking to make a quick buck and then either do not provide what they promise, or worst case, close up shop and disappear. These are things you want to look out for regardless of the size or perceived stature of a web hosting provider.

A lack of support.

Long ticket response times. With some EIG hosting brands customers experience days or even weeks without a response to their support tickets. A recent example of tickets going unanswered by an EIG host comes from a once decent provider of customer service, A Small Orange. Here are some ASO customer’s tweets from the past few weeks:


Never ending waits for live chat.
Although having live chat support is not a deal breaker for me personally when choosing a web hosting provider because I prefer submitting support tickets.

No notifications of planned server maintenance activities, account migrations, or other changes.

No 24/7 technical support. The billing department does not need to a be a 24/7 operation but technical support does.

No ticket support system.

GoDaddy stopped ticket/email support years ago. BlueHost and HostGator no longer do support tickets for technical issues now.

BlueHost No Support Tickets

You may not think this is a big deal, but it is. Having only chat and/or phone support isn’t the best way to provide support in an efficient and timely manner. Having a ticket with all of the information gathered from the customer and support staff in it is the best way to solve technical support issues. For quick questions using live chat can be great if there isn’t much of a wait, but for more complex issues the ticket system should be utilized.

No money back guarantee.

If a web host doesn’t offer a period of time where you can get your money back if you are unhappy with their service, that’s an unnecessary risk for a consumer to take. I’d question the confidence the web hosting company has in the quality of service they provide. Some web hosts will even do pro-rated refunds after their money back guarantee period is over.

No uptime guarantee.

It’s true that all an uptime guarantee really provides is a service level agreement that if there is unscheduled downtime for more than a stated amount in a given month you are eligible to receive some amount of an account credit. A host could have a typical uptime guarantee of 99.9% and only deliver 98% uptime every month so it’s really not a guarantee that your website will not experience downtime. However, regardless of how meaningless such guarantees can be in determining how much uptime you can expect, not seeing any mention of an uptime guarantee would raise a red flag for me. This is especially true if it’s an unknown company with little to no presence or history.

No background story on the company.

When you can’t figure out who owns or operates the web hosting company from reading through their website it’s definitely a good idea investigate further. Ask them for more details about their business before trusting them with your personal information, payment details, data, etc.

A company with a huge customer base but not enough staff or investment in infrastructure to provide quality service.

Just because a web hosting company has a ton of customers and has a huge presence on the web it does not necessarily mean that they are good. Too often advertising and marketing budgets to increase new subscriber numbers over shadow money allocated for hiring and retaining quality employees or a solid infrastructure. Growth is good so long as it doesn’t negatively impact the quality of web hosting provided.

Best of luck out there folks and remember to always have your own regular backups in a safe place, no matter who your web hosting provider is and whatever the level of confidence you may have in them, backup up your websites.

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5 responses to “Things You Don’t Want in a Web Hosting Company”

  1. WPHostingSpot says:

    Makes me wonder why those people stay with them? They complain, fuss and gripe about how bad support is but they end up staying but for what? To get put on a never-ending ticketing waiting list or to be treated less then a human?

    • Ana says:

      Because most times average users don’t know better and think everywhere is the same: they never tried any other provider – more often then not they refuse to try, in order to avoid possible worse scenarios (finding an even worse provider) – or, when they do, they end up with another EIG brand….and the loop starts again.

  2. MisterNeutron says:

    I agree about the lack of a support ticket system – I wouldn’t go near a host that didn’t have one. I don’t care to spend minutes/hours on hold for phone or chat support, and then have to spell everything out to some hapless first-line support person. Let me write it down, so you can escalate it if it’s not a simple fix, before you even get back to me. That saves time on both ends.

    I’m currently with Site5 (the EIG rot hasn’t really set in yet, at least not for the shared hosting), and they have a habit that makes me a bit leery. Their solution to many, many server problems (“the server has become unresponsive”) is simply to reboot the sucker, without going any further to figure out why it seized up in the first place. A properly-configured server should be able to run for months or even years without being rebooted (other than to install new software, perhaps).

  3. Hi,

    Good stuff! For me, when I see SUPER CHEAP prices I run for the hills LOL. Many bloggers brag about paying $3 a month but when these hosts overload servers and your blog is down half the time, or super slow, they ain’t bragging no more ;) Learned this lesson the hard way. Now it’s $10 to $15 or more monthly, depending on currency exchange rates and my blog is stupid fast. Thanks for sharing!

    Ryan

  4. Susie Sourires says:

    I’m having a very bad experience with BlueHost right now. So happy to see your post. Now I understand. Working with BlueHost has been extremely frustrating and Support blames everyone from the user to WordPress for Bluehosts own technical issues that arise from using its interfaces. What a nightmare! They used to be great and I wonderered what had happened. Now I know.

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