Web Hosting Service Showdown Comparison
When it comes to web hosting service, the third time was the charm. For me at least. Over 4 months of heartache, sleepless nights and the feelings of helplessness. These are some things I experienced on my journey to find a decent web hosting. YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO THROUGH THIS. Finding a good web hosting service is crucial so here is my experience in a hosting showdown comparison. There are a few things that are crucial when it comes to choosing a web hosting service. I learned that back-up protection, support, and control of your website’s back-end can make or break the experience.
Backup ProtectionThis is an area that some folks overlook until they need it. Once you have been in that oh shit situation where you site is totally tanked and the only way out is to start over it is really handy to have a fresh backup around.
SupportWhen shopping around you will notice that ALL providers claim to have top notch support. Unfortunately these claims are not true. Sorting through the good providers proved to be costly and time consuming for me. Support is crucial with any vendor, especially services that you rely on for your business or website in general. Luckily I found a winner so you won’t have to go through what I wen through to find an excellent hosting provider.
Backend AvailabilityThis is an area that is easily overlooked by other people. How would you like to have your website go down and have NO way of bringing it back up other than waiting? This happened to me with hostgator a number of times and as a business owner I was pulling my hair out. Having access to your C-Panel, Backups and other areas where time counts is imperative.
The up time is a factor that I have found to be rather negligible as all three of the hosts I have used had a near perfect up time. This is essential in having your website online all the time but when it came to comparing hosts they all did very well at keeping their hosting servers up and running.
About a year ago I purchased my first website on Flippa with the intention of taking it apart and learning everything about websites. The domain was registered with 1&1 so I did a little research and it looked like a safe bet. (WRONG) The setup with 1&1 and initial hosting was ok, but I quickly learned that the communication was less than average. After yet another call to follow-up on help desk tickets that were a month outstanding I was told “no new updates” yet again. The feeling of spending hours of time on building a business only to find that the communication with my web hosting partner was driving it all into the ground. This feeling was nothing short of torture. This happened not once but multiple times. Don’t fret friends. There is a solution. I was also double charged for everything on my account and after numerous attempts to simply cancel my service, 1&1 did not offer a straight forward, simple to use process to cancel my web hosting which leads me to another lesson in web hosting services.
1&1 Backup ProtectionThis was below less than acceptable. Being dependent on my hosting services for backups was a huge risk and I ended up paying the price over time.
1&1 SupportWith 1&1 hosting, the name of the game was waiting 45 minutes on the phone to get anything started. More 45 minute wait times to follow-up on tickets and when tickets were finally picked up they were addressed within a few days. I personally don’t like to spend that long waiting, period.
1&1 Backend AvailabilityBack end functions were incredibly limited. The 1&1 control panel was very limited in features outside of the traditional C-Panel.
Lesson: Always make sure there is a straight forward way to cancel your hosting.
Cancelling your services is probably not something you think about when signing up but in this industry it is sometimes impossible to cancel.
The only way to cancel my account with 1&1 was to call a number and of course… wait 45 minutes or more. Once I finally get in touch with someone I had to convince them I wanted to cancel and then transferred to a cancelation department. What they don’t tell you? I was never able to confirm that this department existed. After waiting another 45 minutes I realized that this just was not going to happen. Sending an email, transferring my web hosting services and countless support tickets did not help 1&1 get the picture. Many months later I received an email that my hosting services were about to be renewed and that my card would be automatically charged for the hosting I had not been using for almost a year. The only way to truly cut the chord with 1&1 was to change the card that they would charge to and old used up gift card. When 1&1 tried to charge it and later threaten to take action once the card did not work. I simply forwarded all the emails and tickets I created that showed I had been trying to cancel all along. Finally, the 1&1 beast was dead! On to greener pastures. Or so I thought.
My next web hosting services were chosen after much due diligence. My first hosting service with 1&1 was just plain terrible and I was ready for a refreshing new experience. After hours of research I found a pattern that a lot of places were advertising hostgater. After I clicked through to the hostgator site I later noticed that almost every single ad on my computer was dominated by hostgator. Could this powerhouse of a web hosting service with generally awesome reviews be the answer? I gave them a call and got a really good deal with a money back guarantee that was incredibly mouthwatering. Their sales department was on point and was very quick to set up hosting. Everything was going to be just fantastic. The first month or two was smooth on my site and I did not have any reason to need support for my web hosting. After a contractor foo bared my entire e-commerce inventory, a site restore from backup was necessary. Now here is where hostgator hosting falls apart in my book. The web hosting package did not allow for third party back up plugins like updraft. Want to beef up your security? You are stuck with trusting hostgator here too. Any security plugin I tried to install was not supported. Luckily my hostgator compadres sold me backup protection for up to a certain amount of days! I created a support ticket with hostgator because there are no one click restores, instead you must open a ticket and wait for it to be addressed. I was told that there was an area where I could do one click restores and backups but it never worked and I was always stuck with creating a new ticket. Small bumps in the road turned into huge setbacks thanks to the incredibly long wait times. When the excessive wait times almost tanked my site, it was time for a change. After needn’t go restore my site again I had a ticket open for several days. So many days that by the time my helpdesk ticket was addressed it was too late and the site backups had been overwritten. In order to access later backups and restore my site I had to call their partner company code guard that handles the backups who has a few more days of extra backups. My attempts to get in touch with this team was plagued with being routed back to hostgator because they did not want to bother with me and it was hostgators job to make the request. I was very lucky to have had an old backup downloaded to my PC and was able to restore my website. leading me to the biggest lesson of all on this whole post.
Lesson: A good experience hinges on communication and level of support.
Literally nothing matters unless those two areas are solid. It doesn’t matter if you have a month’s worth of backups, 100% up time, dirt cheap pricing. With both of these bad apple hosting services, the support was the weakest area and it served to ruin the business relationship.
HostGator Backup ProtectionThis was below less than acceptable. Being dependent on my hosting services for backups was a huge risk and I ended up paying the price over time.
HostGator SupportBackup services were below acceptable. Again, being dependent on my hosting services for backups was a huge risk and I ended up paying the price over time.
HostGator Backend AvailabilityBackend control was incredibly limited. The hostgator control panel was very limited in features outside of the traditional C-Panel
The main reason I went with site ground is that both 1&1 and hostgator are incredibly large corporations while site ground is the small business in comparison. Experience has proven that the smaller companies are more personal in their service and make every client count to survive. Before hosting with SiteGround I decided to call their technical support number. I was forwarded directly to an agent ready to help me with virtually no wait at all. I asked the agent a few questions just to see how they responded and couldn’t help but notice they were eager to help with anything they could. Looking at SiteGrounds prices I found a solution that worked for me and signed up thinking “if this one does not work I can just get my money back and keep looking”. Luckily for me everything was incredibly smooth. They were willing to do a free website transfer with ease. They talked me through every step to get set up and it took minutes to get everything done compared to months with the other services. This is not an exaggeration, it took months to get up and running with my other providers and SiteGround had me up and running in a day. Consider it takes up to 36 Hrs for a DNS to propagate that is pretty impressive. The answer to my hosting needs ended up being SiteGround. I currently have more than a handful of websites hosted with site ground and look forward to setting up my next site with them. I have thrown a number of different support items and every ticket has been responded to within hours and often within minutes. The up time is on par with what I expected and the backup protection is flawless. Just recently one of my sites needed to be restored from a backup and I did not have access to a computer. I gave the technical support line a call and even though it is usually a paid service, the technician was more than willing to restore my site for me. I did not even have to use a computer and my site was restored thanks to site ground. The best part was my ability to make any change without creating a helpdesk ticket. I can do almost anything right from the admin panel and without hours of sitting on the phone. Whenever I did need phone support I am immediately connected with a cheerful support specialist that is able to fix the issue on the spot every single time. INCREDIBLE. After my past experiences with hostgator and 1&1 I had finally found a winner with SiteGround. When it was time to set up hosting for the next website I was excited for the first time ever to set up hosting services. While it took months to get my first website online after the many tribulations, SiteGround is able to get my site online in hours.
SiteGround Backup ProtectionBackups are free with the grow-big plan but if you are on a budget you can use a back-up plugin or get 30 days of backups services for $2.50/month.
SiteGround SupportSupport/Communication turned out to be the biggest factors for websites hosting. This is where SiteGround truly stole the show. Responding to support tickets in minutes and doing it with a cheerful attitude, SiteGround was the wonderful hosting experience I dreamed about when I was on hold with hostgator and 1&1.
SiteGround Backend AvailabilityThe website control and backend support with SiteGround was fantastic compared to other hosts. With other hosting services I had to call in, any time I needed to make a technical change. This happens more often than you would think and long turnaround times that other hosts provide was just not going to cut it. The admin panel with SiteGround is perfect. The only struggle I had at first was keeping myself from exploring all the options and neat things I could do with my website that I didn’t even realize with the nifty C-Panel.
This site and all of my other sites are and will continue to be hosted by SiteGround. The cherry on top of it all is that this web hosting service turned out to be less expensive than the other two. Once I factored in the loss from the downtime with other hosts it is evermore clear. SiteGround is the winner all around.