I’ve been hosting my cluster of websites with the same company since 2008. I switched to them after dealing with a notoriously awful host, that was actually pretty good, up until I needed support.
As I sit here and write this, I can recall the agony of continuously attempting to talk to someone about restarting one of my servers after three of my sites had been down for two weeks. Every time I would call the hosting company, I would get connected to someone overseas. I would explain the issue (again) and they would submit a ticket to someone at their data center. I guess this was okay for some folks, but for me, having a go-between just didn’t work. For some reason, the server was never looked at and after screaming into the phone, “Just push the damn button!” a number of times, I had to change hosts. Talk about tossing and turning while trying to sleep. I felt like someone was holding my websites hostage. Apparently they were.
That was before 2008. Because of that, I switched to a very reputable and very expensive hosting company that specialized in dedicated servers. After my migration to them, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I enabled two high performance servers, had a firewall, website monitoring and all the rest. If I submitted a support ticket, I was in contact with a support rep within minutes. Besides the price, things were great and I returned to what I was supposed to be doing – developing and maintaining websites.
Two things happened over the years. One – my beloved hosting company’s prices climbed, climbed and continued to climb. Somehow, between 2008 and 2015, I ended up paying triple than what I’d pay for comparable servers. I’m still not sure how this happened. And two – support slid to a level where I was unable to continue my relationship with them. Where I’d once submit a support ticket and have a response in minutes, I’d later submit a support ticket and get a response 22 hours later. This is not a joke. Earlier this week, I shot a ticket over to this company and, after doing whatever they were doing, I received a response the day after I sent it. And to make matters worse, they didn’t answer my question. I guess the issue wasn’t just lag time, it was quality as well.
If there’s one thing I hate doing, it’s switching hosting companies. Migrating websites has got to be at the very bottom of any web developer’s list of daily activities. Unfortunately, it’s a part of life in this business. Companies come and go, support, hardware and software change and start-ups emerge. And many times, these start-ups really blow the old guys out of the water. That’s the beauty of living in the technology world – there’s always a group of very talented people sitting somewhere waiting to pounce.
Last week, I received my monthly invoice from my (now prior) hosting company. I sat and looked at it for a few moments and told myself that no matter how awful I feel about moving all my sites to a new server, it had to be done. I wasn’t using the current server to capacity and it seemed like I was throwing money out the window. That, coupled with the other factors I mentioned above, prompted me to begin my search for alternative hosting providers.
I won’t go too deeply into my process, but I will tell you who I ended up choosing and how things are unfolding. I went with a company called, “WiredTree.” I initially found this company and another one I considered going with through web searches, hosting forums and finally Twitter. I followed both company’s Twitter feeds and really tried to get a grasp of who was working at what and how they ran their operations. After that, I made an initial call to both companies and spoke with their sales folks. The first company seemed like their sales and support was cunningly based overseas, but WiredTree was tried and true, only a few states away. A few more hours of consideration and WiredTree it was.
As of right now, I have a dedicated server up and running with WiredTree and all my sites are migrated to it. I’ve submitted no fewer than 20 support tickets during the migration process and, I kid you not when I say this, I waited no longer than four minutes to receive a reply from any support ticket I sent over. I actually began getting antsy if it took longer than three minutes to receive a reply, but I guess that’s what happens when you get spoiled rotten.
Support really is the crucial factor when dealing with web hosts. It seems like software and hardware is a commodity, but tracking down good management and slick employees who truly know what they’re doing is a much more difficult task. I feel like I hit a home run with WiredTree.
Before I close, I’d like to discuss support quality and price for just a moment. Like I mentioned above, during my migration to WiredTree, there was a lot of back and forth with their support department. If you’ve ever dealt with a similar situation to the one I’m describing in this post, you’ll most likely agree that you’ll go through ups and downs for about a week until sites and servers get squared away. For me, this past week, while being stressful, has somehow been a breeze. Every time I sent over a request, things just got done. I didn’t need to ask twice or clarify what I needed completed. The tech folks over at this company know what they’re doing and it almost felt like they personally operated the same types of websites that I did. There were no mistakes and everything went according to my request.
Price is another crucial factor when it comes to web hosting, especially when dealing with dedicated servers. Things can spiral out of control – fast. Needless to say, there’s a lot to choose from. In this last section, I’d simply like to mention that WiredTree has very competitive pricing for their server setup, but when it comes to software, hardware, bandwidth and support, I’d be hard-pressed to find better value. So thanks guys. You made a challenging situation much more bearable and yes, the volume of tickets coming through my account will now slow down.