Where to Host Your WordPress Site & Why I Fired Hostgator
Having been a loyal customer of Hostgator for the last 4+ years, the issues I ran into with them recently came as quite a shock.
In the middle of the day, I received an email from Hostgator saying that my account had been abusing their resources and had therefore been temporarily disabled. They said that while they do limit each account to no more than 25% of a system’s CPU in their terms of service, they do not actively disable accounts until they greatly exceed that number, which is apparently what happened in my case. Before this, over the last year I received their email a couple of times saying my emails were going over the set quota and every time that happened, I cleaned up my accounts as requested right away.
In their email, they went on to suggest that I take a moment to review their email in full as it contained important information and resources to assist me in resolving this issue. Please note that this permanent restriction required me take further actions to gain access to and resolve the issues on my account.
The ‘important’ information they mentioned was as follows. Additionally the email contained 3 or more paragraphs of technical server data that I obviously didn’t know what to do with, being a designer and not a developer myself:
1. How can you resolve the issue?
We have two solutions available. Moving the account to a dedicated server, which will allow far greater hardware resources or you may try following some of our tutorials for optimizing popular scripts. http://support.hostgator.com/articles/specialized-help/technical/optimize-cpu-resource-usage. If you feel your scripts have already been optimized, it may simply be time to consider the hardware upgrade.
If you reply back to this email with your IP address (http://www.hostgator.com/ip.shtml) we will be more than happy to go ahead and enable HTTP access for you, allowing you to safely work on the script while minimizing the negative effects on the server and its other users.
2. How does a CPU issue occur?
Many times popular scripts may perform inefficient tasks repeatedly leading to CPU abuse. Below please find helpful articles outlining resource restrictions set on HostGator accounts:
CPU Resource Restriction | CPU Resource Usage
Solution no. 1
above starts with an ‘oh-so-convenient’ fix to this problem – pay us more for a dedicated server. This is ridiculous since my site is a single & simple WordPress site and does not exceed their visitor threshold. My shared hosting with them actually allows unlimited websites! I hate to think what would had happened if I’d actually installed multiple sites there.
They have also mentioned that if I replied with my IP, they would let me work safely on the ‘faulty’ script that’s causing the issue. Well, how sweet of them to allow me to fix SOME script SOMEwhere on my hosting account that maybe causing SOME issue that I don’t even understand completely nor have been given specifics of. Maybe they thought anyone buying hosting from them is a born coder.
Solution no. 2
takes you to links that list very basic optimization techniques like cache, some bad plugins etc. which being an experienced blogger, I already had in place. So now what?
Then, I asked my coder to look into this (he’s works free for me but charges $20/hour for his services) He came up with three possibilities that might be the issue –
1. CPU overload
2. Too many files on the server
3. Overuse of email quota
To narrow down the cause, both him and I individually spend hours – first waiting to chat and then actually chatting with the Hostgator team who could not provide any conclusive answer to our questions. By this time, panicking due to the ongoing site down time, I had already deleted my business email account which seemed a little heavy, carefully gone through each and every folder & file on my server, anddeleted any files I could. To my surprise, the site got back up. I was happy as I was pretty sure I had fixed the issue. The same night, it went down AGAIN. I received the same email as before from Hostgator about how I was abusing their resources and how they had disabled my account. They kept playing the same ‘site is up’ & ‘site is down’ game throughout the next day. This was beyond acceptable.
This was the moment I decided I had needed a professional host. I did my research on the best hosting available for WordPress and chose WP Engine. It costs about 4 times what I was paying at Hostgator but so far, am happy to say has been worth every penny. Their migration process alone I think is a game changer. It’s a simple checklist that helps you move your site to them. Until now, I used to think moving to a new host is an extremely tedious & long process but they totally changed my mind.
The day after my site migration was complete, Hostgator team emailed me saying they were sorry that their support service was inadequate towards resolving my issue earlier since they had a lot of pending support tickets that week (!). They also mentioned that they had found the root cause of the problem – apparently Bing’s bot was crawling my website too many times in a day. Ha! Well, better late than never? well, not in this case as I had already moved on.
Here are some things I LOVE about WP Engine
✓ They specialize in hosting WordPress
✓ They do not claim to include anything ‘Unlimited’ with their plans. My plan can manage up to 25,000 visits a month and if I go over that, they will charge me an additional $10/10,000 visits. Straight & Simple.
✓ They aggressively cache sites on their server using their own program. You do not need any additional caching plugins, infact they discourage it.
✓ They add a WP Engine panel/menu right in your WordPress dashboard for easy to access to your site settings, visitor statistics, other activity and support.
✓ Their support is awesome. I had read “they do not provide 24/7 chat support which is a disadvantage” (chat is available only 8 am to 8 pm PDT) but I received a response to a ticket I created within an hour, which was in the middle of night PDT. Also, when I did chat with their support member, HE WAS in NO HURRY, unlike at Hostgator where I felt like I had to be fast in explaining and wrapping up my issue if I want them to help me. Not blaming them though, I guess that’s the difference between $7/month & $28/month 🙂
✓ They send notifications requesting you to update any outdated plugins or REAL solutions to any latest security threats being talked about online.
Who is your hosting provider and how’s your experience with him?
Let’s make this post helpful to any readers looking for a good host for their website/blog.