Cheap web hosting ... A word or two of caution


(Paul Russam) #1

This could be a little long but bear with me as I hope it’ll be informative.

I have 4 sites with HostPapa and other than a couple of minor issues its been an ok’ish experience. Each one was purchased/created on one of those “Get your own website and email for 2/3 dollars/pounds/euros a month” deals.
Recently I was experiencing a couple of problems with a site and discovered it was due the host using an older version of PHP, I asked if they could upgrade it but was told the only way to do so was to move to one of their much much more expensive plans, needless to say I decided to look elsewhere.
Having chosen a new host we started the process of copying the data from the existing HostPapa server to the (soon to be) new one, all good so far …

So, now we get to the point where either the nameservers at HostPapa need to be told to point at the new server or the domain is transferred to a new registrar, this is where you need to start paying attention reader…

I start digging in the HostPapa client interface and … there was no way to either change the nameservers or release the domain name as everything was purchased as a bundle, the hosting, the email, the domain name, everything.
The only way to release the domain name for transfer was TO CLOSE THE ENTIRE ACCOUNT!

OK think I, its draconian but there will be a transition period between me closing the account and it actually being closed giving time for the domain name to make its way through the system to the new host (This can take days by the way) … You’d think that wouldn’t you?

But NO!, within 1 hour of me filling in the ‘please close my account’ form the site was gone and the email was inaccessible and 2 hours later I can’t even login to check on a support ticket I wrote to ask ‘WHAT’S GOING ON???’

The site being down for a couple of days is inconvenient but the email! that is a very different proposition, I had a very very unpleasant 3 hours of trying to work out alternatives when an email poped into my personal account from HostPapa telling me they’d reactivated the account for 7 days to allow for the changeover…… phew! Everything is back up, Site, Email, everything.

What to take away from this:

  • At the point of writing this its been 3 days since the domain name transfer was initiated and it still hasn’t come through, this is I understand normal and can easily take upto a week.
  • The bundle deals are not as good as they seem.
  • DomainNames, Site Hosting and Email are separate things, having them under one contract is a bad idea.
  • If you are planning on moving hosts then BACKUP AND TRANSFER before you initiate the closure of the existing account and then grab the changes when you finally assign the domain name to the new host.
  • Do NOT use an email address associated with the domain as your contact email.

(Greg Schneck) #2

couple of comments…
1.) I’m sorry you have to go thru this…
2.) Repopulation of domain moves (dns) usually happens in hours, not days.
3.) Also to consider. Host email is awful and they usually have old spam tools, etc. Don’t use email provided by host as they don’t care if they are up to date with email or not. Get a mail focused service such as Fastmail. You can configure it to work with your regular url by pointing your mail service to Fastmail on your host system.
4.) There is a reason cheap services are cheap.
5.) Your "take away"s are very good…


#3

I too am sorry for this hassle you are living. My experience with a similar deal has been outstanding though. I signed up with HostMonster at least 10 years ago and have always been thrilled with everything. The only thing I didn’t like was when it was time to renew after the initial 3 years the price went from 1.95 to 5.95 per month. When I called to complain I explained that I could sign up for a new account for $1.95 for 2 years. But would need to transfer my stuff to the new account.

They even took care of moving it for me to the new account. It was a hassle because it made the server sort of messy. The next renewal I negotiated a price with them and kept my account.

I am a hack at best at this stuff. I tried 3 other hosting services over the years. The reason I stick with HostMonster is because of excellent tech support. Any time I have ever had a problem tghey are a phone call away. Day or night I can call and get live support. That is important to me because of my lack of skills. HostMonster was the only provider I tried that offered this level of service.

I have never had any issue with anything not working due to HostMonster. I was also able to very easily change the name servers to another provider. It took a couple of hours at most.

I hope your stuff works out as you expect. This stuff has enough challenges without this type of headache.


(Gregory Barchard) #4

Regarding your 2nd point, DNS changes typically take hours. Name server changes, however, can take 24-48hours. Domain transfers (which is what Paul had to do since HostPapa did not allow him to change or manage the DNS for his domain) can take up to 7 days. Registrars, legally, have 7 days to release a domain (as dictated by ICANN, the domain registration body).


#5

At one point I was unhappy with a web host where I had a dedicated server and all my domains registered. I decided to move away and transferred various domains to another registrar as a first step. When it came to moving the nameserver domain I was told they would only release it if I renewed the dedicated server for another year…

Luckily my nameserver was a .co.uk domain and I was able to sidestep them by going through Nominet, but since then I have always ensured my web host and domain registrar are entirely separate. I’ve also kept that .co.uk nameserver domain.

Cheap web hosts are generally cheap for a reason and as previously mentioned email tends to be useless, though I have zero problems with email on my VPS. The only cheap host I ever used that genuinely impressed me was called 5quid host in the UK but they seem to be have ceased trading or been taken over.

As it happens, I’m in the process of moving my domains to a new registrar because the existing one is clearly not very active with their marketing or web presence, so I always have a nagging doubt that I’ll wake up one morning and find they have closed without warning. It’s a pity because their prices are good and the control panel works well but it’s not worth the risk.


(Greg Schneck) #6

I recently moved the site I support to a different host… When I took over it was being hosted on a provider I had already had a poor experience with. The site went down one day and I could see no reason why. When I checked "support’ with the host they told me they shut it down because it was a shared server and the site HAD TO MUCH TRAFFIC. What was funny was that I was also getting ads wanting us to purchase tools to “INCREASE YOUR TRAFFIC.”

When I pointed out that this account was sold as “unlimited” everything (space, bandwidth, etc) I was told to read the “Fine Print.” Basically it was “unlimited” “as long as others on the server were not affected.”

So rather than contact me to give me an opportunity to do something (like move free downloads to S3) they just disabled the site without even bothering to tell me. I did get an email stating this a day or so later.


#7

Hi @PaulRussam, thanks for the info! I’m with HostPapa. Wondering where you moved to?


(Paul Russam) #8

https://www.chillidoghosting.com
I’m planning on doing a separate post on just how helpful Greg (@barchard) has been in this 'experience’
I didn’t mention Chillidog in the original post as the intention of it was to highlight pitfalls and problems with certain types of hosting plans for others.


(Gregory Barchard) #9

the ‘unlimited’ sales pitch is very common. Even the big box hosts do this but with the same fine print.


(Gregory Barchard) #10

if you are looking to move and need help migrating, just let me know. i perform migrations for free for new users :slight_smile:


#11

That is awesome Gregory. What type of tech service do you offer? I am a fan of your software and know you stand behind your products. Do you offer hour where I can call for technical assistance? This is important for me due to my lack of knowledge. Sometimes the way I ask a question I misuse terminology.

I just find it easier to talk through a problem than to write about it.


(Gregory Barchard) #12

Unfortunately even with an awesome user base, as an independent developer, phone support just isn’t possible. Instead I ask users to email their questions and include any relevant information (including screenshots) to my support system. By including screenshots in a support ticket, I am able to better assist users by seeing what they are seeing.

Additionally, I am working on a massive new library of very detailed guides to help demystify hosting for RapidWeaver users. Hopefully this will help reduce some of the frustrations RapidWeaver users have with web hosting :slight_smile:

-Greg


(Kenneth McBride) #13

Not knocking anyone here but a few minutes reading fine print and asking a few questions, I find, generally gets the job done.


(Wolf Ademeit) #14

A quote for John Ruskin (1819 - 1900):
“It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When
you pay too much, you lose a little money - that’s all. When you pay
too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you
bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The
common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a
lot - it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well
to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will
have enough to pay for something better.”


(Doug Stansfield) #15

I moved to Chillidog and Greg was a huge help. The level of service defied current paradigms I am familiar with…


(Gregory Barchard) #16

thanks doug! appreciate the kind words :slight_smile:


(Gary Wann) #17

I’ve been with Chillidog for quite a while now and have just moved yet another domain to Greg’s hosting after loads of hassle with the previous hosting company chosen by one of my clients.

Greg’s email support is excellent and the service so reliable that I rarely have to contact him, but when I do the issue is addressed very quickly. If there is a problem, it’s usually something that I’ve done - or I’ve forgotten to do :slight_smile:

Chillidog gets my vote every time.


(Rob Beattie) #18

I’ve still got some sites hosted on Little Oak - smaller ones - but whenever I get the opportunity I move people across to Chillidog. Greg offers a lot of things included in the price that other companies make you pay for. And he has a big brain.

And there’s a lot to be said for using a host that’s part of the RW ecosystem. It helps to keep everyone going and it’s fantastic to speak to someone at the hosting end who knows about Rapidweaver. Saves a lot of headaches.

Rob


(Lisa Sandler) #19

@barchard (and Chillidog Hosting) is a crucial part of my team. I have been hosting with him for several years, as well as using his software. I am not a programmer and Greg is super supportive via support tickets and explains things well. I highly recommend Chillidog.
Lisa

www.LisaSandlerPhotography.com