HostGator Support Review

This morning I received an unexpected phone call.

I had just pulled an espresso shot as part of my usual heart-starting morning routine and sat down to enjoy my breakfast.

Next minute, my iPhone rings with a "Blocked" number. I pick it up with a slightly grumpy "Hello?"

A robot on the other end of the line says:

"Hello. . . I'm calling from HostGator. . . one of your accounts has a script running that is causing problems for the server."

The piece of toast that was hanging out of my mouth dropped a little.

I was actually pretty happy that they were so pro-active and calling me, rather than simply relying on email that might not get to me.

However, I also knew from experience that when you get your host contacting you about this sort of thing it normally means hours of painful work ahead.

They tend to never help find the source of the problem, but just shut down your account and tell you to sort it out.

Especially from a host that is as inexpensive as HostGator. You simply don't expect too much service when you're paying $9.95 a month for unlimited domains.

The robot caller went on to tell me that a support ticket had been created for me to help sort out the problem.

At least they looked like they were ready to help me I thought.

My laptop was sitting on the table, so I opened up Gmail.

There was indeed a ticket in there. However, the contents surprised me.

It started off with:

"A WordPress installation located at http://www.xxxxx.xxx was causing some issues on the server that it was on. "

"Boom. There goes my morning. . .", I cursed.

As I kept reading my mood changed. It went on to say:

"Instead of suspending the site, the plugin WP-Super-Cache was installed to greatly reduce the load that is caused by this particular installation. We determined that this was not in place by checking the .htaccess directives, so though you may already have had this plug-in it was not fully configured.

Please let us know if you see any issues, or if you have any questions regarding this and we will be happy to assist!"

They then went on to give a full technical breakdown of the figures from the server to show the problems that the WordPress installation was causing.



I couldn't believe it.

Instead of saying here are the problems, you go fix it, they just went ahead and solved my problem.

So they saw that the WordPress blog was getting too much traffic, and then found a plug-in that would cache the pages to reduce the load completely.

I've had over a decade of dealing with web hosts including with fancy hosts like "Rackspace" where they proclaim "Fanatical Support". Yet, I've never had such a proactive and positive approach as this.

All on an account that costs less than 10 bucks a month for unlimited sites.

I was so surprised, I had to check if they really had fixed the problem and to find out what else I needed to do.

So I shot back and email that said:

"Thanks for this. I like your proactive approach.

Was the load due to too many visitors? Or something else?

Did you install the super-cache and set it working? Is there anything else we need to do?"



Just 17 minutes later I receive an answer (with probably 10 minutes of email drafting in there).

By the way, I consider anything under an hour great.

"We did install and get Super-Cache working.  This caused the server issue that your account was causing to cease, which prevented us from having to disable any portion of your account."



They then went onto explain the reason why WordPress causes load, explaining how it retrieves the contents on the fly for each user. They then detailed how WP-Supercache solves these issues.

Today, the guys at HostGator just proved that cheap isn't always nasty.

They probably saved me 3 hours of work which would amount to hundreds of dollars of my time.

As I was writing this I also checked on our uptime stats for this site to see if their uptime matched their customer service.

It did with only a few minutes down here and there. The uptime is actually better than our sites hosted on the Rackspace Cloud. :)

Anyway, bravo HostGator and thanks to Ben and Shaun specifically.

If you're looking for excellent inexpensive hosting with proactive, fast and friendly support you can't go past HostGator.

January 21, 2010

Comments (16)

Cracks
Said this on January 21, 2010 At 05:46 am
hey Jay.

it is indeed VERY impressive, VERY pro-active support from Host Gator (way beyond any hosting support I've ever heard of), but are you down with unauthorised, unapproved plugin installation on YOUR website?

Obviously this solved all your problems and saved you all the work, but what happens if WP Cache conflicted with some other facet of your site, or some other plugin and things went very pear-shaped?

It just seems to opens a lot of doors.

1) Did Host Gator back-up your database before the unauthorised plug-in install?
2) Did Host Gator take into consideration any conflicts due to pre-installed plug-ins?
3) Are Host Gator liable for any grief caused by the their actions?

I'm not trying to turn a very positive article by you, and amazing support by Host Gator, into a negative grieve, but there's no way in hell I'd want ANY host playing unauthorised games with my websites.

Absolutely. No. Way.

I'd be interested to hear what Shaun, Ben & Host Gator have to say, as I'm currently looking for some new hosting.

[Hey Cracks. Good to hear from you again. :)

Yeah you have a point, and this would be especially the case for some plug-ins that alter the database. As far as I understand, this one doesn't. The wonderful thing about Wordpress is when you install a plug-in and things go wrong, it's VERY easy to back it out. You just delete the plug-in from the folder. So this doesn't really concern me. I'm sure they would have tested it as well.

Plus, the stuff you're talking about happens all the time when hosting companies upgrade PHP, MySQL, Zend etc so it's not too different.

As an aside, nowadays I often just defer to Occams razor where the simplest solution will normally work out the best.

Jay]
Said this on January 21, 2010 At 05:03 pm
Nice write up about HostGator taking care of their customer's websites on a proactive basis as if it was their own. Haven't encountered the healthy problem you have with traffic overload yet, but WP-Super-Cache plugin sounds nifty.
Said this on January 21, 2010 At 05:17 pm
I have just moved some sites to HostGator after receiving the opposite type of service from another host. I had a similar situation, but got an email instead. All it told me is there was a problem and to fix it or they would take it off line. Of course, before I got a response back from them about what the problem was (they never answered that question) the site was moved to another server (and the login was different so I had to wait again so I could try to fix it).
HostGator is great. They respond quick and actually try to help. Very likely, I'll have all my sites with them soon.
Said this on January 21, 2010 At 05:25 pm
Congratulations on turning this positive experience into credible marketing ;op

[Haha... yes thanks. I would have written about it anyway, but when I saw they had an affiliate program I figured I wouldn't be practicing what I preached if we didn't use an affiliate link :) Jay]
Said this on January 21, 2010 At 05:29 pm
I have two accounts with HostGator and every time there has been the slightest problem with anything they have been easy to get a hold of and super helpful. I think their support is awesome! I highly recommend them. Plus the live chat makes them even better.
Said this on January 21, 2010 At 06:03 pm
My previous experience with HG is that they first suspend the account, then contact you and have the support team shoot emails back and forth with you until it's solved.
I have also had them suggest installing the wp-cache plugin, but they never installed it themselves.
Could be that you have more than one account with them and they treat you differently.

[Yes it doesn't surprise me that people have different experiences. Especially when I see they host over 2.5 million domains! :)

This is our only account with them now, so I don't think we're getting special treatment. In fact, I think they'd rather us not stick around given the resources we're using. Jay]
Said this on January 21, 2010 At 06:28 pm
Yup, the "Gator" is pretty unreal for the price. I have been with them for a few years now, and, to my knowledge, never had a problem with downtime. Don't have any PHP scripts running - but it is good to know that they fixed the problem without shutting you down.

A pretty big endorsement coming from you. Let's hope they keep it up. They are building a great reputation not only with you, but just about every review I read about Hostgator is positive and most people associated with Internet Marketing endorse their use.

I hope they can keep up that level of praise as well as reliability..

Robert C - The Wholesale Guy
Said this on January 21, 2010 At 09:49 pm
I had a similar experience with Rick (that they suspend the account then contact you). But that was a year or two ago, and I think they must have improved their handling of such issues since then. For that I say, good for them.

I wouldn't say they are the 'best' host, but they are very good for the price, and I think they do suit most people's needs. I had used them for a few years until I moved to a VPS. The only thing I don't use them for is dynamic sites, WP excluded. But then, I would have the same reservations about using most (cheap) shared hosts for dynamic sites, just because the way their business and accounts are set up, it's not for dynamic sites with mid level traffic.

But they are priced cheap, and I don't begrudge them that setup. They are a business too. It just brings up the whole issue of overselling plans, the idea of 'unlimited' plans where you have limited resources etc. At the end of a day you have to find a host that suits your needs, and be prepared to pay a reasonable price for it. A lot of people want everything for nothing.
Said this on January 21, 2010 At 10:09 pm
This puts a new light on: Will I consider HostGator again, or not?

It's been about 3 years ago, and my experience was definitely not what you've described. It was somewhat of a horror story, actually. And they sure didn't offer to fix things, although they were the ones to cause the problem. I didn't stick around long. At that point in time, in my own experience, the support was quite "spotty." In other words, a few things (moving domains to their servers... altho this is what caused my bad problem) they were prompt and professional. Other things? Not.

And I cannot help but wonder if you, being the IM figure that you are, don't get much better support and response than we who are peons. lol.

Leanne

[I don't think I'm anyone to those guys. :). Jay]
Said this on January 21, 2010 At 10:35 pm
I have had excellent service from Hostgator as well. I really like their live chat support and can't recommend anyone else more highly.
Said this on January 22, 2010 At 01:17 am
Yes, I fully agree with Cracks, Lean etc comments. I USED to be with Hostgator couple of years ago. Not any more! And I also warn everybody who is serious about online business do NOT host your sites with them!

Oh yes, they Do Reply you Fast - That I have to give them, but that's about it!

They used to be ok, long time ago before every Internet Marketer and his dog started promoting them for $$, but then suddenly it has changed. I don't think I've ever exchanged so many useless "support" emails with any other webhost like with Hostgator before I finally got so fed up I moved all my sites out. Example of issues: Disabled scripts without warnings, 'lost' scripts, hacked sites and scripts, 'over-use' of BW (althought they claim you have an 'Unlimited Badwidth) etc etc...

So, yes, if you are a Simple marketer, Impressed with "fast" reply but NO action in reality, then Hostgator Is for you. But if you want a Real, Safe, Working website, don't risk your business with these deceivers.
Said this on January 22, 2010 At 02:32 am
Absolutely agree, my Hostgator experience is the same. Their support for resale accounts has never, ever let me down. They are fast and courteous and there is absolutely no better hosting at this price or a higher one.
Said this on January 22, 2010 At 04:56 am
Have to agree with George. Have had great support from Hostgator when I have had a problem and there has been a few for this technically challenged lady.
They are so fast and efficient and at times have gone away for an hour or so then come back with the problem solved.
Love there live chat. Always available when needed. Great service.
Said this on January 22, 2010 At 06:24 am
I actually had a problem with another host over a similar issue. I dumped them and went with HostGator because the other company (Valueweb)actually automatically started charging me money for more bandwidth. The other company was sold to a company in India and I could not stop them from charging me EVEN AFTER I CANCELED MY ACCOUNT!!!!!

I had to have a 3 way conference with with this company and my credit card company because the company in India would not stop charging me even though I cancelled my business with them.

Thanks to Allan's site I am a HostGator Web Designer through and through. I will not use any other company or even take on clients that are using other companies. Host Gator is incredible and I hope they never, ever change.

Thanks Allan and thanks HostGator, you guys are the best!

Mark Elmo Ellis
Ellistrated Websites
Said this on January 28, 2010 At 03:59 pm
I'm only new to Hostgator services for about 8 months now, so far i have never bad experience from them. Support team is really greatand that showson this post. Thanks for sharing!
Said this on February 3, 2010 At 07:52 am
Let the Hostgator promotion continue. They're doing one hell of a job. I really don't have to worry much each time, something goes wrong on my blog/site. An email to their support team gets things in order in as little as 2 hours tops.

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