Running a self-hosted blog is great. Most of the time. You get to choose from all the awesome themes (like Tweak Me v2). You can use amazing, blog-life-changing plugins like Ultimate Book Blogger. (I’m an unapologetic Ashley fangirl. If you use her products, you’ll understand.) You can customize your blog to the level you want because YOU own it. But then that means you also own it and have to figure things out when it all goes sideways.
That’s exactly what happened to me yesterday.
I woke up, figured I would check comments and maybe even write another review. As one does. Then I realized I couldn’t access my WordPress dashboard. Or the front end of my site, for that matter. I was getting error messages every time I tried. Database error. Gateway timeout error. Unfortunately, I know just enough about WordPress and hosting in general to be dangerous but not really effectively troubleshoot or fix this issues. Fortunately (it seems weird to say this) this isn’t the first time I’ve had these exact errors with my site – in the last six months even – so I knew where to start: my host’s tech support.
I’ve had mixed results using Bluehost’s tech support in the past. Hell, I’ve had mixed results with the service in general. But NOTHING like yesterday. First, they’ve disabled the ability to submit a ticket for support, so everything had to be done by phone or live chat. I opted for live chat because I loathe talking on the phone. An hour. I spent an hour online with their “tech support” person. (I use the term loosely because I’m not entirely sure this person had any idea what he or she was talking about.) After they were a) generally unhelpful, b) tried to sell me an “optimization” service and c) told me to, and I quote, “wait sometime and your site will be fine” I decided I finally had enough. Enough of the slow site. Enough of the downtime. Enough of the crappy service. Just. Enough. I might’ve had two years left on my hosting with them, but I was done.
Just to be clear, the problems I’ve been experiencing with Bluehost have only happened within the last year or so. I’ve used them for web hosting FOR YEARS. Well before I even had a book blog. Way back when I started my own photography website back in 2009 or so. I was loyal. And it got me nowhere. In the past year alone, I’ve had at least five major issues with this site. Some I had to throw additional money at because I couldn’t confidently fix the issues myself. Some I was able to resolve after lengthy chat sessions. And then this. Honestly, I’d already looked at hosting alternatives after my last major issue – during which my site was unstable for days – but I really hadn’t made the time to switch.
Yesterday changed that.
Now, granted, the absolute last thing I wanted to do on my last workday of staycation was spend time trying to resolve a problem with my website, but I decided it was time to pull the trigger. You wanna know what was great though? I didn’t have to spend hours doing ANYTHING. My new host, SiteGround, took care of it all for me.
SiteGround’s customer service was absolutely top-notch. It only took a few minutes into my initial chat to realize this. They answered all my questions. They didn’t rush me or make me feel like an inconvenience. They knew what they were talking about. They told me there would be no problem fixing the existing error and they would take care of it before migrating my site to their servers, if I chose their service. Their price was competitive and the extras (like SuperCacher) caught my attention. But, above all else, their customer service is what sold me. (Well, that and personal reviews from friends and colleagues who host with them.)
So, now my site is back up and running better than it ever has before. No more lag when loading. No more waiting while searching for images or posts in the dashboard. It’s unreal. And honestly, all it took from me was two chat conversations – one was the initial service inquiry – and opening one ticket to send them my cPanel login details with Bluehost. It was relatively seamless. (The only problem coming from me not remembering the correct cPanel password the first time around. Whoops!) I got an email from them a few hours later telling me everything was migrated and I could point my DNS to their servers. That took me about two minutes to figure out and do.
As annoyed as I was yesterday with my original hosting issues, I am SO GLAD they happened. If they hadn’t, I probably would still be paying for a sub-par hosting service and becoming more and more frustrated every day.
The only thing I have left to do now is request a refund from Bluehost. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it goes more smoothly than
some most of my other customer service experiences have with them. If it’s a pain, I’ll be back here to write about it for sure. 🙂
If you’re looking for hosting, I can’t recommend SiteGround enough. Yes, I know I’ve been using them for less than 24 hours at this point, so I hope I don’t jinx myself. But so far? I’m beyond impressed. I’m also thankful for them saving me from spending hours troubleshooting a problem I’m not entirely sure I’d have the chops to fix or paying Bluehost to fix another issue. Thanks to them, I still got to spend several hours by the pool reading on my last (work)day of staycation. I also gained a website that’s running better than it ever has before.
Do you host your own site?
Have you ever had issues like this with your host?
Who’s your host?