If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know that for several years, even in the midst of flagging public enthusiasm, I used and recommended Bluehost for website hosting. I’d been using it for close to 10 years, on the recommendation of several of my graphic design professors, and was experiencing no problems, having no trouble with customer service, and the price was right, so I had no reason to go through the hassle of trying to find and switch to a new host.
Within the last year, however, that started to change. Whenever I plugged my URL into a site like Website Grader, the results I was getting were incredibly disheartening. It takes people only 3 seconds to decide if they want to stay on your site; my site wasn’t even loading in that time. My site wasn’t overloaded. I use optimized images and take all the necessary steps to eliminate bloat.
I was also getting at least one email a day per site informing me that my sites were experiencing outages and downtimes. These could last anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours. How am I supposed to grow my business if people can’t even find my site due to an outage?
Bluehost was acquired by Endurance International Group (EIG), who also owns other used-to-be-popular hosts like Hostgator. In 2013, all EIG-owned hosts experienced a widespread outage of entire data centers, meaning no sites and no support for site owners. You can read more about EIG’s acquisitions and practices here.
The worst part was that I had no clue that Bluehost had been acquired. My site was just degrading and degrading, and I had no idea why!
The last straw for me was when dealing with Bluehost customer service on behalf of a client. This client was not particularly tech-savvy, and had accidentally deleted her hosting account, thinking she was deleting an unnecessary domain name. I had several conversations with the customer service team over the span of a couple of weeks. Nothing was ever resolved and her account was never reinstated. Because things weren’t going well even before the issues with Bluehost, she ultimately decided to just leave it all behind and focus on something else.
As soon as she made her decision, I started looking for a new host of my own. I knew that I needed a company whose customer service didn’t give me the run-around, telling me something should be set in 12 to 24 hours, only to still have a problem days later. I also wanted a host that helped with the day-to-day running of my sites. Obviously, I needed to know if my site went down, and wouldn’t turn down additional security features.
I had heard about SiteGround numerous times from other designers whom I trust and admire. I had a tiny bit of experience after working with another client who used SG for hosting. I decided to investigate more, specifically related to my own sites.
I looked at the various information I needed to consider: how to transfer my sites, costs, amenities, all the things you need to consider when choosing a host. I had a few questions about the transfer process, so I gave the SiteGround customer service a test run. That is what clinched my decision.
The rep I dealt with that day — and the ones I’ve dealt with since — was GREAT! There was no run-around in answering my questions. Nothing vague about what he told me. He didn’t talk down to me as some customer service reps tend to do. After all, I’m a web professional; I must have some idea of what I’m talking about. At the same time, he didn’t try to impress me with jargon, which is often a turn-off.
Remember how I said I didn’t know Bluehost was acquired by EIG? This is the guy that told me, years after the fact! A representative of a competitor host company is the one that informed me that the host I had been using for the better part of a decade was bought by another company! Something about that is very, very wrong.
It’s been about 6 months since I jumped the Bluehost ship for SiteGround, and I am SO HAPPY with the decision! My site’s speed has rocketed. I haven’t had any downtime or outages (*knock on wood*). Plus, SiteGround sends me a weekly email letting me know that my sites have passed their security checks, haven’t been hacked, etc. It’s a relief every week to see the subject line, “Your site passed!”
So if you’ve been thinking that your choice of website host wasn’t that big a deal, think again. If you’ve been thinking that all website hosts are basically the same, well, yes and no. Sign up for any of the hosts under the EIG umbrella, and you’ll see a lot of sameness: the same slow sites, the same lackluster customer service.
I am not telling you that you must sign up for SiteGround hosting, or even that Bluehost et al. can’t provide you with exactly what you need. What I am telling you is this: once I left Bluehost for SiteGround, it’s like the clouds opened up and angels started singing the Hallelujah chorus! Can I get an amen?