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Buh-Bye, HostGator! Hello, Hawk Host!

You may have noticed that this blog was down this past Friday. In fact, you may have noticed that a bunch of sites were down that day, and I’ll tell you why.

When I first switched to HostGator, everything was fine and dandy. HostGator is was known to be one of the very few RELIABLE web hosts with affordable “UNLIMITED!” shared hosting plans.

But in the past few months, I started noticing more lagging and time-outs. There were even a few downtimes, and then…

My entire site went kablooie for almost 12 freakin hours Friday.

As luck would have it, I happened to schedule my biggest giveaway of the year to be published this exact day. (Have you entered yet? The prize pack is worth $600!)

I immediately tried to submit a support ticket…and was met by a notice that the HostGator servers were experiencing issues. What sort of issues? How long would it last? To get some answers, I turned to HostGator’s Twitter feed, Facebook Page, and forums.

What I learned wasn’t pretty.

You see, HostGator was acquired by a large company called EIG last year. EIG owns and operates some of the biggest names in web hosting. (See here for a list.) And they do NOT have a good track record. What usually ends up happening is:

A fast, reliable web hosting company gets popular

EIG buys them

EIG oversells and overloads the servers, usually while switching to cheaper datacenters

Web hosting company gets crappy
(slow transfer speeds, downtimes, slow/lack of support)

Do you have a website on Bluehost, HostMonster, or JustHost? If so, your site was probably down Friday too, because EIG owns them all (Bluehost, probably the most popular of them all and used by many of my blogging friends, was acquired earlier this year) and they have their datacenters in Provo where the blowout occurred.

I was so glad the last contract I signed with HostGator was only for 3 months, because absorbing this new information made me want to get the hell outta dodge.

Finding a new webhost is no easy task, because there are about a gazillion websites out there that post fake or no-substance reviews in exchange for affiliate links. So as much as I hate the search function on most online forums, I decided to turn to the definitive source for web hosting discussions: WebHostingTalk.com.

After hours of research (luckily, my mother was over to help with the girls), I narrowed down my choices to the following three:

Hawk Host

MDDHosting

StableHost

The above are all affiliate links, but you know my stance on those…I will never endorse anything I don’t believe to be great and beneficial to my readers.

My situation was a bit unique in that although I had tried a VPS in the past, I’m too lazy and time-strapped for the upkeep and maintenance (the high costs weren’t helping either). But at the same time, this blog has clearly outgrown typical shared hosting environments. So I decided to narrow my search to the best business/enterprise/semi-dedicated hosting services.

And during my extensive search, three names kept reappearing: Hawk Host, MDDHosting, and StableHost. Many people agree that you can’t really go wrong with them. (Do they have their detractors and negative reviews? Yes. But what company doesn’t?)

I shot all three of them messages with some preliminary questions. While MDDHosting was always the fastest (I always received a response within minutes), I loved the fact that the freakin’ CEO of Hawk Host took time to reply to one of my pre-sales related questions.

Also, it was the cheapest of the three. They’re running some crazy deals right now!

I know that most people won’t care about this post, but I wanted to write it for my fellow bloggers. Please check to see if your web host is on this list of EIG-owned companies. Even if it isn’t, I would advise you to Google “[your web host] and EIG” to see if its parent or sister company is owned by EIG.

(This happened to another host I had in mind when I first found out about HostGator. It’s not on the Wikipedia list, but its sister company is, and by association, it’s owned by EIG. Searching for it on WebHostingTalk.com confirmed that its service has really gone downhill in the past year.)

And if your web host is owned by EIG? I would highly recommend that you look for an alternate host. The three I mentioned above have great shared hosting plans too, and I know that StableHost in particular gets recommended regularly for shared hosting plans. (And just in case you’re wondering, i don’t get a higher commission for StableHost.)

As for me, I’m very satisfied with Hawk Host so far. It’s been less than 24 hours, but they helped me migrate everything to their servers and the only problems we encountered were on HostGator’s end. Their communication is superb, and, best of all, my site is so much faster!


ETA, a few hours later:
Okay, so it’s official…the difference in speed is phenomenal! At least, in the back end — each WordPress admin page used to take a few seconds to load, but now it’s a fraction of a second!

(I still need to configure caching and minify some files to speed up the user end.)

I used to think that it was just WordPress being slow to load, but now it’s clear that the problem stemmed from my host. It’s like my eyes have opened! Seriously, guys. Wow. Just wow.


ETA, a couple of weeks later:
Due to an unfortunate series of events, I have switched from Hawk Host to MDDHosting. I still recommend Hawk Host, but if you would like to see why I have decided to move on to MDDHosting, you can read my full review here.


ETA, March 2015:
I am now hosting this site with Squidix, and have been very happy with their service. You can read a full review here.