The nightmare that is Hostgator…

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‘Hostgator shut my site down’ – it is such a common phrase that Google brings it up helpfully, automatically whenever you type ‘Hostgator’ into their search box.

Hostgator - service as tacky as their cartoon website...
Hostgator – service as tacky as their cartoon website…

For anyone who doesn’t know who they are, they are a company in the US that hosts websites. The hosting of your website – the company you pay to get it onto the internet – is something that I never really thought much about. After all Featureworld and another WordPress site I own have been with a UK hosting site for so many years with barely any issue at all – why would this site, sellyourstoryuk.com (which gets roughly the same amount of traffic as featureworld.co.uk) be any different?

So when I wanted to switch from wordpress.com (a free blogging platform) to a standalone site of my own, I went along with wordpress.com, which recommend Hostgator as one of their chosen web hosting servers for you. I have to say – Hostgator didn’t look like a company I would choose myself. With its cartoon alligator and tacky website, it is hardly something I would normally go with – but then I trusted wordpress.com, and their transfer team.

For a couple of years all was well – albeit in hindsight the website has always been slower than I would like – but over the last six months pages and posts on sellyourstoryuk.com began to slow down to a crawl. Eventually I was unable to access some of the most visited pages (and so were others who tweeted me to find out why) – in fact the whole site seemed to degrade.

I am a writer and although I am pretty website savvy to keep three websites doing single-handedly with very little professional help as I do, I am not so technically minded I can understand databases and MySQL issues (do people who do computers want to write 2500 words for a national paper overnight?!) So when I began receiving regular emails from Hostgator about my site, I believed it had serious issues.

In fact, since the New Year I have received a different email from Hostgator pretty much every day – each one detailing in technical gobbledegook a problem that is so serious apparently they have had to shut the site down. Incredibly, they frequently shut the site down (and a google search reveals I am far from the only one – they seem to shut everyone down for some ‘violation’ or ‘abuse’ of their services) without any warning.

Their technical emails might as well have been written in martian as they were so long and involved they made no sense to me whatsoever. But I got so many that I believed there must be a serious issue with my site, which was my fault. Here is a small sample:

Hello,
Unfortunately, we have been forced to temporarily restrict access to MySQL for sellyourstoryuk. Please take a moment to review this email in full as it contains important information and resources to assist you in resolving this issue. Please note that while this restriction is temporary, you should take actions to resolve the issue(s) which may have caused it in order to avoid further down-time/permanent restrictions. Please reply to this email once you have determined a resolution to this issue.
CPU_TIME:526 table_rows_read:101720858 SELECTS:6155 ROWS_UPDATED:32 ROWS_FETCHED:53629 BUSY_TIME:559 ONNECTED_TIME:707 BYTES_SENT:8639488 BYTES_RECEIVED:752410 WAIT_TIME:33
Top table row reads:
DB_USER: sellstory_wrdp1 — TOTAL_CONNECTIONS: 44 — CONNECTED_TIME: 707 — CPU_TIME: 526 — TABLE_ROW_READS: 101720858 — SELECT_COMMANDS: 6155 — UPDATE_COMMANDS:  — BUSY_TIME: 559 — BYTES_SENT: 8639488 — BYTES_RECEIVED: 752410 — WAIT_TIME (IO): 33

Hello,
I tried to parse some logs to find an IP you recently logged in from to grant you exclusive access, but without success. Thus if you would please provide us with your current IP address from hostgator.com/ip.shtml so we may provide restricted access for you to make the requested changes. Please let us know if you have any questions. 

Hello, At this time it does appear that our automated monitoring system had placed restrictions on your databases. I have at this time removed the restriction in place on your account and I have placed Password Based restrictions in place on your account so that you are able to access this, however it will help prevent the automated monitoring system from placing further restrictions on your account. 

And so it continued.  Every day a different problem. Every day I did everything Hostgator asked – to putting plugins on the site and fiddling with other settings – many of which knocked out whole pages, many things that took hours out of my busy day. They would eventually email back saying the site was back on but when I looked I still couldn’t access some pages and it took minutes to load anything. Other times, having told me about all the errors on my site, they blocked me totally so I couldn’t get on to do anything. Then, another time I had to input passwords so only I could see my website on my computer with the rest of the world getting error pages and forbidden pages put on by Hostgator – all accompanied by a nasty, tacky, cartoon grinning alligator.

Let me say I do understand that sellyourstoryuk.com does get quite a lot of traffic and at times if a post is popular that might peak – and I was willing to pay more to host the site if that was an option. But it never seemed to be an option that was ever explained to me at all. Instead,  I was led by Hostgator to believe sellyourstoryuk was some sort of corrupt website – I even rang a web developer to brief him about sorting out all the issues I imagined I had.

Finally – and after reading pages on Google from people who’d had all the same problems as me, I decided thousands of us can’t all have terrible websites. So I decided to move and migrate to another website host – and what a revelation! Once I had removed all the fiddling tweaks that Hostgator had forced me to make to my site (and regained all those lost pages – pages I now realise I hadn’t seen for months…) I simply could not believe how fast my site was!

There are some on the internet who praise Hostgator’s customer service. All I can say is either they work for Hostgator and are there to counter all the negative reviews, or they must be the sort of people who think if you email someone and they email you back, that is a service. As I have three wordpress sites – hosted by different platforms and so can compare service – I can say that Hostgator is the worst. No-one else sends such ridiculous emails and no-one has ever asked me to make so many ‘bad’ decisions for my website – tweaks and fiddles that rendered my website to have multiple problems.

I have written this post to warn anyone having problems with Hostgator – it’s easier to migrate your site elsewhere than you think and don’t think it is you! And don’t waste your time trying to fit your website to work for them…

 

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Alison Smith-Squire

Alison Smith-Squire is a writer, journalist and media agent selling exclusive real life stories to newspapers, magazines and TV. She owns the sell my story website Featureworld.co.uk, which was set up to help ordinary people sell their stories to the press.

4 thoughts on “The nightmare that is Hostgator…

  1. Hi I am facing the same problem…my website is restricted by hostgato, now only i can access my website but rest of the world can’t access..please suggest me a best hosting network

  2. I’ve had host gator for about 5 years, and had zero problems until about 6 months ago when I received their first warning, and they suggested I activate caching to reduce database requests.

    Now today, I’m receiving warnings every other hour and can’t even access my sites to fix the problem, and their support isn’t responding to my tickets. I have an ecommerce site and am losing sales!

    I believe it could be due to a bug in a plugin filling my databases as they are over 100mb for some reason – but they won’t give me access to fix the issue! Instead they recommend I upgrade to a dedicated server, as if I can jump from $15 / month to over $100!

    1. Since I left Hostgator I haven’t had a single issue with my site at all. I suggest you ask them to let you access it yourself (which they will do) and then transfer your domain to someone else as soon as possible.

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