What to Do When Good Hosts Go Bad

Years ago when I started blogging, we setup our sites, and picked a host that was affordable while meeting all of our needs at the time. This worked out for a while. The host was not bad at all. We had a good control panel that gave us access to everything we needed. Our downtime was truly minimal. Our load rate was mainly slowed by our own code, and nothing more.

It was cheap hosting, but it was effective. Then came the spike…

One day we had a post that was featured on SwissMiss and everything went haywire! Suddenly, our traffic load was too much for our small little hosting package, and we needed to adjust … immediately! Unfortunately, the host we had been using for their affordability, became much more affordable when we started looking at the larger hosting packages.

So we had to change hosts.

Not because we wanted to, but because we had no other choice. In our hunting for a new host, we looked around and picked our next one based on a reputation for stability. But as Niska pointed out on the short-lived, but beloved series Firefly, “Reputation is just talking.” And while overall, things with the new host have been good, the reputation that preceded them, promised us so much more.

Walk the Walk

As things progressively decline with our current host, we are finding their ability to back-up their reputation, slipping. We understood that there are going to be times when hosts begin to have issues, and as a result, their customer base will inevitably suffer in some ways.

Be it sudden slow load times, or intermittent unexpected downtime, sudden slow load times, newly exposed security risks, or you know, sudden slow load times… whatever the problem (load times) that you are facing gives you more and more reason to walk.

When customer service is so heavily weighted in regards to consumer concerns these days, and so many brands pride themselves on this aspect of their service, the last thing you would expect for a reputable host to do would be to lie.

To effectively try and dismiss any customer complaints as obvious problems on the client-side of the equation is a mistake. This not only tarnishes the host’s reputation with established customers (you know, the ones whose word-of-mouth reviews and recommendations bring them business) but it makes their rank of a good host, drop significantly to the bad end of the spectrum. It will be hard to stop customers from shopping around for better alternatives.

Call It!

When it’s time to bail from your host, you will know it. You may not want to admit it at first. You might even try to convince yourself that things will get better once again, and return to the stability of old. Which is understandable. It can be a complete pain to move to a new host, as there is a lot to consider.

But after a bout with denial, when you have finally accepted that it is time to give up on the patient and call it, here are some things to do to make this transition as smooth as possible.

Determine Your Needs

Naturally you want to get all your ducks in a row before you begin, so start by determining your specific hosting needs. That will let you know just what direction it is that you need to move in. Hard to figure out how to proceed, if you don’t know what it is you really need.

Where do you place your priorities with regards to hosting?

Start by asking yourself some basic questions:

  • Which matters more to you, speed or stability?
  • Is price the determining factor, or is reliability more important?
  • Do you feel you should have to compromise and accept one over the other?

Then of course, you need to focus your queries and start asking more situation specific questions about your current host. For instance: Why are you leaving your current host? What needs do you have that they were not meeting? Are they being upfront about issues they are having, and if so, have you given them enough time to sort them out?

Consult the Masses

After you have asked yourself questions about your current host and your needs in that area, you need to move on and get other perspectives. consult the masses and get their take on the various hosts and what they offer. Otherwise, you are liable to end up in a boat exactly like the one you just fled.

So check out reviews, or do your own investigating and ask around the social media networks. Speaking of which, this is also the best way to find out if your own host is perhaps not being as forthcoming and honest about issues you are having.

If you follow them on Twitter and Facebook, you can track and see what others are saying to them. To see if they are experiencing the same issues you are, proving that it is more than likely something on the host’s end. Something they are denying. Use the power of the internet to find out where you need to be moving to and who you need to be trusting with your site.

Plan, Plan, and Plan Again!

This is essentially all about planning. There is a lot to take into consideration when moving hosts, and if you are not careful, the move will come with some downtime. So as the header reads, you will want to plan, plan, and plan again to be sure you don’t have any downtime if you can help it. Your users will really appreciate it.

Be sure that you also get your backups in order, and have them ready should anything happen in the transferring of files. If all goes smoothly, you won’t need them, but best to be prepared just in case. If your databases get corrupted and you don’t have a current back-up, the headaches will begin.

Once all of your plans are in order, you are then able to go on and make the move! Safely. Backed up, and secure.

Tell Them Why

Again, you don’t want to let your current host know that you are leaving until the switch has been made, just for sake of airing on the side of safety. But once the move is done, and you are canceling, tell your current host why you are leaving, not just that you are. Make them aware that the issues you experienced are costing them clients.

And beyond that, tell the community through reviews and the like. Don’t keep this all to yourself, get the word out there so others can heed your words of warning. If any host has been less than cooperative about slow load times on their VPS servers and even denying, then let people know. This will at least pressure them to take you more seriously.

To Conclude

When good hosts go bad, you need to do what is best for your site and make them move. Cut and run to a better solution for your hosting needs, whatever they may be.

Don’t let their problems cost you visitors.

Editor’s note: This post is written by Rob for Hongkiat.com. Rob, a creative copywriter, designer, and videographer who is half of the dynamic duo behind Arbenting, Dead Wings Designs and Arbent Creative Media.

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