I don’t post very much on LinkedIn, so when I do, you can know I have something serious to say.
When I first started blogging in 2008, my husband encouraged me to get my own domain name. Initially a friend provided the hosting service. However, I wanted full control over my domain. So in 2009 I switched to BlueHost.
Here is the short form: From around 2012 on, my experience with BlueHost became increasingly worse until I knew I had no choice but to find another hosting service. If you’d like to jump to my switch experience, just scroll down the page. Otherwise, keep reading.
BlueHost: From Dream to Nightmare
I loved their service model back then. I had a lot to learn and I learned it all, over the telephone, with their service and support personnel. Even the things that technically I should have known. Its hard to think of specific examples, but trust me when I say, the more painful aspect of the switch was having to pay someone to get all of my data transferred from a private service to BlueHost. That was not pain free and it was very costly.
Of course all of this was in the USA. After my husband died, I returned to Israel to live. I decided to keep blogging, kept a professional website for work, and eventually began hosting a site for a non-profit organization in Israel. Easy, right?
Well in the beginning, yes.
I worked hard on making sure everything was up to date, but had a lot to learn about security. My sites were hacked. In all innocence, I called BlueHost and asked for help. They checked my sites, and advised that not only had they been hacked, but that they had deactivated all of my sites and would delete all data after 15 days.
I asked them how I could get it fixed now when I didn’t even know how my site had been hacked. They advised that they were unable to help me, unless…
They said I just needed to purchase SiteLock for US$500, install it on my website and everything would be OK.
With years of writing invested in my website, and the non-profit dependent on me, I had no choice. I had to buy SiteLock. I then called BlueHost and asked them what I had to do now. They told me several different things, but in general said that it had been applied to my Tech-challenged.com site and they were rechecking everything.
Within a short time I received a notification that everything had been cleaned up, and all my sites were now live. There was just one small problem, nothing seemed to work correctly, and performance of all my WordPress sites was severely impacted. So, I did a search on Fiverr for someone who might be willing to clean up my website for less than an additional $500. They told me that they would check everything first before giving me a quote, to see if my sites were still hacked.
Their report came back (sent to me by email) and everything was still infected! So $200 later my sites were cleaned up and working properly, and I had my own additional security added to them. Clearly I’d wasted $500 and couldn’t shake the feeling that BlueHost had caused the problems on my site. But maybe not. In any case, months later, I learned that there was a very complex procedure that I should have followed to have Sitelock installed on all of my sub-domains. A procedure they refused to help me with and which was never implemented, leaving my sites infected—yet they reactivated my “safe” sites after I’d paid for SiteLock.
I recall telling service and support then that they had lost a customer, and I began looking for a new hosting service.
There were other issues with BlueHost, poor performance, unclear instructions, site down time, and up to 30 minute or more waits for someone to answer the phone OR the chat! And their hosting plan kept going up in price…
Switching to Siteground
Browsing through the web, I found a few sites that were recommending a new player in the game: SiteGround. I decided to talk with them through their online chat.
To my shock, someone talked with me immediately. They spent over an hour answering my questions. The entire time, they did not try to give me a sales pitch or force me to buy. They said they understood I needed to think, and all they could do was assure me, my experience would not be the BlueHost experience.
I waited a few weeks, thought about it, and then contacted them on their chat again. I had a few more questions, and wanted to ask some of the same questions. Would the answers be similar? They were. For me, their special pricing right now, and FREE transfer from BlueHost to SiteGround of ALL of my sites, in addition to a lot of good reviews that I found on the web, made me say, “Let’s do it.”
Folks, I had ZERO downtime in the transfer. In fact, the most difficult part of the whole process was an incorrect BlueHost configuration of my email, which SiteGround finally detected and fixed. For the first time in two years, when I download my mail to Thunderbird, I no longer have to confirm an unsecure certificate!
Their control panel is slick and easy to use, and accessing information is really, truly, intuitive, and trust me, I am super critical on these issues. And incredibly, I was able to deal with all issues via chat or email and they were all resolved (questions, how do I, email problems) literally within minutes. Only the email problem took longer from them to figure out.
The most difficult part was finding the information I needed on the BlueHost website, so that I did not need to spend yet another hour asking them how to find information. Someone else who also made the switch fully documented their process, and I was able to quickly transfer the DNS, confirm smooth function of my sites, and then pull my domain names over from BlueHost as the registrar to SiteLock.
Cancelling my account was another matter: It took me 20 minutes to get the person on chat to agree to cancel my account. They kept asking me 20 different questions on why I was leaving, and what could they do to keep me as a customer. I finally typed in the chat, “You know what, I only have a couple of months left with you. Keep the change. I’m just going to let the account expire.” The service person got the message, and cancelled my account.
I am pleased with the services offered, the support model, and the easy CPanel that SiteGround provides. If you are looking for another hosting service, I can give you my personal, unsolicited recommendation of SiteGround.