Hello readers… I don’t want my blog to be characterized by this kind of post. I like to be known for promoting positive, helpful content that helps you discover helpful resources.
However, if you have a blog or website, or are thinking of starting one, we feel morally compelled to share this post with you.
Completely by God’s grace and favor, and because of you, my favorite readers, this blog has slowly grown over 7 plus years. With a larger readership, we have been encouraged to start earning revenue. (These funds are donated to an organization that helps special-needs children receive holistic medical care, and because of the growth in readership, we have now been able to help a number of children! It is so exciting to be able to help in a tangible way.)
I’m not writing this post to simply bad-mouth a large company. I’m not sharing this post to earn affiliate income. Although we do provide links to the host that we use now (Siteground), it is only because we have had fantastic service there.
A Dangerous Place
The information below about our recent remarkably bad experience with Bluehost was shared by my webmaster, Lisa Ingersoll, of Imperative Co. Marketing. Based on her wide, comprehensive experience, we truly believe that Bluehost (and all hosting companies managed by Endurance International… there are a lot of them, including JustHost, HostGator, and iPages) is a dangerous place to host your website or blog. They have made too many mistakes.
Because we value you and your success, we recommend that you switch as soon as possible away from this company.
When the Worst Happened
The following is condensed from a series of emails that Lisa wrote to Bluehost.
- Due to rising traffic on our site from this very important post written by Victoria Prooday, “Why Are Kids Impatient, Bored, Friendless, and Entitled?” , we needed to add hosting resources to our website. People were not able to access our site because too many people were visiting at the same time.
- We contacted Bluehost to add hosting resources. We paid a lot more to have our site migrated to upgraded hosting, and were told the project would be “complete within 4-12 hours, with little downtime”.
- It turned into a 2-week ordeal, with hours spent on the phone with Bluehost web advisors.
- During this time, Bluehost shut down our website for a time (during extremely high traffic) because we were using too many resources (even though we had paid to have the upgraded resources nearly a week ago).
- Bluehost support gave us many different answers and repeatedly refused to escalate the situation to someone who could have resolved the issue.
- After giving Bluehost ample time to fix the situation, we switched to Siteground cloud website hosting. Siteground easily completed the migration overnight. After the switch, our website had more traffic within 2 weeks than we had had in any full month before. (Many factors affect website traffic, but this was a huge sign to us that slow speeds and failed connections were preventing readers from reaching our site when it was hosted on Bluehost.)
- We kindly communicated with Bluehost for hours over many weeks regarding the terrible experience. They did not provide compensation to us for their failure but merely gave a refund of the hosting costs we had paid to them over the years. This was a fraction of the lost revenues that their poor service caused.
Due to Bluehost’s bad performance, numerous technical mistakes, and untrained service, we recommend that you switch your hosting away from Bluehost immediately.
I hate that this could happen to anyone! (We love you and value your time and the work that you put into your website!!)
My webmaster Lisa has recommended Siteground for years, and we have been very happy with their service. They have great plans for WordPress hosting. If you purchase at least a year’s hosting, they will move your site for free (so you don’t even have to worry about the technicalities of changing hosts!). Here’s a link you can use to start your switch.
Note: Since we are talking about Bluehost in this post, you may actually see ads for Bluehost on our page. Sadly we aren’t able to prevent these from appearing. We obviously do NOT recommend their services.
Technical Details from our Bad Website Hosting with Bluehost
If you’d like more technical details, please read the information below, condensed from the written communications that our webmaster Lisa from Imperative Co. Marketing had with Bluehost over several weeks:
We have had the site hosted with Bluehost on shared hosting for years…
I need to explain a very difficult situation that we have encountered over the last week as we have gone through a migration from shared hosting to managed WordPress (Enhanced) service…
Please allow me to quickly explain the timeline of events. You will have detailed notes in your chat & call history…
(Wednesday): We had a blog post begin to go viral. Site views were at (tens of thousands).
(Thursday): We started to get a lot of database errors (max_user_connections exceeded) and began to investigate our options for upgrading our hosting plan, as we knew that we were missing a lot of site hits and ad revenues.
I spent a lot of time on chat with your team this day, asking questions about adding resources. I was told that my only option was to upgrade to cloud hosting as we could not add resources. Finally, the person realized that I could actually add CPU cores and RAM (like I had seen in my dashboard) and allowed me to add resources.
Later I was on chat again, and was told that the best option was different:
– Managed WordPress (Enhanced) would be the best plan for us
– We could schedule the migration for our slow time (2am on Friday)
– Although we could expect some downtime during the migration, it would “take 4-12 hours”. The site would NOT be down for this whole time. We were once again reassured that we could schedule the migration for our slowest time.
We went ahead and purchased the upgraded hosting and scheduled the migration for 2am Friday.
(Friday): I called at 6am as I had not received an email about the migration. I had been promised an email when the migration was complete, so that I could update the IPs with any 3rd party firewall/security tools. I was told that everything was going okay, and we needed to wait.
I was told the process would take up to 48 hours
(Friday – Monday): I proceeded to call 2-3x a day to check on the status of the migration, as I had never received an email about the completion. I was repeatedly told that everything was moving along fine, that we just had to wait. However, on nearly every call, the web advisor had to put me on hold for many minutes while they checked with the “backend” team.
As I called each day, here are the timelines that I heard from the web advisors about the length of the migration:
1. 4-12 hours, then
2. 48 hours, then
3. Up to 10 days
Our users (and us) continued to get database connection errors. (We had 600-800 viewers on the site at any given time as the post was still viral). We can only guess at the number of page views… that were sacrificed during this delay.
On Tuesday evening I was told by one web advisor that this “was not normal” and this “never happened.” After much discussion, the web advisor finally agreed to submit a support ticket to help the migration get over some hurdle it was hitting, in order to help move things along more quickly. This was really the first indication that there was indeed some hindrance to the migration and that things were not moving along like I had been told.
(Wednesday): I woke up to an email saying our site had been shut down for compliance at 12:30am. It was down completely. I called immediately at 5:30EST. The tech was surprised… “It was shut down… for performance?!” I wasn’t surprised a bit. Of course we were exceeding our current hosting limits, even though we were (supposedly) in the process of migrating the site.
(We are baffled that our site would have been manually shut down for performance even though it should have been available knowledge that it was in the process of migration, and that we had already paid for and initiated the migration.)
I was then told that it may have been shut down for malware (although we have a 3rd party malware checker running a scan 4x a day). You discovered that malware was not an issue. I was finally able to talk with (JM, Bluehost supervisor) who gave me his word that he would talk with the person who would be in at 7AMEST to get our site back up and running, as no one during that shift had the authority to get the site back up.
Shortly after 7AM I received an email saying that the site was back up. (Thank you JM for being on top of it)
At 7:20AM EST I received an email that our hosting migration had started, 5 days after our scheduled begin time.
At 9:30AM EST I received an email that the migration was complete. I updated our 3rd party firewall with our new IP.
(Thursday-Friday): We continued to call in multiple times per day to check on the status of the migration tasks. We completely understand DNS propogation and the time it takes, but it’s been hard to tell if there are still items that are preventing full transition of the site.
On the evening of (Saturday), the blog author talked with (B from Bluehost) for a long time who checked into redirects and site performance. She was told that the site migration was completed.
However, I called again today (twice) and as of an hour ago, there is still an unfinished task (with no way to expedite the HAL), and today I was told that I should wait for 5-6 days before I can begin to troubleshoot low traffic. This adds an additional time frame to what we were told.
Summary to Bluehost:
1. We’ve had a very difficult experience with our Bluehost site migration, and it’s still not resolved
2. We feel like we were given a lot of misinformation (hopefully unintentional– just lack of understanding) or lies (perhaps intentional veiling)
3. This difficult situation has cost us a lot of money:
– Time paid to the webmaster to babysit the process with you (please check your call/text logs for times) even though it should have been a straightforward process
– Forfeited thousands of dollars of ad revenue, due to the slow migration (starting 5 days after we scheduled it) and due to our site being completely shut down for 7 hours, even though we had attempted to do the right thing by purchasing an upgraded hosting package.
(This blog donates its profits to help special-needs children so it is very sad when we have a post go viral but that we are not able to maximize the benefits from it)
4. We appeal to you to help us all come to a satisfactory conclusion to this situation.
Thank you for listening!
No response from Bluehost! We had to contact them!
(Throughout this time, we continued to call into Bluehost frequently. The site was still unavailable to thousands of users. We were told that the migration was still in process)
Second email 6 days later:
Hello Bluehost team,
I wanted to send an update now that it has been 6 days since I contacted your team. We have also added the additional support email addresses to this thread. We have not received any reply and it is extremely important that we get this issue resolved soon, please.
We have no desire to be demanding; we respect you, but we really need help. Please.
Update as of (Thursday 2 weeks later):
I have continued to call into your support team multiple times to check on the status of the migration. Several times I have been informed that the DNS propagation was stuck, and twice the web adviser resynced the DNS again. Today I was told that the secondary server was having trouble because the backup file was too full. I was asked if I wanted to “wipe” the backup file to get the migration to work. I am unwilling to completely clean the file. This should not be an issue for you to get this done!
If there are other hang-ups or if you need feedback, I request that you please contact me immediately so that we can help move the process along.
We are also continuing to receive thousands of database errors when our users try to access the site. Today I checked the error log and there have been more than (tens of thousands) max_user_connection errors since the migration on (Wednesday). I have also been told that I cannot troubleshoot these errors until all of your backend tasks are complete (i.e. completing the setup of the secondary/backup server)! Because of these errors we have missed gobs of ad revenue for our blog that gives the money to special-needs children.
I need help with this ASAP, please! I will try to call in again today and will be requesting to speak with a server admin (so far I have not even been granted access to a Tier 2).
A suggestion: in the future it would be extremely valuable if “trouble” projects were assigned a case manager. We speak with a different technician every time, and I strongly suspect that some of the widely-varied explanations that I am getting occur because each tech is seeing the situation for the first time, even though this has been a full two-week process at this point. I don’t feel any closer to the end than when we hit “pay” two weeks ago, but I would be willing to have reduced service hours (i.e. I need to call between 6am-3pm MST) in order to be able to speak with a dedicated expert assigned to my project.
We look forward to your reply. Thank you.
Never Received A Reply from Bluehost
(Update: we never received a reply to these emails. Only through many more hours on the phone were we able to connect with their customer support team to discuss. In the meantime we switched our hosting to Siteground. We have had a fantastic experience with them there and are grateful for the record site traffic we are receiving!)
Additional technical information:
Our webmaster called into JustHost (a Bluehost sister company) a few days later for a completely different issue: other clients email had completely gone down. She discovered that all of the MX (email hosting) records had completely disappeared. She re-added them and everything started working again. She asked JustHost/Bluehost about that, and they informed her that at some point several days earlier they had encountered a “glitch” that removed the MX records for many accounts.
It was shocking that Justhost/Bluehost took this “glitch” so casually and did not even inform affected users, something that caused business emails to be completely unavailable. Shockingly, this happened 1-2 more times, where the MX and all other DNS records were completely removed. She will now be transferring all domains to Siteground for DNS/email hosting (not just website hosting).
Safe At Last
We have had nothing but a great experience with Siteground! They migrated us (saved us) away from Bluehost in the middle of the night, and Bluehost didn’t even know it! Who knows what other damage could have occurred if they “helped” us!
It is said, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”
We will never go back!