Who’s ever been frustrated with their web host? Yep, ok – everyone can raise their hand on that one. Lack of support, sites crashing at the most inopportune times… Everyone’s been there. But how do you decide when enough is enough?
Before You Decide To Switch
Here’s some suggestions on what to do when deciding whether or not you need to switch hosts:
1. Determine what the problem is.
We’re all quick to blame our host when something goes wrong. And, though sometimes it is due to something that’s wrong on their end, often it’s something that the blogger needs to take care of.
Let’s say you’re on a shared hosting plan with a whole bunch of limits on this and that. Your site has grown a good amount in the past few months, and all of the sudden your server keeps crashing. Is it a problem on the host’s end?
Maybe, but it’s probably more likely you’ve simply maxed out your shared hosting plan. There’s a reason it’s cheap: most hosts cram a bunch of sites on one server, and then put limits so that no single one of those sites overloads the server. And that’s what you signed up for with the $5 per month hosting package.
So, you could go through the hassle of changing your web host – or simply upgrade your hosting package. Make sure you know what the problem is before you automatically blame it on your host.
2. Work through the problems if you can.
Perhaps the problem isn’t that you’ve outgrown your hosting package – maybe it’s not apparent why your site keeps crashing. All you know is that it does and it’s frustrating. Talk to your host and ask them why it might be crashing. They can look at error logs of all sorts and perhaps give you some clues as to what might be causing the problem.
It could take days of emails back and forth to your host to figure out that you’re running a plugin that is causing a problem, or a setting on your server that needs to be changed But, you’ll learn a lot in the process and be able to better diagnose future issues on your own.
If your host’s support team is responsive, I would absolutely try, try, and try again to work through problems before giving it up and switching to a new host. If the problem was something like a particular plugin you were running, changing hosts isn’t going to solve anything.
Don’t be afraid to ask detailed questions, either. I usually send a first request briefly explaining the situation; then, if their response to the basic question doesn’t address all of the issues or I still have questions, I’ll respond again and give them more details. I’ve learned a lot by troubleshooting hosting problems and am much more able to prevent and fix them today than I was a year ago.
3. Realize that all hosts have problems.
There are no perfect hosts out there. There simply aren’t. No matter how much someone raves about their host, they’re not perfect. Eventually, you’re going to encounter some sort of weird and crazy issue that no one else has ever have before. So, don’t think you’re going to find a host that has 100% uptime guaranteed and if your site ever goes down they’ll refund your monthly fee.
I would really only recommend changing hosts if you’ve exhausted all other options, from in-depth troubleshooting to upgrading your plan. If your current host’s tech support is responsive, I would keep working with them as long as possible before you try an unknown quantity.
Ready To Make A Change?
Once you’ve decided to change hosts, here’s some things you can do to make sure you choose the right host and have an easy transition:
1. Don’t tell your current host you’re leaving until you’re gone.
If you thought you had bad tech support when you were a paying customer, don’t expect anything but even worse support once you’ve announced you’re leaving. There’s really no need for your current host to know you’re leaving until you’re gone – don’t risk them writing you off completely and offering absolutely no technical support. Been there, done that.
2. Test out the support team of any company you’re considering.
There’s no way to know for sure what level of customer service you’ll get until you’re a paying customer – the sales department almost always has prompt, cheerful customer service so that they can convince you to purchase their service.
But, send some emails to various hosts and explain what type of site you run, what type of traffic you get, etc., and ask them questions like “what hosting package would you recommend for me? This is the type of setup I currently have, do I need to upgrade to a better plan if I move to your site? Do you offer any sort of site transfer or setup help, and what does it cost?
Based on the responses you get to those questions, you’ll be able to determine who might be the right host for you. And, see if you can email their support team, not the sales team.
3. Pay someone else to move you to the new host.
Moving a WordPress site is more complicated than just copying files from one server to another. I personally tore my hair out daily for a week when I switched hosts. My new host offered the transfer of one site for free with the purchase of a hosting package, but I needed to move five sites and figured that was gonna cost me a whole lot more.
When I finally gave up and asked how much it would cost to have my new host take care of moving everything over, I kicked myself for not asking sooner. It cost me $40 to have them move all my sites for me, and it was done in a matter of hours.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, let someone who does do it for you.
Carrie Isaac pays more for hosting than she thought she ever would, but the people who like to read about coupons and deals in Colorado Springs seem to appreciate the reliability, and her husband is happy to have his wife not constantly griping about her site being down.