The Story of Hosting Woes: A Cautionary Tale.

So two weeks ago was…stressful.

It wasn’t planned to be, insomuch as one ever plans a stressful week.

It all started at the end of June, when my blog / Picture Birmingham’s hosting company, HostGator, billed me for my annual renewal. I’d managed to talk them down last year to 40% of the list price, so it wasn’t so bad. But this year, it was back to the old rate.

Okay I better back up – actually this story starts in 2012.

Remember way back when … when I was known for my butt? Those blue jean posts went viral, and I was getting a crazy amount of hits on my blog, and it was crashing the regular ole’ server. In a blinding panic, I agreed to move my blog to a dedicated server, raising my hosting cost from $20 a month to $174 a month. It was fine, because I was getting so many hits that the increased ad revenue more than paid for that ridiculous bill. And after all, I was doing a butt service for the nation.

But after about three years of up-and-down viral traffic, mainly from that series of posts, people have realized that my information is outdated and have quit coming.

Or maybe everyone is tired of looking at my butt.

Whatev.

(For the record, I hope to do an updated denim post nearer to the fall, but we’ll see if I actually make it happen. They’re a lot of work. And I’ll need to find some volunteer butts.)

Anyway. So I don’t need that giant server anymore. I’m just a normal old blog, and the community of blogging is dying anyway, so I certainly didn’t need that powerhouse of a machine. And I certainly certainly didn’t want to pay my annual bill of over $2,000 to keep it going.

So I did what any normal person would do. I called my hosting company. I explained my situation. They agreed I didn’t need that much power. I asked them what solution would *best* fit my needs. After all, they have more data about me than I do, and they know more things about RAM and processing speed than I ever will – who better to tell me what I need? I figured they’d err on the side of too big, but hey – anything less than $174 a month would surely be a win, right?

Well. I talked to some delightful young man who recommended to me the “Snappy 1000” plan. For only $20 a month, this plan could CERTAINLY handle my website load!

Are you sure, young man?

Of course, ma’am! For sure. This site will take care of all your needs. Without a doubt.

So I agreed.

Sell me this Snappy 1000, young man.

I purchased the new VPS plan and requested that my hosting company move my crap from dedicated to VPS, then after ensuring* everything transferred and was working correctly, I asked them to kill my dedicated server and please refund me my $2,000.

* I did not ensure this very well. This was my mistake.

The very next morning, my blog began crashing.

People began getting an ugly errors the minute they tried to access either of my sites, and if a site did come up, it was soooooo sssssslllllloooooowwwwww.

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 9.22.01 AM

Nooooooo.

Pain.

Suffering.

Gnashing of teeth.

But I’ve been here before. Server problems can usually be rectified fairly quickly, especially if I offer to pay more.

I contacted my hosts.

Help! I need my sites to work! They’re not!

Hm. We can’t replicate the errors. They seem fine to us.

No seriously! Please! Let me pay you more! Just make my sites work!

Well. Hm. We will need to escalate this to another technician.

Two days went by. My sites were still crashing. HostGator didn’t seem to want to fix it or take my money.

So I finally picked up my phone and put it against my ear, willing myself to use that awful green call button.

Hold

Hi. How can I help you?

I tell my whole story.

Tech #1: Hm. I don’t see anything wrong. Let me transfer you to the escalation department.

Hold

I tell my whole story.

Tech #2: Oh yes. I see how your sites are running terribly slow. We need to fix this for you. Let me escalate you to level 3.

Wait for Tech #2 to write a Tolstoy volume of notes, then Hold.

I tell my whole story.

Tech #3: Hm. I don’t see anything at all wrong with your sites. They seem fast enough to me.

Well they’re not. Tech #2 agreed with me. Please help. I’ll pay more. I’ll do whatever. Just get my sites working.

Okay. Let me put you on hold and see what I can do.

Hold

Hold

Hold

….At the point at which I was one hour and fifty-two minutes into this phone call (I know. Soul-Crushing.) and still on hold, Tech #3 just flat-out hung up on me.

Or, rather, sent me into the pre-hangup customer survey.

I gave a long explanation on the customer survey about how I’d just flushed one hour and fifty-two minutes of my precious life down the HostGator drain just to get hung up on.

I complained to Twitter.

I opened a ticket.

I did everything I could short of making another phone call.

It was also around this time that I realized two of my posts, a whole bunch of comments, and some pictures had gotten lost in the transfer.

I’ll let you imagine how helpful Hostgator was in getting back my data.

Finally, On Day #5, at least I got a response from an honest tech. A response that made me want to cut my fingernails out with a dull butterknife.

VPS’s are typically used for developing and not hosting full-fledged websites. Downgrading from a Dedicated Server to a VPS is going to be a considerable difference, and I apologize that this was not explained to you.

<whimper> <squeal>

So yeah.

Whoever that delightful young man was in the beginning that sold me a Snappy 1000 and promised it was exactly what I needed – he is out of my Last Will and Testament.

During that week, I had a Picture Birmingham client who was trying to buy digital photos for a client of theirs. Each time he tried to access my site and it failed, he told me, “I can help you with this. It’s what I do.”

And each time I was all like,

“I have it under control. I am working through it with my host now.”

By Saturday, I took him up on his offer.

“Please. Fix me. Get me off of HostGator. It’s what you do.”

And he did. Beautifully, cleanly, and with an extremely unexpectedly nonexistent amount of pain. And now, to my knowledge, my sites are……working. Pretty perfectly. And I have the added benefit of a local company to take care of me and keep me from future woes. (Adopt-A-Press, if you need a guy.)

But despite a week of pain and Hostgator’s best efforts to make me say “Goodbye, cruel internet”, I didn’t give up. I came close, but I didn’t leave the web forever.

Only because of my love for you.