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Why I Moved My Web Site Hosting and My Email Hosting

The Saga of Web Hosting Migration and the Importance of Email Hosting

Very long post, but worth it if you are thinking of moving your WP blog from one host to another. Learn from my mistakes.

A while ago I read an interesting article on on why Larry Lohrman, blogger & photographer switched his hosting company and moved his email to a separate service. At the time I just thought: “Okay, interesting….I’ll file this away in my brain for another day when I need it.” That day finally came a few weeks ago. Below is my unfortunate saga of web hosting migration and why its important to host your email with a separate company with a rating for each technology company.
Media Temple {August 2014 – 4/10}: Lacking in customer service. Long hold times for customer support. Often up to 30 minutes. No support for Apple Mail. Slow grid service upload times for WordPress blogs and slow upload times for my websites often exceeding ten seconds. Media Temple said it was due to errors I personally made when setting up my site and could be remedies through what seemed to me to be a costly service. In the end it was their hosting that was flawed and responsible for the slow upload and log in times. See the InMotion Hosting reveiw at the bottom.
I’d been hosting with Media Temple for a few years and was never enamored with their customer service or their hosting service. Customer Service: I do all my work on Apple machines. And I use my Apple mail client software for all my email needs. Simply add my email accounts and I’m off to work on my email. Problem was, Media Temple, for whatever reason, decided to stop supporting Apple Mail. A few months ago I started having trouble with my primary email account that was hosting on Media Temple. I could receive email in Apple Mail but could not send it out. After spending 2 hours on the phone with a sympathetic Media Temple upper tech guy {against the companies rules} we still couldn’t get it to work. And after frustrating calls with the company and hold times in excess of 20 minutes multiple times I gave up. My solution for months was to accept the fact that I could receive my primary emails addressed to me through my Apple Mail and send the replies through another account. Busy with shoots and family life, I didn’t have the time to devote a final solution of switching email and hosting companies. Until recently.
Bluehost {August 2014 – 2/10}: Long hold times in excess of 30 minutes for customer support. Talk a great game on the sales end to get me signed up. Technically flawed website and sign up migration service.
I decided to give BlueHost a try. Little did I know that Bluehost is a company held by Endurance International. Endurance buys up companies who later suffer lack of customer service sickness.
The initial sales call was great. They had my at the $99 migration deal and the fact that they claim to be WordPress specialists. What? I don’t need to do migration my self. Cool! But that’s where the love affair ended.
Fact is, that when I went to the Bluehost web page {using Chrome as my browser} to do the migration {move of my WP website from Media Temple to Bluehost}, I would enter the server and password info and then their form would freeze. I tried it again in Safari and the same thing happened. Then I figured I’d give customer support a call. On hold for 30 minutes listening to the soothing sounds of canned music and a barrage of Bluehost commercials a customer rep finally picked up. He told me that just to quit out of the browser and log in again and all my info will be saved and I could just start off from the last bit of info that I entered. I complied but had to start again from scratch. “Please put me in touch with a supervisor or manager,” I requested. After a briefer hold a manager got on the phone with me and apologized. She told me that it was a bug in the form. I asked how long she’d know about it. She confided in me that’s its been a while. Hmmm….not a good sign for a technology company. Too have a bug in a main component of getting a new client switched over to their platform. At that point I was over it. I called Bluehost the next day and asked for a complete refund. But got tired of being on hold again for 20 minutes. Frustrated I emailed them for a complete refund. I’d wasted allot of time with Bluehost over two days and was granted a full refund.
InMotion Hosting: {August 2014 – 7/10}: Long hold times in excess of 30 minutes for customer support. Very poor migration service. Flawed inter-company communication. Fastest load times I’ve ever experienced. Above average customer service. Easy to use C Panel.
Flustered and frustrated with Bluehost. I gave a shout out on Facebook for hosting companies. My friend in the Tech business told me to give InMotion Hosting a shot. I took his advice and started an account with InMotion. I also purchased their migration package for $79 moving up to two domains and up to two hours of service. The migration package was purchased because I didn’t want to deal with the technology side of it. And figured my time is worth allot more than $79 for two hours of fussing with FTP’ing my WP blogs over to the new servers and configuring everything.
You’d think hey….this is an easy thing. Not brain surgery or rocket science. Two pretty light weight WP blogs. and, no major data bases. Easy peasy move. But NO! InMotion dropped the ball big time on the move.
When you are moving sites to a new hosting company, they typically set up a temporary URL where you can see your site and make sure its functioning properly. InMotion emailed me the temporary site URL’s. Both of them did not work. I then needed to call up customer service and remain in queue for 30 plus minutes until a customer service rep picked up. Then it took about another 30 minutes for them to figure out what was wrong so that I could finally see my site. After I was able to view my site, parts of the site were broken or non existing. The rep at InMotion told me that they fix it and to give it a bit of time. The next afternoon, I when to look at my sites again. Only one of my temporary URL’s were working for me sites and there were still bits that were missing.
This lead to me another phone call to customer service later the same day and a request to speak with a supervisor and for a full refund on the migration hosting. You see, I did believe that they could fix the hosting issue, but it was also taking up allot of my time. I had to hold their hand through the process. Not the technical side. But holding them accountable for getting my site up and running.
At last, both sites were up and running…sort of. There was also an issue of the temporary URL’s not being removed which prevented the sites from being see live, and the fact that InMotion promised me there would be no down time at all on my site: Not True! It was down for a few hours. To top it all off. The next day I noticed that they had somehow lost the last 3 blog posts that I had done. I’ve been blogging for over 10 years and have never, ever lost a single blog post. To delete 3 blog posts I would have had to go in and manually delete each blog post. So having lost those 3 lasts posts was a topper that really made me fume.
The only remedy was for them to go back to my MediaTemple data base and reimport the blog again. I figured…NO WAY! I wasn’t going to deal with more techno mess-ups and the possibility of my blog being further compromised. So I resolved myself to reblog the posting and be done with it. Spent more than enough time on getting the blog moved and needed to move on to the next project.
Positives: Ver fast load times. My web site feels like its 10x’s faster. Both my WP log, WP blog saves and my site download speed have increased dramatically.
Google Business Apps: {August 2014 – 10/10}: International 800 number, where you actually get to talk to someone who will help you set up your account and configure your Google Gmail and Google Business Apps services. Excellent and patient customer care. A bit confusing back end when setting up the Business Apps.
Enter Google Business Apps {GBA}: $5 a month. $4.71 with yearly prepaid billing. One of the best communication business Apps, services around. Period.
Why use Google Business Apps? It was important to me to have my email service hosted in a separate spot from my web sites. The pain of the websites going down for a few hours hit home with me. I need to be in touch with my clients all the time. Actually I want them to be able to get in touch with me easily. I get allot of my work from clients finding me on the web and on going projects require constant communication. In the past, if my website was down….so was my email. Enter Google Business Apps. A place where I could “host” my primary and as many email address as I wanted to. GBA gives me 25GB of storage. That’s pretty much a life time of archived email messages. On top of that the mails always stay on their server. And they are searchable.
Set Up and Customer Service: GBA plays nice with Apple Mail and its streamlined and was easy to set it up on InMotion’s hosting. There was actually something pretty close to a one click install on InMotion’s site. And it was super easy set up on all my Apple devices. To top it off there was prompt patient, knowledgeable phone support I would put in a league as customer care. Yes I was rerouted to India but the guy I spoke to was uber professional and tech companies should take notice of Google’s commitment to “customer care.”
What I learned from this Fiasco: Its critical that whenever doing a blog migration you first do a complete blog backup. Not just of the data files but an entire blog back up, including all the image files. This way no posts will be lost. And if they are you can rely on your own back up to replace your complete WP data base. As for the migration part, I don’t have any clear cut caveats. Bluehost provided flawed online technology services, and had incompetent customer service. InMotion Hosting, from what I can tell, had internal communication breakdowns. Technology people or migration engineers and the customer service people were not in synch. They fumbled the ball on the migration, and after two days of several 30 minute hold times and 4 tech support phone calls and management intervention and a request for a full migration refund {which I received} finally fixed the situation. The positives for InMotion are that: Once the move was made and completed, my website front and back ends are markedly faster than they have ever been. My email move to Google Business Apps was one of the best hosting decisions I’ve ever made and highly recommend them.