That title is probably not completely accurate as the company is still operating. Still though, they are on their way to failure if they keep up with their latest shenanigans.
A couple years ago, when I had been pushed to the breaking point by another hosting company…Media Temple, I researched what I could about hosting companies and determined that Hostgator was the best bang for the buck. Now let’s fast forward to late May 2013. I receive an email stating that my hardware needs to be upgraded and that I will need to update DNS records with the new IP addresses that will be assigned to my new VPS.
That’s great news, new hardware should make for a reliable service for years to come. Hah! boy was I wrong. The initial email said I had around 7 days to prepare for the move. I should make plans to be ready when they email me again with my new server IP addresses and that they would forward IP traffic for me until I could update my DNS records. Sweet they got this I thought. My configs allow me to use just one name server, my own. It is the DNS zone master for numerous domains that I have hosted there and it also provides DNS for my amazon instances. I have a couple of sub domains that are used to run on NginX and Node.js. Not your typical Apache stuff.
What happened when they actually moved my server tossed a wrench in the proverbial server spokes. Apparently during the move, DNS was re-initialized….something that entered duplicate A records with the incorrect IP addresses for all of my external servers. Those servers just so happen to be the ones that actually make me money. This of course happened in the middle of the night on a Sunday. The email that they promised they would send me did indeed arrive, yet it went straight to my spam folder on gmail. We all know how good Gmail is at getting spam correct right? That means HostGator screwed the pooch and flubbed their own reverse DNS pointers, causing their emails to wind up in junk folders.
So Monday morning I start my day, but not having access to anything server related. Nothing is up, my extension sales are stagnant. I start troubleshooting, discovering that my VPS is offline or just not up to the task of responding to requests. Ok…sigh. Let’s find out why. Yes the space is full once again, from log files that are 20+ Gigs in size. Having dealt with this before I know what to look for. So I scrub the log files…it’s all just PHP notices about deprecated methods. Something I had stopped with a setting in my php.ini file once before…yet now that setting was turned back on again. WTF?
After clearing the log files and getting the VPS back up and running, I still do not have access to my external servers. Why? DNS is resolving the wrong IP address, so I cannot log in to them over SSH, as the IP resolution is all wrong. I check the DNS zone entries and sure enough there are duplicates with the VPS IP addresses from HostGator, and the correct ones that point to my EC2 instances. I correct these and wait for DNS to resume to normal.
At the same time, I get placed in a 45 minute hold queue with HostGator support…not so bad, at least I can calm down before I talk to support. I check my SPAM folder and there is the server notice telling me that the move has been completed and that I can now reconfigure my domains DNS entries. Which I do to point to the new IP addresses. Things start to get back to normal again. My extension sales return to normal, yet I feel that I lost a couple hundred dollars due to down time. Support is pretty much useless at this point. Their front line tech team can never assist me, I know way more about administration of a server than those monkeys. Their level II and III team is very knowledgeable and have been able to help me with issues.
The support session is unremarkable, my ticket gets forwarded to the Level II team as usual. I get a response that says “we checked your server and everything looks normal” Yes it certainly does, but only because I fixed it myself. So I reply and ask what the hell happened, why did those DNS entries appear out of the blue? Why did the activation email end up in SPAM? when every other email they have sent me including the one that told me my Credit card (had expired) was declined do not? I get no response to this. At this point I am running again and happy that this fiasco is behind me now.
I compose an email and send it to the three customers that I provide hosting services for. Explaining the situation and assuring them that it should not happen again. 3 days later, the VPS is down again, reason log files YET AGAIN! I get those cleared, and discover that error_reporing = E_ALL again…I did not turn that back on and I think to myself who did? Another support session, another escalation to Level II gets the php.ini file set to immutable so that Plesk cannot change the file on its own. This is what the Level II admin suggested, make the php.ini file immutable to prevent further changes. Hey, Plesk or Parallels if you are listening, fix this please.
The VPS runs ok for me, but now I am noticing resource alerts in the system. I never had these before the hardware move and it seems to me that they did not upgrade my server, they downgraded the VPS performance. I start bad mouthing them to my friends, I start looking at other hosting companies. I am ready to leave, but knowing what a huge chore it will be to move so many domains…I hold off. Well I should have just shot myself in the foot.
On August 2, 2013 Hostgator, BlueHost and HostMonster’s data center in Provo UT went dark. For over 10 hours I had no VPS or DNS server capabilities. I gritted my teeth through the first 2 hours of this outage. After 2 hours I moved my DNS for my external money making machines to Amazon’s Route 53. That was the smartest thing I did, the next thing I did was purchase another VPS and started to get it ready for the mass exodus I am planning from Hostgator.
I discovered a site called LowEndBox.com. You should check them out as they have links to some of the best deals on hosting you can find. I settled on a 2 core, 2G RAM, 110Gig HDD VPS with 5 IP addresses and the cost? $8.98 a month. No cPanel or Plesk at that price though I do not need them anymore.
Why am I paying HG $71.95 a month for a single core and 1.3G RAM with 60 Gig of storage? I have no freaking idea. The move is on, it will take me some time to complete the move for all my domains, plus my customers domains. I am also abandoning Plesk completely. No cPanel for me, I will just administer this host via SSH and the command line. Screw paying too much for hosting and if anyone says Rackspace, well you can just go to hell. I don’t need fanatical support I need a stable network and hosting company. Today that host is ServerHub. For $9 a month I cannot complain at all.
What caused this decline at HostGator? They were purchased by EIG or Endurance international group. Sounds to me like they are cutting corners to squeeze profits. In turn squeezing themselves right out of customers.
Later Gator its been ….well, a real PITA.