Responding To Website Hosting Problems
Even the best websites can experience issues, hosting problems and downtime. Software is not perfect, servers can break down, and bad guys can hit your site with malware or other malicious code. We recently shared some tips on fixing website issues here.
Issues your website experiences can be the result of hosting problems. There are more hosting companies than we can count, and acquisitions and mergers of WordPress hosting providers has become more common.
We’ve seen some of our favorite hosting companies grow too fast, and experienced resulting declines in service and performance. There are “popular” hosting providers who court WordPress agencies and developers at conferences like WordCamps. (We have a lot of T Shirts, socks and other swag from some of our favorites!) We appreciate the investment these companies make in developing relationships with their customers.
Dealing with Hosting Problems
Many website agencies “resell” hosting, which means they have a large account with a hosting company with a dedicated server, on which they host all of their client websites and charge them monthly or annually for this service, with a premium added on for the management of the server and any issues that arise.
At Design TLC, we do not resell hosting. We prefer to allow our clients to own their accounts with a hosting provider that they choose, or which we recommend. We have access to these accounts to help manage and maintain their websites, but ultimately, our clients are responsible for payment to the hosting company and management of the account. Most often, we handle communication with the hosting company support when we detect an issue. Our basic maintenance plan does not include time for this; however, if a problem is quickly solved, we are happy to get a website back up or functioning. For more involved issues that require more interaction with hosting support or the server, we charge for our time.
Recommended Hosting Providers
We have a list favorite WordPress hosting providers we recommend for new websites. This list is small, and has changed over the years. We recommend companies we have used, or who have performed well for others we trust in the WordPress community. We occasionally run some tests to compare hosting companies.
Key factors for recommended hosting companies include:
- 24/7 Support via phone and live chat, as well as a support ticket system
- Optimized servers for WordPress with a record of fast-loading websites
- Affordability: Depending on the type of website and amount of traffic, we recommend hosting that fits our client’s budget
- Easy management of the account via cPanel or a dashboard
- Support of the WordPress community, which shows an investment in providing good service (good word of mouth and “street cred” is important!)
What Happens When Good Hosting Disappoints …
Unfortunately, we have had some disappointments in hosts we have recommended. This is challenging for us. First and foremost, we want to make our client’s websites perform well, and to suggest hosting that is within their budget. We also want to support growing businesses who are trying hard to provide good service.
When a hosting company we recommended to a client experiences server issues that cause our websites to go down or not function properly, we appreciate helpful support. Often problems are solved quickly (and often they are caused by non-hosting related software/plugins).
However sometimes these issues recur and can be serious problems that negatively impact a business. In addition, we have seen a hosting company suddenly increase their pricing, merge with another company and send confusing emails to our clients. This behavior reflects badly on our agency. Even though we have no control over that hosting company and have nothing to do with their pricing or service, our clients rely on us to manage their website and they trust our judgement when we make a recommendation.
We try our best to reach out to our contacts at hosting companies and give them feedback on hosting problems our clients are experiencing, and to let them know they have let us down. Often, we get a quick response and attention to our concerns and issues.
Rarely, a hosting company may be overwhelmed with complaints and we never hear back from them. This happened recently, and we now feel compelled to contact our clients, explain the situation, apologize on behalf of the hosting company, and in some cases, offer to move websites to a new hosting provider.
If we ultimately decide that a hosting company we recommended is no longer a vendor we want to use, it creates more work for us to migrate websites to a new hosting company and sever ties with the former host. The few times we have done this, we spend 1-2 hours per website taking care of this at no charge (not to mention the many hours spent working with the hosting company on issues up until this point).
We value our client’s business, so we do this work because we care about them. They may not realize the amount of work involved, but it is important that the process be smooth and seamless as possible for them.