If you search for web hosting companies on Google, you'll be hit with thousands of choices, many of which are no better than glorified fly-by-night operations. Among other problems, the server reliability with these companies is poor, their unlimited bandwidth is limited, their control panel is hard to use, and their level of support is subpar at best. It's this last point which I want to focus on in this post.
You'll find out why support is often so bad and how to tell before signing up with a provider, as well as learn where to get the best web hosting support based on several years experience with providers.
Ready to dive in?...
COMMON PROBLEMS WITH WEB HOSTING SUPPORT SERVICES
Despite thousands of web host providers, there's a lot of commonality when it comes to support...
1. 24/7 Isn't Really 24/7
If you try contacting support late at night or during holidays, chances are they'll only be able to help you with basic issues like helping you setup your email account or resetting your password after too many failed login attempts.
But if you need help resolving more complex problems like your website being down or hacked, you're often out of luck. Why? Because web hosting companies tend to use fill-in staff during these times and they aren't always as experienced as their regular personnel. So it's not uncommon to have to wait days to get serious issues resolved by someone with level 3 or 4 support experience (the highest levels of support). Who can afford to wait that long? Not me.
Unfortunately, fast service is hard to come by even during normal business hours because hosting companies are often understaffed.
2. Free Isn't Really Free
Most web hosting companies include free support with the price of hosting but that's only half the story. Sure, they'll help you at no cost during normal business hours but some companies actually charge extra during off-peak times. That's not what you signed up for, right?
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3. Bad Communication
Many web hosting companies outsource their support to third-world countries to save costs — no surprise there. But often it's at the expense of clear communication between you and the person at the other end. The struggle to understand each other can leave you more confused than when you started!
4. Conflicting Information
I used to host my websites with HostGator and for a while, they provided decent service. Unfortunately, they went downhill over the past several years and one incident stands out in particular…
I was having trouble setting up a database for one of my websites and over the course of two days, I must have contacted them four or five separate times to resolve the issue. The advice I got during every call either conflicted or negated what the previous support guy had said. No one but NO ONE was on the same page! I basically got tossed around like a rag-doll, leaving me frustrated beyond words.
5. Limited Personal Attention
I don't mind it when support directs me to a specific resource if it helps resolve a problem quickly and easily. But when they offload me to a general knowledge base or forum because they don't want to deal with the issue themselves, that's hardly support!
At the end of the day, you get what you pay for. Sure, a $9.95 per month starter hosting plan may seem like a sweet deal but it comes at a price — lousy hosting AND lousy support. A successful website starts with good hosting and support and should never be regarded as an afterthought.
HOW TO GAUGE THE QUALITY OF WEB SUPPORT
So now that you know some of the more common ways web hosting support fails you, how do you find good service without signing up with a web hosting company first? After all, you don't want to set up your website with a hosting provider only to discover how bad their support is weeks down the road. Well, there are a couple precautionary measures you can take…
Contact the Hosting Company
- Send an email message to a sales representative during normal working hours and evenings/weekends/holidays and ask whether they offer free support 24/7/365 or bill you extra depending on the hours/days.
- Now, see how long it takes to receive a reply. If it takes hours or days, you can probably assume their level of support would be no different.
- If it turns out they DO charge extra, I'd write them off since there are plenty of other web hosting companies out there which don't. Assuming there are no additional costs, pay attention to their communication skills. Are they articulate? Do they sound professional? Do they make mistakes? Basically, watch out for red flags.
Read Customer Reviews
Look for online reviews of web hosting companies and compare and contrast opinions (let’s just say people tend to be pretty vocal about this subject 😉 ).
Just watch out for reviews which specifically endorse HostGator since it's now well acknowledged how far they've fallen. So why do some review websites continue to recommend them? Mulla. Unlike most web hosting companies, HostGator offers almost double the amount in affiliate commissions than their competitors (around $100 per referral!) That's an offer too tempting for many to refuse.
Now, let's face it, vetting web hosting companies takes work and there are LOTS of them to go through. I'd like to offer you a shortcut as an alternative…
INTRODUCING WEALTHY AFFILIATE SITE SUPPORT
Wealthy Affiliate (WA) is an online university that teaches everything you need to know to create an online business through the power of affiliate marketing (to read my full review of this awesome program, go here). But aside from unparalleled text and video training, the WA platform also includes:
- First-rate web hosting
- In-house domain registration
- Easy-to-use keyword research tool
- Weekly hour-long live video classes
Aaaaaand…(wait for it)...world-class 24/7/365 website support!
Wealthy Affiliate Site Support
Whether it's simple issues like installing a WordPress theme or complex problems like recovering a broken website, the support team working for Wealthy Affiliate's web hosting platform is unmatched in the industry. They can help resolve any hiccup you're having with your website, including:
- A down website
- Installation problems or conflicts with WordPress plugins and themes
- CSS/PHP/SQL issues
- Website speed concerns
- Login complications
- Plus anything else!
Now, there's one type of problem you're unlikely to ever need help with as a Wealthy Affiliate member — security. See, besides regular backups and around-the-clock monitoring of your website, WA now offers SSL Secure Certificates, giving your website the highest level of security at no extra cost.
But for any other problem, WA Site Support is just a click away and their ticket system is super simple to use as you can see here…
- STEP 1
- STEP 2
- STEP 3
- STEP 4
Pretty straight-forward, right?
Now, take another look at Step 4 and notice the line at the bottom about answering questions "in just a few minutes." Well, that's not entirely true as the average response time is closer to 1 minute! And that's not just during normal business hours, that's 24/7, 365 days a year of personal 1-on-1 support whenever you need it.
And I can vouch for that as WA Site Support has come to my rescue several times, including once when I broke my website not once but TWICE in the span of 15 minutes. Yikes! (see Example 2).
- EXAMPLE 1
- EXAMPLE 2
- EXAMPLE 3
Now, looking at these examples, you might have picked up on a few things in my correspondence with Wealthy Affiliate's support team:
- They come across as professional, efficient, courteous, and coherent
- They understood my questions and answered with confidence
- They kept me in the loop by letting me know they were working on my request (in regards to Example 2).
See, that's the kind of support I like! And there are MANY Wealthy Affiliate members who feel the same way. To give you an idea, here's a sampling of just a few of the many satisfied members who've blogged about their positive experience using Wealthy Affiliate's Site Support system…
- TESTIMONAL 1
- TESTIMONIAL 2
- TESTIMONIAL 3
- TESTIMONIAL 4
And there are many, many others who are just as happy.
Best of all, as a Wealthy Affiliate member you get access to their high-level support at NO extra cost to you!
NOW IT'S YOUR TURN!
Have you had bad experiences with web hosting support? What problem(s) did you encounter? Leave your comments below!