This post is about website blog hosting and why we chose and stick with HostGator and are happy to recommend the service to others (and not just because we are affiliates).
For the sake of anyone not familiar with the “hosting” jargon, the post is not about “domain hosting”. It’s about website hosting (including the hosting of blogs).
Sometimes, when I’m trying to explain “hosting services” to a business owner who has not up till that time seen any reason to know what a hosting service might provide, I’ve wished that we didn’t use the word “hosting” to apply both to domain (URL, web address, “the http thing” as some people say) hosting and to site hosting (as in, the service where all the site files reside).
From many such conversations and the frequently-encountered look of confusion, even bewilderment, on the faces of other persons doing their best to follow, I have come to realize that the distinction, obvious – nay, self-evident – as it may be to committed bloggers and others can be quite opaque to others.
In a coffee shop, you can use salt and pepper shakers and a sugar bowl to explain the difference, but it can be trickier over the phone or via email.
Perhaps we could agree on some strategy, such as using “hosting” for web/blog sites and, say, “minding” – or some other word more or less synomous with hosting – for domains? On second thought, probably not.
And of course it may suit some companies that many customers don’t know the difference and never will. That way the company can say “just pay us $xxx and we’ll look after your site for you”, which may suit some customers perfectly well.
Others may want to know more about their options.
I like to know, as best I can, what my options are.
And to reiterate, in this post I want to share something about web site (especially of the blog site variety) hosting, leaving domain (url, web address) hosting to another day and another post.
Specifically, I want to share some key reasons for why we chose HostGator and why we stick with it.
I am no expert on the finer points of hosting services, but having had websites hosted on various services in at least two countries/continents over the past fifteen years or so, I think I have a fair idea of what works for my company’s business and what constitutes value for money.
From more than one previous provider we have had really bad to non-existent service (for example, unexplained downtime on the weekend and no support till 9 am Monday), from others we have had middling good service. We now believe we have overwhelmingly excellent service with HostGator.
We’ve identified three key factors in our feeling happy that we chose HostGator and why we are still happy to stay with HostGator.
The three key factors for us are:
- Brilliant customer service (that’s a direct quote from my partner and fellow Director, Suzie Cheel, who has high standards!)
- Value for money
- help files, documentation, how-to videos
- toll-free phone, worldwide free Skype, 24/7 live chat
- frontline support staff understand WordPress and can help solve glitches (no “that’s not our responsibility” guff you might get elsewhere)
Value for money
- plans start at $4.95 a month and the deceptively titled “Baby” plan at $7.95 a month includes unlimited domains (i.e. unlimited sites), unlimited disk space , unlimited bandwidth (in the past we have paid much more for much less)
- full suite of tools in the admin section, including Fantastico for people who want a smooth, auto-install of a WordPress site
- no contract and easy to upgrade to meet expanded needs
- plain old smooth technical operation (we actually don’t notice till we think about it at times like this)
- (uptime virtually flawless and hard-to-recall-if-any downtime only fleeting)
- backup and rapid, effective, economical full site restore if that is necessary (I’ve had a whole site crash through my error and restored by HostGator in a very short space of time at only a very modest, quite nominal charge)
There is also the impressive fact that HostGator is green. E.g. all shared and reseller servers are now 130% wind powered.
No doubt there are other services which provide similar benefits. The game-winning element for us was discovering on quite a number of occasions and often very late at night or on weekends that HostGator frontline support staff generally have a good working knowledge of WordPress and are willing to stay the distance till a problem is solved. Yes, there has been the occasional exception, but one is then swiftly encouraged to submit a support ticket to trigger some more in-depth knowhow: our experience has been consistently that problems flagged in that way are solved quickly and effectively. To use the management jargon, that sort of support is for us “mission-critical”.
One reason this “WordPress savvy” support at HostGator is particularly valuable for us is that we remember the pain of having hosting services where, as far as WordPress or even blogs generally were concerned, their “support” could best have been summed up as “don’t know, don’t care”.
There are a whole lot of other things a HostGator account brings, such as site-building tools at no extra cost. The benefits listed above are the ones that count most for us. Your mileage may vary.
HostGator also has an affiliate program, which provides potential to defray the already economical cost of the service and even generate more substantial income. We do get some income in that way, but we would use HostGator even without that. The service definitely works for us.
What’s your experience been with web hosting services? Preferably interested in stories of good services but a cautionary tale or two can be helpful to others and often good for the soul. Care to share? (Nothing defamatory please!)