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Why I Dumped 1&1 Web Hosting For HostGator, Part 1

This post has been a long time coming. I was a customer of 1&1 web hosting since 2004. The reason I remained with them for so long was that I did not require much in the way of technical support and I had quite a few domains hosted with them. It just seemed like too much of a hassle to relocate all those domains. Until I could not take it any longer!

Since I’m a refugee from a big computer company, and did technical support for 20+ years, I was able to solve most of my technical problems on my own. However, I had a shared hosting plan with 1&1, and did not have “root” access to the server, which would have allowed me to fix most of the technical problems I ran into that required the kind of access to the server that only system administrators have.

First, the good.

1&1 hosting was quite reliable. I rarely experienced downtime with 1&1, in fact their server availability was excellent. I also never noticed any significant performance problems. My websites always responded with acceptable speed.

Another nice thing about 1&1 was that they gave me SSH access, which many web hosting companies will not do without making you jump through a bunch of silly hoops. SSH access allowed me to log into my hosting account via a “command prompt” window, which made performing some tasks a lot faster, such as wiping out entire directories or copying from one to another. I’m not sure of they still provide SSH access without putting customers through a hassle.

For a newbie, I think their custom control panel is actually a plus. I found it to be a bit more straightforward than the more common cPanel that most other hosts provide, but that was really the only thing good about it.

The downside to their custom control panel is that it is as slow as molasses flowing up hill on a cold day! I used 1&1 almost exclusively for over five years, so I was always a little thrown off when I had to use cPanel on another hosting account where I had a couple of domains.

Since then, I have become a big cPanel fan, and can now see how superior it is when compared to 1&1’s custom control panel. It’s much faster, and now that I have become comfortable with it, I find it easy to work with. It also seems to simply work better; giving me fewer errors or other glitches like the ones I ran into using 1&1’s version.

The custom control panel on 1&1 may be better for newbies (some folks will probably disagree), but there is a much larger problem that newbies will encounter if they decide to sign up for hosting with 1&1.

Their support is horrendous! Like I mentioned earlier, since I’ve been working with computers for years, I did not often require support from 1&1, but every once in a while, something would come up that was beyond my control and I had no choice but to contact 1&1 to correct the problem.

I had two major problems with 1&1 support. The first being that they were basically incompetent, and secondly, their support is located on the other side of the world.

I’ll tackle the second problem first, since that is probably the one that might make people think I spend my evenings wearing a white hood and burning crosses on people’s lawns.

dealing-with-1and1-support When I call a company for support, I expect to talk to someone who understands me and whom I can understand easily. On those occasions when I had no choice except to call 1&1 for support, I was always connected to someone in India. And I don’t care for that at all.

Without getting into the political issues, I find it difficult to relate to someone half-way around the world. They do not understand my culture and I do not understand theirs. This sometimes makes it hard to get a point across. For example, some phrases or words (you might refer to it as slang) is meaningless to the majority of people in another country. Particularly when the native language of that country is not English.

It just isn’t an efficient way to do technical support. Most of them spoke decent English, but even the ones that did gave me the impression that they were not trained properly to provide customers with technical support. Every call seemed to be and endless string of “I do apologize” (they are masters of that phrase!) and “May I put you on hold?” Probably so they could call their tech support to get some idea of how to handle my problem!

After a couple of experiences with 1&1 support through the years, it reached the point where I would spend hours coming up with elaborate work-arounds to solve technical problems just to avoid calling them!

Why did I not move to another hosting company sooner? I had between 20 and 30 domains hosted at 1&1. Yes, I worked in computers for more than two decades, but I really had no experience with building web sites and conducting business on the internet until 2004. Moving all those sites seemed like a gargantuan task, and I surely was not going to trust some employee at a web hosting company to do it for me after seeing what it was like dealing with 1&1!

My last call for technical support from 1&1 was probably two or three months ago, if not a bit longer than that. I had a number of domains that were hosting websites and using a simple little snippet of PHP code that generated an e-mail message to me when a visitor clicked a specific link or interacted in some other way with the site.

One day I noticed that I had not received any e-mails at all from any of my domains that were using that code. Since I normally received many in the course of a day, I knew something was not right, so I visited one of my own sites and tested it. Sure enough, no e-mail came. It was the same for all of my sites that were using that code.

Anyone with even a little background with tech support or system administration would know that a problem like that smells a lot like a system-level problem and not something specific to one hosting account. To me it was obviously not a programming error since nothing had been changed, and all of my sites exhibited the same behavior.

This was one of those problems that I knew I could not fix on my own. I had to call 1&1 support, and tell them they had a problem with their server. I picked up the telephone, realizing exactly what I was up against.

My first go-round with 1&1 tech support got me basically nowhere. Not that I was the least bit surprised. The friendly gentleman sitting half-way around the world started by trying to weasel his way out of doing his job. Before I could even finish explaining the problem, he was only too happy to inform me that “We do not support user scripts.” I think he told me that about three times before I got through to him.

After numerous apologies and oh-so-polite utterances of “May I put you on hold?” He simply could not verify that there was any kind of problem. I attempted to explain that it was most likely a server-wide problem, but he did not seem to fathom that. Finally, I gave up in frustration and ended the conversation. Maybe it would resolve itself in a while when some system administrator noticed it or something. I decided to give it a little time.

If you’re tired of waiting for 1&1, or sick of dealing with their substandard support, I highly recommend HostGator (click on the link to check them out).

HostGator came highly recommended to me and they have lived up to that recommendation. I even tested them before I signed up by calling their technical support telephone number (I pretended I had the wrong number) and the phone was answered by someone right here in the U.S.A. That was a breath of fresh air in and of itself!

Still want more information on 1&1 and how they compare to HostGator? That’s coming in Part 2.

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