I used to have a hosting account with Host Gator, for over 7 years; since 23 June 2011. During those 7 years, I never had one issue with them. My sites worked properly without issues and if I had to contact their Live Chat for support, it was in a blue moon (not so often). Unfortunately, that changed quickly starting sometime last week, where I came across an issue and the customer support was horrible.
I was trying to access this website, via its’ url and it gave me a 404 error message and showed the index folders. Now, when something like this happens, the first thing you’re thinking when you have a website, is that all your website content is gone! So I quickly logged into my Cpanel, where I realized my public_html folder, was completely empty. Now just as a quick highlight, public_html is the folder that you want all your folders and files to be, as this is how people are able to view your website via the website url. So if that is empty, then you will get that 404 error message, that I received when I tried to access my websites.
Obviously with my files being gone, and I having no involvement in that as I do not update my sites using Cpanel and have no reason to be logged into the control panel of my hosting for anything other than paying my bill, I immediately contacted tech support. They were of absolutely no help, initially, as they couldn’t figure out where my files were. They mentioned the obvious, that my files were deleted and my folders were emptied. At that point I was like, ‘Thanks captain obvious’. While they kept trying to figure out what went wrong, I decided to do some looking myself and came to the realization that my files miraculously were moved to the trash bin. So, at this point I requested my files moved back into whatever folder it needed to be, so that my site could be accessible. Thankfully the tech support agent was able to do this but wasn’t any help in trying to figure out how this could have happened.
Fast forward a few days after that incident, the same problem happened again. My files were miraculously moved to the trash bin, so I had to contact tech support again. Again they weren’t that helpful in figuring out why my files were moved, and wondered if someone else had access to my Cpanel, even though I explained to them I was the only one who had access and I would have definitely not deleted all of my files. I decided personally to change the password to my Cpanel and WordPress accounts to see if that would have worked.
Third times the charm; it happened again. At this point I was completely livid because it was becoming a repeated issue and Host Gator tech support were not any help at all. Even when I contacted them to help me restore my files, the tech agent was very reluctant, even though I told him previous agents did it without issue. To be honest, it felt as if this tech agent didn’t know what he was doing and eventually I made sure to let him know he didn’t seem to know what he was doing and that I was going to find someone else to help me, and hung up on that chat. Funny enough, my files were moved back to the public_html, before I had a chance to get another tech agent, so it seemed he did move the files but for some reason, didn’t want to do it initially.
At this point, I didn’t know what to take of the whole issue at hand because I didn’t know why it was happening and no one at Host Gator could give me a satisfactory explanation. This brings me to the issues of yesterday, where I received an email from Host Gator administrator, stating that my site had been compromised and that it was suspended because of infected files. They gave me two options, to personally remove the infected files that were listed, or to get professional help to remove the files and prevent further problems, as there was no guarantee that the reported files were the only ones that were infected. At this moment, I was totally beside myself because during my previous contact with tech support, I kept asking for them to figure out what was wrong but no one could figure it out. I found it very interesting that after so many, repeated incidents with my files being deleted, that suddenly I had a “malware” on my site. Suddenly, my website was corrupted and needed assessing. I am not saying that anyone had anything to do with it but I feel as if Host Gator should have put more effort into figuring out what was going on, so that that most recent issue with an infected file, could have been avoided or taken care of much sooner.
When you are a website owner and you are given those types of options and you don’t have that much tech background, you feel compelled to get the professional help, because you don’t want your site being permanently suspended. So I decided to contact Host Gator’s malware/security team, and see what they could do for me. The options the agent gave me was either to pay a one off of $300 USD for a clean up of my website, with no guarantee that the problem wouldn’t reoccur in the future or to pay for a package that included cleaning and preventing the issue from ever happening again; both costing within the hundreds.
Seeing as my websites don’t make me money, there was no way I could afford the options provided to me, and even when I decided I could pay a one off monthly fee of 9.99, this suddenly didn’t become an option because it only worked once the infected files are deleted and not before. So, I took my chance with my own intelligence and deleted the files, searched my Cpanel folders to see if there were any files that I didn’t recognize and had Host Gator do a security review on my site. Thankfully, my site was removed from suspension but alas, the same damn issue that I was dealing with in the first place, with my files being moved to the trash, had happened during the time I was trying to figure out what to do with this suspension. So, not only did I have to deal with figuring out what to do with a supposed infected site, I had to now go through the process of requesting my site be restored, AGAIN!
This time when I spoke to a tech support agent, he was 100% reluctant to restore my site initially. When I mentioned that the previous tech agents did it without issue, he proceeded to place the trashed files into a restore folder, which clearly didn’t solve the issue. When I explained to him for the 100th time, that I needed my files restored to the public_html folder, he insisted that only a senior advisor could do that. Even after he supposedly spoke to said advisor, my files were still not moved and even when I inquired about this, he just kept mentioning that only a senior advisor could do that without actually letting me know if they were going to do it or not. I even had to threaten to move to another hosting provider because of the lack of service and it didn’t seem to even phase him. In fact, he asked if there was anything else he could do for me, without even resolving my problem. I even realized that my files were never moved back to the public_html; so he basically didn’t help me in any way as a tech support agent is suppose to.
Thankfully, with some prior knowledge in working with the Cpanel, as I had done when I had previous websites with other hosting providers, I was able to figure out the problem and restore my site but that was the last straw for me. I felt as if Host Gator did not care that I was paying for a service that I wasn’t receiving. The blatant disregard for my customer satisfaction, was too much for me to handle.
So, after all of that I decided that I was going to move over my hosting services from Host Gator to Name Cheap, the domain provider for my Love My Muscles and I Am Myron Gaines, websites. I figured I have had their services for 7 years, since I have had lovemymuscles.com, and they have hosting options that are cheaper and more affordable than Host Gator. I finally was migrated from Host Gator to Name Cheap today, and hope that the issues I was facing before, I don’t bring into this new service.
After making sure that my websites were functional under Name Cheap, I decided it was time to cancel my account and services with Host Gator, so I contacted the billing department. At first, they asked obviously, why it is I wanted to cancel my account and I gave them the explanation as per the above story. But this agent just kept trying to finally focus on my issues I was dealing with, but it was too late. He even accessed my website and said everything was currently fine, which I was thinking; “No shit sherlock” – because I moved hosting!
I am completely done with Host Gator and my account has been completely canceled. It is very sad that such a long history, didn’t mean anything when it came to customer service. I wasn’t asking for much as a customer, but assistance. The department I was speaking to, were the exact ones who were suppose to help me. If I knew a lot about technical issues when it came to websites, I wouldn’t have had to get assistance. To think that’s what their Live Chat is there for, but yet they aren’t helpful at all. Host Gator completely disregarded my needs as a customer and my right to proper service.
Through my frustration, I came across a couple of review sites that showed Host Gator’s services had been declining steadily for a while now. I guess I was just one of the current unfortunate individuals to have to deal with, those said declining services.
If you’re interested in reading a more detailed story about someone experiencing the same issues with the supposed “malware” suspended account, check out this blog entry!