Switching Web Hosts
Posted by: Mark Nichols
03 Apr 2011
If you are considering changing your web hosting provider, don’t…unless you’re really upset with your host, have a specific need they can’t meet such as bandwidth or space requirements, or if you can save a lot of money by switching.
We recently switched from iPower to Webhostingpad. While the switch was worthwhile because of iPower’s frequent outages and server “upgrades” that led to downtime, and because they charged but did not apply domain name privacy in some cases, the switch to Webhostingpad was not easy.
Advantages to us switching web hosts: cheaper, hopefully more uptime, and hopefully a quicker page load - the time between requesting a page and how long it takes to load. This is practically imperceptible and depends on your own connection and computer speed but with iPower it often felt like a battle to get a page to load.
Disadvantages: a total pain in the rear. Here are all the things that went wrong:
- I first tried just transferring the files and databases - the databases did not transfer as Webhostingpad said they would, and when they stepped in to do it for me, some files were not transferred completely. We had the files backed up so could restore them on our own, but it was a pain.
- The way Webhostingpad read the files in the database was different than iPower leading to weird punctuation throughout all the articles. I ran some SQL queries to update the messed up text, but if you’re a novice (which I practically am), this would be even more inconvenient.
- Depending on the PHP version and restrictions your new host sets, the scripts that execute commands for your site may not work. This could probably impact other scripting languages as well. Luckily, we have Steve to fix these kind of issues.
- Permissions to access pages, commands, etc., may be different on your new host. It will affect how your site works for different people trying to use it. When first transferring hosts, DimeBrothers.com only worked for me if I was logged in to the control panel (cpanel). Again, thanks to Steve, this was fixed and the site now works for everyone.
- When I finally decided to abandon iPower completely, even switching domain names over to Webhostingpad, Webhostingpad was not careful in requesting all my domain names. When they figured out what they were supposed to request, iPower dragged its feet in allowing the transfer. I even discovered a code issue with their system that wasn’t allowing the transfer. That’s obviously pretty ridiculous. And I had to wait, and wait, and wait some more while the transfer happened - two days for iPower after they fixed their code issue, and multiple days for their domain name supplier Tucows (which supplied horrible transfer instructions). It was not fun, requiring Google searching on my part and multiple chats with customer service with both my old host and new host to complete the process.
Switching hosts and at the same time switching what the “main site” is also adds some complexity. If you’re just transferring one site, you’ll only have to deal with the above (and possibly some issues I’ve overlooked or haven’t experienced). Customer service for both hosting providers tried to be helpful but often did not listen well. In the end it was usually iPower’s fault. I’m happy so far with Webhostingpad now that the transition is complete.
You may not have to deal with as many of these issues if you’re transferring a simple information-only site. But if you can research a web host and pick a good one from the beginning, when you first establish your website, hopefully you’ll never have to switch.