Over the years that I have had hosting at HostGator, I have been quite happy with them. I’ve had 3 different hosting services 1) a small boutique service for very high-performance sites, 2) Bluehost, and 3) HostGator. I still use the boutique service, but I have left BlueHost simply because I found Hostgator’s user interface to be a bit friendlier. That’s purely subjective — I have a friend who migrated the other way around because he liked the Bluehost UI better. Either way, life is a bit simpler with one less UI to use.
Curiously, Bluehost and HostGator are now the same company, since they have been bought out by Endurance International Group, Inc. (EIG). EIG bills itself as one of the world’s largest hosting providers, but it is essentially a holding company that is buying up every hosting service it can. I read some complaints regarding EIG from some Internet marketers that I follow, one of which is actively searching for a new hosting provider because of the HostGator buyout. He wrote in one of his newsletters that he had experienced what he considered to be deterioration of customer support from HostGator, and he attributed that to EIG.
Having been on the inside of more than one “acquired company” myself, I found the news of that acquisition somewhat disturbing. The typical scenario in that sort of arrangement is that the new parent company promises that the acquired company will continue to operate exactly as before without interference from above. Initially, it may even play out that way. But things soon change, and the parent company usually decides to milk its new asset dry in order to pump up its own balance sheet (and stock price, and executive bonuses, etc.). When that process is complete, and the empty shell is no longer profitable, it is sold, spun off, or liquidated.
So far, I have not experienced anything from HostGator resembling the complaints in that newsletter. In fact, I have had excellent support experiences on 2 different occasions since I read that complaint.
Just this week, I ran into a really mysterious problem with one of my WordPress websites. I added a post, and it did not show up on my posts page. I could navigate to it indirectly, but nothing I tried would make it appear in the correct place on the posts page. I’ve earned my living as a programmer for three decades now, so I’m pretty much accustomed to being able to solve a software problem fairly quickly. This one was more resistant than usual. I even took a backup of the site that I had made before the latest post, and migrated it to a spare domain. There, I copied over the latest post, and everything worked properly. So, I made a backup of that, and migrated it back to the original domain.
The problem came back! At that point, I accessed the site on my cellphone and my tablet, and everything was working fine, so I concluded that the problem had to be on my computer, and probably was not a WordPress problem. Things got even weirder than that… I tried installing another theme, and I found that the new theme displayed on every page EXCEPT the home (posts) page. At that point, I was about ready for the Milo T. Minderbinder Memorial Home for the Terminally Bewildered. I had no idea how that could possibly happen.
I really hate that feeling!
To better organize my thoughts, I wrote up a long description of what I had seen, and the various attempts I had made to fix the problem, and the results (or lack thereof) I saw at each step. I went back through everything I could remember, and repeated some of the attempts to make sure I accurately documented what had happened. Then I started searching through the WP help forum, reasoning that somebody else might have already encountered the problem, and even if it wasn’t fixed, I could add my description to the thread and follow it. I’m pretty good at doing forum searches, but I came up dry on this one after using every combination of keywords I would expect to be in such a forum post. I was preparing to do a new forum post when I changed my mind and decided to submit a support ticket to HostGator. After all, they had been very helpful before, when I had a problem that was entirely my own fault (and they were even nice about it).
I edited the problem description to say that I did not really think it was a problem on their end, and probably wasn’t a WP problem either, but that I hoped somebody there could help me anyway. Then I submitted the ticket, and took a couple of hours away from the computer to do something less frustrating.
When I returned to check my email, I found one from HostGator support. Turns out that I was wrong — it was a WP problem, and it was not my computer. Better yet, the support tech had fixed it already. It was due to my prior use of a plugin called WP Super Cache, which I had tried out, found less than wonderful, and uninstalled.
Sure enough, the site was working properly. I replied to the email, thanking them, and asked the tech if there was a way I could find and fix such a problem myself in the future — given that there was no way on Earth I could have possibly found and fixed that problem on my own. Shortly after that, I got this reply:
I am so happy to hear that we resolved this issue! It’s completely understandable that you missed this. The only reason I was able to find it so fast is because it’s a common issue that we see with Super Cache here at HostGator.
There are 2 places that Super Cache will leave rules that causes the problem. The following lines in the wp-config.php file need to be commented if you run into this issue again.
define(‘WP_CACHE’, true); //Added by WP-Cache Manager
define( ‘WPCACHEHOME’, ‘/home1/bestfou8/public_html/
nequals1health/wp-content/ plugins/wp-super-cache/’ ); //Added by WP-Cache Manager
The next item is in the .htaccess file in the document root directory of the domain. In that file there are quite a few rewrite rules that are surrounded by these.
# BEGIN WPSuperCache
# END WPSuperCache
Everything in between and including those 2 lines need to be removed. Once all of those references to Super Cache are removed then Super Cache is finally disabled for the site.
The support tech on this ticket not only solved the immediate problem, but went well beyond that to explain how it had happened so that if I see it again, I will recognize it and I will be able to fix it without spending 3 days pulling my hair out. And did so quickly.
So, despite the acquisition by EIG, I am still getting what I would consider first-rate support from HostGator. I wholeheartedly recommend HostGator.
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