Switching Web Hosts

If it’s not broke, don’t fix it, right? Wrong. Let me divulge to you my tale of switching web hosts, and what you can learn from it.

This all started earlier this morning. Up until this stage, my week had been going pretty well, I have no shame in admitting that Arsenal signing Alexis Sanchez has contributed quite a bit to this. That all changed when I decided to visit my own website after it was brought to my attention that there was a newer version of a plugin that I could update.

Houston, We Have A Problem

When I visited my website I was presented with the 000webhost 404 landing page. Strange, I thought, maybe some plugin has caused the permalinks structure to break. The first call of action would have been to access the administrator section of my website in an attempt to diagnose the problem and maybe tinker with a few settings. Accessing the admin page, as most of you who host a WordPress blog would know, is a pretty simple task. Simply type in yourdomainname.com/wp-admin and hit the Enter key. However, when I tried to access that, I was presented with the same 404 landing page.

Now that is odd, what on Earth could be the cause of that particular section of my website not being accessible? I attempted to visit a few of my own blog posts that I had previously bookmarked, no luck there either. Access to my website’s RSS feed? Nada. The next logical step, it seemed, was to login to my control panel and have a look through the file structure and SQL database, maybe something has broken within them. But first, I needed to reset my 000webhost account’s password.

With passwords reset and my metaphorical thinking hat placed firmly atop of my head, I logged into my control panel. The message(s) that I was presented with next were rather startlingly to say the least.

The errors that I was presented in when I logged into my control panel. Needless to say, it wasn't long after that I thought about switching web hosts.

The errors that I was presented in when I logged into my control panel. Needless to say, it wasn’t long after that I thought about switching web hosts.

Phishing?! That’s Not Something I’d Phall For…

The first message read as follows:

Suspended (Phishing.h.FakerScript-6 | /www/facebookgames999.netau.net/index.php, Phishing.h.FakerScript-6 | /www/www.facebookgames999.netau.net/index.php, )

Huh?! Phishing Facebook script, what in the blue hell is that, I said aloud to the walls in my room. Okay, maybe the phrase “blue hell” may have been substituted in place of some form of profanity, but that is not important in regards to this story. First of all, I only ever used my 000webhost account for my current domain, who on Earth created this Facebook-related domain? And what is all of this business in relation to phishing?!

It was in that moment that I realised why I had to reset my password. Not because I forgot what it was, okay maybe that was a contributing factor, but by the looks of it, someone had obviously hacked into my control panel and decided to host a phishing script/website of sorts under my name. In all honesty, I did not know how long it had been there for, but I was quite impressed. Needless to say, it looks like 000webhost took care of it, as far as I was concerned the matter was dealt with. Besides, I had bigger fish to fry.

Let Me In. Please?

The more important of the two messages read as follows:

Suspended (Suspended for violating 20%+ CPU usage limit for more than 1000 times. Please upgrade to our premium UNLIMITED hosting at www.hosting24.com to get your account reactivated.)

Well, that’s just great now isn’t it? When I attempted to access the control panel, I was told in big bold writing, that my account had been removed. Access to the file manager? Gone. Access to MySQL? Revoked. Access to my online backups? Withdrawn. The thought that I had a plug-in that went astray and got locked in the loop, which most people who operate any type of web hosting know that this can happen, popped back into my head. Surely a kind worded conversation with their support team would help me resolve this matter and allow me to regain access to my files right?

Time To Make The Switch?

Wrong. Again. I was told, and I quote “If your account was suspended due to terms of service violation, it could be unsuspended only after upgrade”. Now that is fair enough, one of my plugins was obviously using more than 20% of the CPU on their server, and they decided to close my account. After pleading with them, the customer support representative gave me access to my files so that I could back them up again.

“Lol jk”, as my brother would say. The only way I would gain access to my domain again would be if I upgraded to a premium hosting package, which completely defeats my purpose of using 000webhost. What might the purpose be, you ask? 000webhost advertises a free web hosting package. And there was no chance I was going to get tied down to a shared-hosting package. What if I just upgrade for one month, and then cancel my subscription, I thought to myself. It was at that very exact moment that the agent in the live chat threw this heartwarmingly poetic sentence in my general direction “Please upgrade your account and a submit new support ticket requesting to unsuspend your free account. Please note that if your account was suspended and you upgraded it, you could NOT ask for money back in case you decide to cancel your new upgraded account.” It is almost as if she, the agent, was able to read my mind, or maybe this was a common occurrence for their clients. Either way, I decided that the best course of action would be to cut my losses and recreate my website again from scratch, backups or no backups. Fortunately for me, I had most of my blog posts backed up, and although I would be unable to restore my SQL database, browsing Google’s cached version of my website returned the content that I had previously published which had somehow escaped the backups. However, all of my comments and e-mail subscribers were lost.

Switching Web Hosts

Now that I had decided to change hosting companies, the next step was trying to figure out which one would be most suitable for me. After careful research, and having a preference to sticking with a UK-based hosting company, I ended up opting for VidaHost. They offered me a free domain name, as you may or may not have noticed my website domain is now waseemakhtar.com, rather than .co.uk, as well as 25 mailboxes and plenty of storage and bandwidth. Plus, they perform daily backups.

Other honourable mentions in my pursuit of my perfect hosting company would have to go to BlueHost, One.com and SpiralHosting. It is probably worth mentioning that Spiral Hosting are currently running a promotion whereby if you use the promo code STUDENT, you get a 50% discount on specific hosting packages.

Setting up a new domain with VidaHost was a breeze, installing WordPress literally took 2 minutes, and their UK-based customer support were extremely helpful when it came to helping me re-route my old domain name.

Even before this fiasco that occurred today, I had always had problems with 000webhost. FTP transfers were slow, and constantly timed out, “No space left on device” errors would appear despite me having only used a few megabytes of disk space, and constant downtime, nowhere near the 99.9% uptime that they have promised on their promised.

So What Is 000webhost Good For?

In my opinion 000webhost is good for the following purposes:

  • Creating test websites. When you are ready to publish your website, move it to a paid web host or a more reliable free web host.
  • Creating phishing websites, apparently.
  • Websites that you won’t mind being taken down or deleted without prior notice. And then being held for ransom to get your content back.
  • When you want to get some practice with programming languages e.g. html and PHP.

Conclusion

Despite being a loyal customer of 000webhost for almost 5 years, it was time for a change. I still do not have a clue what happened with the whole phishing incident, but I can safely say that I have changed my password and upped my security.

All in all, this farce has taught me that you get what you paid for.

What did you make of my little conundrum? Have you had issues with web hosting before? Do you have any tips for users new to the WordPress scene? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

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