Monday, March 22, 2010

A Host of Troubles

Let's start the week with a bit of a moan. On Friday I received an e-mail from the company who host The Sleaze telling me that they had been bought out by another company, a company that I'd never heard of and that I've found it very difficult to obtain any accurate information on. Although they describe themselves as one of the UK's biggest providers of web services, the impression I get is that rather than going out and actually attracting new customers with their competitive pricing and excellent support, (the normal way of attracting business), they've instead based their expansion upon buying out existing web hosts and their customer bases. Which, looking at their prices, doesn't surprise me. They seem to want customers to pay a lot more for a lot less in hosting terms. If I was to renew my hosting with them when my current contract ends in September, I'd have to pay at least twice what I'm paying now to get anything like the features I now enjoy. Now, I know that their defence would be that they're far more reliable than my existing host, etc. But, the fact is that in five years or so of being hosted there, I experienced no problems whatsoever.

My dislike of the new owners has been increased by the way in which the sale was conducted. A couple of weeks ago I noticed some problems trying to update the site. Basically, updates weren't showing. It turned out that the IP address for the ftp account had changed. I now know that this was because, unbeknownst to customers, our sites were being transferred to the new company's servers, before the sale had even been announced. Failing to inform customers of something as significant as a change of server, which obviously affects our ability to maintain our sites, doesn't strike me as representing good customer service. Moreover, I've already lost some of the features from my account that I was paying for under my existing deal. I don't think I'm being unreasonable in expecting the new owners to fully honour the contracts of the existing customers they've inherited. I know that I don't actually use most of these features, but it's a matter of principle. And I'm very big on principles. (In principle. In practise, I often can't be arsed). Add to this the fact that since the takeover was announced, we've been left with no customer support or server status updates, and you can see why I'm not impressed.

Now, I could take this development - combined with the site's plummeting traffic - as a sign that it's time to wind The Sleaze up. However, as I've mentioned before, I've recently renewed the domain for another two years, so I've got money invested in it! Besides, I love a challenge, and restoring the site's fortunes is certainly that. So, the long and the short of it is that I'm looking for a new host. I've already identified a few likely candidates, but if any of you have any suggestions for a reasonably priced, reliable web host, preferably UK-based (but that's not essential), please let me know. I'm looking more to the budget end of the hosting market. Not just because I'm a cheapskate, but also because with a site like The Sleaze, which is non-profit and has relatively modest traffic (even at the height of its popularity it was never going to threaten Google), it simply isn't worth paying big bucks for commercial hosting. So, there you have it. I'll probably keep the site where it is until my current deal expires in September, then move it. Unless, of course, service deteriorates badly, in which I'll look to move to a new host as quickly as possible.

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