Mess with your hosting and domain name provider at your peril.
My web site went down for over a week and then was up and down intermittently over the couple of weeks after that. But why do you care? Well my contract was up for renewal with 1 and 1 and my last bill was a massive 5x more than my first year’s bill. As they generate the bills they also take out the money automatically using the bank details you have to give them when you first sign-up. I was shocked to see the prices so much more than when i originally signed up so I I thought I’d make a head start and look for hosting elsewhere.
My husband is pretty awesome web developer and had just started a blog over at garethlewis.io and used GitHub Pages for the hosting. It’s absolutely free and super quick. He offered to rebuild my website there but the only thing was that it would need to be set up completely manually and I couldn’t use WordPress any longer.
I didn’t realise it before but along with the ease of use of WordPress comes the risk of badly coded third-party plug-ins. My site was getting into a state because certain plugins were causing serious issues with performance and general system stability. I was paranoid I’d been hacked when my passwords stopped working for a few days and I couldn’t reset the password.
The appeal of GitHub was clear; it’s free, a developer dedicated to building stable and creative sites was going to help me, and I could learn just enough about markup, CSS and HTML to be able to maintain my web site.
The first and possibly the silliest thing i did was to transfer my domain name to another company, Namecheap. My bill with my 1 and 1 was £18 and Namecheap bought it down to £12 a year. So I jumped ship and set it all up directly with Namecheap and amazingly it was all done in a couple of hours. However, this was where my problems began. I failed to check back with 1 and 1 where there was a simple but important process to follow to transfer my domain name. So after a day, my site went down. I scratched my head in confusion and dismay but hoped the issue would just resolve itself but it didn’t. I googled how to create a local copy of my website and followed instructions up until it asked to copy and import my database somewhere locally. I found Jetsupport, a WordPress app that creates a database backup once a week for the site. However, for some odd reason I couldn’t import the backup version back using my database tool mysql admin. I then tried to take a copy of the current database directly from 1 and 1’s control panel and did something wrong, don’t ask me what, but it completely took out my site. I panicked and called Namecheap, my new domain name providers. They reassured me everything was good on their side and I needed to contact 1 and 1 to fix my problems. I couldn’t get through to them in the day time (the wait times on hold were silly having waited for 30 minutes on one attempt). So I waited and called their 24/7 support after 11pm in the night.
Apparently, as my hosting was up for renewal and I had transferred my domain without following their guide I’d have to pay for another year before they could help me further. What a jip (rip-off) I thought!
I didn’t really want to pay for another year but I didn’t want to completely lose my site and my contract was running out any day so time was running out.
So I decided to take another copy of all my files and store it all locally so that at the very least if my contract ran our before I fixed the issues, I could take my time to learn how to set up my site locally before putting it on GitHub Pages.
I started the cancellation process and one of the steps they asked why I wanted to leave. I replied selecting the option that my hosting was too expensive. The screen that followed proposed that if I chose to stay my contract would be halved for the next year! I was first dismissive but remembered that my site was already in a messed up state and if I couldn’t fix it myself on my local host I’d lose 2 years of hard work and love.
And then it dawned on me, if I’d have threatened to transfer my domain name, going through them directly would have also earned a loyalty discount, meaning all the problems I was having transferring my domain without also transferring my hosting service might never have occurred. I could now take my annual bill down by half and spend as much time as I liked to transfer my site fully to GitHub where it’s self hosted, infinitely quicker in response times, and a little more techie to administer, developing my skills in web development just a little bit more. My rush to move away from 1 and 1 made me jump ship way too quickly and I paid for it with multiple calls to 1 and 1 and now also Namecheap providers to manage accounts instead of just one.
The moral and reason for writing this post is to kindly advise you that it’s ALWAYS easier to haggle prices down with your current provider than to simply sign up with another and hope for the best. I’d had 2 years of great service with 1 and 1 and completely stressed myself out unnecessarily by not going through them first to try to get a good deal.
I will still transfer my site to GitHub but I’ll take my time and use my current hosting to set up another special interest site. I just love blogging and want my interests to be split over different sites and not all smushed together under one umbrella. Pumkinella.com is my first love but it’s a little too diluted s I’d like to focus on parenting and my journeys through it on here but then share my other interests on another blog.
Before you consider changing your hosting or domain name provider, consider the following; if you have a good paid-for service already, be sure to haggle on the price every time it comes up for renewal. If their service is rubbish then by all means leave but if their service is good to OK it’s better to hang in there and threaten to leave; I can pretty much guarantee you’ll be offered a better deal if you then decide to stay with them.