Liquidweb Shared Hosting Review – Suddenly Worse – a Trend?

Now and then someone will ask me where they should host their websites, and my favorite place to recommend had been Liquidweb for a long time. I had built many sites on their hosting, and whenever I had had problems, which was fairly rare, their tech support had been extremely helpful and hard-working, persistent until the problem was solved.

I talked a number of people into using them, and unfortunately, just recently one of these firms had a lot of trouble with their sites there. Imagine giving a demo to your clients of their brand new site, and their site goes completely dead. Very embarrassing! So they got on the phone with Liquidweb, and they said that some other site was hogging the server, and that they were working on it. After some time, much too late to continue the demo, the site began to work again, but very soon, there was more trouble. And then their other site on Liquidweb also went down, even though it was on a different server! Again, a phone call, and as before, no real solution, just “we’re checking into it, it should be fixed soon”. At that point, the clients made the decision to look for other hosting.

Beyond the sites going down with no real explanation, other annoyances creeped in. I was doing some content management on one site with MODx, and for some reason, putting certain text onto a page caused a security error. After investigating for quite awhile, revealing nothing, I contacted tech support. We bandied emails back-and-forth with info, and then the tech fixed the problem. Great. But then days later more security errors came up when editing content, and this time I found out details – there had been a new security filter placed on the server, ostensibly to prevent spam. Here’s the deal: when somebody gets this error, the tech views the server logs, sees what words caused the error, and then “whitelists” those words for your site so that they will go through. A pitifully inefficient and awkward way to deal with the problem.

And the joke is, here are some of the words: “online”, “pharmacy”, and “drugs”. Yes, possibly spam words, but also very commonly used words in legitimate sites, too. I envisioned some security geek sitting alone in a room stuffing a filter with every possible spam word, and somehow convincing server admins everwhere to install it. F minus. The shared servers for these sites were also lagging with old versions of PHP and MySQL, and also many standard features missing. At least they offer to transfer you to another server when you complain about this, so that’s good. Then again, if more than one server is running poorly, the prospect of moving to another box does not inspire confidence.

After this debacle, and essentially looking like a fool for recommending Liquidweb, I went on a web hosting forum and described what happened. People commiserated with me, and some pointed out the VPS and Dedicated hosting at Liquidweb were actually running very well. But many of my clients can’t afford the fancier hosting, and their site traffic probably wouldn’t have justified it anyway. Then a guy from Liquidweb showed up on the forum thread, asking what happened. I was heartened that someone from the company cared, and I gave him the ticket numbers so he could look into it. Several days went by, and nothing further. Finally, after a week, I asked the Liquid guy what he had found out. He was all contrite, and said, oh, we take your comments VERY seriously, and we’ve made All Kinds Of Changes as a result. But he would not elaborate further, and those of us on the forum called him out for that. If he couldn’t tell us anything, how could we know that he was telling the truth at all? And that’s just the point. He’s apparently on the forum for show. “Let’s pat them on the head, and they’ll feel better”.

It’s a shame. They used to be really great. Oh well, I guess if you can afford their VPS or dedicated hosting, you may be OK.

21 Comments


  1. Wow, I’m sitting on the phone with Liquid Web, trying to switch from VPS to the Storm Cloud product. I got suspicious that they’ve created a separate company which requires creating a separate account. I can’t imagine why unless the brand has been tarnished, i.e. AIG after getting TARP money, changed their name to Chartis … ha!

    Reply

  2. I have (expensive) shared hosting with Liquidweb. It’s been going down regularly. Last night it went down for eight hours. It’s now back up and they’ve restored my WordPress install with a dbase that’s three days old so I’ve lost a load of posts. When I queries this they said, ‘Ultimately it is up to you to maintain your own backups.’

    Not even much in the way of an apology. Appalling service.

    Reply

    1. D,
      Sorry to hear that. Your point is well-taken – I didn’t even mention that their shared hosting is somewhat expensive. So you’re actually getting less, but for more money. If you’re going to have outages, I suppose it’s at least better to have them on cheaper hosting.

      Dave

      Reply

  3. I had Liquidweb saved as a future host possibility and then found your blog. May, I ask have you found a reliable hosting service to replace them?

    Tony
    Sydney Australia

    Reply

    1. Hi Tony,
      Having done this for awhile now, I’ve found that not only do hosts vary, but they can change in “midstream”. It would depend on your needs. As I’d said, apparently Liquidweb dedicated hosting is still good, but expensive, if you need a more heavy-duty site.

      I have found that Idologic has been stunningly good! If your budget is very tight, Hostgator might be an option. There are other considerations, too, with your being in Australia. If your site is very resource-intensive, having more local hosting might be worth considering.

      Hope that helps! Cheers

      Reply

  4. Hi

    am on the pro deal and the shared hosting is really bad , i had two dediacted servers with them they were ok.

    The shared hosting ive had issues from day one not putting my site on a dedicated ip as promised then installing the wrong ssl cert which expired the next day , it was like a cowboy hosting company and for like over $20 per month

    am looking to move of their shared server and will never use them again.

    ihateliquidweb

    Reply

    1. Wow, that sounds bad. I will say that any host will get negative reviews, there’s even a site for people who bash Hostgator, for instance.

      But I was stunned to see Liquid go from great to just mediocre for me, and there do seem to be others like us around. I wonder if they have some bean counters who are decimating support or something. That’s what seemed to happen at Site5, but anecdotally they’ve turned it around, and loads of people like them these days – I would consider using them if I were “shopping”.

      Reply

  5. I am currently hosting at MidPhase Business Shared Hosting. My site was down 4 times in 4 days with 8 hours each time.

    I am thinking Liquidweb, KnownHost and Hostgator VPS.

    KnowHost seems to be cheaper, but they don’t even have tech support line to call. Not a good sign.

    LiquidWeb’s tech support quality vary. I called different time. The guy at evening seems to be drinking too much beer on Friday evening and have no idea about anything. Few friends of mine using their dedicated server for years without any issue. Their shared hosting does suck.

    HostGator tech support is OK, but they require use one of my domain as nameserver, which is hassle. And their VPS seems to have some bad reviews too. Hostgator’s shared hosting does suck from time to time as well, but not so bad as MidPhase.

    Not so sure about VPS.net because they are the same company as MidPhase.

    I think I will choosing between LiquidWeb VPS and HostGator VPS.

    Thank you for sharing your experience.

    Reply

    1. Terence,
      That’s interesting. The drinking part was funny. 🙂 It’s also interesting that dedicated still apparently does well. It’s almost like that’s a different company.

      I very rarely use phone support, but I know that some people prefer it. I sort of feel bad slagging Liquid, because for years I found the support to be great. Something changed, though. Good luck with VPS! It might be better, and not quite as expensive as dedicated.

      Reply

  6. I have to second the fact that something changed! I have a high end dedicated server with LiquidWeb and have been using them for years and have noticed a steady decline in their support staff. They not take over an hour to perform support that would have only taken them 15 minutes to perform in the past. I tried to log onto chat support today and was greeted with a close chat and try again because no support staff was available. I have been waiting an hour for them to perform a critical database restore, something that used to only take them 15 minutes. I definitely agree with this blog entry, just wish there was a company that was comparable.

    Reply

    1. Bob, Wow, maybe their higher-end stuff is getting funkier, too. I just came up with a theory, which is just speculation: their rates are higher than average, and sometimes you do get more if you pay more. But with the economy sucking, I would have to guess that high-end places lose business. If that’s happening, then you have to cut something. Maybe support is the first thing to go.

      I’ve tried reading hosting review sites. That has to be one of the most corrupt aspects of the web, with staff members writing positive reviews for their own companies, companies paying to get good reviews, etc. When I see Godaddy hosting getting a good rating, for instance, I’m extremely suspicious. http://www.webhostingtalk.com/ is, to me, one of the better places to look for opinions on hosting. Ironically, they are hosted by Liquidweb, but people don’t hold back on opinions there. Also, forum members are often extremely tech savvy, with lots of sysadmins there. I’ve gotten good info there.

      I had a client who tried Rackspace cloud hosting. Cloud hosting isn’t usually right for me, because I like an admin interface such as CPanel. The Rackspace cloud means you set up the whole server yourself, something I’m not familiar with. Cloud hosting is very hyped, but as you may have seen in the media with Amazon having a big outage, it’s no panacea.

      Reply

  7. I have been with liquid web for over 5 years now.

    Their service has declined and their prices stay the same. I used to be so satisfied and felt I was “getting what I paid for”. Now I am starting to feel ripped off. For the price I really don’t know why anyone would go with them. I am going to be moving to a new host probably over the next year.

    Reply

    1. JK,
      Sorry to hear that. Yeah, maybe something’s amiss in their management now.

      In some posts here I talked about having problems with Site5 years ago. But they’ve turned it around – within one month I’ve made 2 sites there, and things have gone great! The Site5 boss actually responded to one of my comments here, and claimed that things had changed – as far as I can tell from direct experience, he was telling the truth! So I’m starting to recommend them frequently again. They even offer to move your stuff from the old host to Site5, and it’s hard to argue with that!

      Reply

  8. Se story here. Support are ok, but response time
    Has dropped from 15 mins to 3 hours in some cases. That’s just the initial reply. The staff arnt always helpful – one guy there just gave me te third degree for asking for extra IPs – saying he would have to pass it into my supervisor. I used to order them fine without problems.

    Sometimes support are so behind I end up figuring problems myself. Yes it’s managed support but after a while you get to know how to do things and it’s easier then sitting… Waiting… Wondering!

    It seems obvious to me from all posts here that they’ve cut down in their staff. I see fewer of the variety of old staff reply and a small selection of staff now seem to be behind the screen at LW.

    Their new smart servers are fast, however. So the product seems fine VPS wise. But the decline on response time and quality of support is really off putting after being with the company for three + years.

    Reply

  9. We’ve had liquid for several years and use their managed servers for our business. Recently, the tech support has declined significantly. There are still really good people there, but more often than not you don’t get them when you open a ticket. They have repeatedly screwed up our production server due to simple, dumb mistakes and trying to get them to fix something can be a real problem. They are doing the usual stuff a bad support company does…they point fingers, deny they did anything, refuse to expedite or ask for help. There’s no way to go over a tech’s head and get a supervisor involved and pretty hard if not impossible to get them to call in somebody else that does know what they’re doing. It’s very disappointing as we had really good support for a long time…it’s only in the last year or so that things have gone downhill.

    Reply

  10. Raf,
    Wow, you’d think managed servers would get the posh treatment! Many support staffs (yes, I was on one back in the day) like to resist escalating, partly due to fewer 2nd and 3rd level people, and partly because 2nd level guys think that the 1st level guys should handle more. And truth be told, higher level guys don’t like doing the grunt tasks that 1st level people get.

    But if you’re paying top dollar, and no one’s fixing the problem, that’s pitiful.

    I have some clients on Site5 right now, and things are going mostly great. I actually did encounter slow response for a bit, and a chat tech quickly informed me as they were remedying it, and it seems fine now. If you read above, you’ll see I have a history with Site5, too, and this time it’s going a lot better. I hope that will continue, of course. And that’s not even on a managed server plan.

    Good luck!

    Reply

  11. I have been a customer of LiquidWeb for nearly three years now and it surprises me to see these bad experiences. Not because I don’t believe they are true but because I have nothing but good things to say about them.

    I have been with other hosts who were cheaper, but I found the services performed slower than expected.

    I have a shared hosting account and my sites performance has always been very good.

    Support times are always very quick for me as well, although I only use the support ticket system as I am in the UK. I have raise quite a large number of tickets over the years, not for problems but to request changes. I am probably a bit of pain for it to be honest.

    Perhaps I am one of the lucky ones? 🙂

    Reply

  12. Have to say, I’ve had the same experience. Once upon a time Liquid Web was incredible. Truly Heroic Support.

    This year along, two small server maintenance issues blew up in our face. One was update our SSL certificate. Bought through Liquid Web, site already had one. Site down for 3 days, was met with excuse after excuse. They tried to pawn it off on “well who did you buy the certificate through”….. YOU, read the support log. Their new culture of “push back” is super aggravating.

    Same thing this week. Simple DNS change, site down for 10 hours, nuked e-mail MX records. It wasn’t an internet propagation issue, it was how they had it set up. When they e-mailed me it was complete, 10 hours later, I had to check the mail service – still not working. Next tech on shift fixed it, explained previous tech did it wrong.

    The theme over at liquid web these days seems to be there’s a new culture in the support department where they’re basically unconcerned with your needs, and quick to throw a team member under the bus if it can get them off the hook and prevent having to address an issue. They’re hold outs with any kind of acknowledgement for mistakes. I’d WAY rather hear “you know, I’m in over my head on this support ticket, I need a supervisor on this, which will take a bit longer as they’re busy, but I promise to keep you appraised and monitor the situation”. Right?

    It’s sad to see an awesome business go down like that. Moving is inevitable, just a matter of finding a new service. What a hassle and disappointment.

    Reply

    1. I’m sorry to hear that. I will admit that every host has its detractors, even ones whose stats and reviews are good. But your experience sounds dreadful, and if it’s at all typical, Liquid may be worse than it was when I was there! At least when I was struggling to make sites work there, the support people did make a decent effort to help me – the problems just grew too common.

      It’s also frustrating that one may change to a new host based on recommendations, but find that it’s not what it used to be, or not right for them, etc.

      Interesting that you’d mention MX records. As you know, that sort of thing can be tricky, and if something is off, the problem may persist for many hours even if the corrected fix is quickly applied. Having one’s email hosted through one’s own hosting is tempting, I suppose, but to me, it’s not worth the hassle.

      Reply

  13. I have also been using Liquid for many years. Recently I started getting tons of spam assassin emails from my vps out of nowhere. Mind you I have one site running on there that gets very few hits and another for 2 email accounts. I couldn’t figure it out. So I used the chat support. After long pauses I ended up getting an attitude about how much ram I have. I’m paying $69 month for the 1gb. The comment was something like, you wouldn’t run your PC on just 1gb would you? Really? Next after a long pause I was given someone else’s cert key and domain in the chat. Obviously they forgot who they were talking to. I looked at my ram usage and it was over 85% with these couple of no traffic sites. I finally ended the chat after they told me I should upgrade the ram for $40 more a month. I turned off spam assassin for now as I’m getting no help and looking for a new host as we speak and couldn’t take the emails every 5 minutes. I too am sad because I loved their support in the past and stability but something definitely changed and for the price of “managed” support they are no longer worth it or worth risking security in a chat.

    Reply

    1. Bob,
      That sounds awful. If you have VPS, AND 1G of Ram, I’d be amazed if you’d maxed out, unless you had had really big traffic. Liquid really does seem to be slipping. My post has been up for awhile, and as time goes on, things seem to be deteriorating further.

      No traffic and then a huge spike. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. If you were getting slash-dotted, that would be another story. It sounds very similar to the Site5 situation that I just blogged about. I would think that hosting companies would be smart enough to realize that before blaming the victim, they should at least check for suspicious hacker traffic first.

      And snotty service – that’s just the icing on the cake. As their ship continues to sink, I suppose that crap service techs are what they can still get.

      Though I’m sorry to hear about what happened, I’m glad to see that you and others are voting with your feet. It’s the only tactic that the hosts seem to pay attention to.

      As for spam, I’ve found little help from hosts. They might tweak a filter a bit, or might not. I’ve ended up using IP blocklists on my sites to augment any of the other tools I have, and this has been helpful. Unfortunately, this is a bit above the paygrade of many site owners, who aren’t technogeeks like me.

      Dave

      Reply

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