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.