What to know when changing website hosts

A couple of weeks ago I found the following in an email from my webhost:

Your web hosting account for bradgrier.com has been deactivated (reason: site causing performance problems).
Although your web site has been disabled, your data may still be available for
up to 15 days, after which it will be deleted.

After a quick call to the ever-helpful customer service line, I’d learned that I’d exceed my allocated CPU or SQL cycles. With my simple little WordPress blog.

It seems that a plugin (or two) had taken too many resources too many times for them. They are a very large (perhaps the largest) webhost offering unlimited everything…except CPU and SQL cycles.

At the time, I did my research and they seemed like a very good choice. Great customer services, few complaints, and always rated highly in the reviews.

Perhaps a little more research would have been in order. It seems the ‘unlimited’ web hosts build their business model on overselling resources, hence the jealous guarding of those two resources — should one customer (me) take too many, then it impacts others. I’m now a liability and expendable.

So much for unlimited.

Then they asked me to leave.  Jilted. Expended.

I wasn’t given the opportunity to fix the issue, they just wanted me gone and I had 15 days to transition. I was not a happy camper.

Luckily I’d setup an automated backup system for my blog. Posts and comments were safe. I’d just be experiencing downtime on the blog, lost time in my search to find a new host, and lost time as I set up the new account.

To make a long and tedious story short and snappy, here’s a few things I’d learned as I rebuilt this blog.

Backup

Again, I can’t stress this enough. Backup’s are essential. Without it, you lose every bit of value you’d built. You lose your long tail. Automated backups are easy to set up. There’s no excuse for not having a current backup of your blog.

Why are you here?
What niche does your blog fill? Now’s the perfect opportunity to reflect. Are your personal rewards enough to justify the move and rebuild process? Should you change your blog focus, design, layout, niche, whatever? As long as you’re going to be changing hosts, look at what else you can change while your site is in transition (I changed the theme and invested in Thesis. More on that later 🙂 )

Ask for help.
Enlist your friends and members of your social media network. I put out a call on Twitter and received a bunch of favourable recommendations to follow up. Your friends are usually a great resource.

Know what you’re looking for, and what you’ll settle for.
I thought I’d done a lot of research before selecting my past one. I had, but I’d been searching for the wrong things. I was dazzled by unlimited bandwidth, unlimited storage, unlimited unlimitedness! I didn’t understand that in order to offer unlimited (almost)everything, they’d  severely limit CPU and SQL cycles.

In my case, I’ve changed my needs. I shopped for a specific package that LIMITED bandwidth, storage, etc. By doing this, a provider and customer know their bounds and expectations are managed.

It also helps to open a dialogue with your prospective ‘business partners’, rather than simply signing up. In my case, I asked about resource usage, suspensions, and the ability to fix issues, rather than simply ‘being expelled’.

The end is the beginning.
So here I am, on a new web host, a leaner and meaner blog. You’ll see it develop over the next few weeks as I continue refining, and learning about the Thesis theme.

Stay tuned, and feel free to leave your thoughts!

Image courtesy Locator