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Host Gator

I have been with Host Gator for over a year now, going on 2 years this October. For the most part I have to say they are a good host.

My problems came from the very day I joined. I signed up, started working my account, only to find I no longer had access over a few hours. Now I'm a busy worker, I got allot done in those 2 hours. I emailed support and after a few replies I finally call in to learn they had canceled the account because they thought it was fraud, due to my IP address wasn't from the states, but my credit card was. If anything that didn't bother me. The fact it took them over 2 hours to pick up on this and then force me to redo all that I had done. Not a big deal, really it could have been worst.

For a good 3-4 months things went well. Then I discovered a little loop hole in their Terms of Service about the CPU usage. I noticed that I was getting very high usage of CPU at peak hours of the day, some times dead in the night of around 80% and at one point it reached 95%. I was worried because of their TOS, but then what really bothered me was who was on my site. No one but me. My site mainly is run from a message board, so I can see who is online long with latest visitors from the log files. With in 2 hours of the jump in CPU only about 5 users had been on.

Well this went on for weeks, I thought it was nothing because host gator took no action to my account and I hadn't done anything no normal webmaster would do to cause such a over-use of CPU power. I'm not running anything automatic other then forum tasks which were the default settings. Finally near the 4th month my site broke, resulting in my board going down. My control panel showed 90% CPU again. So I email support, and after going around and around with them for hours we finally figured out that what had happen. My board had used too may resources and they disabled my database for that script. I got it turned back on, after a few hours the CPU went back down to normal.

This issue went on for 2 more months, however no action was taken by Host Gator, so I didn't worry about it. Then it happened again, only this time they delete my database instead of just disabling it. I went to live chat, and then did the email rounds, the told me they wouldn't delete a problem database, only disable it. Well I look, and its gone. I tell them and they tell me no it must have been disabled. For a day my site was down, and I went round and around about it. Finally the truth came out: turns out that the way the CPU work in the control panel wasn't what I was actually using, but the total CPU use of the server I was on. So the totally of all the accounts on the server, which every one caused the CPU to go over that limit, they took action against that account to prevent the server going over.

They didn't tell me that, I figured it out on my own when I told them no way my board could cause the server to shoot up like that. They told me that it was the CPU of the server not my account. But so they took action on my account twice when I never even reach the load they said. From a host point of view, I can see this because if I'm seating there and I see the server pushing over 90% CPU and I look up the last action taken (script) and I see its this on such and such account I'll disable it. It just so happened to be me.

It started to happen again a month later (about 6 months in my first year) and this time I called them and told them it wasn't me, and turns out they had a trouble account which they had to take action against, and that from their records I hadn't done anything for them to take action. Yet they disabled and deleted one of my MySQL databases. Okay fine, after that the CPU was normal and has been since. I don't bother looking at it anymore being how it doesn't tell me what I actually use.

For the most part, the last 6 months have been great. I had a MySQL server crash (I was blamed for it at first but then it was just a bad upgrade) when they down graded they went down too far and broke everything, etc. Same deal, hours on end with email support. I learned never to email them again. I call now, email and live chat lot of times seem like a lot of responses that don't help me at all.

If I wrote this review a day ago I would have told you Host Gator is a good host and I recommend them. After being with them this long and only having minor issues, never once have I been suspended, I have two share accounts (swamp) and then your run-of-the mill web hosting issues you'll get almost anywhere you can't go wrong with Host Gator.

That was yesterday, today its a bit different. I screwed up on a update of my forums, and needed to get a few files. I didn't have them on my computer. So I went to the host gator site to see if I could get it from them, being how they make backups (or so they say they do). Now taken in mind I don't troll their forum or any web hosting/webmaster forum. I have a busy site with updates many times a day. I have projects, and life to deal with. No time being picky over every change they make. Well glad I screwed up and went to their forum because if not I may never have notice their new TOS change.

If you don't know, on at least shared hosting accounts they have set up a new TOS which basically states you can't go over 50,000 INODES. Now I have no idea what they are. I'm not that big of a nerd nor am I that technical (even know I like to think that I am). Turns out it files and folders on the server under your account. Well I guess for most it wouldn't be a issue.

For me however, wow. Lets put it simply. Most of my webmaster friends put everything on the root level unless it something like a board or gallery script they download. I on the other hand like to keep things sorted so I tend to have lot of folders with in folders or at least with in the working of the site itself (not pages viewed by users). My gallery has over 10,000 images. The gallery is Coppermine Photo Gallery by the way, so if you know it makes thumbnails and some times normal images if the size is way to big (wallpapers for example). So easy that's 20,000+ files right there. I have a message board (IPB), my web site pages, the scripts that run that, images, another board (IPB) which is close right now, my friend and I have a smaller site, he as a online RPG game he is working on, another board that is in the works (this one is a vBulletin), so a head count on my computer its easy just one 35,000 files + the folders. But I don't know if that count of 50,000 is email, configuration files, logs, etc that's already on the server account before you add anything yourself.

With the growth of my site, not just traffic wise (to where I use more resources then allowed) but just growth of content I could easily break 50,000 with in the next 2 to 3 months. So as you can guess this has back me into a wall here. Not really sure what I should do. Should I wait it out and see if they do take action, who knows they could change the TOS in 2 months. Or move to a host with out that. I guess with the adding of ads in the control panel, it's not a big deal, but a foreshadow of what's to come maybe? I missed the whole 404 deal, luckily I made all those custom pages day one. I've heard some other small things about them on how they seem to be going down hill, over loading their servers (wouldn't be shocked and hell what share host doesn't pack it in) its coming to the point as if I'm being forced to go to the next level in hosting. I don't doubt some day I will but right now its too much, both resource wise and price wise.

At the end of the day Host Gator would be giving a good 3/5 based on my time with them. I just feel that I pay for the hosting. I pay for a set amount of bandwidth and space. I knew going in they could change their TOS with out telling me, but to the point that they make a change which results in me being in danger of getting suspended? I read the reason for the 50,000 limit and well to me it sounds silly. I mean I'm sure lot of people have to be angry about it.

Well this review has already gone way too long so I'll leave it at that. I hope this helps someone. Basically if your a new site starting out, Host Gator is the best. If your like me running a site that's been around the block (been open since 1999) Host Gator may be the last host you want to go to unless you have no other choice, still good but can cap a good sites growth big time.

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Review By: Rick Jones
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