Beware When Moving Your Website to Another Hosting Company

I want to share a summary of what I experienced this past weekend when I decided to move this website from my existing host (Company A) to a different host (Company B).  The reason I made that decision was because I had just bought two new domains and had them hosted with Company B.  I had even started building a site on one of those domains.

However, I have now canceled the service with Company B.   Without going into all the details that I had to painstakingly document in the numerous emails with Company B’s support team, I am sharing some of the lessons I learned throughout my ordeal.  My hope is to spare you from experiencing anything similar.

  • When thinking about transferring an existing site to another hosting company, be sure that you fully understand what the new hosting company will (or will not) do for you with regard to your existing site.  If they offer a free transfer, make sure you completely understand what that means.
  • Be sure to back up your existing website(s) BEFORE attempting to transfer (move) to a new hosting company.  It is best to do a FULL backup of everything and restore it on the new hosting company’s servers, if you are doing the moving of files yourself. Also make sure that your backup is also on your own computer.
  • Do NOT change the name servers (DNS) until you are completely certain that your site is working as expected on the new host’s server.
  • Know that while bigger and more well-known hosting companies may offer what seems like a really good deal in terms of cost, what matters MOST is the customer support you have access to when you really need it.
  • Although being able to speak with someone on the phone to get your questions answered may seem like a plus, getting incorrect information is quite possible.
  • When you are not totally sure about ANYTHING related to transferring your existing site, be sure you call back for clarification.  Chances are great you will get different information than what you got the first time you called.  If you’re still not clear, call again, but understand you may still get conflicting information.
  • If you find that the person you are speaking to does not clearly understand your questions or the problem you are experiencing, and cannot provide the assistance you need, politely thank them and hang up.  Then, take a deep breath, and call back with the hope that the next person you speak with can be of real assistance.
  • Do not waste hours on the phone with the front-line person who is trying to help (but obviously does not have the skill set to do so).  Instead, open a support ticket with ALL the details necessary for a more skilled support person to be able to respond to intelligently.
  • Do not allow the front-line person to open a support ticket for you because that person will not accurately describe the issues discussed during the conversation they just had with you.
  • When the email responses comes back (from the support tickets that you opened and the one that the front-line person opened with a different ticket number) and it’s clear that the person responding either did not read or understand either of the support tickets, be calm.
  • Take some more deep breaths and proceed to reply to the ticket YOU opened, with a kind, but very controlled level of frustration, making it clear that you want someone who knows how to resolve the issues to CALL you immediately since written communication seems to be a problem.
  • When that senior support person does call you, be very kind and courteous while calming explaining all that you had already written in the support ticket that you opened.
  • Allow that person to do whatever they can to resolve the issues.
  • When it becomes apparent that their resolution has not fixed the problem, politely email the person who tried, but failed, and let them know you’ve decided to remain with your current host (Company A).  Also ask for instructions for not only canceling your service with Company B, but for receiving a refund as well.
  • Then contact Company A (whose support is only online through their help desk system) and humbly explain the mess that has ensued by clearly stating the problem, and asking that the new site you had hosted on Company B’s server be moved to Company A’s server.

In retrospect, it’s obvious that my decision to go with Company B was flawed to begin with.  The ONLY reason I chose to go with a different host (Company B) rather than sticking with Company A (that has served me well for almost three years) is because I was trying to cut my expenses and save money on hosting.  But the time spent trying to accomplish that goal made it abundantly clear that spending less money is NOT necessarily the best reason for making and acting on a decision.

Had I thoroughly thought through the idea of switch hosting companies, I could have avoided two days worth of wasted time and effort, not to mention, total frustration with Company B.

The smarter choice would have been to simply add the two new domains to Company A’s hosting service and then ask to have my hosting plan downgraded to one that offers exactly what I already have, but without all the other features that I am not even using.  So, as of today, while I haven’t yet downgraded, all my sites (including the new one that I started building) are FINALLY back online and functioning correctly.  And Company A‘s support took care of it all in a matter of hours (not days)!

Hindsight truly is 20/20 . . .

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