Why I Left Hostgator for SiteGround After 10 Years
(And Why I Left Siteground for A2 Hosting)
UPDATE: Now that I've been using Siteground for a few years, I have more experience with their setup and I can't say that I'd recommend them for anything other than a simple, low-traffic website. Their server configuration seems "unlimited" on their product page, but there are tight limitations on number of files, MySQL database size, and other resources. You will be cut off mid-month if you exceed these resources, which is very easy to do, forcing you to upgrade from a $10/month package to a $100/month package, with no options in between.
Recently, the Joomla Project partnered with and endorsed A2 Hosting so I moved a few sites over there. The customer service is excellent and they don't have the resource limitations that Siteground has. A much better option!
The below post remains for historical reference, but I recommend you try A2 Hosting.
Anyone who manages or hosts more than a handful of websites knows that if you have to change your hosting provider, it's a nightmare. Even in the best of circumstances, there are so many options to configure and tweak. Even if you did a block-level clone, it would still be a ton of work to get everything up and running correctly. Even though I was unhappy, that's what I'd been thinking about and avoiding for almost two years until I finally did something about it.
My Experience with HostGator
I'd been with HostGator for around 10 years. A friend set up a reseller account with them and basically bequeathed it to me a few years later when he no longer wanted to manage the hosting himself. So I had a reseller account for a while and then moved shortly into a dedicated server because one of my sites needed the power and bandwidth. Hostgator was somewhat helpful in that process, but it was hit or miss with their support. Sometimes I'd get someone who really knew what they were talking about and other times it seemed like it was that person's first day on the job and had no clue how to resolve a pretty simple issue until a more senior person got involved. Over these years, I recommended HostGator quite a few times to friends and industry acquaintances who were looking for a host.
That is, until a few years ago. A Hostgator "server upgrade" caused regular outages on the server and it seemed to stymie their tech support. It broke their SLA for guaranteed uptime, which used to say that they would refund you for the month of service. I called them on this once and they gave me a free month of service (after jumping through a lot of hoops). This happened again later and as a dedicated server, they changed their policy and decided to only refund me for the pro-rated period of downtime (which was just a few dollars). That few dollars wasn't nearly worth the downtime and headache and I began to think about switching hosts when they told me that they were going to shut off my Joomla 1.5 site because it was "insecure" (which showed they knew nothing about Joomla or its versions to be making autonomous and arbitrary decisions like that). I did a lot of research and narrowed it down to five companies that I felt were serious, had a professional attitude, responsive support, and reasonable cost. I was also looking for Joomla support, but that wasn't a requirement.
Choosing a New Host
When another outage happened in the summer of 2014, it was the last straw. I knew it was going to be painful to move away, but I decided to bite the bullet and do it. I decided to pull out my short list of hosting providers from my previous research and I went through them one by one. It came down to RackSpace and SiteGround so I decided to speak to each of their customer service agents to get a better feel for their services and company. RackSpace was more concerned about up-selling me something I didn't need rather than understanding what was the right package for me, which is how SiteGround responded. They also had a very Joomla-centric focus (all my sites are running Joomla) so, hands down, the clear winner was SiteGround's Cloud Hosting packages. They were earnest, flexible, responsive, and very helpful in every way.
My Great Experience with SiteGround
I began the process of migrating my websites over. The smaller ones were pretty easy to do using cPanel. The big sites were a pain and I let SiteGround do those (though they only migrate one site for free for new customers and charge a steep fee for additional sites, so be prepared). I managed to get most everything migrated to the new server over the course of a weekend. and SiteGround's technical support was there every step of the way to help. I'm sure they got tired of this new client pestering them with problems and questions, but they were always very friendly and helpful.
It's been a few months now since the move and I'm so glad I did it. SiteGround's support has been extremely responsive, knowledgeable, and helpful at all hours. Now I wonder why I didn't move to them sooner and if I had, I wouldn't have had so many problems and headaches. And recently they announced a partnership with the Joomla Project to host the Joomla Demo site and give free Joomla hosting for 90 days. Their support of the Joomla Project, events and community contributions all add up to them being a great hosting partner for the future.