An Honest Review of Site5 Hosting

So even though you can’t see it, this week I made the biggest change to Jargonwriter.com that will be made: I changed hosting services. The site is now hosted by Site5.

I agreed to do a honest review of the process in exchange for $5. So they’re totally going to credit me five bucks in return for this – no matter what I say. That disclaimer given, I promise this is a 100% honest review.

I decided to switch hosts for a variety of reasons, namely because I was having a few issues making regular, necessary upgrades and updates to my wordpress platform. Initially I had signed up with my previous hosting company because I knew the owner and we had done business together before – he offered to host my sites for free in a barter / services exchange. But I don’t know the backend stuff from the ground up like I should (though I’m working to remedy this). So updates required help from my fantastic tech friends.

That led to a decision to change hosting services. Danny, who I have mentioned before (he’s kind of my secret weapon for all things web-related…because he’s just that awesome) recommended checking out Site5. There were several points from the get-go that made them a good choice for me. First was their price point. As someone who is still in the launch phase of her freelance business, I don’t have a ton of cash to sling around. Site5 offered a solid plan for about $15 a month. For that price I get unlimited websites, bandwidth and disk space. I also got a free site migration. And they have 24/7 live chat customer support.

Now, to be fair, I was going from hosting I didn’t have to pay for to hosting that I would pay out of pocket. That meant I had/have high expectations. I ran into a few glitches (almost inevitable when making major changes), but their customer service was responsive, got back to me quickly and I was thrilled to be able to get someone on live chat late at night on a Thursday.

That said, I think it would be really helpful to have one person per shift handle my ticket, so that I would be communicating with the same person rather than requiring each new person to acquaint themselves with my issues (which I believe is what led to the email issues / mix up described in detail below). So far, their hosting services have been solid (no downtime that I’m aware of). Their customer service has been really good (quick response time, good follow up). They offer great add-on features (like the free migration), an affiliate program and all sorts of interesting backend features I’m in the process of learning how to use. Overall, I’ve been very pleased with them so far and have already recommended them to several friends (one of which is now using them too).

Before I decided to give them a try I was talking about hosting on Twitter and mentioned them. Someone (Hi @benatsite5) from their company contacted me on twitter almost immediately. Point 1 in their favor. After talking to him for a bit and discussing it with other freelancers and Danny I decided to go for it. I had hoped to have the site transferred on a weekend – unfortunately the guys only do Transfers M-F. Not a big deal; it just meant I would have to wait until a Thursday to do the transfer so I could check everything the next day and make sure it was all working properly (M-Th. are a bit crazy in my life).

Opening an account was super easy. I just followed the steps on their website and was set up in no time. I input a request for site migration late Thursday and heard back from them early Friday with a note that they would begin migrating my site. Shortly after that, though, we hit a snag. Remember I said my old hosting site was tough to upgrade? Apparently it was also hard to get my content off of. They guys at Site5 asked me to have my host create a backup of my site and place it where they could download it easily. Instead of going through my old host, Danny did it for me (because he’s awesome).

Since this happened after hours on Friday, I figured the site migration would continue Monday. Having the site backed up Friday night meant any new posts / comments / anything on the blog would not transfer to the new site, so I held off making any changes.

But I still hadn’t heard anything by early Tuesday, so I messaged the guys on twitter, asking for some follow up.  They got right back to me and looked into it immediately (like, I had an answer within less than 10 minutes). Those guys are DEFINITELY using social media correctly. Back on track, they finished the migration, no problem.

The next part was on me. I had to re-point my domain names to the Site5 servers and transfer one of my domain names from my old host to my existing godaddy.com account. One of their support guys sent me an email with some information on how to do all of this correctly, with the new servers I needed to point my domains to, etc.

I waited until after work Thursday night to do that portion of things. That was a mistake. I should have done it during the day so everyone would be in the office if I had any problems. Which I did. Somehow in the process of redirecting everything my email stopped working. Danny (did I mention he’s awesome?) had set my email up to process through gmail at email.jargonwriter.com.

So I went to the company’s live chat, got a real, live representative and asked why it wasn’t working. He said it was basically a box I had forgotten to check somewhere in the process, and that he’d have it up and fixed in about half an hour. I was thrilled. But half an hour later it still wasn’t up, so I emailed back. Another guy got back to me and said that was because the domains hadn’t finished redirecting and that it would probably take about another 90 minutes. I waited. It still wasn’t up. I emailed again. A third guy informed me that each site is set up on two servers, and one had transferred, but the other was still processing: it would be another 45 minutes or so.

We emailed back and forth a lot that night and eventually I was told I would have to contact Google, because there was nothing else the Site5 guys could do. Friday morning Danny (again, Danny=Awesome) poked around a bit and found the snag: Site5 had told my email to go to mail.jargonwriter.com instead of email.jargonwriter.com (I HAD mentioned the specific URL in my first ticket – but by the time I’d talked to 4 or 4 people the ticket was a bit long… I think the 2, 3, 4 etc people didn’t read the whole ticket). It took him some maneuvering but he fixed it: I would just have to use mail.jargonwriter.com from then on.

Impressively, shortly after Danny had finished fixing things, I got an email from the guys at Site5 asking if we’d resolved things and checking in overall to see how the process had gone. I explained that we had gotten it fixed up on my end–but I was impressed to hear from them after the fact. They’ve checked in once or twice since to ensure things are still up and running (I hadn’t closed the ticket yet).

Finally, my sites are all migrated and I can begin the fun part – a redesign.

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