Tag Archives: godaddy

How to Deal With Web Hosting Failures and Outages

First off, it sucks. I am sorry that you have to go through the ordeal of downtime and web hosting failures.  

There are a couple of facts about web hosting companies that everyone needs to realize:

1. Every web host has failures, given enough time. None are perfect.

2. Given 1, that doesn't mean every web host is the same. Some do better than others in handling situations. Different people will feel differently about how well a situation was handled, not everyone will be pleased. But in general, some companies handle failures better than others.

What happens after a failure

The company almost always apologizes. Sometimes they give their customers some type of compensation, often in the form of credit or payment forgiveness. Anything less than an apology should be an immediate warning sign.

Customers are then faced with a big decision.

Do you want to remain a customer of this company?

Some people will ditch the web host no matter what, given a good enough reason. Some will be locked in because of long term contracts or budgets. Some will be wondering what the future performance of the company will be like: was this a one off or a pattern? Everyone will make their own evaluations on these issues. People will see this outage differently. Choosing the right web hosting company is a personal decision. No web host is perfect for everyone.

I have a unique insight given the data I track here at Review Signal. My full time job is analyzing web hosting companies and what people think of them. I've watched multiple major outages and problems across different companies.

What generally happens is called regression to the mean. Simply put, the companies generally return to their pre-failure/outage service quality.

godaddy_dns_outage_full

GoDaddy had a major DNS outage in September 2012. You can see a clear drop in rating and increased negative sentiment during and for a couple days after the event. However, within a week, things appear to be back to normal, their long-term overall rating is just under 50%.

hostgator_sentiment

HostGator experienced a major outage in August 2013. We can see a huge decrease in rating and a massive spike in the number of negative messages. However, within days, HostGator was receiving ratings above 60%, they were 62% before the crash.

That doesn't mean every company will always regress back to the mean. Failures and outages can often be signs of systemic or worsening problems. There are sometimes signs that you can look for to determine if this is something that simply happens or perhaps a sign of things to come. Here is a non-exhaustive list of potential warning signs:

  • Management Changes
  • Ownership changes
  • Degrading Service Quality (eg. slower response times, less knowledgeable customer service representatives)
  • New / Different Infrastructure
  • New / Different Software

So you still want to move or at least consider other options?

There are a lot of hosting companies out there. There are probably some even cheaper, there are some that have better reputations in different areas, there are some that might suit you better than your current provider. It's sometimes a good idea to look around just to make sure you're getting the best value.

When choosing a new web host people generally consider one of two options: asking friends or reading reviews. If you have a friend who knows the web hosting industry and you trust them to give you a good recommendation, that's often a good place to start. If you like reviews and trust a lot of opinions more than one person's opinion then finding reviews can be a better option.

I am biased here and I want to be upfront about that. This site (Review Signal) is a webhosting review site that works by tracking the opinions people share publicly on social media. That's where I get my data and insights, watching and reading all the recommendations and complaints against most of the major players in the web hosting space. All of the data we collect is published for free and available here. Each review is linked to the original posting source so you can verify it, or even reach out to that person if you really want. Review Signal's goal is to be the most honest and transparent review site in the industry and has more than 150,000 reviews (or ~100 times more than any of our competitors).

That said, there are other venues that you can look at too. Web Hosting Talk is the largest web hosting forum and has years of people talking about different companies. There is a ton of great information there and it's a great place for people interested in learning about web hosting as a business.

What should I be concerned about when looking for a new host?

There are a lot of considerations but I will list some of the major ones:

1. What do you need? The primary constraints of any site are software, hardware (disk space, cpu, memory/ram), and bandwidth. Unlimited sounds nice, but nothing is really unlimited and you don't need unlimited. Most sites don't need much at all. WordPress is only a few megabytes to put this into perspective. A high resolution photo is generally a few megabytes. Realistic goals and expectations can help make for a better hosting experience.

2. How do you expect to be supported when things go wrong or you need help? There are two primary categories of hosting: managed and unmanaged. Managed hosting means the provider manages the server for you and takes care of things like security updates and software updates. Please note this is on the server side, generally not the software you install yourself. When your server goes down, they fix it. Unmanaged hosting makes you responsible for doing these things. Most people aren't comfortable with that, but some are. If you decide you need managed, look at things like how you can get support: is it ticket system only? What about telephone? Is it 24/7? Test out the support. Try calling/emailing and asking a question. Was it fast? Easy? Did you like talking to the person? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then you are going to be really pissed off when you're a customer and actually have a real problem. Maybe that company isn't right for you.

3. How much should I spend on hosting? There is no right amount. You should be asking yourself two questions, how much can I afford and makes sense? How much is what I am running on my website worth? If you have an online business making $1,000/day running on a $3/month hosting plan with poor support, you might want to re-think your plan. If you run a personal blog for fun with cat pictures you found on reddit and your mom is your only visitor, $3/month might be the right amount to spend on it (no offense to all the cat picture websites, the internet needs more of you <3 and take this cat picture offering).

chemistrycat

4. There is no best host. Hosting companies are good at different things. Some specialize in very specific types of hosting and services while others are the best at being cheap. It really depends what you want and how you want to make trade-offs.

Conclusion

I tried to include some basic guidelines and help here for anyone considering the issues around a major catastrophe at a web hosting company. Not every situation is covered and getting specific help and recommendations is sometimes necessary. I am happy to answer any questions people might have and help any/all of you to the best of my ability. Please use our Talk to a Web Hosting Expert form to get started. If you are just interested in reading reviews, I suggest taking a look at our big list of providers, ratings and data available on our compare web hosting providers page.

Good luck and I hope this has helped!

-Kevin Ohashi

 

 

This post was inspired by the EIG outage [covered here 12] and a comment I wrote on Mashable discussing the outage.

Photo credit: Nathan Reed.

 

Post Mortem of the EIG Outage (August 2, 2013) That Affected BlueHost, HostGator, JustHost and HostMonster

I first wrote about EIG's major outage as it was occurring and had to speculate on a few things before I had the data to support those guesses. This post is a more complete picture of what happened.

Recap

EIG had a major outage on August 2, 2013 that lasted for many hours because core switches in their Provo, Utah datacenter failed. This failure caused customers of BlueHost, HostGator, JustHost and HostMonster to be taken offline.

I speculated as to what would occur after the outage. How would the brands of the affected companies be perceived after such a catastrophic failure? I looked for a comparable event: the GoDaddy DNS outage in September 2012. What I observed from that event was a very quick return to normal volumes of messages and sentiment. GoDaddy regressed to the mean. 

GoDaddy

The charts I used in my original post were lacking. I didn't have time to really collect and analyze all the data, especially sentiment. I could eyeball the historical data and see the ratings bounced back to their original levels but it wasn't a granular look.

godaddy_dns_outage_full

This chart shows the actual outage, tweet volume and sentiment. It's immediately clear that negative sentiment has a huge spike. I also suspect that a lot of the positive messages are actually mis-categorized; Review Signal isn't perfect and things like sarcasm are one of the hardest things for the sentiment analysis algorithms to categorize. The unusual volume lasts three days and then quickly drops back to a normal looking pattern with perhaps a slightly higher baseline volume. The actual rating goes back to hovering around 50%, which GoDaddy's long-term graph hovers around as well.godaddy_chart

Let's get back to the EIG outage and the affected brands. I am only going to talk about two of the brands, BlueHost and HostGator, in this post because on a granular level, the other two, HostMonster and JustHost, didn't have enough data. The brands without enough data will take more time to develop a clear picture about the effects of the outage.

BlueHost

bluehost_sentiment

I was wrong. So far at least. BlueHost had an overall rating of 57% before August 2. It hasn't broken 50% since the outage. BlueHost did not, or has not yet, regressed back to the mean. What's interesting is that the volume of tweets about BlueHost's outage was more than double in quantity to the similar GoDaddy outage, but they both quickly dropped back to normal volume within days of the event.

I will explore this a bit more, but to do that I need to show you the other brand.

 HostGator

hostgator_sentiment

HostGator's outage looks almost identical to GoDaddy's outage. Around 1000 negative messages on the day of the outage and back to normal within days. HostGator appears to have regressed to the mean as quickly as GoDaddy, its rating has been over 60% two days, which are pre-crash levels, where its average rating was 62%.  HostGator behaved exactly as I predicted.

Weird Conclusions and Speculations

Why hasn't BlueHost regress to the mean? One explanation, which I was alerted to by a kind reader (Thanks Linda!), is that not all of HostGator's customers were in the Provo, UT data center. So the outage may have disproportionately affected BlueHost customers compared to HostGator customers. BlueHost is also the larger hosting company by number of customers, although not domain count.

That explanation may explain the volume difference, but I don't think it explains the regression to the mean for one brand and not the other. Presumably the affected customers of both brands should be equally upset. Those lingering feelings should last equally long for both groups of customers.

I can't explain why we haven't seen BlueHost regress, but I can point out a few differences between this outage and the GoDaddy comparison which may be factors. One important factor is duration. GoDaddy's outage lasted 4-5 hours according to reports. The EIG outage lasted from the morning of August 2 until 9 PM. They were reporting 'intermittent instability' into August 3 according to their official website.

I could speculate that the combination of severity, duration and size of the affected brand has caused some sort of more permanent brand damage to BlueHost, but I think that's premature. BlueHost hasn't regressed yet, but I still think it will eventually. A company that large, with such a huge brand and marketing infrastructure will probably recover. I will be watching BlueHost carefully for the next few weeks or months along with the smaller brands to see if it happens. If it doesn't, this will be an interesting case study in branding, communication and perhaps social media.

 

Thank you for reading and if you have any ideas, feedback or suggestions please leave them in the comments below.

Service Interrupted: A Look at the EIG (BlueHost, HostGator, HostMonster, JustHost) Outage through Twitter

I woke up today and quickly found out that one of the major players in the hosting space was having a massive outage.  According to their own blog:

During the morning of August 2, 2013, Endurance International Group’s data center in Provo, UT experienced unexpected issues that impacted customers of bluehost, HostGator, HostMonster and JustHost. Company websites and some phone services were affected as well.

That sounds bad. Really bad. But how bad? Let's take a look at the data:

tweets_per_day_by_company

 

It's pretty clear that today was an outlier. A major outlier for all the affected companies.

Our data collection system here at Review Signal collected over 35,000 tweets today alone about these four companies. That is roughly 14 times the normal amount.

Interestingly enough, there are some very understanding customers out there too, it wasn't all negative.

hostgator_positive

 

How has it affected their rankings?

I must first note that most messages don't make it through our spam filtering systems for a variety of reasons. So despite there being over 35,000 tweets, we did not get 35,000 new reviews. Many of the messages were not up to our quality standards, eg. retweets, spam, duplicate messages and news. If you are interested in learning more about how we calculate scores and what kinds of messages count see our How It Works section.

 

BlueHost

I am not sure why, but BlueHost was impacted a lot more than it's bigger brother HostGator. BlueHost has 1.9 million domains on their server. They also received over 15,000 tweets about them today (50% more than HostGator).

BlueHost was rated at 57% (Overall Rating) from over two years worth of data collected. Today they dropped 8% to 49%. There were over 1,500 negative reviews today (Note: Our data was calculated early to write this article, the day isn't fully over yet).

HostGator

HostGator is the largest of the bunch and has 2.15 million domains under management. They seemed to have fared the storm better than their brothers with less tweets about them in absolute number and relative to their size.

HostGator was rated at 62% (Overall Rating) and dropped 5% to 57%. HostGator received approximately 700 negative reviews today.

HostMonster and JustHost

These are the babies of the bunch, HostMonster has 'only' 700,000 domainso and JustHost has barely over 350,000.

HostMonster went from a 56% (Overall Rating) to 48%, which is a 8% decline. JustHost dropped from 46% to 41%, a total of 5%.

Conclusion

Today was a pretty awful day for all the companies above but some were affected more than others. I don't have any answer as to why that might be. There are many plausible theories such as perhaps there were more BlueHost customers in the Provo, UT data center than the other companies. But without further information, it's only speculation. UPDATE: I was told BlueHost actually has more customers than HostGator, even if HostGator customers have more domainers. A simple explanation as to why BlueHost was impacted more.

What I can say is a major screw up definitely impacts a company's reputation. But large companies seem to regress to the mean.

GoDaddy is a good comparison. They had a major DNS outage around September 11-12. It left a noticeable dip on the overall rating but it seemed to bounce back. February's dip is the super bowl effect that brings a lot of attention to them (more negative than positive, but attention nonetheless). The long-term volume of tweets also doesn't appear to be affected after a few days.

godaddy_chart

godaddy_dns_outage

If we use GoDaddy as a benchmark, these companies will probably be back to their usual levels of service within a week, but today and the next couple days will leave a very long term impact on their rating at Review Signal.

What did people say about GoDaddy’s 2013 Super Bowl Ad?

Many of us watched the Super Bowl last night. Some of us even watched only to see the commercials. GoDaddy made a tremendous impact this year. They received 290,000 tweets from the Super Bowl. We here at Review Signal got curious, what did people say about GoDaddy?

(Click to View in Full Size)

image

Where did this data come from?

We used our sample of ~27,000 tweets and found the most popular words used when talking about GoDaddy. The bigger the word(s) the more commonly used they were to describe.

Watch The Commercial

Hurricane in the Cloud: How Hurricane Sandy Impacted Web Hosting Companies

I thought it would be really fun to create an infographic about the effects of Hurricane Sandy on the web hosting companies we track. I learned my infographic skills are optimistically rated: very poor.

So here's the interesting stats and trends we saw occur during Hurricane Sandy:

418 People Tweeted about Sandy and a web hosting company.

119 of those Tweets were talking about Intel's Sandy Bridge technology

15 People were concerned about their web hosting

7 (/15) of those people were worried about Amazon

23 People Claimed to have issues related to Sandy

8 (/23) of those complaints were directed at BlueHost

The Most Popular Sandy Tweets:

"Unsure why Heroku is prepping for Sandy. I thought hurricanes were the strongest kind of cloud." - @tenderlove (42 RTs)

"Linode HQ weathered #sandy only to lose power hours later, late last night. It runs our VoIP phones so no calls until we can work around." -  @linode (15 RTs)

"Laughing Squid founder @ScottBeale is live tweeting post #Sandy recovery from Manhattan. Follow him updates: https://twitter.com/ScottBeale" - @LaughingSquid (9 RTs)

Some Angry/Happy Tweets:

"@GoDaddy UMADBRO?????? UMAD?!?!?!?!?!? I HOPE SANDY COMES AND DESTROYS ALL YOUR SERVERS." - @djdarrenmallett

"With Gawker, HuffPo and others experiencing outages, Sandy is IRL the equivalent of GoDaddy hosting." - @spydergrrl

"wow how in the hell did @linode have 100% uptime in Newark during #Sandy? that's some badass hosting right there." - @procdaddy

"Wow, so Jersey is getting HAMMERED by Hurricane Sandy right now, and yet my @linode in Newark is still up. THAT'S service right there!" - @bill_clark

Other stories we found in the data:

Heroku released regions to help deal with customers who might potentially be affected by Sandy.

We saw BlueHost decided to offer flexible payments to those affected by Sandy.

Finally.

For your entertainment.

You can see my first ever attempt at creating an infographic (in the future, I will hire someone else to design these!)

image