Tag Archives: Web Hosting

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.


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. 


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.


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.



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'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:



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.



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.



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 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%.


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.



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.

Digital Ocean Logo

Introducing Digital Ocean – Low Cost SSD VPS Provider

We are happy to announce Digital Ocean has been added to Review Signal today.

Read our 1,200+ Digital Ocean Reviews or use Promo Code SSDTWTTR to get $10 Free Credit.

Digital Ocean is a relatively new provider in the cloud vps hosting space and has skyrocketed in popularity (over 5,000% in the past six months!). It seems that their explosive growth is backed up by the data we've collected. Digital Ocean has an overall rating of 81% at the this time. That's the highest rated web hosting company on Review Signal at the time of writing.

As of yesterday, Digital Ocean has opened up a second data center in New York (NY2) and now offers San Franciso, New York and Amsterdam as locations. Their plans start at $5/month for a 512MB (RAM) and 20GB SSD of space.

Congratulations and welcome to Digital Ocean!

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)


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

The Best of 2012 – Reflections and Awards

It's been an exciting year at Review Signal. We launched in September. It's been going well and we have really enjoyed the feedback from our users. Thank you to everyone who has visited, reached out and help us along the way.

We wanted to end the year with a look back through our data and recognize some exceptional companies that stood out this year.

Best Overall Web Host: A Small Orange

A Small Orange 2012 Best Overall Web Host

A Small Orange have consistently had the highest rating of any company all year. Their rating for the year ended at a 77% Overall Rating. Their customers have been simply raving about them.

However, one new specialty hosting company did eclipse them in November.

Best Specialty Web Host: WPEngine (WordPress Hosting)

WPEngine 2012 Best Specialty Web Host

WPEngine was a late addition to our system and it got a huge number of reviews very quickly. The consensus was that WPEngine is pretty good with an Overall Rating of 80%.

One of the biggest differentiators for hosting companies these days is the support. We wanted to recognize two companies that had the best service ratings. We separated them into managed and unmanaged because of the very different nature of each offer. We ran into some issues where some companies had high ratings but very few actual reviews related to it. To normalize for volume we applied a Wilson Score interval, so some companies may appear to have higher support scores but the confidence in those is lower because there were only a few reviews making up that rating.

Best Managed/Unmanaged Hosting Support: LiquidWeb / Linode

LiquidWeb Best Managed Support HostingLinode Best Unmanaged Support Hosting

Both LiquidWeb and Linode have very passionate customers and are near the top in Overall Rating as well as having the highest Support Ratings in their respective categories. Linode has a passionate fanbase in the developer community who seem more than happy to manage their own VPSs. LiquidWeb's customers are generally in the managed Dedicated and VPS categories.

We congratulate each of these companies on an excellent 2012 and hope their performance only continues to improve in 2013.

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.


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!)


WPEngine Logo

Introducing WPEngine – Managed WordPress Hosting

We are happy to announce WPEngine as the newest addition to ReviewSignal! In two months, we have collected over 100 reviews about WPEngine and their customers are raving about them. They have earned themselves the highest rating of any company monitored with a whopping overall rating of 82%!

We talked briefly to Co-Founder Ben Metcalfe about what makes WPEngine special:

"WP Engine is the Premium Managed WordPress Hosting Platform focused on providing Speed, Security and Scale. All accounts are automatically installed, setup, optimized, backed up and most crucially kept up to date with the lastest version of WordPress. WP Engine only supports WordPress and everyone on staff is a WordPress expert." - Ben Metcalfe

We would like to give a big congratulations to WPEngine and encourage our readers to read WPEngine Reviews on Review Signal!