Hosting Woes: I’m Firing My Hosting Company

by on September 20, 2011

Why Media Temple Can Dangle

I normally don’t like to rant publicly, but this is my blog – so I’m gonna do it here. I have been using Media Temple as my host of choice for many years. I was impressed with the grid service and thought it was smarter than co-location or local hosting, which many of my partners, clients and peers used. The containers for Ruby and Django were a brilliant addition to services. 1-button installation of Drupal or WordPress made it one of my time-saving secret weapons. With Media Temple as my hosting platform, I set out to rid my market of predatory and parasitic web services  companies. These same junk firms claimed that my hosting was unreliable and unsecured. They claimed that only .NET IS hosting was reliable and foolproof. A few months later I was at the right place at the right time. The evil web company’s servers were in the basement of their office building downtown. The entire area flooded and they were hosed, literally. No redundancy, no co-location, no off-site backups…. Guess where a good number of those clients went? That’s right, to me – because the handful of clients I had in town still had sites up online. That was that, I scaled up my services with Media Temple and we were on our way.

How To Make Me Leave Your Service

Since my stance was always to give the power of CMS to my clients, I taught many of them how to administrate their sites so they could add and change pages at their leisure and so they didn’t have to pay me every time they needed to add/change. A few of them decided they would rather just have me handle their accounts for a monthly fee, no problem. For those that were cavalier enough to administrate their own sites, I always recommended Media Temple to serve their hosting needs. Here’s where I probably should have drawn the line perhaps, but once you are my client, I continue to offer free advice to those that can run with it. A few weeks ago, one of these client’s sites got infected by malware and it spread his whole grid service. He immediately sought advice from me and I took action. We contacted the customer support through their ticketing system and awaited instructions. Their response was ” We don’t see any malware on any of these sites”. So we went further to explain to them that people trying to access our sites that have antivirus software cannot browse to our sites. We even provided them with the malware descriptions from the AV’s. They then responded with ” oh yeah those sites are infected with malware according to *BS malware removal company* Here’s an incomplete tutorial on how to remove it or you can contact *BS malware removal comany* if you want and they can charge you $90 per site”.

So they assumed no responsibility and chose to ignore us and move on to trying to sell more services, even 3rd party! Okay, so apparently they weren’t interested in helping further through the support ticketing system, because they closed the ticket and marked it resolved.  So I take to twitter and ask them why they allow propagation of malware, because anyone that visits this client’s site runs the risk of infection. After a few canned responses from their current persona, they tried to direct the conversation to private messages. I chose not to especially after the direct message was an attempt to gain clemency or worse, self-absolution on their part by this juvenile explanation: “Imagine Media Temple is like a mall and you have a store in the mall. If you leave the door to your store unlocked, it isn’t the responsibility of mall security”. WHAT???? I’m sorry, but regardless of doors being locked, if your “mall” has a “security” force and they allowed someone to steal from my store, they should be fired and investigated for theft conspiracy. Especially if said “security” offers the sleuthing of a 3rd party private detective service, a risk assessment service, a locksmith and a guy that sells rabid guard dogs. They offered for me to speak with a supervisor, but when I asked if there was any chance to have this malware removed, they skirted a yes or no by saying they couldn’t promise anything.

So, the very practices I preached to my clients against were now being employed by the company I told them they could trust. About a year ago, I decided to host my own sites on a different vendor, Just Host. They had a domain offer I could not pass up so I joined. I hated some of their interface and really hated their DNS dashboard, but it was sufficient for what I needed. Everything else was almost identical if not better than Media Temple’s. A few months into owning that account, I unknowingly used a malicious WordPress plugin and they immediately shut my site down so that even I couldn’t access it. I emailed their support and got very specific and easy instructions to secure the computer I was going to use, change passwords to that site’s CMS and databases, and then to update all  WordPress components. They removed the malware without me having to ask and without disrupting or breaking any sites on my service.  I’m told Host Gator does the same by several colleagues that I respect.

Here’s The Rub:

When you start using a service, it’s hard to know what to expect from their support team. You can ask advice, seek forums, look at their current sentiment of reputation using a tool like Stinky Teddy. If you are currently using a service and many (most) of your peers and colleagues are falling out of love with it, find out why – even if you’re not experiencing the same problems. You most likely will encounter a similar issue later. One tell-tale sign that a company is notorious for poor customer service is how their social media engagement and ORM is set up. This does not mean that any company that does social engagement really well is a suspect. What this means is that when a social media presence exists solely to defend their brand and gives you canned answers and explains how they should not be held responsible for anything on their servers. Run! Run and hide from a company like that unless they give you a REALLY good reason to stay. I am migrating all my clients to a host of their choice and I am offering to pay each of them for the last month of horrible service from Media Temple. I hope they get their act together, but after this kind of treatment and the constant downage, I doubt I’d ever point anyone in their direction… unless I wanted them to fail.

The Gonzo SEO recommends Just Host. They are not perfect, but a hell of a lot better service than Media Temple.

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