Why We Moved From Bluehost to WPEngine

Feb 23, 2018

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If you’re a new entrepreneur, about to build your first website, please read this! Choosing the right website host is important, especially as your business is growing and your website is getting more traffic. With that said, this year we switched hosting providers for the second time since opening our doors in 2012.

Here’s why we moved from Bluehost to WPEngine (our new hosting service).

When we bought our first domain in 2012, we purchased it through GoDaddy. We decided to use their Website in a Weekend service, and quickly realized we really needed to move to WordPress. After experiencing downtime on multiple occasions on their shared hosting plan, we decided to move to Bluehost’s VPS service.

Bluehost was definitely not inexpensive, and the cost rose as our business grew. Additional storage was necessary, especially after we 1) started building websites for clients (and staging them on our hosting) and 2) we started the Positive Productivity podcast. By the end of our time with Bluehost, we were paying $70+/month. While this is not the most expensive hosting can be, it is definitely not the least.

Bluehost’s customer service was amazing when we began. They were courteous, would walk us through issues.  We felt like their only customer. By the end, however, an online chat for a simple issue would take hours. Unfortunately, sometimes chat was our only option, especially if we were between calls.

The beginning of the end occurred in September 2017.

On September 29, 2017, we went to add our latest podcast episode to thekimsutton.com and were greeted with an error. This site — and all our sites — were down.

We called Bluehost immediately and found out the sites had been hacked.

The representative we talked to told us the only way we could resume our hosting and restore our sites was to hire a service like SiteLock to clean the malware off and protect the sites on an ongoing basis.

Kim had just returned from Steve Olsher’s New Media Summit where she had been an Icon of Influence and we knew we had to act quickly. We quickly signed with SiteLock and they began their work.

But they found a problem.

All the sites’ files were gone. There was nothing to clean.

Bluehost confirmed ALL the files for ALL our sites had been deleted. They also told us that our backup service had not been run in some time because our server was full. There was a backup from February 2017 that they would be able to restore, however it would take 24 hours. We agreed.

Please know that we realize we are to blame for some of the issues.

First, we had not installed security on the new site we were building for the Positive Productivity Pod. We will never make that mistake again. Second, we did not have a backup system in place outside of the backups Bluehost made.
And third, while we had signed up for Sitelock security through Bluehost, our service had expired in May 2017. We were not aware of the change.

We need to express that when you sign up with SiteLock directly, please beware.

As we spoke through the process with the VERY kind sales representative, it was never made clear that we were signing up for an ANNUAL contract. And we made the mistake of not reading the contract fully. We felt hurried to get all the sites back up, and simply scrolled to the bottom as many of us often do.

Lesson Learned. Always read contracts from beginning to end, no matter how pushed or panicked you may feel to do otherwise.

Getting back to the story…

Bluehost told us they would restore the backup from February. They also said it would take 24 hours. We said “OK.” We were told an email would be sent to confirm we wanted the sites restored, and that we were to respond to the email.

The email came, and we responded. The email bounced back. Undeliverable.

We called Bluehost and told them the email had bounced back, and the representative put a note into the system saying they had our permission. She confirmed the restore would take 24 hours.

24 hours passed, and the websites were not back up. We called and were told we hadn’t confirmed we wanted the sites restored. Frustrated, we told them the situation with the email, and the representative confirmed the note in the system. She said the job would be placed back in queue and the sites would be ready in 24 hours.

24 more hours passed. No sites. We called again.

What the the representative said shocked us.

We can’t restore your sites because the backup is empty.”

What do you mean the backup is empty?

Well, the weekly backup you wanted us to use is not there and the backup we have is empty.

Bluehost’s system had overwritten the backup we were going to use for the restore with an EMPTY backup of the server’s current status.

ALL our sites were officially gone.

Between October 2017 and today, our team has spent hundreds of hours restoring thekimsutton.com and re-building our other sites. All of the podcasts, blog articles and pages had to be restored. While there have been blessings that have come out of the mess — for example, we like the sites better now than we did before — these hours were not something we had budgeted for time-wise or financially.

Then came part two.

On February 23, 2018, our monthly charge declined because our card had expired. We were aware of the situation within 1/2 hour, and promptly corrected our billing information. The charge was processed and our account was restored.

In the meantime, however, all our sites were disabled, and the extra storage servers were disconnected from our account.

When the charge went through, we expected the sites to be restored. Unfortunately, nothing happened. We continued to encounter a 404 page.

Upon calling Bluehost, we were told the data was gone.

They said we could restore a backup from their system ourselves (it was from earlier in the day) and be back up again momentarily, so that is what we tried to do.

We downloaded the massive file and attempted to restore the backup, however it kept getting stuck at 0%.

So, we called again.

The representative had us on the line for an hour. He expressed that he couldn’t figure out where the storage had been docked, and their tech team was “working on it.” Could we please hold?

Twenty minutes later, we were told they had figured out where the storage belonged, however the server had revolted and rebooted due to too much going on. Rather than keep us on hold, the Tier 2 tech support was going to work on it, and we would get an email notification when the sites were restored.

And how long would that take?

24-72 hours.

Enough was enough. As painful as double-paying for Sitelock AND another hosting provider would be, we knew we had to move on. Two one-week periods of downtime in less than six months was more than we ever wanted to handle.

We talked to our friends, asking who their preferred website hosting provider was. The answer was overwhelmingly… WP Engine.

This article is being written on the evening of February 23, 2018. We won’t be able to post this article for several days, and won’t post it until all our sites are safely migrated to WPEngine. WPEngine, just so you know, costs $99/month (for our plan) and includes backups and security for up to 10 sites. So, in the end, we will be saving $70/month compared to what we’re paying Bluehost and SiteLock combined.

We had been a Bluehost customer for close to four years. We understand that their service is one we have to pay for, however we would have never expected for our sites to go down on the day our charge was declined, especially when we went in and immediately updated our card number. To us, this is customer service as its poorest.

While Positive Productivity IS about staying positive in the midst of life’s challenge, we felt we needed to educate entrepreneurs or our experiences with Bluehost before they found themselves in the same situation. And THIS, is Why We Moved From Bluehost to WPEngine.