Avoid Webhost4Life for Hosting

For a couple years now, I have been using Webhost4Life to host my Chef website, ejichef.com.   At $10-$12/month, they weren’t the cheapest option out there for Microsoft-based shared hosting, but they also weren’t the most expensive.  All-in-all I never had any major problems with them and their support was reasonably responsive (again, given the cost).

I have learned that the company was recently purchased, and I had been getting emails about an impending migration to a new hosting “platform”.  My site’s turn was in the middle of the week last week, and I received an email when it was complete.   I quickly visited my website and navigated around, it all looked ok.   At first.

A day later when I received my daily download report, I saw there was absolutely no traffic to my download (hosted elsewhere).  A little investigation showed that during the migration they had deleted all of my custom DNS records.  Frustrating, for sure, but not terrible.  I logged in and added the records which inexplicably caused my site to go down. 

I chatted with a support rep online, who didn’t even try to solve anything and immediately created a ticket and told me it would be quickly resolved.   8 hours later there had been no change to the ticket so I chatted with someone else and was fed the same 4 auto-response lines I have learned to be the extent of their services.   Once again I was assured it was being worked on right now and will be fixed in 2 hours at most.

10 hours later (around 18 total) I finally received an email that it was fixed.  What complex operation took the skill and expertise of an engineer?  Restarting IIS.  

 Strike 1. 

Another day or two goes by and I go to look at the contents of the database that was migrated, and find that it is completely empty.  The schema was migrated but none of the data.  What were they thinking?  I went to take a backup of the old database, but found that I needed someone in tech support to do it.  After another chat, I was told they had to create a ticket to have the backup and restore done again.  I have never seen this ticket or heard if it has been completed (I had my own backup which I restored elsewhere, so it wasn’t critical).  Strike 1.5.

Shortly after this, a couple Chef purchases came through but the license key generation code failed.  After some digging, I find that the problem is permissions-related and I gather all of the links and information needed to create a very detailed support case.   I created submitted the ticket, and here I sit on day 4 with it still not functioning.  Strike 2.5.

What has thrown me over the edge is my interaction with the support team over these past 4 days.  The only activity I see on the case are my inquiries into the status  – not a single word back about what is going on, an ETA, or a request for further information. 

I have chatted online with support too many times to count, each time being told (after putting me on hold for 4-5 minutes) that they had just personally talked with an engineer and they were working on it as we spoke.  I was repeatedly assured that the fix was at most 2 hours away.  Multiple times I was told they had just escalated the ticket to High Priority, which I’ll note is never reflected in the ticketing system.  During the first conversation the technican was in a hurrty to get off of the support line and told me that they had reproduced the error (and of course it will be fixed in 2 hours..), even though I had not given them instructions on how to reproduce it.  They quickly diverted the conversation when I brought this to their attention.

I had been seriously considering upgrading my Webhost4Life account to a VPS (virtual private server) before all of this happened.   I’m thankful this all happened before I signed a year-long contract because I cannot imagine paying the VPS price and ending up with support like this. 

During the frustration of that first 18 hour outage I opened an account with KickAssVPS.com and just yesterday made the decision to transition everything over to it.  As of right now I am no longer using my Webhost4Life account and am trying to cancel it.  While the cost is obviously more expensive than shared hosting, the KickAssVPS experience has been nothing short of excellent and I’m looking forward to using them for a long time to come.

Hopefully my cancellation will be complete soon and I can say goodbye Webhost4life, and good riddance.





7 responses to “Avoid Webhost4Life for Hosting”

  1. Dave Avatar

    Your mastery of link anchor text for search engine influence wasn’t lost on me. Nicely done.

    I’ve been looking at http://linode.com/ for VPS. If I was pulling the trigger today, that’s where I’d go. But I’ll look at KickAssVPS.

    Sorry about the troubles.


  2. Donn Edwards Avatar

    Make sure they don’t charge you their $35 “cancellation fee”. If they do, demand a refund for April and kick up a fuss with Gary Engel
    Sr. Vice President, Sales and Customer Support
    781-852-3200 ext 3302


  3. EJ Avatar

    @Donn –

    Yep, I pushed hard for that and per an email I just received, it will be waived. Woo!

    @Dave – Thanks for noticing 😉


  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Donn Edwards, Eric Johnson. Eric Johnson said: @donnedwards I just posted about my bad @Webhost4life experience. http://bit.ly/d0yVMB. […]


  5. Rob Nicholson Avatar

    All very sad and annoying. I’m about to cancel because they can’t get subdomains working as they did on the old platform. As soon as I’ve ticked all the boxes at DiscountASP as a host.



    1. EJ Avatar

      It is really sad – up until this year I had no problem recommending them.


  6. EJ Avatar

    I just received an email saying my account has been cancelled and my remaining contract refunded!

    In addition, yesterday I went back and forth about getting refunded for the current month and was told they would give me a month’s credit in “Goodwill Credits” which aren’t refundable (they’re just store credits, if you will). My last response to that was that I was very eager to hear what good those are to a customer that’s cancelling – did they have T-Shirts or Mugs I could purchase with them?

    They’re applying that credit to my credit card too 🙂


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