The (online) world we live in

the online world we live in

Alert: This is a long rant from a tiny business owner doing her best bits to survive this world

I don’t know if it’s just me or if anyone else experiences the same.

Having hosted my own websites (personal and business) for the last 13 years, I have dealt with 7 different providers, 3 of which are locals. I must say, regardless who they are, the quality of service really varies. I have my fair share of bad experiences as well both with local and foreign providers. 

But I can say we have pretty good providers here in Malaysia. They may be more expensive than the foreign ones but you can expect consistent service quality from them, well actually from 2 of them that I’ve tried: Exabytes & ServerFreak. 

I think so far they are the most reliable ones, though Exabytes had become too expensive (and too greedy) for me anymore, and sadly they don’t really value loyal customers so what’s the point staying? Exabytes was my very first provider when I started my first (failed) website service business in 2005. Stayed with them for 5 years before I changed to my first foreign provider – when I realised I was paying too much for something I can get at a cheaper cost (at that time it was around RM300+/yr, including domain).

So I was with for 1 year + 2 months, as they are only cheaper for the first 1 year. That’s the catch with foreign providers – they may offer at super cheap price but it’s only for the 1st year, 2nd year onwards would cost a bomb! In terms of service and customer support, they are okay. Uptime was consistent as well.

I had to change to another hosting and happened to choose one of the suckiest service ever. Not only their customer service was hopeless (and helpless!), my website got hacked less than 6 months into the contract. And to make it worse, they couldn’t even do anything about it. I lived the year cursing them in every corner (not literally, I’m still nice hah!). They really couldn’t be bothered solving customers issues. Their replies were practically useless other than stating what I already know.

The following year, with my brother’s recommendation (he’s an expert in websites and stuff) I took a chance on ServerFreak. Well I must say, their customer support is tip top! I had some technical issues I needed help with and they guided me through, settled in less than a week (the delay was all on me as I was only managing that on the side). So I stayed with them for 3 years, had to admit they are not super cheap, but affordable. And with the consistent service I received (without having to worry about hackers for that 3 years), it was really value for my money.

Unfortunately I couldn’t afford them any longer after I quit my full time job and became a full time baker. There were other priorities so I had to resort for a more affordable option. That’s when I stumbled upon another foreign provider. They were incredibly cheap (USD11.88/yr – that’s like 3-4 times cheaper than what I could get here in Malaysia), good service, good uptime, comes with a free domain AND free SSL! What more could I ask? I thought, if I need to change to another provider next year (as usual, only the first year is cheap) so be it. I just need to remember to backup everything and transfer everything every year. No big deal.

Didn’t have much bad experience with them other than it wasn’t too straightforward to get in touch with them. I had to either call or email only, no chat (and finding those took some time as well as I wasn’t used to their system. They don’t use cPanel, they have their own customized system that looks more like Windows OS, both their control panel and client area). But it was alright.

Now comes this year, when I had to move provider again. I went with another foreign one, in August this year to be exact. But I was deceived! And it caused me so much trouble when all I need is just the damn hosting and domain! 

I thought that the package includes the usual free domain (who doesn’t give free domain these days??) Well it was my fault for not reading everything thoroughly before purchasing. And transferring my domain (business one as it was tied to the same date as previous hosting) was such a hassle, when old provider didn’t make it easier for me. To cut short, I had to wait for an uncertain period of time to let the domain become available again before purchasing it via the new provider. 

So last week my domain finally become available (I didn’t check every day so it could have become available much earlier) so I bought it via my current provider. BUT they only accept 2 payment methods which I’m not part of (some weird methods called Skrill and something else I can’t remember – not PayPal or even credit card mind you!). So I couldn’t buy from them. And their customer service wasn’t helpful either. I don’t know if they really care about the business at all. For one, their support system was annoyingly weird. I couldn’t just reply to my ticket from email, instead I had to open their stupid client area and check for the ticket response and reply there. And if I happen to reply from email, it will automatically opens a new support ticket – WTH? I ended up having 5 different tickets for 1 issue!

Next, each ticket doesn’t have a friendly name – it’s all numbers! Who on earth would remember each ticket number submitted??? OMG. I was really out of patience just thinking about it. Like, seriously? I had 2/3 tickets submitted at the same time for 3 different issues, I had to crack my head looking for which reply was for which issue! 

And now another issue surfaced when I cannot directly transfer (neither can the provider) my business website (it’s WordPress based), bcos my old provider didn’t use cPanel. Darn. So it looks like I had to start all over again.

And thus the delay in getting up. 

In this competitive world, I just cannot comprehend HOW these services don’t even bother putting their effort to up the game? How can they sustain? Just by relying on first time (then annoyed and angry) customers? Really?

Anyway, I’ve decided to return to ServerFreak (got a good deal with them ;)) hopefully for more years to come, forfeiting the limitless hopeless (the name is around there) provider I had just purchased less than 3 months back. Fingers crossed, can get back up before month end! 

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