Some advice on switching web hosting

So, I previously wrote about why I switched from Site5 to Hostinger for web hosting. From what I can tell, Hostinger is reasonably priced, has excellent customer service and has good reviews.

BUT if you are thinking of switching web hosting, I wonder if you can learn from my experience. My problem is that I was so anxious to leave Site5 that I didn’t do any preparatory work. And I’d also have to criticise Hostinger, because they make it all seem like it will be easy. There isn’t a simple list of things to prepare, or a guide for how to transfer over your websites easily, and particularly, what to do if things go wrong.

Probably though, they don’t have to deal with complicated situations like mine: three websites to transfer over hosting, of which one is a complex one, having been up for many years. Hostinger made it sound so easy. Just give them some information and click on a request form and they’ll transfer them over, easily.

This worked for only one of my websites. The other one, which was not important, thankfully, as I’m cutting it down to basics and may eventually phase it out, failed because the template that I had bought years ago was out of date and not compatible with Hostinger. So, that would have been a problem if the website was important to me.

The big issue turned out to be a problem which a friend described as ‘a root canal without an anaesthetic’. A good description. First of all, I hadn’t properly located my backup. Which, hey, was stupid of me, I know. But it’s not like I’d ever needed it before. So, when Hostinger told me my website migration had been rejected, I had some panic trying to figure out what to do.

I was instructed to request a backup from Site5. Yet, at 16GB (I still don’t know why the file was so big), doing this took hours for the file transfer! Pretty much every step of this long, boring story took hours. After something would fail, taking hours, the Hostinger folks would advise me to do something else, or I would try to figure out something else, which would take me hours to set up, and then trying again, it often took the technical team a whole day to look at my request. I think in all, it took close to 10 days to resolve.

Anyways, after I got the files, and tried to zip them, and then send them to Hostinger again, they were rejected. In the meantime, because they were so big, I had to figure out how to store them and send them. They recommended Dropbox, which didn’t work, and I tried Hightail, which didn’t work, and then Google Drive, which eventually did work, though I had to find space on my secondary gmail account.

After failing to get Hostinger the humungous backup file, I remembered that I had another version of a backup through Updraft. So, I sent this to them, only to find out that the format that Updraft saves the backup in is not to their liking. They required me to unzip all the folders, compile them into one folder, and then zip them up again, as they would not accept the files without doing this. So, this took me time to do. And then took me many hours to try to send them the new backup file. Which then, didn’t work.

In the meantime, I’d talked to something like 10 different helpdesk people from around the world, most with colourful names, and trained to say, ‘Sorry for the wait and the problem. We’ll do the best we can.’ Which I appreciated. But no one seemed to really have any pull with the technical team to get me a priority spot in the queue(s).

My eventual saviour was Naomi. We determined that I needed to upload not the entire backup folder but the public_html file (which I think was more like 6 GB and quicker to upload). And THEN, I needed to upload an .sql file, the database. And even though I was confused that I had four different .sql files, Naomi helped me choose the right one, which I uploaded and … finally, after 10 days, it worked. I think I spent the equivalent of many working days uploading and downloading, waiting for the helpdesk to log on, chatting with the helpdesk people, waiting for movement from the IT team. It was infernal. I hope I never have to change web hosts again!

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