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WebHost4Life Is an Awful Web Host
Date 10/13/2010    Tags ASP.net, Rant    (0)

I switched my websites over to WebHost4Life.com about 4-5 years ago. For a long, long time I was very happy with the hosting. Uptime was very good and support inquiries could usually be handled by their live support. In a few instances where live support could not handle the issues, a higher level person was able to resolve the issues within a day. I was very happy and never considered changing hosting.

Sometime 2009-ish WebHost4Life was sold to a company that is in the business of buying up hosting companies and running them as their own. I'd love to give you more information on that, but I cannot find it. It's almost like they didn't want us to know about it. I did find somewhere that said they'd lost about 7,000 customers since the migration process being (more on this later). I believe that and I believe the exodus will continue. There isn't a single good reason to stay with this company.

After the sale, they begin a "migration" process from the existing platform to new servers. A reasonable person would assume this was to make for a better server experience. We were never told it was because there were new owners in town. And this is when all the problems begin; this is when Webhost4Life went from being a top-notch web host to a terrible web host.

At this time, I had my own personal account with WebHost4Life and a client account here. The client account was for a new online shopping cart website we were developing. It was half completed at the time they decided to migrate the website. When they did the migration, they used two week old data. This meant that all the new shopping cart items we had entered into the database needed to be re-entered. For several weeks we attempted to get the most up to date data restored but each time, they restored the same dated information. Eventually we just re-entered the lost items. The client wasn't happy about these delays and it reflected poorly on me because it had been my recommendation to use WebHost4Life.

Two months later, they decided to migrate my websites (mind you they never gave us a schedule, it just happened one night and was left in a broken state for me to discover with nary a word). Just like they had done with the client account, they copied old data instead of current data. I spent several hours on the phone and finally got to talk with someone competent. They stated that they tested with the old data and then restored the website with that same test data weeks later. In most instances websites were static and not updated daily so this was not an issue (I was some kind of crazy exception, apparently no one else updates their websites). Thankfully they were able to restore my current data this time around but really, restoring old data is inexcusable.

On the new servers, I experienced several instances of crashing, poor performance, etc. Contacting support wasn't much help. Support constantly gives out canned statements ("We're sorry for the inconvenience this has caused you") and instead of fixing the issues, they log a ticket which typically takes 1 to 3 days for any sort of action on. If they have a question or cannot fix it or say it is fixed when it isn't (the most common resolution), it takes another 1 to 3 days for a follow-up. In instances where your entire website is down, this is not okay.

Starting in about June, I begin having issues of my blog and other websites being hacked (Google would report these to me and to my host). WebHost4Life clearly did not understand what was going on (despite several attempts by me to explain it). The hacks were of the SQL injection variety yet each time they occurred, WebHost4Life would restore a past version of my website files (ASP.net) and tell me it was fixed (they did nothing with the database nor made any attempts to stop this from happening). Generally I was able to clean the data myself or get them to restore the data to a pre-hacked state. In August though, this didn't work. The data was too messed up to clean (I believe the hacker messed up hacking himself and it left most of my stories missing half their content and half missing the bogus scripts he was trying to insert). I asked WebHost4Life for a restore of good data. In a couple days, WebHost4Life restored the same bad data. So again I asked for good data. And again, they restored bad data. So for a third time, I asked for good data. At this point over a week had elapsed and the good data had been overwritten with new backup data so they could not restore a good copy of it. That's why my past posts here a mess and also why I haven't blogged lately. The whole thing pissed me off to no end (it's one thing to be hacked; it's another to be unable to get back good data because of webhost incompetence).

I probably should have switched web hosts long ago at this point. The bad migration was enough but I'm brand loyal (under the assumption this was still the same company at this time) and I'm busy, two things that caused me to live with the problems.

The final straw came with intermittent errors with my ASP.net pages that cause my website to be doing coinciding with the launch of my game Hypership (just as I was spending out all kinds of press releases with links to my website for more information). Most of my websites use MasterPages in order to maintain a common layout. This isn't anything fancy or difficult to do. But for some reason starting in September, I started getting the error "Recursive fallback not allowed for character \u003F.". This would start happening for no apparent reason and last sometimes for only a short time and other times for hours. It seemed to eventually resolve itself. I contacted support (most of the time in which they told me there was no problem until I argued with them for an extended period of time at which they would finally admit there was a problem). The support ticket system meant that I had to wait for days for any action and usually they stated that they could find no issue and just resolved the ticket (which I promptly reopened and waited for them to actually fix the issue, which they did not do). I opened my first ticket for this on 9/17. On 9/27, it still hadn't been resolved.

It was at this point I started digging more into what was going on with WebHost4Life. I discovered they'd been sold (which explains the sudden change from good to evil). I found others with ASP.net websites having the same error I had and the same difficulty getting it fixed. I also found the email address of Gary R. Engel, Sr. Vice President, Sales and Customer Support for WebHost4Life. After venting my frustrations, Gary got me in contact with a tech in order to help resolve my issue (and for all my trouble, a $25 credit to my account).

For the first time, I did get to talk with someone that was responsible for fixing my issues. But it proved not to be helpful at all. For a few days, the error message went away (or I just did not notice them). And then it came back. After discussing a fix again, I got the message posted below (these are the exact words in the reply):

We've been looking at this, and we are at a loss. We recycle your application pool, that only your sites reside on, and it crashes again almost immediately. There's honestly nothing we can do about this. Its likely that your code does not play nice with the way our servers handle multiple sites through ISAPI rewrite, and googling the error does not come up with any resolutions.

At this point, you'll likely want to find another hosting provider, I'm sorry to say.


Wow. I mean really, tech support can't find a resolution in Google so they give up? Those are the people running WebHost4Life's network? No wonder there are so many issues.

At this point all my websites are moved to Arvixe.com. I still have some old email to copy from WebHost4Life and then I'll be canceling my account there. The new hosting is going to cost me about half as much money (similar monthly rates but they charge nothing for extra domain names whereas WebHost4Life does). I'm a bit worried I'll have issues recovering money WebHost4Life owes me as seems to be the case with others that canceled because of issues with WebHost4Life. But at the very least, I have websites that once again work.

It seems there are some steps being taken for a class action lawsuit against WebHost4Life. I certainly hope it happens and I hope to be involved if it does. And if you're looking for web hosting yourself, I cannot strongly urge you enough to stay away from WebHost4Life.


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