Finally Switched from ThePlanet to HostGator

September 3, 2009 Posted by Tyler Cruz
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After I kept experiencing repeated MySQL crashes on one of my dedicated servers a couple of weeks ago, I finally decided enough was enough and switched from ThePlanet hosting to HostGator.

I had been with ThePlanet for 6 years since 2003 and spent roughly $25,000 on them (averaging $350 month for 6 years) so they’re definitely losing a long-time customer.

I’ve had numerous issues with them throughout those 6 years. Granted, some of the problems I had with my servers weren’t their problem (being hacked, for example), but I’ve had a number of physical hardware issues that were definitely their problem. In another example, when I had upgraded one of my servers, I noticed 6-months later that they had only put in half the ram they were supposed to. They didn’t compensate me other than putting the missing stick in.

What irks me the most about ThePlanet though is their customer service. While they have a ticket system, their response time isn’t the best. Since I had unmanaged servers, I bought their Advanced Services tech support plan at $100/month. I don’t know why I kept paying this as it was a complete waste of money.

The added system support was not much more help than their regular support and they constantly wanted to quote me extra for work that you’d think would be included. The other reason I did get that added support is because The Planet’s server administration costs are $150/hour (literally).

The worst of it all was when my server was completely wiped out in April of 2008. ThePlanet was of little-to-no-help in restoring my data and after being told it was unretrievable, I somehow ended up managing to restore it myself.

I’m not the only one to become an ex-user of ThePlanet. Shoemoney has had problems with them as well and also moved away.

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So, as I mentioned earlier, after my sites kept going offline 3-4 times a day 2-3 weeks ago, I opted to switch hosting companies rather than upgrade to another server at ThePlanet.

Goodbye ThePlanet, Hello HostGator

I decided to go with HostGator as my new dedicated server provider for two reasons.

First, I had recently purchased one of their virtual servers for my affiliate marketing websites (for privacy protection) and was very impressed with them.

And secondly, they offer free migration services. This was a major selling point to me and cinched the deal. The Planet had quoted me $450 (3 hours labour) to help migrate my data over to the new servers, and other server companies quoted me around $150 so it was an easy decision to make.

HostGator lived up to their promise and did a perfect migration of all my dozens of websites for me with no complaints or hassle. And, this was no small task to do either. One of my servers didn’t have any control panel software such as CPanel or WHM and was very messy and antiquated, and they also had the added task of merging my two servers into one.

I was very impressed.

The Irony of it All

Now, the irony of all of this is that HostGator actually uses ThePlanet’s datacenters! But while the physical servers and Internet connections are essentially the same, the customer support is literally world’s apart.

HostGator’s Amazing Customer Support

Plain and simple, HostGator has pretty much the best customer support you could ask for and is definitely amongst the best I’ve personally encountered.

First, they have incredible chat support for sales, billing, and tech support issues. If you go to their site right this second and click on Live Chat, you’ll be talking to somebody within probably 10 seconds – literally. Try it if you don’t believe me!

And this is great chat support too! The chat techs are based in Houston, Texas at their headquarters and have around 70-80 full-time people dedicated just for live chat support! There are usually between 20-30 online at any given time so waiting queue times are basically non-existent. I’ve personally never had to wait longer than 30-seconds at the most.

It’s great because I can get a lot of questions answered or requests done literally moments after I think of them.

Secondly, HostGator’s e-mail support (aka ticket system) is just as good as their chat. The response time is obviously not as fast, but it is still pretty quick; I usually get a response within 20 minutes.

When it comes to hosting, I want need really good customer support, and HostGator goes far above and beyond my expectations.

My New Server!

Here is my old server setup circa 2004-2007. Prior to that one I had just Trinity:

2183

My setup after my big server crash of April 2008, I upgraded Trinity to Abby:

21911

What it doesn’t mention in the screenshot above is the added $100/month support so I was actually paying $451/month.

And here is my new server! My tradition has always been to give my servers female names and since I had recently watched WALL-E for the first time, I named her Eva:

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She’s a beast! An Intel Xeon 3360 Quad Core with 8GB of RAM and 1TB of disk space! Once my sites had all migrated over to Eva I couldn’t believe how much faster my sites were loading… unbelievable.

The biggest improvement has to be MySQL moving from a server running a 2.4 GHz Celeron with 1GB of RAM.

What’s also great is my system is finally normalized. I had the stupidest setup before without a control panel which forced me to do most things through a SSH console on the command level, and having MySQL running on a second, slower server didn’t make much sense.

Often if you upgrade or move servers you won’t notice much change in performance, but in my case the difference was dramatic. Some of my sites (mainly my forums) were taking 10-15 seconds to load before the switch, and now they’re loading in about 1.5 seconds! Woo-hoo!

My Backup Setup

Previously, I had an insanely convoluted and expensive backup system in place with my old servers at ThePlanet. I wrote quite a detailed post titled Backing Up: Better Safe than Sorry for those interested.

It was called DiscSync (later renamed to eVault) and was actually a very reliable and efficient offsite backup solution. It was just a real big pain to set-up.

If I had to pick one thing that HostGator could improve on it would be their absence of an off-site backup storage solution. Most dedicated server companies have some sort of option or another so it’s a bit disappointing they don’t.

So what I ended up doing was had my 2nd 500GB hard drive act as a storage backup. I have backups of all my sites scheduled to run daily, weekly, and monthly. I just sent a simple e-mail to HostGator’s support and 30-minutes later it was all set up for me :-)

I almost had RAID 1 set up, but ultimately decided against it since it’s really only good against a physical disk failure. If you’re hacked or have a virus, (not to mention a fire), etc. it’s useless. So what I’m going to do for an offsite backup in the case of an unlikely disaster such as a fire or earthquake, is to download a backup to my PC once or twice a month.

In the event of an entire server wipe, I could lose up to a month of content, but at least I’ll survive. In the future I might consider buying a cheap server at another company and storing the backups daily there.

I downloaded a backup to my PC today… around 1.3GB and it only took around 15-20 minutes since I was getting a very fast 700-900KB/second speed.

So, I will miss the daily offsite backups, but may implement that in the future with the purchase of a cheap storage server somewhere else.

Special 20% Fall Discount

I just happened to be lucky to purchase my server while HostGator was having a special fall discount which gives 20% off the initial order (the first month).

If you decide to move to HostGator or buy a new server there, be sure to use the coupon code: AUTUMN. I’m not sure if my referral link will count that as a sign-up for me, but oh well, you deserve 20% off :)

The special discount expires on Oct 1st so you have a fair bit of time to think about it.

HostGator is one of the world’s top 10 largest web hosting companies with more than 2,200,000 hosted domains and so far I’ve had an incredible experience with them. What’s pretty amazing is the two million domains hosted by HostGator actually accounts for approximately 1% of the world’s Internet traffic.

Their hosting packages start at only $4.95/month for their virtual servers and $174/month for their dedicated servers. I actually have a “Baby” virtual server with them ($7.95/month) in addition to my dedicated server which I use to host my affiliate sites (in order to hide them). It’s amazing that for $7.95/month you get unlimited bandwidth, disk space, and can host unlimited domains.

For most of you, all you need is the “Baby” virtual server package.

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I now need to update my recommended resources page to remove ThePlanet and replace it with HostGator.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment below, subscribing to my RSS feed, or following me on Twitter.
Posted: September 3rd, 2009 under My Websites  

82 Responses to “Finally Switched from ThePlanet to HostGator”

  1. WP Themes says:

    HostGator is pretty good. I moved my servers out of TP few years ago..and instead use 3 VPS accounts..

    The autumn code will count for your affiliate referral.

  2. Nocturnal says:

    That’s weird. The last time I tried HostGator their support was straight out of India and is the main reason why I did not stay with them. I use DaThorn.com which has support in the USA as well. I may have to look into it again.

    • Tyler Cruz says:

      Yeah, they’re definitely based at the home headquarters now and write in good English.

      When I got my server setup a guy phoned me to confirm my order and had a Texas accent too ;)

    • Craig Mullins says:

      I’ve called them about 20 times over the past 3 days and all of the calls have been from US based agents with accents you could actually understand.

      The tech’s were a lil Green, but did manage to get the job done after 2 or 3 calls about each issue.

      • The past year Hostgator has grown enormously to the point that they are making further plans for expansion so yes, some of the support agents are still a bit green, Hostgator is growing rapidly and trying to keep up with the demand for their support as well and are always hiring if anyone is in the Houston area it’s a pretty awesome place to work. There is a game room, free lunches if you meet your quota, great benefits, and best of all there is no dress code. You can come to work in your pajamas if you want. ;) I could go on about it but that’s not really the purpose of this reply. lol

    • There was a period years ago that Hostgator did outsource their support services. But this proved to lose more customers than it was worth so they now only have support based in Houston, Texas and very few remote workers at all, and to my knowledge none are currently providing basic support services and have been with the company for many years even from the transition from Boca Raton, Florida to Texas. Hostgator support is no longer outsourced and to my knowledge this will continue to be the case. It’s not worth having un-satisfied customers to save a few dollars! :)

  3. Mike Manfrin says:

    I was with ThePlanet for years, or more specifically I was with EV1, and ev1 was bought out by ThePlanet. After the buyout, I noticed a DRASTIC change in competency in their tech support. I had a server with a faulty drive and they wanted me to pay to fix it, so I just migrated my sites over to a newly-rented one for cheaper, unfortunately with ThePlanet. On the new box I slowly encountered frequent outages that took SIX MONTHS to figure out. Turns out they installed the kernel wrong. I asked them to reinstall. They wanted more money. I finally said I was through with them and canceled just under 2 days before my next renewal period. They took it offline roughly an hour after I asked them to, and two days later I was billed for another month. I called them to try and get a refund but they resisted. I called every number I could find but all I got was ‘Its our policy, we need 48 hours notification to stop the billing’. What? You took it offline, then billed me for another month? No amount of calling could get my money back, they would not listen, they would not prorate. Their customer support is atrocious, their control panel software is clunky and terrible (EV1 had just released a great control panel called ServerCommand, then ThePlanet bought them and switched everyone over to their awful ‘Orbit’).

    Avoid ThePlanet. Awful, moneygrubbing, unethical company.

    HostGator, on the other hand, is very reaosnable. I had signed up for hosting I didn’t need a while back, and after 6 months of being billed and not realizing it, I canceled and emailed support. After a bit of reasoning, they agreed to refund part of the money I had paid because I had not used the hosting.

    ThePlanet would not refund me anything after taking my server down then charging me for another full month. HostGator refunded many months worth of hosting after I had canceled.

    ThePlanet will never again get my money and I would hope all of you refrain from using their services.

    • Tyler Cruz says:

      Yeah, I had similar experiences. They wanted to bill me left and right for everything. It got annoying because I was such a longtime customer but they treated me as if I didn’t count for anything.

  4. Dan says:

    Good choice in going with Hostgator. I’ve been with them for awhile now. There’s been some downtime and some hiccups – but I think that’s par for the course with any hosting company.

    What has really impressed me is their support and customer service. You get the feeling they are excited about turning your server off at 3am on a Sunday to install a new hard drive :)

  5. Muzi Mohale says:

    I’ve been using Hostgator for a year now, from using a local hosting company which was a total rip-off. I’m more than happy with their rates and customer service. I’m paying $25pm from paying $500…it’s a huge saving and regret for discovering Hostgator after 5 years of being ripped off.

  6. Lee Ka Hoong says:

    Seems that more and more people are switching to Hostgator nowadays, I’ll be the next customar of Hostgator. I’ll switch my current hosting to Hostgator after it expires on October, which is next month. :)

    Regards,
    Lee

  7. HostGator, on the other hand, is very reaosnable. I had signed up for hosting I didn’t need a while back, and after 6 months of being billed and not realizing it, I canceled and emailed support.

  8. Why not just rsync a backup to S3 or similar/

  9. Greg Ellison says:

    I am glade the migration to HostGator went off with out any problems. Thanks for sharing you story about The Planet and HostGator. Thanks Greg Ellison

  10. I had a dedicated server with ThePlanet for about a year.. I didn’t have any service interuptions like you did, and I only paid an extra $60/mo for their Alpha monitoring service.

    That said, I moved to a Cloud Server back in April, and I couldn’t be happier! Most months, I’m saving money – And I don’t have to worry about capacity issues because of the cloud architecture.

    Your needs are very specific, and a Cloud Server might not be ideal for you, but for others it’s something they should consider.

    (Feel free to e-mail me if you want more info about the company I use, rates, first-month promo code, etc)

  11. It’s obvious you made a wise decision to swicth companies. I am only amazed it took you so long to switch considering all the problems and lack of service you received from the Planet.

    • Tyler Cruz says:

      Yeah. I had wanted to move a long time ago but always put it off as I knew it would be a huge undertaking, migrating my weird server setup to another company.

      I didn’t foresee that a company such as HostGator would take care of all of that for me completely free! It was unbelievably simpler than I had anticipated.

  12. paul says:

    That is a lot of coin for hosting.

  13. Nice! You’ll love HostGator. I was with Fat Network for years, but kept experiencing problems. I’ve been with HostGator now for almost two years and I’ve never had a problem.

    Their live chat is really impressive too.

    Make sure to follow them on Twitter: @hostgator

  14. I’m surprised you had everything run off of the servers you just ditched. I’ve been running a server similar to your new one for a few months now, and must say it’s been very nice having all the resouces available.

  15. Becky Marie says:

    I’m a little bias, but I think you should have named your new server Becky, or Rebecca…

  16. Host says:

    Hostgator and The Planet is essentially the same…. The Planet actually have the physical servers while Hostgator resells The Planet servers along with their customer support. Hostgator themselves don’t have any servers themselves.

  17. Yeah I have been with hostgator for some time now, and nothing beats their customer service. Hands down they have the best, I get a hold of them anytime of the day, anytime of the year even holidays.

  18. Riches Life says:

    You pretty much hit it on the head. HostGator support is pretty good. I wouldn’t recommend their Virtual Plans though. Too many restrictions on them in all the fine print and after the fact. If your on a dedicated server with them you should be good. They are coming out with VPS plans soon though which should be good.

  19. EarningStep says:

    wow… look like the traffic has crash the server .. but i heard that hostgator is really good to handle this problem , i think you have made a correct choice

  20. Vance Sova says:

    Hi Tyler,

    I’m fairly new at this game but I’m glad that I started with Host Gator.

    I had no idea that there are such bad web hosting services as you describe. The Planet is such a nice name. So pretty face doesn’t always mean quality.

    This is the first time for me here and I like what I see. Great blog to come to and learn good things.

    Vance.

  21. Right now I have a simple reseller plan with HastyHost.com, but I’ve worked with ThePlanet before and I remember it being a pain in the ass. As far as Host Gator goes I have never worked with them, but may in the future :)

  22. Welcome to HostGator Gang! it really Eats up the Competition.

    I have been using HostGator from many months and haven’t faced any problem as yet and I am sure your servers will also work smooth as butter.

    Best thing about HostGator is there 24hrs Live Customer Support and cheap prices with quality server technology.

  23. TipJar says:

    You guys do know that HostGator is just a reseller of ThePlanet, right?

  24. Dropout Joe says:

    My experiences with hostgator were never any good. For shared hosting I always refer LunarPages.com When it comes to VPS and dedicated servers, I’m sorry, but WiredTree.com wins hands down.

  25. Kevin says:

    You made a good choice. I switched a couple of months ago from The Planet. I am with another company based in Montreal, but they are great. Really happy with them now.

  26. ian says:

    I have a small site hosted at hostgator.com and their customer service has been excellent, and I have used a lot of hosting services in the past. They didn’t get to host 2.2 million domains just by good marketing alone, I think a lot of it has been word of mouth referrals from satisified customers.

    • used tires says:

      Jan, good point you make their. I would agree that most of their customer base is threw us webmasters telling other webmasters about the service, and general good praise from the web =D

      Till then,

      Jean

  27. I regret leaving Hostgator, but their support was HORRIBLE for about a month back in 2008. I was sponsored a full server, but decided to move.

    They seem to be a lot better now and I know they’re good since they were initially very responsive for me.

    -Mike

  28. used tires says:

    Interesting that you have left the Planet Tyler, I know I joined The Planet for my hosting due to your recommendation. At this point I am going to stay with The Planet, as I’ve been with them for over a year now, but I am looking forward to your future posts after a few months on your hostgator experience, and if it is still the same.

    Till then,

    Jean

    • Tyler Cruz says:

      Hi Jean,

      Yeah, I’m sorry for that. I tend to recommend who I personally use, and as I said I need to update my Recommended Resources page now since I don’t recommend ThePlanet anymore.

      I think ThePlanet is much better if you have managed hosting… part of the problem was that I had a weird unmanaged set-up from 2003 which did not help matters.

      Also, as others said, I think ThePlanet has had a lot of customer support issues after their 2 big mergers/buy-outs…

      • used tires says:

        It’s no biggie Tyler, we all change our opinions about things especially over time. What we think works great 3 years ago.. might not be the same for today. I am actually quite happy with the move to the Planet so you’re recommendation is still solid =D

        On the other hand though I do agree with some of your points on thePlanet you made on this post, but for now I am still really happy. I just wish it was cheaper ;-)

        Till then,

        Jean

  29. Let us know how the new host works out for you.

  30. paul says:

    I’ve heard mixed reviews of host gator.

  31. your eva is really a beast. wish I could buy one.

  32. hows your experience with hostgator? hehehe

  33. Ad Hustler says:

    Seems like you took a step backwards to me.

  34. Diabetis says:

    I’m also planning to switch to another hosing platform once my traffic has soar up.

  35. Briefcases says:

    Congrats on the switch. I have had nothing but good experiences with HostGator. That is amusing that they actually use ThePlanet’s data centers. Too funny.

  36. HostGator was really good when I used to use them.

    The customer service was a great as you say and I especially liked the incredibly fast transfer speeds.

  37. HostGator’s support is kick-ass. I’ve had problems solved literally within minutes by using their live chat support. Simply awesome!

    -James

  38. Really? I had a lot of people recommend Planet to me when I was looking for dedicated for proxy site hosting. Glad I didn’t end up going with them.

  39. Bidet says:

    Wow that server is a beast, its so powerful. Its great to see that you are having better results with HostGator. They seem pretty good and one of the best out there.

  40. Nocturnal says:

    Well after reading your review and going back to check their specs vs. my provider’s specs, I’m going to switch to Host Gator within the next six months. As soon as I get paid from my employer, I’ll be switching everything over to Host Gator. I like the ability to pre-pay for 6-months to 1-year. With my current host they don’t allow that. That’s bullshit.

  41. LOL! “HostGator actually uses ThePlanet’s datacenters” I thought that was hilarious. But then again, you only switched mainly because customer service, right?

    But are they a cpanel based hosting? Cause I’m considering switching out myself and looking for new options.

    Jay

    • Briefcases says:

      Yeah the data center issue is ironic. I think HostGator is a great choice. I’ve used them for a while with no problems. They are much better than some web hosts I have dealt with.

    • Yes, all of Host Gators accounts are linux based with cPanel and WHM the only exceptions are that you can get a VPS without cPanel it must be specifically ordered with the VPS and can only be applied to the level 3 VPS and above because of the resources necessary to run cPanel. The other exception to this would be the Windows dedicated servers which are the only Windows accounts available currently.

  42. You finally made the switch, I made a long time ago :) Good luck with everything.

    I am sure you will be happy now :D

  43. it-aroma says:

    congratulate for ur upgradation to a famouse hosting service, but i can’t afford this famouse webhosting services, it’s too expensive for me.

  44. cool staff.They seem pretty good and one of the best out there.must say it’s been very nice having all the resources available.

    Network Marketing

  45. The customer service was a great as you say and I especially liked the incredibly fast transfer speeds.

  46. tattoo kits says:

    I have used Hostgator for a few of my sites after switching over from Go-daddy

    So Far I have had no problems and yes their customer service is amazing!

  47. [...] pretty much as perfect support as you could ever wish for (no exaggeration). In fact, I think that switching to HostGator was the best decision I made in 2009. If you’re looking for a host or are unhappy with your current one, I highly recommend [...]

  48. [...] down as well he has written a post regarding this experience which rather than a datacenter issue (Tylerhosts with Hostgator someones head would roll for what happened to me but unfortunately I was not one with the Gator) he [...]

  49. I nor longer recommend ThePlanet for the very same reasons. Their pricing also has not changed since 2003, when they were called “ServerMatrix”, for me or for my clients.

    After having a support ticket unresolved for one month, I finally gave up and forced myself to move all of my sites from ThePlanet servers to servers provided by SagoNet (www.sagonet.com). I ended up saving around 40%~ off my yearly server rental fees and also got more resources for less money in the process.

    It is very tasking to shift everything from one set of servers to another set, but it was worth it in the end!

  50. Mark says:

    Hotsgator are good in the Dedicated hosting service but for anything less they aren’t anwywhere near as good. Slow loading websites etc. Makes me want to change which I think I will do. According to WP.. Bluehost are the top notch host in all arenas, Shared, VPS and Dedicated.

    Anyone using them?

  51. [...] for me, I have decided to take a gamble that Tyler Cruz is right, and give HostGator a [...]

  52. TrendSpaces says:

    When it comes to Hostgator they are the best hosting by far good move Tyler.

  53. This article was a great read! I couldn’t have explained things better myself.

  54. I’m over here because I did a search on Hostgator and ThePlanet’s connection. My blog has been going off-line what seems like almost once a month. During this past week my site got hit again with the “reported attack Malware site” in other words the dreaded red page. Each time that I’ve had this happen to me I would click on the” see more details”, and always I would see THEPLANET. After calling Hostgator who is my hosting co. and then emailing Google Webmaster Tools asking to please review my site and put my site back up. Make a long story short (about 5 days of down time/not good) I had questioned HG regarding ThePlanet, and HG’s connection. I had a response from a tech help guy who was a little snarky w/my question. HG’s support team usually are great to work with and have helped me out anytime that I’ve needed help. Believe me I am not a techi at all, but after a complaint HG did rectify what needed to be done, and they explained their connection with ThePlanet. I’ve always had something great to say about HG, and would tell anyone that if they are looking for a hosting co. definitely go with HG. They are always there for you, especially when you need it the most. Thanks jj

  55. [...] I no longer use ThePlanet, having switched to HostGator. One of the best decisions I made in 2009: Finally Switched from ThePlanet to HostGator | TylerCruz.com: An Internet Entrepreneur’s Journ…. Highly recommend them. __________________ Tyler Cruz Administrator [...]

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