I’ve moved my hosting back to SiteGround

This week I moved both my websites (this one and SEC digital calendar and lectionary) back to SiteGround.

Just over 48 hours ago I updated the DNS settings and initiated the switch to the new server. Other than a slightly misconfigured Cloudflare CDN everything has gone smoothly. This is in part due to my experience of having done this a couple of times now, and in part due to the excellent and clear controls that SiteGround offers behind the scenes.

Why move?

Almost a year ago, back in January I moved my sites from SiteGround, with whom I’d been for two years, to … let’s call them NewHost. The main reason was that I wanted to save some money and in the past I’d had a good service from this other host, so they seemed like the logical destination.

But as they say, “Buy cheap, buy twice”.

It was both security concerns and hosting stability issues that drove me from that host back to SiteGround at this end of the year.

Security concerns

Within 48 hours of moving this blog from SiteGround (who pride themselves on their security) to NewHost (who clearly don’t) my site was hacked. A little exploration showed that it had been from a user in Russia. It took me about three or four days to get to the bottom of it, which included manually searching through WordPress files and the database.

I had asked my new host for support but got very little. They pushed it all back to me.

“You’re on your own, mate!” seemed to be the attitude. It’s your site, you probably installed something dodgy; it’s your fault, you sort it out.

That was after I’d emailed them and asked if they could identify where the breach had been. I uploaded the original pre-migration backup to Dropbox and asked them to take a look. Instead, they used those files (which I had searched and were clean) and overwrote my blog. I wasn’t happy, and wrote them this support call message:

Now, why would you do that without first asking my permission? I didn’t ask you to do that. I had already done that.

What I am asking is: how did someone gain access to my website? And what can I do to prevent it?

It just seems strangely coincidental that I had not a single security concern while I was on SiteGround for two years, and on Heart Internet for five before that, but within 24 to 48 hours of moving to NewHost my site gets hacked.

And now you migrate my site over again, overwriting the latest changes that I’d made without my permission. I’m sorry but I’m not exactly happy or confident that my site is going to be secure on your servers now.

Needless to say, the site got hacked again.

After clearing it up (again) and hardening my site security, the temptation to immediately return to SiteGround was strong. However, I thought I’d give them the benefit of the doubt and see how things panned out.

Stability issues

That confidence was short-lived.

Jetpack is a WordPress plug, that apart from other things, will alert you when your site goes offline.

Here is a screenshot of some of the emails I received in the first few months of moving to NewHost.

Emails that all have the subject line Jetpack Monitor site is not loading
I received 105 of these emails in the first five months

By the end of May I had received over 100 of these emails. At one point my site was going down three or four times a day.

It took a bit of nagging NewHost to convince them to move my database to another server. After that things got a little better. But the damage had been done and I was determined to get my site off their hosting as soon as I could.

Moving back to SiteGround

While I was open to the idea of using another host—and I had some really helpful chats on the phone with Jack from UKFast, with whom I was very impressed—I decided to return to SiteGround.

In part because of my previous experience, and in part because SiteGround are recommended by WordPress. And getting a 70% discount on their GoGeek hosting package in the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale also helped.

So, I’m now back hosting with SiteGround. Their support has already been superb, their control panel options are clear and straight forward, and their online documentation is among the best and most helpful that I’ve ever seen.

If you are looking for web hosting, I recommend SiteGround.

Published by

Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 46 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Latterly, web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall. Currently on sabbatical. I am a priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, and I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir.

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