Finding a web hosting company is kind of like going on an Easter poop hunt.
You don't know what you're going to find or where you're going to find it, but you know that it's going to stink.
For the last several years, I've had my company's family of sites hosted with Hosting.com. As our company's websites grew in complexity, Hosting.com met our needs by transitioning our sites from a shared hosting environment to a VPS hosting environment. They managed all of the server security patches, maintenance, and updates, as well as troubleshooting all server issues. We had total access to the server and IIS, which met our minimal needs for server control. This was the perfect situation at a tidy $89/month.
Then they tripled the price, without any enhancements to the hosting package.
Bye Bye, Lover.
Hello, Easter Poop Hunt.
This price increase happened to coincide with our company hiring a new IT company. Understand that my company is headquartered in Cleveland, with locations throughout Ohio. I am, however, kept locked away in a tower (we call it The Treehouse) here in Lexington, KY where I can't cause too much trouble or be distracted by the day to day operations. Plus, as the marketing department, we are entirely staffed by geeks and really don't need a lot of help from IT as a general rule. If anything, we just end up working around the IT screw-ups and fixing their abundant mistakes. That said, I know they have a thankless job, deal with a level of user stupidity rivaled by no other profession, and for the most part are some of the most patient people on the face of the earth.
That is the last nice thing you will hear me say about our IT company.
Our IT company jumped all over the opportunity to take over our web hosting.
"$300/month for web hosting! That's OUTRAGEOUS!!! We can handle your web hosting for WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY less than that."
I would be a liar if I didn't say my instincts told me immediately this was a bad idea. I use to be the project manager for an IT company in Frankfort. I worked for a completely diabolical moron (see The Turd), who also offered "web hosting" to our IT clients.
It was seriously a couple of old servers sitting in what amounted to a broom closet. No one really had web server knowledge, and we just learned as we went. We also never took on large web hosting clients for that reason.
I was hopeful that our new IT company was ACTUALLY qualified to host our sites. After all, they had access to our sites via the interwebs, and could see that clearly there was a lot of dynamic coding going on. We provided them with all of our user names and passwords for our SQL server and VPS server. They had all of the information they needed to thoroughly research the sites and devise a smooth transition plan....
I am now 9 days into the biggest web cluster fuck I have ever seen in my life. I have been gang raped by IT pirates and cannot regain control of my websites or database. Please send help.
Here are 5 reasons to never let your IT company host your website:
5. It's not what they do.
I don't believe that our IT company is stupid. At everything. They have knowledge of networking protocols that I could never understand in my wildest geek dreams. They know the ins and outs of Microsoft like little PC ninjas. They manage that god forsaken Exchange Server like champs.
But web hosting....it's not what they do. In my experience, IT guys like to think that because they understand one aspect of technology that they understand them all. Here's a quote from one of the MANY AGONIZING conversations I've had in the last two weeks:
"You have to understand that some companies websites are only two files. Your all's website is considerably bigger than that, and we didn't know until we had already gone live with it."
File 1. File 2.
If placing 2 files onto a server and having a domain name resolve to that server's IP Address is what your IT company considers "web hosting" then RUN FOR YOUR LIFE.
4. Nerds make the most dangerous terrorists.
I refuse to classify these guys as geeks. Geeks are obsessive perfectionists who refuse to be defeated. They attack issues with the intensity of a Eurasian Griffon performing a Tibetan sky burial. A geek wouldn't let a website be down for more than five minutes before they'd have that DNS pointing back to a functional backup on a redundant server sitting in a room being cooled by the frosty tears of Steve Jobs himself.
Nerds would rather be playing World of Warcraft.
That's what makes them so dangerous to people who are trying to make money. They come in and hijack as much technology in your company as possible, blow it the frack up, take a giant dump on the pile of shrapnel, and then guard that precious shrapnel poop mound with phrases like "security issue" and "no remote access". Regaining control and technological sanity becomes a delicate hostage situation where the hostage is bleeding like a stuck pig and the captor has cheeto fingers and lives with his mother.
3. As my assistant would say..."They can't math"
My old IT boss, The Turd, hired me on a profit sharing basis. So imagine my surprise come paycheck time, when there was no profit shares on it. This culminated in me finding out that The Turd thought profit was this:
(Billable Hours * Hourly Rate) - (Quoted Hours * Hourly Rate) = Profit
Um.....NOOOOOOOOOO, YOU IDIOT.
(Billable Hours * Hourly Rate) - (Quoted Hours * Hourly Rate) =
The only, and I mean, the ONLY formula that matters in business is this one:
Revenue - Cost = Profit
If you don't understand this formula, then pat yourself on the back. You are officially a volunteer working for a charitable organization. Also you should invest in some candles and matches, because you're about to not have electricity or running water.
IT Companies are very concerned with quote accuracy, often at the expense of a fundamental understanding of how that impacts profit. So it's no wonder they don't give a rat's ass about how the quality of the services they are providing impacts YOUR profit.
If my website makes $4.12 every minute (and it does), and it is not functional for 4 days (5760 minutes for those of you who also "can't math") then my revenue for those 4 days was -$23,731.20. If I paid you $20 to host my website for those 4 days (I am ballparking here) then my profit would look like this.
-$23,731.20 - $20 = -$23,751.20
If you're keeping up, that profit is, how do you say, not good.
Another fun math formula I did showed me that I could have stayed with our old hosting company for like FIVE YEARS before I would have spent what I lost this past week with our site being down.
Maths are good stuff.
IT companies don't get it/don't care. In fact, this IT company actually had the stugots to say, "We're putting in a lot of hours on fixing this that we can't bill for."
Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. So you've been doing me a favor this whole week while my site has been down? Why didn't you say so???? This whole time I've been worried about how I've been losing money, when really I should have been focused on how YOU are losing money. You should have said something sooner! I could have thrown you a Star Wars themed Have-You-Lost-Your-Frackin'-Mind party!
2. Time ceases to exist inside a server room
The first day I pulled up on the job working for The Turd, two of the other IT employees were out in the parking lot with a dissected computer monitor, some wiring, and a stack of copy paper. When I got out of my car, I walked up and introduced myself and asked what the hell they were doing.
"Making ionic wind."
Met with my vacant stare, they explained to me that computer monitors run high voltage and with the proper configuring can actually produce ionic wind, suspending objects in mid air....
Met with possibly an even more vacant stare they told me to "Just watch."
Powering up their contraption with a terrifying humming noise, they gently placed a sheet of copy paper above it. Sure enough it floated above the monitor.
Then it burst into flame.
I am 100% confident that our IT company's time theft they've been perpetrating against us for the last 9 days was spent on nothing nearly as awesome as creating ionic wind. When I asked them on day 4 of this debacle why the hell they hadn't just pointed the DNS back to the functional website on the old server their answer was, "Because DNS can take 72 hours to propogate."
4 X 24 = 96
96 - 72 = 24
24 * 60 = 1440
1440 * 4.12 = $5,932.80
Hint: that last number is the only one that matters.
1. Nothing will ever be their fault...even when you stab them (i.e. Federal prison is no joke)
IT guys are "actually" people. "Actually" people meet every fact or opinion with "Actually....blah di blah blah yak yak poot".
"Hey, did you notice the sun came up to day?"
IT guy, "Accccctually, the sun didn't really come 'up', because we are revolving 'around' it, so really if you look at the Microsoft protocols for intergalactic directional relativity the sun came 'around' today."
"Hey, the website is down."
IT guy, "Accccctually it is working fine on my end."
"I'm seriously looking at it right now. It's throwing up a server error. A server error the user isn't even supposed to see, because custom error handling should be turned on."
IT guy, "Um....acccccctually.... I think that's a problem with the way you coded the stored procedures..."
"Really? Because the site was working fine on the old server and no changes have been made to the TWO THOUSAND stored procedures running our website."
IT guy, "Oh..well..accccccctually.... you guys WERE on a 2005 server and we moved you to a 2008 server. So on a 2008 server, those stored procedures don't match the correct naming convention."
"Why would you move us to a new version of a database server without doing a global replace of the stored procedure calls, or at least tell us so we could update the code?"
"Well, accccccctually...um....yeah.....blah di blah blah yak yak poot"
Only when I finally stopped being polite and started getting real (<--- read homicidal) did the IT company FINALLY apologize. The most they will admit to, however, is that the transition "could have gone smoother". Which brings me to the only two questions I really need answered. 1) In a scenario where I stab the IT guy to death and plead guilty (because I am SO making a speech to explain EXACTLY WHY I DID IT and EXACTLY WHY I WOULD DO IT AGAIN), would I probably get "medium" or "close" security prison time? and 2) Do we think I would do better in the "close" security environment where I spend very little time with other people, or the "medium" security environment where I have to work more?