Technical difficulties threatened to nix my attempts to find sand and waves for spring break, but I emerged victorious. I had only a few days to move sites for the business to a new server. And then Dreamhost had an outage. Gah. I remember outages in the early days of Dreamhost too well, I think.

So, I decided to go with Hostgator. I had heard enough people talking about them, and they had a 45-day money back guarantee. See? It’s right there on the top of their web site. I ordered a server on Friday afternoon. By Friday night, it was set up. Except it wasn’t. After fighting with the server for an entire day — and being told by Hostgator technical support that I was being impatient and DNS just hadn’t fully propagated — I was informed that it wasn’t set up correctly. They had to rebuild it and wipe out a day of my work setting up about 6 databases.

Day two. I start the day by setting up a couple of simple sites. And I’m getting apache errors. Tech support is clueless, trying to insinuate that using Dreamweaver was the problem. When I tried explaining that it was a very simple site and that Dreamweaver was irrelevant, I was put on hold. Then told that it was probably my cache. OK, it finally gets fixed and I ask what went wrong in case that happens again. I am told it won’t happen anymore. Well, okay then. Another day of work setting up sites… and then an SSL certificate that won’t install correctly.

Jeez, I’ve been doing this kind of work for 15 years. I think I know how to manage servers well enough, but according to the tech support at Hostgator, I’m the one who is an idiot. That doesn’t help make me feel better about hosting my business sites with them.

I finally give up. Dreamhost is looking better and better. I pull back and decide to go back to the Dreamhost server. At least they apologize when something goes wrong and try to do better. At least in the 10+ years of history I’ve had with them, I’ve had better experiences. And Dreamhost’s web panel makes cpanel look like a torture device.

So I call Hostgator and tell them that I’m taking advantage of their 45 day money back guarantee. Except they won’t. I’m out $135. I could fight this, and I still might. I think they have some serious problems with their tech support, which could be mostly from my dealing with the weekend crew. But they’ve got misleading marketing, and that in and of itself creates a problem.

Dreamhost isn’t perfect, and I’ve been frustrated in the past with service outages. But Dreamhost does make managing a boatload of sites easier. The dedicated server I’ve got with them is blazingly fast. And they really do try to take care of their customers.

Can’t say the same for Hostgator. Not that they care. Every spammer affiliate on the net is offering people coupons, luring in more unwitting customers who will put up with shoddy service.