Story of a Site Migration from Shared Hosting to the VPS Web Host, Hosting Raja of India.

 T. P. Gopinath, November 08, 2018.

The article deals with the challenges of website migration in general. It is also a review of GoDaddy India and Hosting Raja India VPS Web hosting services. Specifically, it is a story of the movement of Siachen.com (a business profile directory portal) to Indian VPS web hosting company, Hosting Raja from US shared hosting Lunar pages.

The main objectives of the article has been given below.

  1. Develop a guide to VPS Web hosting Services for the Shared Hosting Site Owner.
  2. Provide a basic comparison of Shared and VPS hosting and specifically pros and cons of GoDaddy and Hosting Raja companies web hosting services.
  3. Explain how a dedicated Hosting Raja support team finally resolved a serious erratic site going down issue following the migration, four days after the migration. 

Thoughts before the introduction:

It is several days since the movement of Siachen.com from shared hosting in the US to VPS hosting in India’s Hosting Raja has been completed.

In the beginning I thought it would be easy to compile this story. However, as the days passed and my thoughts deepened, writing gathered strength and size and did not end as quickly as previously imagined.

The notes, thoughts, time availability, and the learning required to bring clarity and perceptive to the piece, was staggering. If the reader is left with some useful information and guidance, that would help in his own decision making, I have served my objective.

Trials and tribulations of website migrations can be hard. However, with meticulous planning, proper backups, and proper assessment of the new web host, many issues can be avoided. Closely working with the support team, monitoring aspects such as site reliability, security, and performance, you can overcome matters that can otherwise create havoc.

Introduction; a veteran hosting client:

It has been almost twenty years, I hosted my first site, CalicutNet So I believe I have the right to claim the title of a veteran hosting client. All these years, I have mostly used three web hosting providers in the US known as Tierra.net, webhost4life, and Lunar pages. I do the hosting out of personal interest as well as a possible future business opportunity with a hope to enhance the sites popularity and offering.

Few weeks back, another site I have been hosting called Siachen which is a business profile directory on shared hosting went down abruptly with an account not available message. Ever since that happened I realized I am no longer safe in that host. It was in fact my fault that I was exceeding the restricted resources available to me in a shared hosting environment.

However, the incident that caused the site shutdown sent alarm bells and I was forced to think the next steps with the site with cost and a complex decision making ahead.

As I have already briefly mentioned this article is around the developments that ensued the site shutdown by the host.

I must make it very clear to you, the site shutdown was totally beyond Lunar Pages control and they are an excellent web host. If there is anyone responsible, that’s me owing to excessive usage on which I also did not have much control, anyway.  But make no mistake, Lunar Pages is a great web hosting company if you are considering them for your hosting needs and I still have one of my sites (calicutnet.com) hosted with them.

A Site Suspended!

Apparently, the site was shut down due to heavy traffic far exceeding the limits the host set on a shared hosting account.

Mail confirming site suspension on 29-Sep-18:

The page displayed when I visited the site:

The logs sent by Lunar Pages later on:

“Hello,

I have performed another audit of your account today and seen that your account’s resource usage is still high.
========================================
Resource Usage
CPU / Memory workload Statistic
Date %CPU %Memory

09/17/2018 13.42 0.36
09/18/2018 6.17 0.22
09/19/2018 10.10 0.34”

Let me reiterate that Lunarpages located in the US where the site was then hosted has been a very decent host and under the circumstances what they had done was quite understandable. In a shared hosting, one servers’ resource are shared amongst several clients. Sometimes up to 50 or more sites are hosted on a single server. The only issue here was, I received no forewarning and site suddenly shutdown with no notice. On asking, why there was no notice, they have later mentioned that weeks before a warning notification was sent to me which may be correct as their support and commitment is top notch.

I do not have exact details, almost 48 hours site remained down and later I subscribed to their managed hosting which could be subscribed on demand and they went on analyzing the reasons further. But as per the subsequent communications, it was found that my own internet account was the source of the biggest resource usage causing connections. This is likely because I was doing some regular administration tasks during the period due to the arrival of so many business directory entries.

Panic calling the Lunar Pages Support;

As the first thing we do in all cases, I immediately opened a ticket and the host later responded with a comprehensive analysis.

As I am living in the Asian region and the web host is in the US, if a problem is identified during the day, I need to wait till the evening to get hold of the guys in the support. However, their response is always quick and effective. This being a simple platform with not many users visiting at the time of the suspension, I wasn’t seriously affected.

The concern was, I had a plan to multiply the effort and I had the required data from the visitors to massively increase the number of pages that will result in more traffic going forward. The worry was, with a lean traffic and very little administration activities, if the resource consumption was alarming to the web host, what would happen if I increase the traffic through improvements of the platform.

I had an idea what they would come back with based on certain previous incidents. They were going to say that I am using too much resources and they are forced to act. They would ask me to take up a managed services subscription for a month to allow them to evaluate the platform security, reliability so that it could help control the resource usage. But in many cases, they have not been able to do a lot since the problems lie in insufficient resources which is an inherent issue in shared hosting.

I do not remember whether I spoke to a support representative. Normally they respond quite rapidly on an email and as always, I relied on their action following opening a support ticket but to see the site on error was not a nice scene.

Weighing the options; mainly migration to VPS Web Hosting.

I had few good options as the site was generating lot of user interest from the business community. One thing Lunar pages pointed out was the biggest share of traffic is coming from my home IP. This is from where I was mostly doing the editing of the new entries to ensure that only qualified business profiles with quality and quantity of content gets published on the Siachen business profile directory.

I had always wanted to expand the visitor base for Siachen.com but didn’t know how to do it. I knew the site had a good potential, it being a business directory there are multitude of businesses large and small struggling with poor search engine rankings. A business directory entry always gave them an opportunity to get listed fast and with good ranks.

The other concerns were obviously what would happen if the migration went hay way. Whether I can find a host with the right cost, support reliability, features and the right resources.

In shared hosting, the support team always provide you with all that standard help you need. That’s part of the deal. But when you go to VPS hosting, you are basically getting a server and the support around the server that you often need, may not be so easily forthcoming. This is the biggest problem you may face. You will need that support for two reasons.

  1. You may not know the OS and the configuration required in depth.
  2. You may not have the time or resources to extend that kind of support.

Zeroing in on VPS Hosting, possibly in India.

Once I realized that it was a danger to stay on with the shared hosting due to growing user base and the limited resource availability, I started evaluating the possibility of VPS earnestly.

The biggest concern was most web hosting providers offered no support whatsoever and divided the support offering to the three types mentioned below.

Self-managed:
(you do everything, the hosting support doesn’t touch the server after initial signup support)

Managed:
(They help you partly such as server security, site security and certain other areas of support)

Fully managed:
(In fully managed, they help with most matters regarding technical support and this is the most desirable one for peace of mind of the web site owner)

The Hosting Raja web hosting where I migrated to provide this type of VPS hosting technical support which is very suitable.

During the web hosting evaluation, I found that the lines between each offering was murky and there was no guarantee that you won’t be left with no proper support once you moved in.

Searching for the Indian Web Hosting Companies:

As the days went by with one of the most bewildering yet critical evaluations and comparison, I found GoDaddy India’s VPS offer was quite comprehensive and relatively cheap. To top that assessment, the sales lady on chat was very convincing in her answers.

Evaluation of the web hosts is one of the toughest evaluations you can carry out based primarily on the following factors;

  • The cost
  • The support
  • Features and capacity offered
  • Migration support (in case it is an existing site)

It is easy to state a small list such as the above one. Yet this is a difficult evaluation for anyone who is expecting a cost effective, capacity rich web host that provides effective technical support.

The crux of the matter is probably the technical support itself. The issue is that you have no way of knowing how the tech will react to your support needs until you engage them. Their commitment is one and the rapidity of their response is another. If they do not have both, your site can be headed for disaster irrespective of what else the new host provides.

GoDaddy VPS; Signed up and initiated refund on the same day.

In hindsight, GoDaddy India VPS is a fair option provided you need almost no support for your VPS server.

I signed up with them for a basic VPS account for Siachen.com after almost three days of discussions with the sales team.

All aspects of the hosting features, support, capacity and cost were covered during the discussion. One issue with any such discussion with any web hosting company is that you will never get the facts straight or the information unsuitable to them will be withheld. It is your responsibility to ensure that all the required due diligence is carried out prior to contracting any host.

After spending a lot of time chatting with a sales executive, I decide to jump in and take the account. On a day when there is no regular work, I awoke early in the morning to sign up with the new host. I started the activity early as the tasks before me were daunting such as the ones below.

  1. Take the account make sure they are paid correctly and for the right plan.
  2. Ensure that the server is available accessible and basic configurations are correctly done.
  3. Ensure that the site migration is quickly taken up by the GoDaddy. They have requested for one-week time and I have agreed. I had no compelling need to immediately migrate. My main worry was how the migration will be and how the new hosts support will be. I had already cut down on the resource hungry admin tasks on the server to avoid the situation that may cause another suspension by the web host.
  4. The last task was a smooth migration of the WordPress data, Database, user uploads, and the email accounts migration.

However, I didn’t have to go to this extend as mentioned in the steps above.  I started facing support issues and sensing issues within two to three hours of the sign up. It started like I was not given a root credential during sign up. Asking for the credentials I was always forced to speak to the same sales team or help desk which seemed like a level 1 support. They could neither understand what I am saying clearly, nor they would let me communicate with the right support team member. There was no indication of a ticket-based support system.

I was beginning to get frustrated by the hour and started asking for a refund. But they were ignoring pleas for a refund. My worry was not the root password which I managed to reset myself from the WHM control panel provided to my account. The worry was if this is the condition of obtaining support for a root password credential, what would happen during and after migration when I will obviously need some initial support both due to my lack of thorough knowledge of the LAMP –  “Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP”,  and due to time constraints.

Although GoDaddy promised migration in the price offered, if they couldn’t support me well for a root credential information, how could I trust them to do a good job going forward?

By the late evening on my quest for refund, I got in touch with the Arizona team of the GoDaddy hosting. I explained the professional on chat about my situation and requested him to immediately initiate refund procedures. Listening to me intently, he immediately initiated the refund and by the late night I was detached from GoDaddy where I thought I was going to start a long-term relationship.

Since we can’t keep migrating sites every other day, web hosting relationships are often long-term relationships.

One-month refund offer (if you are dissatisfied) that many web hosts offer, plays an important role. That is a critical exit route for you in case you are hurt by the new contract for whatever reasons.

One full day of deliberation and signing up with Hosting Raja, the next day.

On the next day, I was out again evaluating web hosts based out of India. One of the reasons for looking for Indian hosts was due to the fact that while shared hosting was cheap, the new type of hosting was expensive. Especially, the US based ones. Hence, the option before me was to look for India based hosts where even though they are not expected to have the superior tags that a US based hosting might come along, they will be cheaper in the cost of service.

If you search for Indian web hosting companies, you are most likely to come across the US based one’s Indian operations such as the ones below.

  1. Web Hosting – Get Web Hosting from India’s No.1 Hosting Company
    https://www.bigrock.in/web-hosting
  2. BlueHost: Web Hosting Company – India’s Best Website Hosting …
    https://www.bluehost.in

  3. 2018 Best web hosting in India with free domain registration – Hostinger
    https://www.hostinger.in/web-hosting
  4. Web Hosting | Lightning Fast Hosting & One Click Setup | GoDaddy IN
    https://in.godaddy.com/hosting/web-hosting

  5. Indian Web Hosting : 20X Faster Hosting In India – A2 Hosting
    https://www.a2hosting.com/locations/india

  6. India’s Best Web Hosting Company | Cheap Web Hosting Services
    https://www.milesweb.com

Simply it is one of the most exhausting process you can undertake due to its scale and complexity and also due to the fact that you don’t want to let your site break even for a minute by moving to some uncaring or unaffordable expensive web host since the undertaking is a long term one.

In my assessment, I found GoDaddy as well as Hosting Raja to be approachable with plus and minus for both while others such as a2hosting, bigrock etc to be very expensive.

It is very tough to give a precise guidance due to variety of factors that may influence one’s decision to contract one company over the other. Cost and support are most likely of the utmost importance.

Any way, by the evening on the next day after quitting GoDaddy, I sign up with the Hosting Raja, an Indian Web Hosting Company.

Site goes down erratically, following the migration.

Since the day of the migration to Hosting Raja from the US host Lunar Pages, I had been monitoring the site closely. The first issue that was observed was the page going blank with a database connection error.

This issue was isolated by Hosting Raja to a lack of memory as reported in the operating system logs. The issue was gradually resolved.

Later, the site begun to get very slow on the day two onwards. Back and forth with the support team didn’t help immediately. Since I was living in another country (Hosting Raja is based in India and I live in the UAE), calling the toll-free number has been a problem. However, their support has been very committed in trying to alleviate the situation.

By the third day, problem continued and my frustration at not arriving at a solution intensified.

Not being able to isolate the exact cause of an issue can be very upsetting when your site is seesawing from the normal to very sick.

The platform had its challenges and several issues although minor which were waiting to be resolved. However, on the shared hosting, I never faced a situation where the site response begun to get too slow, to the point that the site would no longer function.

It was almost never down since the hosting started several years ago. A period of around two years lull in any serious activity happened both due to my time constraints and also due to the cost of development and web hosting. The hosting on the shared was however, relatively cheap even in the US.

Lack of my inability to reach stability for the platform even after three days was a very upsetting experience. This is like you moving to a new house and the water connection is not there. You don’t have the experience with the technical support and their trustworthiness and caliber. Multitude of thoughts rule your mind and you become effectively numb not knowing where you and your beloved site is headed in its new environment.

Thoughts about asking refund and a roll back:

As I have already mentioned, most web hosting providers give you a limited time such as a month within which you can ask for a refund if you are not satisfied with the service for whatever reason.

Moment you find that things are not going well, your first thoughts go to exercising your right to refund and move on. But in case of a site migration, that is easier said than done.

With your original objective in mind, taking a refund is not an easy step. The problems that follows will be mainly around continuing your investigation to find a web host that possess an array of features and support quality that is often hard to find.

There are plenty of options before you when you try to choose a web host. But there are also plethora of features and other paraments to consider before you chose. In the end, leaving what you have chosen is as difficult as staying one with poor support, performance, and features.

The key here is taking enough time to decide to make a move. In the end your gut feeling may be the one that you trust to make the final selection. A bit of luck may be unavoidable since all your evaluation of features and support options may be a waste if you start facing a tough technical issue such as network latency I faced after moving to Hosting Raja. Combined with that my slow performing application compounded that performance issue to the extent that the site became numb.

In closing, let me state that chose a host which allows you to leave. But plan to stay and survive with what you chose.

Worry about losing the search engine ranks.

Another critical matter that is on top of your mind during a web host migration will be what happens to some carefully attained search engine rankings drop of which will jeopardize your efforts over several years.

Search engines visit your site throughout the day to find new pages and to record changes to your existing pages.

Any longstanding issue in accessing the site can quickly result in the search engines lowering the rank of your pages or the site. Affect of this can vary based on how much your business depends on search engine traffic.

A few things to monitor closely after the migration as part of the effort to maintain the current ranks are,

  1. Ensure that the site remains available as quickly as possible in the new destination.
  2. Ensure that URLs remain the same (WP Sites are not expected to develop an issue during migration) and are normally inconsequential as far as retaining the URLs are concerned.
  3. Ensure that the 404 and any redirection pages are setup on the migrated platform as quickly as possible.
  4. Page load performance will be another factor that requires scrutiny as the network route, server hardware, version of the application platform, database are things that may have changed in the new environment.

Search engine ranks that you have painstakingly achieved are something that will be hard to lose. But once you have taken the plunge of migration, you can only tackle any losses later. To reduce the damage, planning and procedure needs to be meticulous. Once the site is running in the new host, every page, the structure, the site map access of the major search engines needs to be kept closely monitored.

Finally, platform stability on the fourth day. (Via CDN);

Hosting Raja support has been continuously looking into the issue ever since the first signs of a serious issue was reported to them.

As the resolution delayed, my frustration grew every moment. But with every technical issue that required complex diagnosis, your cool minded troubleshooting and looking into areas unchecked is the way to go.

Hosting Raja Web hosting support tried various steps and were continuously working to provide me a resolution. You have the roughly the following components on the path to your website.

  1. The client system with different type of browsers or mobile devices
  2. A network with differing number of hops to reach the destination server depending upon where you are working from. Latency on your network can spoil the whole show as I have found out the hard way in the migration of Siachen.com
  3. Server hardware and resources and their performance aspects such as SSD based hard disk and enough free RAM and CPU.
  4. Application performance or delay caused due to complex code and things like too many plugins, unoptimized PHP code in case of WP hosted sites.

I have given a chronological view of what happened during the migration of the site. You can see the issue that was being faced at my end in (Dubai, UAE) while web host in India reiterated that the site was working normally for them on their network.

On the evening of the fourth day with the issue, a network support engineer from Hosting Raja connected to my PC remotely and witnessed the actual issue. He advised me to use the CDN from Cloudflare after finding that there was a serious latency on the network. I was first reluctant to create a new layer of dependency, administration, and monitoring tasks associated with it.

The network engineer suggested that this is the step that can bring about the resolution to the issue that was effectively rendering the site unusable since the migration. He also found from the DNS historical data that the Lunar Pages where I was hosted earlier, were using their own CDN to support performance of Siachen.com.

You may be aware that CDN is fundamentally a caching mechanism that can have significant positive performance effect on most sites.

Cloudflare CDN literally saved a sinking site, a miraculous rescue:

Thanks to the Hosting Raja support for a final, riveting diagnosis. Also immense thanks to the Cloudflare which is providing a great free service by providing their platform across the world to speed up the site by keeping cached copies of various site components on local geographies.

It was a miraculous rescue of a site about which I lost all hope. I knew CDN is gaining in popularity and that it is important. But I didn’t know it can single handedly rescue a site sinking due to serious network latency issues.

What is CDN and how it will help your site:

The CDN can be thought of as a mechanism to speed up your pages. In the case of Siachen.com, it was found that CDN can even resolve extreme situation with poor network latency, saving the site in the process from crawling or halting to speeding it up significantly.

Wikipedia gives the following definition for a CDN:

“A content delivery network or content distribution network (CDN) is a geographically distributed network of proxy servers and their data centers. The goal is to distribute service spatially relative to end-users to provide high availability and high performance. CDNs serve a large portion of the Internet content today, including web objects (text, graphics and scripts), downloadable objects (media files, software, documents), applications (e-commerce, portals), live streaming media, on-demand streaming media, and social media sites.”

Chronology of my migration effort and the shifting root cause.

You can see a date wise movement of matters concerning my effort to move out of a shared web hosting for the site Siachen.com to the VPS (Virtual Private Hosting) solution.

29-Sep-18:
The shocking mail from the web host confirming that the site Siachen.com is suspended by Lunar pages host. Since the increasing visitors to the site, I realized that another suspension can come any time and I had to take a decision. The only viable option at the time looked like a decent VPS.

I immediately started evaluating VPS solutions but was concerned about these factors.

  1. Cost
  2. Complexity and smoothness of the migration
  3. Effectiveness of the technical support of the new host.

Snippet of the mail from the host announcing suspension:

5-oct-18:
Takes a Godaddy VPS account and asked for refund by the late evening due to poor support in resolving the root login issue. Also, I realized that possible future problems after the migration with lack of proper support could be tough to deal with.

6-Oct-18:
Takes a Hosting Raja VPS web hosting account with a free migration from shared hosting promised on 7th October, the next day.

7-Oct-18:
Despite the promise from the sales representative, migration to the Hosting Raja VPS does not happen. But the sales representative communicates in an orderly manner after putting some pressure.

8-Oct-18:
Migration to the Hosting Raja is completed by them and I am asked to change the DNS at registrar to point to the VPS Servers. Although the Hosting Raja Support explained it over phone to me during the day, I didn’t understand it well.

Contacts the US Based domain registrar TierraNet. They support by the night in the absence of non-availability of Hosting Raja’s active help in the night. Figures out along with TierraNet support that name server have to be first created in the account and then used as name servers for the domain.

Domain pointing is done by the night and DNS full propagation across the world expected in the next 48 hours.

9-Oct-18:
Noticed in the morning that going to some pages was failing with error on ‘database connection’.  Hosting raja support was kept in constant loop and during the day they concluded that site migration required some change in database connection details. I felt happy and rejoiced that the root cause has been found.

During sometime in the night, started noticing that most pages are again on the same error. Alerted all the support teams again through mail and tickets.

Root cause as communicated today:

“1. can someone tell me why there was earlier the error “error establishing a database connection” on most pages?
===> After migration database connection details is different, before updating those details its shows database connection error”

10-Oct-18:
In the morning, I get a call from Hosting Raja support. In a nice gesture that makes every customer happy. I am promised that issue will be investigated and resolved soon. Soon after that support emails saying that Mysql log shows the system us running out of memory and that they are adding some RAM to test. I was surprised because I shared hosting the site was allocated just 512 MB while site now had 2GB.

After the RAM increase followed by a server reboot, during the day database connection error was not seen.

In the late evening, on the way home from work, I find out that the site is extremely slow. During the night it remained so. Despite opening the ticket no communication was received from my host.

Root cause as communicated today:

“Dear Client, 

As per the telephonic conversation, the MySQL service getting stopped automatically with the error message “Out of Memory”.

For testing purpose, we have increased your server RAM to 4 GB and monitoring your server.”

The youtube video of the issue can be seen below.

11-Oct18 12:56 AM – A site dies after migration & see how fast the Intel.com loads.

11-Oct-18:
In the morning, site is stable now. I can only hope that God intervened since no communication was received from the host yet.

At 8.50 AM GST I am facing timeout issues when accessing the WP Console.

After I was told around noon that the issue was identified as mod security rules blocking, I was relieved.

At night again the site is down, especially for access to the WP console.

The youtube video of the issue can be seen below.

11-oct-18 8:19 PM – Another dead Siachen

Root cause as communicated today:

As per the log, one of the mod_security rules was blocking the connection. 

We have disabled the same please check now and let us know if you still face any issue.

12-Oct-18:
Since morning, today the site is stable. I spoke to the support representative from Hosting Raja and they are very cooperative and listening to my complaints. This is one great thing about this web hosting company. Their people are great and committed. Although I suffered after migration with constant issues, their support has been very cooperative.

12:26 PM GST. The site is again down retrying forever to display the home page.

Snippet from my mail sent to support on this day at 1 PM

“Current issues:

  1. Site goes down frequently since migration completion on 9-Oct-18: (Main issue). Permanent resolution and RCA needed.
  2. Mail accounts configured on HR panel gives error in my PC while trying to configure in Outlook.
  3. Webalayzer is not working on the site.
  4. Which number will work when I have issues tomorrow and day after and evenings?
  5. Why there is no response to support ticket and earlier mail in this chain?

5:22 PM GST on 12-Oct-18:
Cloudflare CDN setup by the Hosting Raja web hosting support working with me, after connecting to my PC remotely. Significant performance improvement became apparent immediately.

The matter has been kept under observation for 13-Oct-18 and 14-Oct-18.

14-Oct-18:

No major issues are found that resulted in the halting of the site. The platform continues to remain stable.

Issue Resolution confirmed:

It is concluded that the primary issue that caused the site slowness has been positively identified and resolved through a CDN rerouting of the site network traffic.

Which one might suit you, Shared or VPS web hosting?

This is a question that can be answered only based on the inputs that only you may have. Following can be those inputs.

  1. How many pages you are serving?
  2. How many visitors come to your site daily?
  3. Your application behavior, whether it requires a lot of server resources such as memory and CPU for even simple normal operations.

For example, in the case of Siachen, we have been serving average 100 – 500 pages a day. That’s not a big deal. The problem I faced with the resourced started mainly when I started doing the business directory entries from the word press back engine which visibly looked a very heavy operation. This does not have to be the case with your site provided it is a well-tuned application.

A comparison of the shared and VPS Web Hosting:

Features:

Shared Hosting:

VPS Hosting:

Support

Supports all server-side issues and most of your standard administration requirements.

Support from a server administration point of view is classified as the following by most web hosts.
1. Self Managed – No support from the host.
2. Managed – Support from the host for matters such as server operating system updates, DNS changes, Security to some extent.
3. Fully managed – All support provided by the Web Hosting vendor.

Who needs it?

Approximately 10 – 1000 pages site with average 500 – 1000 page hits a day. Suitable for small sites with limited activity.

A comparatively busy site such as more than 1000 page visits a day and with a heavy back end processing platform. Busy sites with a lot of visitors and relatively high development / site administrator activity.

Server Resources

Very little resources. In some cases, up to 50 sites are hosted on a server. In this case, your site is expected to take only 2% of the server resources.

Plenty of resources compared to the shared hosting. For example, you get 2 core CPU, 2 GB RAM, enough disk and bandwidth resources.

Performance

Normally the performance is decent. It is just that moment you go overboard with resource usage your site may be suspended.

Performance is hardly a worry with the VPS. Even if you get millions of visitors, there is no worry about suspension. Only thing that may happen is server coming to a grinding halt which you can easily deal with by adding resources, which is easy in a VPS hosting.

Security

Security issues are largely taken care by the web host

You are on your own. However, based on the support type mentioned in the earlier cell of this table, site security may be handled by the web host.

Pricing

Cheap. Such as between $4 per month and $10 per month

Expensive such as between $20 per month and $100 per month

Server Administration

Please refer the support section in the table also. You are not really doing server administration in shared hosting as the server does not exclusively belong to you.

You are responsible for the entire server administration. Please refer the support cell of this table based on which the level of administration you are required to carry out will vary.

Scalability

No scalability. You are stuck with the available resources

A lot of scalability and it comes easily.

Shock of the Google index drop – Sitemap on error on Search console

How your site is doing on the master of all search engines is a constant worry for all webmasters. For my horror, few weeks after the historic migration, I found that the site has suddenly almost completely dropped out of Google.

I was monitoring the site rank on google mainly through the key phrase given below.

“Kerala disaster management review”

As you can see below, my article on Siachen.com is currently holding number one position for the above search term.

Screenshot; Siachen.com article holding number one position:

On investigation I found that the site map in google webmaster console is throwing an error as seen below. In the subsequent screenshots below, you can see that the Yoast SEO plugin that is handling the sitemap for the site was coming up empty.

Google webmaster tools, screenshot showing the sitemap error:

Screenshot showing the sitemap URL resulting in empty page:

 

Screenshot – sitemap URL showing the right content:

Trying to get some support from Google to try and resolve the sitemap issue didn’t yield any results and they do not support such issues in individual sites as expected.

The web hosting company where I moved to also didn’t have much to do here. I understood I was on my own to try and resolve the issue and started digging further. I have taken the two steps below in trying to resolve the issue.

  1. Configured the google webmaster account adding www to the URL. As you can see in the above screenshot YOAST sitemap page, when you access without the www, the page was empty and with the www, the page was proper.
  2. Removed the ‘All in One WP Security’ plugin.

I can’t confirm for sure which step solved the issue or whether both contributed.

However, within hours of taking the above two steps after about two days of continuous troubleshooting, Sitemap came back to life with green indications in the webmaster console.

In fact, it took almost one week for the Google to put the pages back to the original ranking. That day I learned whether Google independently indexed the page or not, sitemap on webmaster tools seems to play a crucial role in ensuring the best possible ranks for your page.

Question Mark (literally?) on mails received on Gmail

A new issue that propped up not exactly after migration but that the reader might benefit from knowing was a ? that kept appearing every time a mail was sent from Siachen.com domain to gmail.com.

This issue was unrelated to migration as I was observing this behavior even before the migration.

Screenshot: The ? on mails received from Siachen.com

 

The reason for ? on Gmail as explained by it.

Three critical configuration that you require to carry out for a qualified email sending host, are the following. Discussing it in detail is beyond the scope of this article.

  • SPF configuration – “Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is an email validation protocol designed to detect and block email spoofing by providing a mechanism to allow receiving mail exchangers to verify that incoming mail from a domain comes from an IP Address authorized by that domain’s administrators.”
  • DKIM Configuration – “DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) allows senders to associate a domain name with an email message, thus vouching for its authenticity. A sender creates the DKIM by “signing” the email with a digital signature. This “signature” is located in the message’s header”
  • DMARC configuration – “Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) is an email-validation system designed to detect and prevent email spoofing. … DMARC is built on top of two existing mechanisms, Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM)

These configurations as explained above, has to be done in coordination with your DNS host (In my case it is Cloudflare) and the Web host. Web host can assist you with the exact required configuration which you can setup on your Cloudflare panel. If your host is managing your DNS, they can assist you doing this.

In my case, Hosting Raja again helped neatly in providing the required support for the configuration. Immediately after configuring the three settings mentioned in the DNS, the ? was gone on the GMAIL and the mails received normally.

Risk of suspension removed; VPS Web Hosting brings peace of mind.

Before the VPS, I was not only shocked by the suspension that is featured in this article. Even before the suspension, on various occasions in the past, the web host contacted me alarmed by the excessive capacity utilization. However, the final nail in the coffin came after an invigorated work to reenergize the site in terms of prompt publication of the incoming business profiles which also resulted in additional visitor traffic.

After a long time, I realized what is peace of mind because I did not need to worry on two fronts.

  1. Load on the site and resulting resource usage from the site administration activity.
  2. Any number of visitors were welcome as the site had no capacity constrains for the prevailing traffic numbers or an increase of even tenfold.

Even if constraints develop in the future due to growing popularity and activity, scaling was easy enough.

As I have already reiterated, it was not the fault of the previous web host (Lunar Pages) that the site was banned. My only minor complaint is that I could have been more sternly warned over a call that there is every likelihood of an impending suspension. If you ask me, please note that Lunar Pages is a great host for your purposes and my site CalicutNet is still hosted with them.

The crucial question in your mind, if you have arrived here as part of evaluating VPS, would be whether you need it and the challenges of migration.

You can only arrive at the first question after considering the load that your site is putting on the shared space and by talking to the web host for their inputs.

As far as migration is concerned, the affair can be nasty. But what you can do is the following to make it as seamless as possible.

  1. Plan the move meticulously such as step one, two, three.
  2. Backup, backup & backup. Ensure that backup is taken in multiple targets to deal with any eventuality.
  3. Ensure that you are considering all areas in backing up the entire stack such as the site application, plugins (WP hosted), database, and user uploads and any email data.
  4. Understand the down time implications well so that there are no surprises.
  5. I whole heartedly recommend Hosting Raja for your VPS requirements. But with even the best support personnel around, understand that the troubleshooting can be a time-consuming affair.

In summary for this topic, go for VPS hosting after doing your homework.

Pros & Cons of GoDaddy India and Hosting Raja VPS Web Hosting.

My apologies for the incomplete scores. Since this assessment is purely based on what I experienced, there was no other option.

Features / Parameters:

GoDaddy:

Hosting Raja:

General Support

Poor.

VPS Managed Hosting Support in my experience was poor

Great.

Not that they run moment you report something. But they stay committed and any time you contact, you can count on them to solve even the toughest looking issues.

Server features

Good

Good

Performance

I am not aware.

But GoDaddy is a renowned brand and you can be rest assured.

Good

Security

I am not aware.

They seem to take good measures to ensure security. No issues have been observed.

Pricing

Average.

Great.

Considering their support quality and commitment.

Support – Server Administration

Poor.

This is where I really got struck. Beyond getting your server provisioned and being given the credentials, I was stonewalled by the first level support from speaking to any knowledgeable support personal. This is fine if you just want a server.

Great.

In a case you do not have neither the in-depth knowledge or sufficient time to handle myriad administration matters such as server updates, server security, DNS updates, even WordPress issues to an extent, Hosting Raja is a great option.

24 * 7 Support

I am not aware.

Average.

Initially I struggled with contacting their support after the standard office hours. But over the last month they seem to respond better at odd times.

International Support (When you call from outside India

I am not aware.

Average.

They have a toll-free number for support which can’t be used from outside India and I struggled when I wanted to call them although they provided alternate numbers. However, nowadays they call me back on my number and allow me to call over Internet app that is allowed in my country of residence.

Remote Support

I am not aware.

But I see no chance of such a gesture after experiencing the absence of even normal support properly.

Great.

I am surprised a web host is so forthcoming and they deserve applause for going to this extend.

 Technical Support is key to any web hosting platform selection:

If you buy a tomato or onion, you can directly use it in your recipe. But buying a web hosting account has a large bearing on what comes after that purchase. Normally, it is a tendency of the sales people to try not to look at your face after the purchase is sealed.

Although I might have been exaggerating in the above sentence, you are a dead man walking if the web host show their back after the payment is done and especially if there is no money back guarantee.

In case of VPS hosting purchase, if you just want a fill it, shut it, forget it type of purchase, you can buy it from any host who knows how to ensure that the host hardware keeps running.

But if you do not want to deal with matters such as below, you better think and think again and ascertain thoroughly how the technical support is going to be.

  1. 24*7 monitoring and proactive action.
  2. If you find an issue and open a ticket, quick response and resolution.
  3. Issues that is taking time to resolve timely updates and methodical communication.
  4. Proper disaster recovery setup.
  5. A proper CR process so that no one from the host takes thing into hand and makes even small changes without intimation and approval from the client and the support manager.
  6. Go out of the way to help the client.
  7. In cases like migration of Siachen.com and my years of experience hosting multiple websites, it is not often that you contact your web host support. Hence on rare occasions such as during a migration, web host has the responsibility and the customer has the need to approach the expected technical challenge in a time bound manner.
  8. Site security is vital these days with threats at multiple levels. A web host can not prevent these issues always and responsibility lies partly on you, the site owner. However, what the webhost does in terms of firewalling the site has great importance also.
  9. Afterall a willingness to help is what you look for when you call and ask for support. I see this willingness in Hosting Raja support. The brief time I stayed with GoDaddy platform, I witnessed a complete absence for such a willingness.
  10. The above-mentioned absence of willingness to help that I saw in GoDaddy may be because they are not expecting much technical support to be provided to a VPS managed account.

Whether you expect all-around technical support help is the key question you need an answer for, before you decide on a VPS. If you need no support, GoDaddy will do. If you need the right support, sign up with Hosting Raja.

I cannot assure you that you never need to raise your voice at Hosting Raja support. But one thing is clear, they won’t leave you half cooked.

The strength of Hosting Raja is their Support professionals:

The people whom you go for support and maintain your platform. Hosting Raja has an excellent support team with great people.

I am not saying this because I am still hosted with them. I have the reader in mind and I know they are probably looking up to me to decide on their own VPS hosting choice. I will be honest with both the visitor who is reading this piece and the host who is providing me the services.

This does not mean Lunar Pages had not so good people. They were excellent too.

You have no idea how many times I have emailed, called, troubled the guys in Hosting Raja support. The issues that ensued migration were not few. There was plethora of problems, mostly coming from a new server and the configuration requiring tuning and changes for the first time as in majority of a site migration.

I have no idea what the guys over there has nick named me because I put such pressure at times that even I dint know it was proper. But with the site and my hopes with the site hanging on a thread, I had not many options too.

At all those times, whether my issue was quickly resolved, guys and the ladies in the Hosting Raja support took my frustration extremely graciously and always dealt with me in an accommodating and committed manner. For this they deserve applause. I am not happy with the speed at which they responded at times. But my own support experience tells me, as I come from such a background, that all issues are not easy to deal with and you need to anticipate customer pressure until the time issue has been positively identified, isolated and remediated.

If you ask me, I would recommend going for Hosting Raja. Do not expect resolution with the speed of the rocket. However, their commitment and readiness to address your issue is unwavering. Seeing how poor GoDaddy support was calling it ‘managed’ VPS, I have no doubts that Hosting Raja is far ahead in how they help a VPS hosting support. The tiers of server hardware to the LAMP (Linux operating system, the Apache HTTP Server, the MySQL relational database management system, and the PHP programming language) stack that a hosting like Siachen.com on WordPress needs to deal with is fully supported by this hosting provider without complaining.

The Final verdict:

GoDaddy is a giant in Web Hosting and any other company is hardly a comparison. But what an ordinary web hosting customer like me is looking for in a VPS Hosting provider, more than the ubiquitous virtual server, is a technical person who is willing to listen to and understand when things are not going well. On that account and in my experience, I must tell you that they or their Indian counterpart operations are scary to approach.

On the other hand, about Hosting Raja, I have spoken to them angrily, sometimes cajoled them, and were frustrated by their support at times. Sales man who sold the service to me slowly started to run away from me knowing I am too hot to handle. But every time, they finally fixed the issue with utmost commitment. Also, each one of the support and sales person I spoke, always remained very humble.

Their readiness to connect to my PC remotely to try to identify the issue and help me resolve the issue on multiple occasions, was unparalleled.

Hosting Raja’s support is clearly five stars.  Let me put it to you unequivocally that with Hosting Raja, your site is in safe hands.

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