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How NOT to transfer your hosting

19 March 2011 12:52:28 +0000

More often than not, we’re helping new clients transfer their hosting from their former hosting provider to NinerNet. Over the years we’ve become very good at this, and we have a tried-and-true process we follow to make sure there are no problems and that (most importantly) the new client’s email and website do not go down. There is simply no need (or excuse) for even a second of down time when you’re moving your hosting from one place to another.

Transferring your hosting takes time and planning; not that much time, but it’s not something that’s completed in five minutes while you’re on the phone. When a potential client contacts us about transferring in, we ask a number of questions and then send them a detailed plan laying out our step-by-step transfer process, how long each step takes, setting out what needs to be done and who does what, and the checks and balances that happen at each step. The transfer document is a little lengthy (if you’ll excuse the oxymoron) and potentially intimidating, but it has a bullet point summary and the details are there for the purpose of full transparency.

The point of this post though, is how not to transfer your hosting. We do all of the legwork detailed above because — guess what? — we want this new client and we’re willing to do the legwork up front for years of business from a happy client down the road. Sometimes though, I have to admit, we see the occasional client transfer away from us to one of our competitors. This can sometimes be a painful process for us to watch — not just because we’re losing a client, but because we see the amateurish way in which the transfer is handled. Often this is because of one of two reasons:

  • The client is transferring to a “stack ’em deep and sell ’em cheap” hosting company because … well … they’re cheaper than we are. In this case the client is usually on their own during the transfer.
  • The client is transferring to hosting resold by a web designer or a “search engine optimisation” company that they’re using. In this case, while these companies might be good at web design or SEO, they’re often clueless when it comes to the technical aspects of hosting. Contrary to what some of these companies believe, hosting is about more than just clicking pretty icons in a web-based control panel provided by the aforementioned “stack ’em deep and sell ’em cheap” hosting companies.

So we recently waved goodbye to a long-time client whose ownership had changed hands since they came on board with us seven years ago. (Almost all of our ex-clients left us because of things beyond our control — e.g., business closure, a sales pitch from the aforementioned web designer or SEO “expert”, recommendations of close friends or trusted advisors, etc. — not because they didn’t like the service they were getting from us.) Experience has taught us that, when the client has made up their mind, we have to let go. We do say that we’re sorry to see them go — and we mean it — and we ask if there’s anything we can do to keep their business, but if they’re committed then we back off. At that point they’re in the hands of and following the advice of third parties, and as bad as that advice might turn out to be, we’d be interfering if we tried to point that out. (That’s not always the case. To be fair, most of the clients we’ve lost over the years had no problems when they transferred away from us, but the exceptions stick out in one’s memory.)

And so it was that this client transferred to an SEO company that resells the hosting services of a well-known “stack ’em deep and sell ’em cheap” hosting company. The sad result? The client’s website and email were down for ten days! TEN DAYS! Not ten minutes, but ten days! During those ten days much of the work that the SEO company had done (and been paid to do!) previously was wiped out. Not only that, but in their panic — evident in the dozen or so emails sent rapid-fire in the span of about forty-five minutes — they issued confusing and conflicting instructions which actually resulted in further damage to our ex-client’s reputation in the search engines — not to mention the damage already caused in the eyes of their customers and potential (but probably lost) customers. As I said, it was a painful process to watch.

The bright side to this? We actually have a number of former clients that have transferred away come back to us a year or two later, most recently one about a week ago. Now that’s definitely what I’d call a vote of confidence!

Contacts us if you have any questions about transferring your hosting. We’re here to help.

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This is the corporate blog of NinerNet Communications. It's where we post announcements, inform and educate our clients, and discuss issues related to the Internet (web and email) hosting business and all that that entails. This includes such concomitant industries and activities such a domain registration, SSL certificates, online back-up, virtual private servers (VPS), cloud hosting, etc. Please visit our main website for more information about us.

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