Why you should avoid HostGator

Today I got a tweet from a user of WordPress SEO who had their site disabled by HostGator, without any prior notice. They said that while they had a cache plugin running, their caching wasn’t working, and HostGator blamed it on two plugins, our own WordPress SEO plugin and WordFence.

Why would these plugins prevent caching?

They said that these two plugins prevented caching based on a grep through the source for DONOTCACHE constants. These DONOTCACHE constants are a method for a plugin or theme to prevent W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache from caching the current page because sometimes you have to.

In the case of my WordPress SEO plugin, it’s to test whether title rewriting works, which is only done on installation of the plugin. In the case of the WordFence plugin, they do it when they’re locking out users for security reasons, but don’t want the caching plugin to serve that “lock” to everyone else. Both are entirely legitimate reasons for not wanting to cache a page, but of course it does mean that when you search for DONOTCACHE constants in the source of the plugin, you’ll find them.

The admin at HostGator should have, of course, bothered to look a bit deeper. Instead, he opted to send this email:

Email from Hostgator

He did a search through the source, found the constants and stopped looking. Also, he didn’t email this customer saying he had a concern, no, he disabled their site and then emailed them. Know that this was a personal site, with very little traffic. Calling this extremely poor customer service is probably still taking it too positively.

I wish it was the first time this happened, but it wasn’t. Which is why I decided to dive deeper and see if it could be solved. It pains me to have to write this post and I have reached out to HostGator to see if they’re willing to change their ways. For now, the only honest advice I can give you is to switch hosting if you’re on HostGator. Not just because they dislike my plugin, but for disabling a site without any notice…

So where should you host your site?

I have an article about WordPress hosting, filled with advice. On top of that, I know that WP Engine likes our SEO plugin, so much in fact that they use it on their own site and they offer decent hosting. Also, DreamHost, who are awesome if only because they employ the fabulous Ipstenu, have never done anything weird like this.

So, if you’re on HostGator, vote with your wallet. Get away from there.

Disclaimer: I make a bit of money for referring you to each and every host I mention, but since they all offer me money that doesn’t really affect my thinking on any of them. Synthesis, my current host, pays me the same as WP Engine, as does VPS.net, etc.

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!