“Avoid This Product” is an ongoing series where I discuss products that I absolutely recommend you avoid!
Web hosts, VPS providers, reseller hosting providers – they’re all becoming a dime a dozen these days. With the ability to buy dedicated servers or VPS servers in data centers from bigger providers, anybody can have servers spread all over the world and not to have physically take care of buying their own servers, building or leasing data centre access, flying around the world to install servers, hiring support staff for those servers, etc. The ability to have a global server footprint for sometimes under $30/month/server is within reach of anyone who makes a minimum wage and has a credit card or PayPal account.
Seeing the problem yet? With anyone able to spin up servers, this means anyone can spin up businesses dependent on those servers – web hosts and VPS server providers being the example I’m focusing on here. I could rent a VPS server for as low as <$10 a month, install a web host panel on it, and start a web hosting company on a shitty server. Now, grab a professional looking website template for myself, or use something like SquareSpace, sprinkle in some exaggerated details about my company, and you can’t tell me about from any other well established web host out there. The problem is: I work a day job, I know only enough about server management to be dangerous, and I have zero employees. I probably want to keep my costs low too, so I’m going to oversell the crap out of my server to defer having to rent more servers for as long as I possibly can.
I like trying out small time companies – supporting the little guy can sometimes be very rewarding for the end customer too. Other times, it can be a big mistake (see my NFP Hosting review).
Let’s talk about SolvedByData
They ran some Black Friday specials, so I hopped on a pretty promising looking cPanel/WHM reseller package that looked like a great place to host a bunch of my websites and family member’s websites that I manage, and a way to save a few bucks from my current host while doing so.
Well, I regret it.
I ran monitoring checks every 1 minute on the websites and the downtime alerts became so frequent and annoying that I had to reduce monitoring to every 5 minutes. With an every 5 minute monitor, downtime is still in the neighbourhood of 20 hours every single week. I assume the number would be even higher if I could monitor every minute and catch all the smaller downtime occurrences in there too.
Server load is sitting at 12 load average, on an 8 CPU system (not good), and disk utilization has gone as high as 98%. It’s clear that there’s a lot, actually way too many, other clients sharing this server with me. It’s oversold, plain and simple. This is the cause for all the downtime too, because overnight when that server load seems to drop a bit, the downtime alerts become less frequent too.
Support? What Support?
I opened a ticket to share my complaint about all the downtime. Their first suggestion back? That we should try a dedicated IP on my account. Huh? How will changing my IP address have any impact at all on server load that causes downtime? Okay.. we’ll do it anyway…
New IP didn’t change a thing. They got back to me in a few days again after I told them that, and simply told me that it’s fixed and I should test my sites again. No, it wasn’t fixed.
This back and forth went on for over a week. I’d tell them there’s still immense downtime, and they’d tell me “it’s fixed now” and to test again.
Then it got good. They just closed my case after I told them it was still happening. I re-opened it, we started the cycle again, and they closed it again. Hoping that sweeping me under the rug will make me forget about the fact I can’t get at my sites for 20 hours a week?
Every time I re-open the case I ask very clear questions wanting to understand what changes have been done, and what they suspected the problem was. Every time I send questions, I get a reply telling me I need to just re-test my websites and tell them if it works. To this day, the questions all remain unanswered.
There’s no reviews out there for SolvedByData, which is why I’m posting this one – with a hopes that anyone Google searching them before buying will immediately turn around and run.
I did find some discussion on LowEndBox about them, and the high downtime, high server loads/overselling, and rock bottom quality support are all common complaints.
Another fly-by-night server provider using resold and oversold servers hoping to make some exchange cash on the side? I suspect so. The poor quality support is likely the result of whoever owns this company paying an off-shore support centre pennies per email to try and “help”.
Don’t waste your time or your money to be let down by SolvedByData. In this price range, you can find plenty more reliable hosting providers who are established companies with helpful on-shore support.
My verdict: AVOID THIS PRODUCT!
UPDATE SINCE PUBLISHING: Since writing this post, my support ticket with the company continued to go nowhere. They continued to ignore my questions and the downtime persisted. My purchase was made via PayPal, which offers buyer protection if services aren’t as advertised, and unfortunately this had to be my first time in a decade of using PayPal where I had to exercise that protection. I was able to show the advertised 99.9% uptime guarantee, and my received uptime, and the money was back in my account in a few hours.
The “so called” president of SolvedByData also reached out to me after seeing the dispute. Before opening the email, I figured he maybe wanted to understand where his company had failed me, or to apologize for the poor support and uptime I was receiving, perhaps even try to save me as a paying customer. This would normally be the correct course of action to take when a customer has had to go this far out of frustration. Nope. Taylor, the president, accused me of “committing fraud”, threw a bunch of other accusations at me, and informed me I am banned from ever buying from his company again for the rest of my lifetime.
That was sure handled professionally! If your standards of professional are a 10 year old fighting at school who didn’t just get his way.
I reached back out to Taylor, writing a very professional email, again hoping to find a way we could connect to figure out why things led this far so he can make improvements on his end and understand my side. My request has gone ignored.