Hostway WWW: The World’s Worst Web host?

A cautionary tale as you decide whom you’ll entrust with your mission-critical business applications and why Hostway gets my vote as the world’s worst web host.

I decided to write this post since my wife’s web site is down AGAIN as is the backend of the service and I’ve burned up an hour dialing the phone in an attempt to get someone, anyone, to address it.

For several years my wife’s business has hosted her web site at Bigstep. When we first started with them in 2000, I was at Vignette and looked for a robust, browser-based ecommerce/website engine that would allow she and her non-technical staff to completely run the site. It worked and we were successfully up and running in days.

Unfortunately, Bigstep had burned through $30+ million in venture capital and couldn’t make a go of it. The architecture is java-centric and thus tough to maintain and expand (and slower I hear) so they were sold to Affinity, at that point the world’s third largest hosting company (or so they claimed).

Affinity was gobbled up by Hostway in April of 2007, and I had high hopes they’d now invest in Bigstep. Not only did they not seemingly put a nickel of investment in Bigstep, as of last week, they announced they’re taking Bigstep offline at the end of March.

I wouldn’t have formed an opinion that Hostway is the world’s worst web host had it not been for all the effort I’ve expended TO TALK TO SOMEONE OR HAVE ANYONE RESPOND to an email, a phone call, or requests through the support system to understand where they were taking Bigstep strategically.

Hostway claims here that, “Superior support sets us apart from the bargain-basement Web hosts. We pride ourselves on offering the best and most reliable support in our industry. And with 24/7 live support, we’re there when you need us all day, every day and with 24/7 live support, we’re there when you need us all day, every day.Sorry Hostway. I’ve had better service from hosts like Bluehost for $6.95 per month.

Their lack of responsiveness extends, ironically, to sales. Try calling them at 1-866-467-8929 and, for example, request commercial sales. If you’re on hold for less than 10 minutes I’d be surprised (I’ve tried repeatedly to reach out via sales, support and the corporate office…all to no avail…and been on hold for 20-30 minutes or more). How long would a commercial customer stay on hold in the hope someone would come on the line and help me buy? Sorry Hostway. You get one or two minutes of my time if you’re selling and I’m buying.

Hostway’s number one asset is the growing base of loyal customers we serve every day. Customers small and large rely on Hostway to provide secure, reliable and value-rich hosting services for their Web operations. Hostway’s number one asset is the growing base of loyal customers we serve every day. 

Hostway, you know that’s marketing speak and not reality. My wife’s business is in the smallish category and you’ve NEVER provided us with reliable services for our Web operations (the site has been down dozens of times since you acquired Affinity in April of 2007 and we’ve often called and been the catalyst for a system reboot!!). We’re not a loyal customer (the switching costs is what’s held us back thus far) and will never be a customer again once we’ve switched.

UPDATE: Not being able to connect, I called the Chicago corporate office at 312.236.2125 and randomly dialed extensions until I reached someone and ultimately got a call back from tech support for Bigstep. The kicker? It’s been a half hour since I was told they were rebooting the system and the whole shebang (our site and the admin backend) is still down returning a “server error.” During my on-hold time, I poked around Google and found a major outage last summer with their premiere low-end property, ValueWeb, that caused severe problems as it was so protracted.

Posted in  


  1. Vic Rivera on May 15, 2008 at 4:18 pm


    Your experience with Hostway mirrors mine almost to a T. I started with NetNation about 10 years ago and was amazed at how responsive and customer-friendly the company was. Then they were purchased by Hostway and the situation has steadily gone downhill.

    The MySQL server for my domain went down 2 1/2 months ago and I can’t get anyone in tech support to address the problem. About 4 weeks ago I was actually able to get through to a support person (after a 45 minute hold) who very casually informed me that he didn’t know anything about PHP and that I would have to call back and take my chances that the next tech support person would be able to help me. Talk about my going ballistic!

    These clowns shouldn’t be in business and I hope there’s an outpouring of comments from current and past disgruntled customers.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn

Posts by Category

Archives (2004 – Present)

Connecting the Dots Podcast

Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.