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What to Do if Your Web Hosting Company is Sold

Published on 9/15/2010 by

GoDaddy, the popular domain registrar and web hosting company, has put itself up on the auction block, expecting an almost $1 billion payout.  GoDaddy is not the first web host to be sold off and undoubtedly, they will not be the last.  Web hosting companies do change hands and ownership, leaving customers to wonder what will become of one of their most prized possessions—their websites. 

What happens if your web hosting company is sold?  Will you still receive the same remarkable service?  Can you get a refund and move to a different host if things don't work out?  Let’s explore what happens when a web hosting company decides to sell their company and in essence, your website.

The shock

There’s a certain amount of shock that comes with finding out that your tried and true web hosting company has been sold.  Due to confidentiality and legal agreements, clients are usually the last to learn of the change.  At best, you’ll receive an email detailing the changes and introducing the new company that will be in charge of your website.  At worst, you’ll read about it in the news.

Figuring out where you stand

Some web hosting companies will offer an opt-out after the sale—a way for clients to terminate their current hosting agreement, relieving themselves of any obligation to the new company.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work this way and more often than not, the original Terms of Service agreement you signed will have no bearing whatsoever on your future with the new company.  In most cases, the fine print in Terms of Service agreements will detail that the company can change the terms at their will, leaving you completely at the whim of a new company.

Your first step after the sale should be to review the Terms of Service contract you signed and ask both the new and old company what your options are.

Worst case scenario

Webhosting Talk, the popular online forum that melds web hosting clients and companies, is saturated with tales of web hosting company takeovers gone wrong.  Spend just ten minutes on the site and you’ll find customers complaining about everything from poor customer service with the new company to a complete change in operating systems.  For clients, a takeover can mean better services and cheaper prices or complete disaster.

Smaller companies who offered phenomenal, fast support are sometimes handed off to large, corporate web hosting companies who have hundreds of thousands of clients and are unable to provide the same personal support.  This can leave clients feeling left than thrilled with their new hosting company.

When things work out

Despite the many horror stories of company sales, there are certainly many happy stories to be had, as well.  Aside from needing to change servers, many clients won’t notice much of a change with their service and some even prefer the new company to their old web host.

What happens exactly

Once your web hosting company has been sold, you’ll be notified that your website will be moving to a new server.  Your first order of business should be to backup your website.  Even if the new company claims they’ll be backing up the site for you, do it anyway. 

Next, you’ll want to read over the letter you were sent with regards to the sale to see how and if your web hosting plan will change in the future.  Until your contract is up, your current rates will be guaranteed, but you may be put on a server with an unfamiliar control panel that doesn’t offer the same services or software options you once enjoyed.  Read the letter and make a note of any changes that will have an impact on you and your website.

Last, if there are extreme changes in service that you’re unhappy with, contact the new web hosting company and ask to be let out of your contract.  Many web hosts will understand your position and allow you to opt out of your agreement, freeing you from your obligation and allowing you to find a new web host. 

Let’s review.  These are the steps you should take when your web hosting company is sold:

  1. Read the Terms of Servicefrom your old web hosting company to see if you’re allowed to cancel your plan without incurring any fees.
  2. Backup your website.
  3. Reread the introductory letter from the new web hostso that you understand what, if any, changes are in store.
  4. Contact the new company if you’re unsatisfied with service and ask to be let out of your contract.

Most clients will stick it out with a new company until their current plan expires.  If you’re satisfied with the level of service you’re receiving from the new company, it’s a no brainer that your best option is to stay put.  If things go south though, don’t be afraid to cancel your plan and move to a reliable web hosting company that will support both you and your website.