GHfind "Account Suspended"
One topic I'm often compelled to write about often but rarely do is my experiences with web hosting companies in Ghana. The reason I usually prefer not to publish articles on this subject is because what often prompts me to write about them to begin with is being dissatisfied with their service. Meanwhile, I don't want to put any companies on blast who may be trying their best but dealing with technical issues outside of their realm of control, nor do I want to create enemies over what may ultimately prove to be a petty matter.
But in this case, I'm not complaining about a particular company but rather what seems to be an industry practice. Also, I feel a need to explain to interested visitors why, if you were to currently go to GHfind, you'll be meet with a loud "Account Suspended" message, as I was.
Throughout the years, I've patronized at least four local hosting companies. Ultimately, I settled primarily on StormerHost for three main reasons. One is that, whereas their prices aren't necessarily cheap, they are competitive. Second, their customer service is generally prompt, polite and helpful. Third and most importantly, their hosting service - or at least that which I've been utilizing for the past couple of years - works as advertised, i.e. with full functionality and minimal downtime.
That's actually my biggest gripe when it comes to these hosting services, that there tends to be functions, such as FTP or WordPress, that are listed in the CPanel but not working like it's supposed to. And you'll never know that until after you've purchased the package and gone through the hassle, which sometimes takes a couple of days, of pointing a URL at it, since there's no way to test it otherwise.
The package I'm currently using to host GHfind (alongside All Things Stevie as an add-on domain) costs about $22 per month. Those in the know will tell you that's relatively expensive to host a couple of websites. But there are reasons I have stuck with this solution nonetheless.
The primary reason, as stated earlier, is that everything actually works. Sometimes in the past, GHfind could be offline for up to a week. Those were the times when, in the name of frugality, I pointed the URL at a less-expensive hosting packages, usually via other companies, only to find out they weren't working properly in one way or another and then having to point it back.
Secondly, the StormerHost business packages are pimped out with features you won't readily find elsewhere. In my case, what has kept me onboard is access to Webalizer (and similarly, Awstats). Webalizer is a comprehensive, easy-to-read stats program, i.e. one that tells you how many visitors you've had to your site, from what countries, etc.
Back in the days, it used to be a standard part of CPanel. In more recnet times, it seems that most hosting companies have fazed it out. I don't know exactly why, but I really don't like using other stats' programs, i.e. the ones that are relatively-difficult or unpleasant to read. And I also tend to have difficulty making sense out of Google Search Console and things of the such. So I'm basically paying $240 annually for a hosting package due to it featuring a couple of apps I like which these days aren't available elsewhere.
The problem with that decision is that GHfind has yet to prove profitable. So sometimes, it's difficult for me to keep spending GH₵260 monthly on hosting, besides the other expenses the project incurs. That may sound like a cop out to some people, but when funds are tight, sometimes it's like that. This is a project which, from a monetary standpoint, I probably should have terminated a long time ago, since it has yet to produce the desired results. But there's something inside that keeps me pressing on nonetheless.
So on occasion, I won't make the monthly hosting payment on time. This current month has been one of those occasions. But instead of just paying the bill and moving on with my life, I wanted to use this opportunity to point out an industry practice that I don't approve of.
In response to me being over 48 hours late on the payment (and also not contacting the company), StormerHost has suspended the hosting package, which is understandable. The problem I have though is that if you were to visit GHfind at this very moment, instead of saying something like 'Hosting Package Suspended', it instead says "Account Suspended".
That type of terminology, in my opinion, is negatively misleading. It may give a visitor the impression that my entire account has been suspended, which is not the case.
Usually when something like that happens in the world of web hosting, i.e. a user's account being suspended, that means that the company suspects or has proof of said user being engaged in fraudulent activity. So by extension of that logic, that notification may also lead some visitors to believe that I'm a fraudster, which I'm not, who has had his entire account suspended, which it isn't.
While doing research for the GHfind database, I visit the websites of many different businesses, and it's pretty common to come across that selfsame "Account Suspended" sign. Now, through my own experiences, I more specifically understand what that means is that the client failed to reup their hosting package.
I believe, since that message is so ubiquitous, that it may be embedded into CPanel in case of such instances. If that's so, they or whoever is in charge of it seriously needs to consider modifying the wording to more accurately reflect what has transpired, that a bill was not paid on time, so that visitors won't get the impression that the person or business who setup the affected site has completely fallen out of grace with the hosting company.