I was not sure where to post this experience and if it goes inline with the community policy, but I believe it should go public.
Here is our experience with Kansas City Host, since recently known also as Forum Heroes, XenBoost, managed by this community member formerly known as Mike Edge, The Forum Heroes these days.
We have been running an Israeli Russian-language forum waronline.org since 2001, originally powered by phpBB. During those 15 years we worked with multiple hosts in North America, some better, some worse, some cheaper, some more expensive.
A few years ago we switched to XenForo and hence started looking for a host that specialized in running XenForo forums, which we found via this community and thus contacted Mike Edge (Kansas City Host at those times).
Our requirements for traffic and storage were not so high and for a year or so all went pretty smooth if put aside several outages, but, hey, happens to the best families. The response time was not so great, partly due to the fact that there was no formal call-center, no online service tickets system or a list of contact phones, or a way to open a service call – there was one and only contact Mike Edge, and if you did not get hold of him, you could talk to a wall. And – the man never, but never replied to emails that he did not want to reply to, you had to catch him physically by phone or all kinds of instant messengers but only at his phone. But, OK, no hard feelings as soon as it worked.
But here starts even more interesting part: at some point, half a year ago, Mike decided to reorganize his infrastructure architecture, upgrade his hard- and software, an absolutely reasonable decision. What was, though, quite odd was that he “forgot” to even inform us about this in order for us to get our community prepared – we found this out only when one day our forum (and the server running it) just went down and stayed down for good 3 days during which we tried to catch Mike in all possible way. When he finally popped up, his excuse was that he sent us a notification via his profile message in this community, as if none of us – his customers – has emails, phones etc. Hey, since when using XenForo community profile status is the way to communicate any urgent information to your customers (who are, by the way, not web developers or sysadmins and therefore do not login to the community more often than once in a very long while)? As a result, we had to change nameservers, and wait 2 more days for complete DNS re-propagation; all in all – for almost a week the forum with huge audience was either down or badly malfunctioning, the thing that has never happened since its opening in 2001.
But, guess what, even this was not the most interesting part: as a part of his experiments with the infrastructure architecture without really knowing what he was doing (which became quite clear soon after), he decided to relocate our DB to a remote server and separate it from the engine, and since then we were denied access to the DB in any way – CPanel, MySQL, phpAdmin, nothing. Temporary thing, you say, till he figures out how to give us access? Yes, this was what he said, too. Next few days, next week tops, right? As of today, we do not have access to our DB for already half a year! How exactly do you imagine running a forum if you do not have access to its DB? No upgrade, no changes / fixes, no DB analytics, nothing! Not even an access to DB backup! Yes, the forum engine works with it, but absolutely no access to it via SQL client or so.
Of course, we have kept sending Mike emails and messaging his phone asking when we can finally have access to our DB. Sometimes he answered monosyllabically “soon”, but really soon decided to totally ignore us whatsoever. Our huge mistake was we kept believing him instead of just leaving him for good, screw the money we paid for the host for a year upfront…
When he was in good mood, he shared with us pretty “exciting” details: that he is on his way to a game, that he is flying to Europe, that he is having a vacation - all kinds of totally irrelevant information like this. We tried to remind him that he was not our close pal, he was our service provider and we were his customers, paying him money for the service which he failed to deliver, not for sharing with us his whereabouts or facts of life.
A month ago the server went down again and when restarted our DB ran totally corrupted. We wrote, called, sent instant messages – no Mike, vanished. We could not even stop the forum – it kept “running” on totally ruined DB and every new post added to it screwed it even more. We could neither “freeze” it, nor restore it from a backup – no access, none! When the man finally answered the phone text message (probably by mistake), this time he was having the army reserve service and “could not do anything from the barrack” (nobody back home, right? Nobody watching the servers, one and only person doing it all!), and would only be able to do anything next week when he’d be back home… How about that? How about being unable to even stop an access to (not saying fix) the corrupted DB, and placing a service notice announcement for our users? Embarrassing to say the least… After the website was restored, we were not able to get the elasticsearch option and many more tools running any longer, until today.
Based on the aforementioned, we clearly stated quite a few times that we could not keep tolerating this attitude and will have to seek help elsewhere, and his constantly ignoring us leaves us no other choice than making his attitude public, but all we heard in response to that was (a quote) “My attitude? You should really step back a sec pal and look at the way you talk to me and then see who clearly has the attitude.”
Since then, every time the server goes down (and it is like every few days), we lose access to something else. First it was CPanel, then it was the DB. This weekend the server went down again, for 4-5 hours. This time we lost access to FTP, can’t even fetch last backup. Last night our website went down again and was inaccessible for over 12 hours. Of course, no way to communicate with anyone. The man only posts status on his profile https://xenforo.com/community/members/the-forum-heroes.8963/, and that’s the only way he is visible for the world (not to mention, he deletes from there “inconvenient” questions and comments, constantly thanking his clients for patience and expressing happiness about having amazing and supportive clients; so please do not thank us – we’ve lost our patience, understanding and supportiveness long time ago).
Every time his servers go totally ballistic due to constant hard- and software failures (and this happens pretty much every other week) he is “working hard” and “heroically” restoring them and any attempt to get any technical support around these times (like restoring ruined FTP connection) is proudly reverted like “no time for trivial tech support like a password reset”, like don’t bother me when I am saving the world…
With all these numerous outages we lost a good deal of our subscribers and really cannot tolerate this anymore. Now, please tell me – is it only us, and this is normal, or something is seriously wrong with the way this man is running his “business”?
From his signature in this community forum: “Forum Heroes - Heroic-Like XenForo Hosting Solutions, Done Right! ** Now hosting over 300 XF communities **All our services include 24/7 managed XenForo Support - cPanel - LiteSpeed w/SPDY - MariaDB - ElasticSearch + More!”. Yeah, right… Every single word is a lie. At least in our case.
BTW, we found that we're not the only ones experiencing issues with the man, here we found another story, and I believe there are more. I can't imagine this happens only to us...
So, here we are – disappointed, annoyed, angry and having lost time, energy, nerves, audience and quite a good deal of the content (all backed-up, of course, but, as I mentioned, there was no reasonable option to even backup the data on regular basis – all the time this or that didn’t work)
Well, this is the story. We have never experienced anything like this before and we feel really stupid we let this go on for so long time, but I believe this is it. So, now we are looking for another reliable host with proven experience and reputation. I am not event talking about a refund or anything like this - screw money, we just want to get as far from the guy as possible and as soon as possible
PS. Of course, all the communications are kept on file and are available on request to whom it may concern. If this was a bit too emotional, please forgive - it's just that we could never imagine such attitude from a web hosting service provider.