Something is very wrong with Arvixe. There is widespread discontent among users with many customers reporting problems with their sites, and being unable to get a response from Arvixe support for days. It appears Arvixe has migrated all its servers, and sacked many of its staff, transferring responsibilities to one of its other brands.
Editor’s Note - 13th December 2015: Looking at the Arvixe Twitter account it seems like the number of complaints has died down significantly. We suspect that they are catching up with all the issues following the migration and that new accounts may not be suffering issues like those experienced by some existing customers. Considering most of the staff that were in charge of the migration are no longer working at Arvixe, we see this as a very positive sign. We will review the position again in January 2016.
Editor’s Note - 28th January 2016: Looking at recent comments and reviews, there are still issues. Furthermore, complaints have increased at A Small Orange, who took over responsibility for this mess.
To get to the bottom of what is going on, and whether you should be concerned, we will need to start at the beginning.
EIG Buys Arvixe - 31st October 2014
Back in November 2014, Endurance International Group’s third quarter results revealed that they purchased Arvixe on the 31st October 2014.
At the time when we covered the purchase, we took a relatively liberal view, noting that EIG’s previous acquisition of the A Small Orange \ Hostnine brands was much better than their last Hostgator acquisition.
It has been commonplace that the previous management stays on for a year or two after purchase, and as such, we always knew it would take time before the EIG Management fully took over, and as such we have been keeping a close eye on server reliability and support complaints. We had positive hopes for Arvixe so at that time kept them as one of our recommended web hosting providers (at least for the time being).
Arvixe Migrations - 30th June 2015
Just eight months after EIG purchased Arvixe a massive server migration \ upgrade was announced. A total of 94 servers were scheduled to be migrated between the 24th June and 11th August 2015, a period of around six weeks.
While the announcement thread didn’t go into much detail, an email was sent to all customers at the same time explaining the reasoning and giving more detail on the server upgrades themselves.
An extract of the most important parts of the email is as follows:
Arvixe is excited and proud to announce the opportunity to provide you with top of the line, industry leading hardware at no additional cost!
In an effort to provide you with the best possible service, the server in which your account resides (xxxxx.arvixe.com) has been selected for upgrade.
The migration of your account will be completed on 6/30/2015.
- Some of the exciting benefits of this upgrade include:
- Latest generation Intel Xeon CPU’s.
- Faster Network and Transfer speeds.
- Lower I/O wait times with accelerated SSD storage.
- Arbor Networks DDoS protection.
We are aware that this may sound scary, but trust us, it isn’t. We’ve spent the last few months ensuring this process is seamless and goes without incident. Your account will remain the same and will operate the same after migration.
With that being said, we do expect a slight amount of downtime associated with the migration.
The server will need to be rebooted in order to complete the process, which takes about 10 minutes (or less) to complete.
Those in the industry was expecting EIG to migrate all the servers to their “owned” data centers to save costs, as they have done with other providers. The migrating of a data center is nothing new, and when done correctly, it can be done with minimal downtime (as SiteGround have previously shown).
Ex-owner Arvand made a comment in response to the email:
While this migration is part of the transition, there are not going to be any technology alterations. Therefore, in essence, the migration is similar to what Arvixe has done several times in the last few years from one DC to another.
It is very easy to see the value of the Arvixe brand and everyone on the Arvixe side is on board to make sure the migration is a success. EIG has placed very capable individuals to support the migration and we don’t foresee any problems beyond the general issues that have come up in the past due to migrations.
OK, Everything Going Good? Wrong! - Around September 2015
Due to the staggered nature of the site migrations, it took a little time for the complaints to start coming into various web hosting forums.
A search on Webhostingtalk showed complaints picking up around the beginning of September, but even before then there are a few complaints due to downtime caused by the migrations. What is worse, is that the communication and responses from Arvixe have been slow, vague and unhelpful.
Just take these few examples of complaints posted on Webhostingtalk:
Communication was only via two separate server alerts, alleging there was a network problem with shared IP of the server. My ticket was responded to after over 15 hours - a canned response, not replying to my actual questions. I am on a reseller hosting account, with a dedicated IP - so I’m not sure how a shared IP would even affect me, when they allege the actual server would have been functioning. There was no access to the server’s stat page, no access to WHM and none of the sites loaded.
Hello, I’m here searching for someone had the same problem as me.
I host with Arvixe since about 5 years ago.
The last Friday they have a migration of one of his servers … It was the worst I’ve met in years!
From Friday that “disappeared” from my account all database’s users and also “all databases of my own.” I don’t have my data right now.
I opened 4 tickets and no one claiming responsibility. Only hollow answers no solutions as if they were robots. Who one answer the chat doesn’t solve nothing and only waste time.
At this moment, some of my sites are not working and all of my databases are lost!
Arvixe has become irresponsible DISASTER!
Hopefully there are any organization or entity which denounce these situations.
I just hope to get my information as soon as possible, and go out of the dreadful Arvixe new service.
And of course, these are just the tip of the iceberg. Between slow responses, lost data, and excessive downtime, Arvixe has been inundated with complaints. Just from the beginning of September to the date of this post (1st November) there have been around 160 Arvixe related threads on Webhostingtalk, with many of them being complaints.
But It Gets Worse - October 2015
October saw things spiral out of control for Arvixe. Arvixe felt the need to close down their community forums due to the overwhelming number of complaints (burying head in the sand eh?) and as such you will find that their community page now redirects to their Arvixe Status Page.
The problems around this time were most likely not helped by one of their servers losing all their data during the migration due to no backups being available!
A web designer who was one of the ones who lost data said this (an extract of the relevant part is below):
Arvixe was A-typical in all the necessary shared web hosting necessities, nothing more or less. However, support and communication from this hosting provider has bit the dust.
The server on which my website was hosted encountered a hardware issue. The raid array went down. This was last week and **we were not notified **. It wasn’t until I visited the site to see a bunch of code. At first fearing we got hacked I delved into the files while on chat with support. Nothing I found was indicative of being hacked.
I beseeched the tech support for a backup to restore the site. After a bit she told me there was no backup. I told her I know there is if you have redundant servers etc. She disconnected the chat…wow.
After she did that I decided to view the database to see if I could find some clues. Guess what? The database had been deleted. Nothing. Zilch. Nada.
I connected with chat support again. After maybe an hour, an admission about the failed raid array and that whatever was on my hosting account was all they could retrieve. I’ve written to support twice with no replies. Requested a refund after 3 weeks.
Many Arvixe Employees Fired - 1st October
Editor’s note: The information in this section has not been verified, and we have no confirmation that the people mentioned in the posts were certain employees of Arvixe.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, an ex-employee (about two years prior) posted on the Webhostingtalk forum after speaking to some close friends at Arvixe about how over 100 staff were recently fired, leaving about eight staff to be transferred to elsewhere within the parent company, EIG.
This brief post was then followed up by a very detailed post by an ex-employee who was apparently laid off on the 30th September, having been given just four days notice. There is some disturbing insight provided in the post, and we have split it up below dealing with each of the issues mentioned in turn:
No Transition by Old Fired Staff to New Staff
If you believe this (remember this is unverified), then it just shows a massive failing of management at EIG to properly deal with the transition with the old staff being given just four days notice. In essence, it seems from the post like the former staff were abandoned and had no idea who would be taking over the workload:
Starting on Monday people began to realize that no one was actively replacing laid off staff because there was no one to replace them with.
The ticket count kept on climbing. Some staff went to work double-time trying to at least do something for the huge number of problems our customers were facing and others were demoralized and did next to nothing their last days.
On my last day there was no server monitoring staff left. If a server went down then a shift manager had to fix it, but most of the shift managers were in training with EIG except for those who were also getting laid off. Servers failed and little could be done.
The only people who checked the forums for customer problems were laid off as well. The main Priority Support person was laid off. He was also the most experienced support tech at Arvixe. Most of the QA department kept their jobs but they were more of an internal disciplinary wing with only one person as an exceptional tech and one person as a really bad tech.
Support Wait Times Between 4 Days and Week
Because most of the support staff were let go, and managers retained, there is now a massive shortage of people dealing with tickets. The ex-employee estimated that no response would be received for at least 4 days, but it could be as long as a week. His best advice was to get in contact with Arvixe via Twitter or Facebook:
The best bet is to get on twitter or Facebook and contact Arvixe Support that way with your ticket number. Then the social media monitor will contact a shift manager, the shift manager will then get a support tech to stop what they are doing and work on a ticket. I was stopped in the middle of tickets constantly to work on a social media ticket.
Technical Incompetence (alleged)
Well, sort of. The ex-employee speculates here, but it does seem plausible. Arvixe Management had quite an elaborate plan to create four different images on each server with 32GB Ram Each, instead of 2 server images of 96GB that they had now. The plan was to split all the accounts up into the different images, and it would technically mean fewer tickets should any failure happen as only one of the images would be affected. However, when it came to the migration they messed up:
But a step was missed. Instead they migrated all 96GB customers to 32GB. Then to make up for that foul-up, They provisioned more servers but the future to-be-laid-off support staff had no access to the new servers. Then, the new servers had no, or little functioning backups. One went down and was down for 1 week or more.
Then our backup software had a bug in it. This was not Arvixe’s fault. But this would have been something manageable had the migration not shoe-horned 96 into 32 and support staff could not restore a working mysql database. Only one person could do this and he was not around 24⁄7. That added to the ticket count.
As you can see, one problem continuously seemed to compound another. The ex-employee goes on to complain about the general incompetence of some of the staff dealing with the servers, and an employee mass changing data of customers. If interested, you can read that part yourselves.
We must state some caution here, though. The ex-employee is likely to be disgruntled, and could be shedding the whole situation in a bad light. Also, we do not have Arvixe \ EIG’s side of the story here, and it is likely to differ somewhat as there was probably many discussions behind the scenes that an employee due to be fired would just not be a part of. What we can be more confident about is the level of complaints seen on Social Media, Webhostingtalk, and Arvixe Community forums (before it closed), and thus draw conclusions from that.
A Small Orange has taken over Management
Mention is made briefly by the ex-employee that A Small Orange (ASO) / EIG had taken over responsibility for the servers. A second post by another unverified person stated:
ASO manages Arvixe now. It is fair to consider Arvixe ASO at this moment. The last moment of Arvixe autonomy was yesterday [1st November]. The ASO management and server techs had access to both Arvixe property and ASO property but Arvixe staff did not have or had only limited access to ASO property, so ASO was and is in charge.
This is obviously worrisome, as we did notice via ASO Twitter that they were suffering slightly more issues than normal from the 1st October. It is hard to tell if this is related, but if they are busy trying to catch up with the Arvixe backlog, it is possible.
Problems are Still Ongoing - October 2015
Rather than go into the issues in detail that users are experiencing, we will just list the titles of a few forum threads created during October to give a glimpse of what is still happening.
- Arvixe Hosting Sucks, Fraud, and Scam, Never use their service
- Arvixe.Com problem: all my files lost, and nobody cares?
- Another Arvixe refugee. Best time to cancel?
- Leaving Arvixe - Need new host advice
- Arvixe the worst of pain giving
- Farewell Arvixe - Suggestions for new host
- Leaving Arvixe after 5 years - Zero service!
- Want to leave Arvixe - I need your help!
- Email services from Arvixe down and poor customer service!
Again, you can find a whole list of threads about the problem, including the ones above here.
Arvixe Reaches Out, Thanks for Patience
On the 16th October, Arvixe reached out to its customers in a blog post, thanking them for their patience. The image above implies that they apologized, but actually reading the statement there was NO actual apology. This would have been the perfect time to include such sentiment, but they passed on the opportunity.:
Our support wait times have been extremely long lately, we know this and we are working to fix it. We are actively training additional staff to handle your requests, as well as systematically working to address the root cause of issues that are affecting some customers. While the wait times have been long, we ask for your patience and please hold on the line for chat or phone, we will answer you.
The post goes on to link some resources that may help if they are having issues.
The migration must have been (and to some extent still is) an extremely traumatic time for all involved. There is no way we can currently recommend Arvixe with all this happening although we will be keeping an eye on them for the future.
In the long term, we suspect that they will get back on their feet and put all these issues behind them. The questions are “How long will it take?”, “Can you afford the risk of staying with a host like this?”. Ultimately, the answer at present must be no. There are simply too many complaints, and support times too long to recommend staying with Arvixe. Avoid!
Jonathan Griffin Editor, SEO Consultant, & Developer.
Jonathan Griffin is The Webmaster's Editor & CEO, managing day-to-day editorial operations across all our publications. Jonathan writes about Development, Hosting, and SEO topics for The Webmaster and The Search Review with more than nine years of experience. Jonathan also manages his own SEO consultancy, offering SEO developer services. He is an expert on site-structure, strategy, Schema, AMP, and technical SEO. You can find Jonathan on Twitter as @thewebmastercom.