Hostagtor is one of the popular name in Webhosting industry and undoubtedly they are always in news for something new. Recently they were in news for moving their data-center. Hostgator was acquired by EIG group last year, and they recently moved a part of their server from SoftLayer data center to an Ace Data Centers. Anyways, this article is not about what Hostgator is doing at the back end, but wanted to discus one of the major concern with Hostgator shared hosting quality and issues customers are facing with their SSL certificate policy on shared hosting.
Hostgator offers SSL certificate to their business plan users with a dedicated I.P, and if you are wondering what is the use of SSL certificate, check out this wiki article. In non-technical language when you see a site with https: that means this site is using SSL certificate. All popular sites like Facebook, Google and any E-commerce sites take advantage of SSL certificate to make the information transfer more secure. When it comes to a WordPress blog like this, we don’t really need a SSL certificate.
When ever I launch a new blog, I quickly add site:domain.com in Google alerts to get notification for newly indexed pages in Google search. This helps me to find out about new indexed pages from my domain, and also to keep a check on if any important information or if any low-quality pages are indexed in Google or not. Today, I got a notification saying one of my WordPress blog which is hosted on Hostgator have forum and are indexed in Google. This was the structure of domain link which I received in notification:
Surprisingly I have never installed any forum or have never purchased SSL certificate. My initial thought was my domain is hacked, but after browsing the site with www version of domain, everything was fine. But, when I was browsing the domain without www and with https, this page was opening:
As I mentioned this issue was not new to me, and I faced the same issue for one of my domain last year. Even recently, one of the Indian blogger “Anchal bhatia” had the similar issue on Hostagtor.
Hi, Someone told me that my website is using invalid security certificate. Can anyone tell me what is it all about? I have never purchased any security certificate. What has to be done?
The biggest challenge with this problem is, half of the time innocent web masters will not even notice the problem, and they will blame Google panda or other algorithm for traffic drop. FYI, when Google indexes your domain with https and the pages are irrelevant and of low-quality, your domain is penalised, and you will not even know why it’s happening.
My Conversation with Hostgator support about Invalid certificate issue:
I contacted Hostgator support team via live chat to resolve this issue and to get a clarification on the same. First of all, I hated hostgator for making me wait 25 minutes to get on chat with someone and it took me next 20 minutes to verify my account, and made David understand the issue.
Here is the initial transcript of the communication:
(12:07:50pm)System:Customer has entered chat and is waiting for an agent.
(12:28:20pm)David S.:Welcome to HostGator Live Chat. My name is David S. How may I assist you today?
(12:28:42pm)Harsh Agrawal:Hey David
(12:28:54pm)Harsh Agrawal:I have chromoz.com which is a wordpress blog hosted on your server
(12:29:13pm)Harsh Agrawal:And today I can see some non www and https version is added and this site is opening
(12:29:15pm)Harsh Agrawal: https://chromoz.com/forum/
(12:29:20pm)Harsh Agrawal:Which doesn’t even belong to me
(12:29:31pm)Harsh Agrawal:and I can access my normal site at www.chromoz.com
(12:29:51pm)Harsh Agrawal:Could you look into this issue pro-actively….It’s already impacted my traffic
(12:30:42pm)David S.:I always do, I’ll work on it as fast as possible.
(12:31:28pm)David S.:http://www.chromoz.com/ is loading for me. May I know what error you have been receiving, please?
(12:31:42pm)Harsh Agrawal:Open this link https://chromoz.com/forum/
(12:31:47pm)Harsh Agrawal:That’s not my site
(12:32:09pm)Harsh Agrawal:non www and https version of chromoz.com came out of no where…and it definitely looks like a big from your end
(12:32:38pm)Harsh Agrawal: https://chromoz.com
(12:34:06pm)David S.:Just a moment, please.
(12:36:04pm)David S.:I am not entirely sure I understand the whole problem…
(12:36:14pm)Harsh Agrawal:Alright let me explain again
(12:36:51pm)Harsh Agrawal:I have this domain www.chromoz.com hosted on your server and it’s a WordPress blog without any SSL certificate.
(12:37:20pm)Harsh Agrawal:Now when I access this URL https://chromoz.com I see a forum installed which is not mine
(12:37:55pm)Harsh Agrawal: https://chromoz.com/forum/ this one is not mine and not even hosted on my server…and I have never aded any SSL certificate to my hosting and it’s showing here
(12:38:30pm)Harsh Agrawal:Seems like one of the site on same shared hosting server is using https and this caused this issue..and now I’m getting penalised by Google for Hostgator mistake
After normal account verification and all David looked into the issue and here is what he concluded and just raised a ticket for someone to look into the issue.
(12:59:53pm)David S.: Well, any SSL requires a dedicated IP address in order to be installed.
(1:00:01pm)David S.: So it would not be on the same IP address.
(1:00:42pm)David S.: Hm.
(1:01:49pm)Harsh Agrawal: Thanks for clarification…but I faced this issue 1 year back with my other site hosted on Hostgator and on different shared hosting..So I’m concluding this from my past experience…
(1:04:03pm)David S.: It looks like someone did install an SSL on a shared IP. I can create a ticket to change your IP address to one that does not have an SSL installed on it
(1:05:12pm)Harsh Agrawal:Sure…How long it will take? and also ensure that all of my other sites hosted on the server should be removed from this I.P…
(1:05:29pm)Harsh Agrawal:Because of this issue…I’m losing my traffic
(1:06:12pm)David S.:Yes, it will be done, your entire cPanel will change IP addresses
(1:06:20pm)David S.:Just a moment, please.
(1:06:48pm)Harsh Agrawal:And will I get an Email notification for the same? And Can I get a clarification on why this thing is happening??
(1:10:13pm)David S.: It’s because an SSL was installed on your shared IP and it is normal behavior if you do not have an SSL installed to have unpredicatable behavior on a shared IP. We’ll move your cPanel to an IP address without an SSL installed on it. To have this done for you I have submitted ticket ID PKM-26210887 on your behalf. You should receive an email regarding this issue, you will also be able to check the status of your ticket by logging into https://gbclient.hostgator.com/ .
(1:10:55pm)Harsh Agrawal:Thanks a lot…..How long will it take?
(1:11:39pm)David S.: We’ll need to do an audit of the IP addresses, which we’ll do as quickly as possible but unfortunately I do not know how long that will take
(1:11:53pm)David S.:My apologies I could not do more regarding this issue myself while you were in chat
(1:11:54pm)David S.:Is there anything else I can assist you with today?
(1:12:58pm)Harsh Agrawal:Thanks…nothing for now..Hoping to get my issue solved.
If you look at the complete conversation, I was unsure why at the first place SSL was added on a shared I.P, when SSL certificate on Hostgator requires a dedicated I.P. And if this problem is happening with so many Hostgator customers (Happened to me twice in last 18 months), why they not pro-actively working on making changes to remove such hosting mistakes.
Undoubtedly, Hostgator is losing my view as a reputation of a reliable hosting server, because this issue can be catastrophic for any professional blogger like me who relies on his blog for break and butter. Well, last time when I faced this issue with Hostgator, I moved my most of the sites to Bluehost and main site to known host VPS. Being from a technical background, it was easy for me to resolve the issue, but if you are nontechnical, and hosting your website on Hostgator, I recommend you to Go to Google, and type https://domain.com and see if your site is also a victim of this Hostgator issue.
For now, I’m waiting for a response from Hostgator team to fix this issue and move me to new I.P. Address. I will keep you posted about the resolution, and if nothing works, I will move away my sites from Hostgator.