Neureal (EMC Webhosting)

Date Wed, December 10 2008

I was going to start this with, “I don’t want to be mean in my review of Neureal, the webhosting company I’ve been with for years” but.. Let’s face it, I don’t really have many qualms about being mean.

The background is that I have been with this company for over 5 years (or is it 6) and I’ve hosted several domains with them, have had numerous hostees and owned dozens of subdomains myself.

My relationship with them started off a bit rocky if only because I was new to this whole owning a domain and needing hosting thing. At the time, they were also using some older hardware and software which seemed to be slightly problematic. However, everything was upgraded and for several years I had no issues with any of their services. I could likely count the number of times I was not able to access my sites on one hand and they’re all forgettable, save for one time when the server was hacked which may have been before the upgrades anyway.

Neureal has always used H-Sphere for its server management software, unlike many companies which use C-Panel. I have found it to be easy to use and fairly customizable. I cannot remember a time when it really did not meet or even exceed my needs. I was able to set up FTP users, databases and use several scripts provided by Neureal for searching and statistics. Within this control panel was a support center featuring help topics and support tickets. I almost never had to contact Neureal because of something wrong on their end; I usually only needed help with serve info when installing scripts or if I accidentally deleted a file (oops!) and they were always extremely helpful in their responses which often occurred in less than a day.

All was good for several years until sometime earlier in 2008 when I ran into a snag and submitted a trouble ticket. I received no answer and checked back sometime around the 48 hour mark to find that not only was my support ticket gone but that the whole trouble ticket system has been removed and, instead, I was redirected to the support center of EMC Web Services. Apparently, there had been some sort of merger or buyout which the new powers that be had failed to tell Neureal’s customers. Not only was my problem still not solved (and it was fairly important; I think I had accidentally deleted the CSS file for my site!) but EMC was not impressing me with its customer service either.

So I had to sign up for this new support center, resubmit my problem and wait. I think it was crappy that not only was my current ticket closed, but they did not take the time to import my old tickets for reference. Furthermore, the new support center is really lacking in features (like you cannot respond to tickets via e-mail!).

Eventually, EMC were so kind to let me know that they could not retrieve the file unless I signed up for their back up service, which I said I would. Of course, they never subscribed me and I was eventually able to fix my CSS file by piecing together older style sheets.

Since then I have had to use the ticket center several times. I usually do not get timely responses and have had to submit multiple tickets for the same, unresolved issue. The issue at hand only further relates to the low quality service I have relieved since Neureal became EMC.

A few months ago, I noticed I was getting duplicate e-mails in my inbox and reported it. They actually responded fairly quickly and said they would look into it was I received no more word after that. Frustrated, I let it sit because I did not want to deal with it but, not too long ago, I looked into it again. EMC said they had not responded because they could not duplicate the issue. Excuse me? That is no excuse to not respond. Please tell me that you cannot duplicate it and I will be happy to clarify, which I did.

So they worked to try to duplicate it and their solution was that these were spam e-amils being sent very quickly by a robot on some computer. However, I know the difference between spam and legitimate e-mails. Spam does look repetitive but it does not usually occur at exactly the same time. Furthermore, these were newsletters I had chosen to receive, alerts from sites like Twitter and Entrecard and even e-mails from specific individuals. I knew they had no idea what the problem was. Their solution was to create a filter within the web based e-mail client to reroute these messages to a different folder. Except, this is useless to a person who wants to use Thunderbird, like myself.

The plugin has done more for me than EMC ever has and it doesn’t even work all that well. EMC eventually responded that they had located the source of the problem. My files are on a server which is not using the most recent version of H-sphere and, since they have no desire to upgrade it, I can switch to EMC’s official services (I am still listed as a customer of Neureal) and manually move all my files over to a new location or pay them $75 to do this.

I let them know this “solution” was not satisfying, did not actually change the problem and installed a Thunderbird Plug-in instead to deal with the issues. It is not my fault they own a server and refuse to keep it up. I should not have to pay them for something they should be happy to do for me and they should apologize for the inconvenience rather than imply I am an idiot. Furthermore, were I going to move all my files to a different serve, it would not be with the same company who has provided me with such shoddy service since they took over what used to be a great hosting company (did I mention they still have not alerted their customers to the transformation? I am sure people were upset when one day Neureal’s domain redirected to EMC’s without warning!).

Honestly, moving is not something I desire to do. It’s a tedious, painstaking task and while I know I will survive it, I would prefer to not have to. In the mean time, I’m stuck with this mediocre company who obviously does not value my patronage and I cannot advise anyone looking for hosting to choose them. In fact, I would suggest anyone with them currently to look for a better host.

Helpful Hint: Do not do business with this company. At all. Period.

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