Hosting Blues

The last couple of weeks have been rather (hmmm.. what would be the perfect word for it), let's say challenging.

I already had my hands full with timelines and tasks for multiple projects. And my (then) hosting provider decided to choose this exact time for, well suspending my Hosting Account. Would you believe it (and some of you might have actually seen it) that this website was showing an Account suspended notice for atleast a couple of days during Apr 2 to Apr 5 this year.

And for no good reason. I had paid in advance a year full of Hosting fee (and there were still good 4 months left for the year to complete), the resource utilization on my Hosting Account was not even 10% of my sanctioned limits. And still, I received a call from an acquitance who clicked on a link in my blog's RSS feed to come over to my site only to see it suspended. It was Saturday's evening on April 2, and my guess is the site had been suspended since atleast morning that day.

I immediately lodged a support request. The Hosting Provider's (name withheld to prevent further legal issues) services had been decent till now. The support requests were answered in a decent time, and the Hosting accounts had worked almost flawlessly for over 2 years now.

But this time, they did not gave me a reply even after 24 hours had passed by. My anxiety was rising, and I shot off an email to the Hosting provider's owner (I have known him for sometime and have had direct correspondences with him earlier). I have been with this particular provider since it was not that large and was in its infancy.

The owner's reply (coming after some hours) was they are upgrading my account and would be available in sometime. That sometime did not came after 6 more hours and another set of email correspondences, with me telling him that it hardly takes some hours to setup a server from scratch and my account has been suspended for 36 hours now, that even during the upgrade, the existing account should continue to work, and various other points, the reply was we are working on it. I meanwhile continued prodding the official support request separately but they never replied on the support channel.

Deeply angry, unsatisfied with the replies and their attitude and hurt simulataneously (my search engine rankings had begun to deteriorate meanwhile, and none of Adwords, or WebMaster tools were happy too, many of my services, ads and settings there were suspended), I decided to switch the Hosting provider.

So, I chose a new one, and spent a day configuring my new server and restoring the sites from my local backups on it (notice I did not had access to any data from my currently suspended account).

Somewhere in between, I received an email from the (now previous) hosting provider informing me of the package upgrade being completed and the upgraded account being available. I checked the upgraded package and it was seriously misconfigured. Most of the DNS settings were lost, and there were numerous redundant directories and files on the file-system that were not there before my account was suspended. Fortunately, none of my files or directories were lost.

At this point, I had no option but to take backups from my now upgraded account (you see my local backups were atleast 2 weeks old). So, another round of cleaning up followed with extensive regex and command-line sessions to clear up the mess from files retrieved from my upgraded account, and restore those on the new account.

The sites were up and running again on the new account by Tuesday (Apr 5) with some remaining tasks completed on Wednesday. That meant almost 72 hours of downtime (where each site showed a disturbing account suspended notice).

And when I thought things have returned to normalcy, a routine check on my site's status on the new server showed the database exploding by 2.9 gigs in a matter of couple of days (this was on Saturday Apr 9, i.e. one week after the problem began). The issue was traced to PHP/Apache incompatible settings (including the fact that the site was peviously running on PHP 5.2.17 but the new server had PHP 5.3.x) leading to loads of php errors and warnings mercilessly filling up the site log.

And so, late Satuday evening and full Sunday (Apr 10) went in upgrading all the sites for the new server.

But all seems to be well now for the last week and I can't say how relieved I am.

But all this has come at more penalties than I would have liked. Apart from the bad word this has brought, a couple of my best performing Google AdWords ads have been suspended (Adwords policy is the landing page for your ads should be functional and there's no way to re-activate suspended ads, you need to submit them anew), and late (very late) night sorties trying to manage things on the projects as well as my sites.

Now that I have sometime to look over it, my analysis says the previous provider wanted to extort more money out of me. They suspended my account for no reason, they kept me away from my data and upgraded my account without my consent. And guess what, I yesterday received a mail from their "Sales Executive" requesting my feedback on the upgraded account, whether I am hapy with it, and whether I would like to keep it going by paying for the upgration.

Someone tell them to have a look at their logs and see whether they have a single request for any of my sites for the last 10 days.

I was so frustrated at the whole incident, I just wanted to express it. Thanks for reading it out, and for all your support and feedback during this time (especially to Loveleen who helped me get my sites back on track and with testing on the new servers).

The moral of the story is: Always keep your options open, keep your backups current (now how will you define current), and maintain a backup server ready for switching to at any point of time.

 

Comments

Hi Rahul, I came to your blog from Drupal take control,

earlier I had  apecuar problem on domain name,I could not contact the registrar, when i want to transfer my domain , But I was getting the renewal message promptly,the registration comoany was owned by some othe company and i had to track that company through google search and find th contact and ..found that regsitar in Uk and the parent company is in US....  some how i got the name transfered.it is welknown company. for me it was not blues literally it was red.

rahul's picture

Thanks for sharing your experiene Venkat..

on another note, What would you advice on Dynamic DNS for a commercial job site hosting from home,

1.I have BSNL provided ADSL internet connection 1 Mbps upto 6 GB, 512 Kbps beyond 6 GB , And want to host my own domain( infact  I have few more not-so-important domains).

  1.Want to have Apache Solr
  2.RED5 Server
  3.Install Drupal

2. I am considering zoneedit account for Dynamic DNS

this is to prvent hosting blues, A dedicated server for RED5 and/or Apache SOLR will cost me a fortune

Kindly advise
Venky

rahul's picture

DynDNS seems to be a good choice. I am myself using their services with good experience.
However, I would advise against hosting sites in-house in India, the network bandwidth and connectivity is not up-to-the-mark for hosting sites. You might consider a Shared or Virtual Server hosting plan from any of the popular Hosting providers according to your budget.

I am already having a hosting account with one US hosting company for last three years, its shared. Red5, and Apache are not provided by them or  any one on shared hosting. those who are providing RED5/apache Solr hosting on dedicated are charging very high . that is why I am opting for own hosting. average $300/month

rahul's picture

Okay, that was just a suggestion. You can see what works best in your situation.