Web Hosting Gone Bad



By: Roy Li
How my webhost destroyed my company: rhymes with No-Laddies I am a small business owner. Well technically, I was a small business owner, until my webhost destroyed my company. I won’t say which company it was, but it rhymes with No-Laddies and has a famous Indy car driver as its spokesperson. Actually, with the amount of flame-outs that their spokesperson has had, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by what happened to my server.

Details first: my company sells a certain product. I don’t want to reveal my niche, so we’ll call them widgets. Anyway, I have been selling these widgets for the past 9 years, mostly via the Ebay and Amazon marketplaces. Well, as with a lot of other mom-and-pop sellers, I noticed that the quality of these services has been decreasing. There are more sellers (how can I compete with Chinese-based shippers earning 50 cent a widget), fewer buyers, and an all-around less profitable experience. So I said to myself, I need to build my website and get some other revenue going. So I hired a college guy to build my website. He said he develops on the LAMP platform (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) which is open source and cheap and that he could do my website for me. He knows someone who does design, so I said fine, make it for me. I have friends who know about the online marketing, so I am not worried about that part.

Google Adwords, SEO, referral programs, I’ve got a marketing budget so I can figure that out. It’s just part of business right? So I’m shopping around for my webhost. My developer says to make sure they support LAMP (as opposed to ASP-based, the clunky Windows alternative), that they have name-brand hardware, that they have Tier-1 connectivity with the internet backbone, that the internet and power is redundant, and that they have experience working with corporate clients. He said to make sure the RAM, hard drive, and bandwidth were sufficient, but it’s not like we need the biggest server ever.In the end I go went no-laddies.com (it’s a pseudonym remember). I considered shared hosting, which means that I share my server with other people, but I didn’t want my website to be on the same server with other people who peddle internet junk, so I got a dedicated server. This means that all the server resources are just for me and my website, so that’s good. We got my widget website online, and it was beautiful. I paid my developer and left everything else to my webhost. But that was when my problems started.

Day 1 of my new website. I’m ecstatic, but I know that orders don’t just start pouring in. I opened up my website and found a “host not found error.” There’s a difference between getting 0 orders and the mathematical impossibility of processing any orders, so I called them up. “Oh, something is wrong with our DNS server” they said. Okay fine, get it fixed. By the afternoon, my website was back up, but it took a lot of my early enthusiasm with it.

Day 2 of my website. I try to access my control panel but I’m locked out. I give them a call again. At this point, I should have realized that I would save time by adding their support number to my speed dial. They say that there was unusual activity from my server and that they were suspending it. In other words, I got hacked. I don’t know how they did it, what vulnerability they went through, but by midday, my server was a ‘boxen’ for some hacker. The webhost helped clean the server out and get everything reset (that’s why I went with a managed dedicated server), so again my website was down until midday. Like I said, at this point my enthusiasm was waning.

Day 3: I open up my browser and expect to see my website. Nothing. I call over to the webhost for the 3rd day and ask what’s going on. The technician at the network operating center picks up the phone, I can hear him coughing. “Dude, you are ok?” I ask him. “Not so good, some of the servers caught on fire,” he answers. Uh-oh. I knew exactly what was coming up. “Would this happen to be my server, the one that had the hacking problem and the DNS problem the last 2 days?”

Yes, was the answer. My server was literally on fire. I ask about the backups. The backup servers are gone too. At that point, I went from flagging enthusiasm to no enthusiasm. There’s some clause in the SLA so that they ended up not being liable for anything, and I ended up with nothing. At least they were kind enough to let me out of my contract, though they kept the installation and monthly fees. I think I’ll stick to Ebay and Amazon selling. I have a feeling that this website just isn’t going to work out for me.

You might ask, why don’t I report them and try to get some more of my money back? Well, you have to understand that this entire article is a work of fiction. If it gets enough diggs, I win a scholarship for my University, and I can probably use it as bad any anyone else. So please digg me.





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