Why You Should Always Have A Web Hosting Exit Strategy
Back in 2005 when I started this site I had it hosted at Godaddy along with the domain. That was a comfortable thing to do as I only had to deal with one company for all my domain and web hosting needs and support requests.
That back then did not turn out as well as well. Ghacks was suspended by Goddady back then after it made the Digg homepage, and Godaddy decided it was the most customer friendly way to simply suspend the website, without informing me prior to this. I did not receive an email, nor telephone call at that time and only found at because I visited my site several times a day.
I had to call the US for 30 minutes to resolve the situation, which basically meant that I ordered my first dedicated server at the German web hosting company Hetzner as Godaddy was not able to resolve the issue for me besides asking for a premium upgrade to a very expensive dedicated server.
Took some time to move domains and web files, I probably lost a couple hundred bucks and lots of potential readers in the process. That was a huge blow back then for the young site.
Fast forward to 2010. Imagine my surprise when I received an email sent by the web hosting company Just Host telling me that my account has been suspended. It apparently used more server resources than it should. I test a few hosters here and there with smaller sites, first to diversify the hosting a bit but also to see if I can find a real gem amongst the web hosting companies.
Deja Vu one might think. I did receive an email this time but that's it. No prior consultation, no phone call, nothing. When I open the site in the browser I get a suspended page. Not good for visitors, trust and everything else.
The email reads:
As you probably aware, here at Just Host we proactively monitor all our servers to ensure that our clients websites are loading as fast as possible at all times. During this routine monitoring we
have found that your account is utilizing an excessive amount of system resources, and we have been forced to suspend your site as per our terms and conditions '10% CPU/MEM/MySQL Policy'.
Just Host offer unlimited hosting space and unlimited bandwidth, but as per our terms we will suspend any website which exceeds our 10% CPU/MEM/MySQL policy. We hope that you understand our position in
ensuring that we provide the best possible service. In order to continue to provide this high quality service, you will need to upgrade to a dedicated server, which will give you an abundance of
additional resources and speed up your website.
Sounded much like they wanted me to order a dedicated server instead, something that Godaddy requested back then as well. I probably would have thought about this if the domain was still up and running and if they would have contacted me to resolve the situation.
Even more puzzling was the fact that they disabled Cpanel and ftp accounts as well, so no option to create a backup or to move the domain to a new registrar.
The good news is that I was prepared this time. I had a dedicated server up and running and could use it to move the domain and hosting account to that server. I still had to convince Just Host to create a backup for me, let me access the DNS settings, and hand me the EPP code so that I could make the transfers.
It took them about 40 minutes to reply to my first ticket. That's a long time if you are sitting on a suspended domain name. They did however do what I asked them to. The backup was linked in their response, as were the login information to change the nameserver information and the administrative email which is important for the domain transfers.
It is now two hours after their initial email. The nameservers are unfortunately still resolving the old suspended site. I was however able to restore the backup and verify that the site is 100% working on the new dedicated server.
The transfer is pending, still have to figure out how to accept the transfer without any login possibilities at Just Host at the moment. Have contacted their support again and am waiting for a response.
How to be prepared if your web hosting account gets suspended:
- Make sure you have access to recent backups or that you download the latest backup regularly to be able to restore them at another web hosting company or server if the account gets suspended. This can be problematic if the backup is very large (hundreds of Megabytes or even Gigabytes). Backups come in many forms, make sure that the backup created on the current site can be restored at the new hoster. Nothing's worse than having to restore files and databases manually, takes a lot of time.
- Make sure the administrative emails are set correctly. They are needed for the domain transfers. It takes a while before they are updated.
- Have at least an account at a second respected web hosting company. You do not really need to have a hosting package there or anything, just make sure that they setup the hosting packages in less than an hour when needed. Having the account ready ensures that you do not have to create it first.
- Make sure you have the ftp / sftp / cpanel account information at hand. Nothing's worse than having to request new login codes if time is pressing.
- You can test that the website is working correctly by changing the hosts file in the operating system so that it links the new IP to the domain name. Very helpful to test a site before DNS propagation. And since you are waiting for the DNS to propagate you can at least do something useful in the meantime. You can check if the nameservers have been set correctly at web services such as DNS stuff. A traceroute to the domain can also provide the information if the DNS has propagated already.
- Live chat or calling is often the faster option to resolve a situation. It is a good idea to have the links and phone numbers ready in case of emergency. Put them in a text file, notes or support folder so that they are directly accessible when needed.
Websites who exceed the allowed server resources require a change, I agree to that. What I do not understand at all on the other hand is the lack of willingness to find a solution with the customer. I have experienced the same suspension without initial warning or contact to resolve the issue twice in past years. Both times websites who have seen a sudden increase in visitor numbers were affected.
A web hoster who would contact the customer first, or at least try to, before suspending the account would get all my money, I only have to find one first. I suspect that most web hosters have the necessary resources to cope with the traffic increase before it affects the whole network which means they should try to resolve the issue without suspending the site in the beginning.
They should also at the very least keep the hosting login account activated. The email that informs the customer of the suspension should contain a link to the latest backup to speed up the process of moving the site to a new hoster. They need to understand that time is essential in this process, and that they can part with a disgruntled customer or a customer who is happy that the transfer did not take down the site for a long period of time.
Have you experienced something similar in the past? Let us know in the comments.Advertisement