Good Hosting / Bad Hosting

September 19, 2008 - By

In my experience there is no such thing as perfect hosting. No matter who the provider there can be problems. GoDaddy boasts 99.9% uptime (which technically isn’t perfect), but a quick Googling of “GoDaddy sucks” will reveal many an uphappy customers’ tale of woe.

While service is almost guaranteed to have an issue from time to time, it’s the service that should be looked at. I recently noticed that this site arleym.com was having intermittent downtime, usually lasting only a couple minutes. A quick live-chat with Brinkster revealed that they sometimes experience surges of traffic to another site on my server. This is no good, but I deeply appreciated the honesty. The woman then told me that they could transfer my site to another server for free, but that it would mean several hours of downtime and that I’d have to change some of my database connections. They started work immediately and here we are. This is an example of what I call Good Hosting (if you’re interested there’s a link to Brinkster in the footer of this site. I actually get a referral credit if you buy from that). I have dealt with Brinkster for over five years now and I find this to be the kind of service they usually give.

A client of mine has hosting from a company which shall remain unnamed (but are hearby called ABC (if that’s a real hosting company it’s only a coincidence)). This client has had frequent inexplicable outtages on sites and emails on the two dedicated servers they host with. While I have already stated that service outages can be expected, these are way too frequent. Still; let’s look at the service record. This is the editted version of a real ticket that started on July 2nd, 2008. I have cut out content that is needless to convey my point about bad service:

Ticket 730510 – First entry
Request on 7/2/2008 3:54:40 PM

Hello, (I started by giving our history with this host so they could understand how screwed-around we’ve been)

Early this morning I connect by FTP to find that the directory structure is totally different:
– My client-accessable FTP directories are gone.
– 99% of my domains in htdocs are gone.
– I cannot access my Virtual Host information in SMT.
– I cannot access my databases.
– What’s more, the existing directories have a time stamp of today. What happened here? When I did a follow up call I was told that your admins were restoring a back up. I was told this as though you’re doing me a favour. In the meantime people are losing money.

abcserver1 hosts 50 – 80 sites for our clients. Over the course of the last three months alone we have had to explain to clients about half a dozen times why their site / email is down. We sound as much like a broken record to them as you do to us. As our reliablitiy (the royal “our”, yours affects ours) diminishes our clients will move on.

I HAVE QUESTIONS:
– How have you addressed hardware issues in the past? Are these just recurring problems of the same nature?
– What happened to cause our sites to go down without notice?
– When will it be back up?

Arley McBlain

I followed this ticket up with a call. I was on hold for about 10 minutes before I left my number to be called back in the order of the cue that I was in. I was never called back.

Reply Sent on : 7/3/2008 10:31:00 AM

Thank you for your patience. This will be resolved shortly in ticket 730510.

Tiffany

Second Entry
Request on :7/3/2008 8:56:35 AM

Our abcserver server sites are down again, no FTP connections etc. My boss informs me that things have to change today.

Call me; let’s talk. In the mean time I am checking out GoDaddy & MediaTemple. I don’t want to change, but I will if I have to. I have to find a resolution for this now.

Let’s figure this out.

Reply Sent on : 7/3/2008 8:58:26 AM

Thank you for your patience. This will be resolved shortly in ticket 730510.

Tiffany

Third Entry
Request on :7/3/2008 7:54:09 AM

Hello,
I see this morning that our server abcserver.com is restored and that all seems to be as it was meant to be. We are greatful, thank you for fixing it.

However, no one has called me back (as I requested thrice), and the questions I asked in my ticket remained unanswered. For this reason I don*t see how this ticket can be called *closed*. I still need to promise my clients permanent resolution.

I received a notice that this ticket escalated to a Tier 2 manager. I would like to get the names of some of these managers that I could talk to. Names and phone numbers would be great.

For your conveinience I am restating my questions / request again here: I then restate the “I have questions – the chase” part from the First entry.

In summary I really really want my sites on another server one way or the other. The agency I work for has been around for over 20 years, and websites are becoming a bigger part of that business every day. In the next 20 years and beyond we need a reliable hosting solution.

Please help us to make this right for our clients.

Reply Sent on : 7/3/2008 9:49:01 AM

Per our conversation your server is resolving correctly. If you experience any issues please contact abc and reference to this ticket.

Sharonda

Fourth Entry
Request on :7/3/2008 10:07:04 AM

I followed this ticket up with a phone call to ABC. I told the woman on the phone that
a) No one is reading the ticket and they’re not addressing my concerns. She makes a note that my specific questions need to be answered
b) I ask to be called by a manager or someone who technically knows what is wrong.

No one ever calls.

Thanks restoring the failed server yet again.

But again I must REITERATE that this DOES NOT warrant closing this ticket. The purpose of this ticket is to answer SPECIFIC QUESTIONS and ADDRESS A SPECIFIC REQUEST

PLEASE READ THIS ENTIRE POST – DO NOT CLOSE THIS TICKET UNTIL ABSOLUTELY ALL OF THE FOLLOWING HAVE BEEN ADDRESSED. This will be my sixth time requesting this information / requesting a call on this matter.

I*m frankly getting pissed-off here.

LET*S TRY THIS ONE MORE TIME:

For your conveinience I am restating my questions / request again (AGAIN) here: I then restate the “I have questions – the chase” part from the First entry.

RESTORING the data again will not warrant closing this ticket. Addressing one or two points will not warrant closing this ticket.

If the person reading this ticket does not have the authority to answer the questions / requests specifically, I will also accept you giving me the name and phone number of someone who can.

I ABSOLUTLEY MUST HAVE A PLAN TO MOVE FORWARD ON A NEW SERVER TODAY!!! I would like that to be moving from the abcserver.com to the abcserver2.ca server, but failing that I will have no choice but to find another hosting provider.

Please help me.

Reply Sent on : 7/3/2008 11:33:53 AM

Hello and thank you for hosting with ABC. The server is still active and has not died this morning. The most recent back up that we have is from Jun 19 and the fee for the back up is 100.00. This information was an update from the shift manager.

Adam

Fifth Entry
Request on :7/3/2008 11:05:38 AM

When the server went down again I had to start a different ticket…

It’s really hard to defend a service that refuses to work more than an hour at a time without failing.

The server is down again. I noticed again that this is just our abcserver1 server, the abcserver2 server is still up, and so is your site.

Speaking of your site; did you know it says all of this: I then pasted the “Core Values” off of their sites which describe how they are a superior company for not giving their users the hassles I was going through.

Where I want to go: I want someone to call me back and answer the questions and requests I posed three times in tickets.

So help me out here, I’m really trying to keep our business with you.

Reply Sent on : 7/3/2008 12:33:05 PM

We currently have a ticket pending for a contact from a manager. Please update that ticket if you have any further questions. The ticket number is 730510. We apologize for the inconvenience, and thank you for being a valued ABC Customer!

Adam

Sixth Friggin Entry
Request on :7/3/2008 11:58:32 AM

Holy crap, are you serious?! That*s the answer I*m getting?!

READ THIS: DON*T CLOSE THIS TICKET UNTIL ADDRESS MY CONCERNS!

That doesn*t tell me what caused the site to go down yesterday.
That doesn*t tell me why the site is down now.
That doesn*t tell me anything about porting sites over from abcserver.com to abcserver2.ca.

That didn*t tell me anything that I wanted to know. In previous posts on this ticket I specifically say that I am not a techy guy and you respond with a vague generic response and ftp client speak? Give me a break.

It*s also hilarious that you responded to this at a time when I can*t even access the email. HA.

Who can I speak to that is above the shift manager? Can they please read the whole ticket – as in ALL of the words – before he or she calls me? That would be great. Maybe that would prevent meaningless responses and wrongful ticket closures.

OR

If this is just a game to you, and we*re going to keep screwing around in this time-wasting fashion, close the ticket again with another blanket statement that says nothing. We can host elsewhere and make it plain to everyone that we aren*t “valued ABC Customers” anymore.

Reply Sent on : 7/5/2008 2:41:36 AM

Hello and thank you for hosting with ABC:

We apologize for the inconvenience. Our Administrators have resolved the issue and services are now restored.

Ali

Seventh Entry
Request on :7/4/2008 10:32:30 PM

Since ABC was likely closed on July 4th, I didn’t get a reply. I sent this along.

arg.

The server is down again. Do you keep count of how often each server fails? What’s the score? I want you to know that the frequency of our outages is simply unacceptable. It has been a very long week with many server failures and angry clients.

I have a client asking me “Does this mean I’m f***’d for the weekend too????????” He relies on his sites functionality to interact with his customers. The busy time is the weekend. Please fix this.

I have an open ticket requests moving sites like this and the associated email addresses and databases from the obviously flawed abcserver.com to the surprisingly stable abcserver2.ca.

This doesn’t seem like too tall of a request, I don’t know why I’m not getting anywhere with these questions. I know it’s your fourth of July today (happy holiday and all), but this ticket has been open for three days.

Reply 7/4/2008 11:49:16 PM

Hello,

Thank you for hosting with ABC. Your services have been restored and your Server is functioning properly. I am able to ping and navigate through your site.
PING RESULTS: (followed by more useless information)

Sam

Eighth Entry
Request on :7/7/2008 9:39:10 AM

You guys are losers.

What’s the matter with your disfunctional organization? I can’t think of any way I can more explicitly or simply ask you to read my tickets and address the specific questions and request that I have.

My problem:
1) You don’t read the ticket
2) You don’t call back

Your problem:
Most people aren’t ignorant on purpose. Are these true:
– You are in an oppressive work environment that prevents you from being thorough in your work. Must you crank out resolutions in a generic and fast way?

– Too many people handle the same account. I think I would be better served by one person who could know the situation.

I won’t ask my questions again, you have the old tickets.

SUMMARY
I wish I could say that was the end of it, but the ticket continued for a few more days. Today months later we still have sites on that server, though they are now in the “process” of doing my requested transfer. It has been over three months, and apparently we are waiting for a part to come in. What took Brinkster three hours for me is going to take over three months for my client. It’s a shame, but my client has no choice.

If you’re curious who the bad hosting company is, contact me and I’ll tell you.

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This post was written by ArleyM