The Dangers of an Irresponsible Webhost

Throughout the life of this domain, it has been hosted by at least half a dozen webhosts. Most offered good deals, had good track records (I always researched them before going with a specific host) and not too many complaints. Initially, the service was almost always good.

Yet for each and every one of them, something ended up going wrong. One of them just totally messed up the DNS of my subdomains and couldn’t fix it. One of them had a three-day service outage and wouldn’t offer a refund (they had a 99.9% uptime “guarantee”). One of them kept having these annoying 3-4 hour outages for no apparent reason. Etc, etc, etc.

So it was with my last webhost, ServerDivision. Apparently I am still on their mailing list – last night I received an alarming email. Its text is also featured on their homepage:

I am writing to regretfully inform you that the ServerDivision servers will be taken from us and most likely shut down permanently effective April 1, 2006. This is out of our control and is a decision by The Planet datacenter due to problems perpetrated by the previous owners of ServerDivision regarding services that ThePlanet issued during October and November of 2005. We were notified of this at approximately 3:00PM EST on March 30, 2006. Unfortunately, this is beyond my control and I am unable to prevent the shutdown. Please transfer all content you wish to retain off of the servers before April 1, 2006. No invoices have been generated or will be generated for March, 2006 as a good-will gesture on our part. I sincerely wish there was more that I could do. We are petitioning ThePlanet to leave the servers running longer to allow you time to remove your files but please do not count on it.

We have tried our best… and we wish that you the customers and we the current owners had not been defrauded in this way.

ServerDivision CEO

Note: A number of you have contacted us asking if this is an April Fool’s joke. We only wish it was – unfortunately we have been defrauded and the repercussions of that fraud happen to fall on April 1. This is not a joke.

Ouch! Their servers are going to be “shut down permanently…due to problems perpetrated by the previous owners”. They must have done some seriously bad stuff to upset The Planet (a very large datacenter) so much that they punished the “new owners”. Now all of their paying customers have one day to remove all of their data from the servers. If someone is away from their email and doesn’t check it before April 1, tough luck.

What lessons can be learned from this?

  1. If ServerDivision is your host (or more importantly, if you host your client’s site on ServerDivision), stop reading this right now and get your data!
  2. Always keep up-to-date backups of your material
  3. No matter what guarantees a webhost tells you, you might one day receive an email like the one above. Always know what your next step is, where will you move your site, how will you do it, etc. (I have had a good experience so far with Dreamhost)
  4. If you are planning on buying a webhost, make sure you thoroughly research everything the previous owners have ever done, otherwise the same thing that just happened to ServerDivision’s new owners could happen to you

(I wonder what it is that they did? It must have been pretty bad and illegal, since the new owners are being punished for the since of their predecessors.)