New Home on the Web

If you can see this, jmatt.net is back on the air with a new hosting service. I think I’ve got most of the site working OK, but there may be some anomalies for a while until I get all the wrinkles ironed out. My former host, Affordable Host, had another major outage this weekend. That, combined with their customer-unfriendly attitude about the fiasco, convinced me it was time to move once again. Either I’ve been incredibly unlucky, or the low-cost web hosting market is incredibly sleazy. I’m now on my fourth host in less than three years since I started this site.

The latest crisis started Friday night, when I was unable to retrieve my email. Tech support indicated they were aware of the problem and were working on it, and in a couple of hours, things got better. But I guess they couldn’t leave well enough alone. Saturday morning email was again unavailable, and my website had also gone off the air. The server hosting my site hosts about 200 customers, all of whom had lost their websites and email access.

Customer support’s response was basically to stonewall. They would not offer any explanation for the problem, or any estimate about when it would be fixed. They did offer, as an “immediate solution”, to move any of the affected customers to a different server if they wished. Unfortunately, this solution was not really “immediate”. When a website moves to a different server with a different IP address, the new location is unavailable until the DNS changes propagate through servers around the world, which can take 24 hours or longer. So the “immediate solution” would require a lot of work from me, and would still leave me off the air for 24 hours. I thought it made more sense to wait until they got the broken server fixed; surely it couldn’t take much longer than that, even if they didn’t want to tell anybody what the problem was.

Saturday night, it was still broken, and support was still stonewalling. Their only response to any queries was to offer the “free upgrade” to a different server. I decided that if I was going to have to endure the trouble of moving to a different server, and the delay of waiting for DNS changes, that I damn sure wasn’t going to move to another Affordable Host server. This outage, following another long one a couple of weeks ago, and their snotty attitude about the whole thing, had convinced me it was time to take my business elsewhere.

Moving a site, either to another of their servers or to another hosting service, while the old site is unavailable, is a little inconvenient. Most of the data could just be uploaded from one of my machines, but there’s a lot of configuration that needs to be tweaked. It’s best to make the move carefully and methodically, making sure the new site matches the old, before changing the DNS to make the new site available to the world. Trying to make the move as quickly as possible to get back on the air, without access to the old site, is just asking for trouble. So I wanted to avoid that step if possible, but I decided it was time to start preparing in case I needed to.

I shopped around for hosting services, and found one that looked acceptable. (Of course, the last three I chose looked acceptable, and shopping in a hurry is not good). I opened an account with them Saturday night, planning to move either hurriedly on Sunday if the old site was still down, or in a more controlled fashion later if the old site came back on the air.

Sunday evening, the old site was still down, and support was saying they didn’t anticipate having it back up “for a few days”. I decided it was time to move. I uploaded my site to the new host, and did some quick checking to see if things looked OK. Some minor tweaking of the Geeklog config files was necessary, but overall everything seemed OK. So I entered the DNS updates to point jmatt.net to the new host, and crossed my fingers. If you’re reading this, it worked. I notice it displays the time in Pacific Time instead of Eastern, but if that’s the least of my problems, I can live with that until I figure out a way to fix it.

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