Lee Odden

Getting Screwed by Your Hosting Company

Yesterday I received an email from our new blog host. It reads:

This message is in regards to your (hosting company name) account “toprank”, which
resides on the server xxxx.hostingcompany.com.

Due to problems it was causing on the server, we were forced to disable the
following script located in your account:

/usr/www/users/toprank/tools/rss-buttons

For future reference, please take a look at our script usage policies:URL 1
URL 2

Please write to [email protected] for information about having the script
reenabled.

If you have any questions about this script, please contact our friendly
support specialists at [email protected] or xxx-xxx-xxxx (option 2).

Sincerely,
The Hosting Company Support Team

That’s interesting alright, but what’s more interesting is that the hosting company’s handiwork also disabled access to all 3,000+ URLs published under our domain. I called support when I saw the email and received a recording to call back between 8am and 8pm. I also just sent an email and am waiting to hear back.

The script that was disabled has nothing to do with the rest of the blog, so there’s no reason to have disabled access to the archive urls.

The irony of the situation is that the last post I made prior to this happening had to do with online reputation management and while I am very tempted to mention this host by name, I will see how the situation pans out.

Update:

OK, this morning between 8-9am CST I finally received a reply from the hosting company support team saying that our RSS button tool was causing load issues with the server hosting the blog. We are using their “Webmaster” hosting plan. Too many people were referencing the RSS button images (even though we’ve long since changed URL references to the respective RSS reader web sites). Our current hosting plan is a shared plan. It’s not the “highest” but not anywhere near the cheapest either.

My email was sent to the suggested “urgent” address and responded to 12 hours later. Overall down time for the site is 16-18 hours. What the hosting company decided to do was disable access to the directory hosting the RSS button tool as well as rename the .htaccess file. In their email they only stated “disabling” a script. They never mentioned anything about making changes to the htaccess file. They did this without notifying us first that there was any issue.

Our past host never, ever made changes to our site or configuration without first advising us in advance. The only reason we’re not still with our old host is because of how they were not able to deal with a DOS attack. However, we still host about 20 sites with them and will continue to do so.

With the current host of this blog, it seems to me a bit unreasonable at best, to disable a web site without notifying the customer of any issues first. I really wish we could find a hosting company that can handle our basic blog hosting needs without insisting we use a dedicated server. But maybe that’s what we need.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.

Comments

  1. Thomas McMahon says:

    I went though the same thing recently with my host for the same reason. What I ended up doing was creating a 200×200 red button with an update message on it and then redirected some buttons that were hosted on my site to it. The idea was to force the users to update. The button got bigger almost every day and now it’s about 1500×1500. The sites that haven’t updated their buttons are having big design issues. 🙂

    I understand the issue and concern from the hosting standpoint, but the company above closed things down before contacting us about the issue and I think that’s wrong. My host gave me some help and guidance and I think we are better now. 🙂

  2. I had the same thing happen at my host company. They renamed my .htaccess file, in turn disabling the majority of features on my site. This was done without any notification. Maybe we all have the same hosting provider? I guess I won’t name names either, but once you start getting significant traffic, it’s time to upgrade to higher tier hosting companies.

    It’s a shame that these hosting companies get away with milking money from low traffic sites and punish those that become popular.

  3. Hi Nick, we’re at different hosts. I picked the same host that Matt Cutts from Google uses. 🙂

    I’m all for paying more for hosting, in fact, I might even entertain a tradeout with the right hosting company.

  4. I switched to a dedicated server and have been much happier. It certainly sucks what they did and you’d be doing a public service by warning other bloggers to stay away from the host (by naming them). 😉

  5. Thomas McMahon says:

    Andy – I think naming names after one issue is not the way to go. Yes it wasn’t good, but the first steps would be informing the host of how unhappy one is and seeing if things get better. No company or service should be doomed un-reliable after one incident in my mind. That’s just my opinion though.

  6. Thomas – I would normally agree, but the site was down all day, they took 12 hours to respond to Lee and they actually went in and changed the htaccess file without permission. I’d want to know which hosting company to avoid.

  7. Why not get a VPS? That way, you’re “enclosed” within your the confines of your virtual private server and you won’t impact other users on the server. It’s the next best thing to dedicated hosting.

  8. Hey Tamar, That is a good idea, but I’ve decided we’re going for a dedicated server.

    This blog has become pretty important to our overall marketing and I don’t want to mess around with shared hosting any longer.

    Now the question is whether we stay with the current host or move to someone local that can support our needs.

  9. Thomas McMahon says:

    Andy – Good point. I guess that’s more than one issue.

  10. Interestingly enough, since making this blog post, the speed of our site load time has reached a slow crawl….

  11. That’s funny Lee, my site has been having uptime/performance issues lately too; you’re not with HostUltra are you… I think I inadvertently killed the shared environment supporting my site while corrupting my own database while uploading multiple images from SER last night. Day 2 is up. 😀

    I think that’s pretty ridiculous that you need to move to a dedicated server; performance demand can’t be that straining is it? Let us all know who you move to anyway, be interesting to know.

  12. Hi Michael, yes it’s a bit odd but I guess there were quite a few people using our RSS images.

    When we decide how we’re going to proceed, I’ll certainly publish it.

  13. Lee, I agree with Andy, as a public service you should name the hosting service so that others do not run into the same problems as you have had to deal with.

    Bill Rice
    President
    Web Marketing Association
    http://www.webaward.org

  14. I hear you Bill, but this hasn’t all panned out 100% yet. First, the current host just informed me that they’ve moved our blog to a dedicated server with no change in the monthly fee – temporarily. They didn’t ask, they just moved it.

    Actually they asked if we wanted to upgrade to a $200 – $300 per month option. This is a big jump from what we’re paying now so I had to think about it.

    Then they said they were moving us. They didn’t ask. They just moved the site. Luckily, there was no interruption in service or functionality of the site.

    After the move, the site responds very quickly both on the front and admin side. There is no doubt performance has improved dramatically. However, I am not sure if that all has to do with the change in servers.

    Thomas implemented the hotlink protection so other sites can no longer use our images. This was the source of our traffic woes.

    Now we have other hosting companies offering to host our blog for free. On a dedicated server. With support.

    Kinda makes you go hmmmm.

  15. You might want to check out a hosting company named Rack Space. We use them.

    Mehrl

  16. “Now we have other hosting companies offering to host our blog for free. On a dedicated server. With support.”

    Lee is that because of you being a well known marketer? I will like to get that deal too…

    Seriously thanks posting this information, that is how we learn how to deal with different issues on the Internet.

Trackbacks

  1. Untwisted Vortex - Living in a Different Land » Blog Drive-Bys for 2007-03-29 says:

    […] Lee at Online Marketing Blog wrote about the not-so-friendly actions of their hosting company. […]

  2. […] Readers of Online Marketing Blog for the past few months might remember our hosting trials and tribulations with a good but unprepared host and then the less than desirable activities of Pair Networks. We moved to a dedicated server with Minneapolis web site hosting company VISI for hosting OMB and since it’s been over a month I thought I’d give an update. We currently use VISI for the hosting or our public relations firm web site, email and a dedicated server for Online Marketing Blog along with an array of support. […]

  3. […] Posted by webdigity on June 25th, 2007 Looking for a web hosting partner is usually a very hard task. This is because there are so many web hosting companies out there, and in most cases you are not able to know how good a company is before you use their services. An example of the problems that may occur is the recent downtime of the online marketing blog which was down for about 18 hours when their hosting provider decided to stop serving them… […]