The amazing adventures of Doug Hughes

As a number of people realized (and pointed out, thank you) a number of prominent ColdFusion websites disappeared from the face of the internet for several days.

Who was gone? Well, doughughes.net, clearsoftware.net, model-glue.net, boyzoid.com and more. Scott, Joe and myself all share a server.

What the heck happened? It’s a long story, but I’ll try to keep it brief. Over the weekend I decided that my server seemed awfully slow and that it needed a reboot to reset things. It’d been a while, so what the heck. Unfortunately, the server went down but never came back up. The server was hosted with Server Beach, who does not have a tech support phone line. All I could do was submit a trouble ticket.

It took forever for anything to happen and ServerBeach failed to let me know what was going on. Eventually I found out that the server was failing to boot due to a bad hard drive and that ServerBeach was rebuilding the server on a new hard drive.

This is where it gets bad. ServerBeach royally screwed up.

Let’s take a step back. The server had two hard drives, one for production data and one for backup. (I’m poor! I can’t afford hosted raid or tape backup systems!)

What happened? I’m not sure exactly, but somehow the old backup drive was repartitioned and formatted. Bye bye backups.

So now I had one bad hard drive and one toasted backup drive. Crap!! Luckily the unbootable drive was working enough that I could copy all of the most important data off of it before it finally kicked the bucket. Because of this stroke of luck I only lost one database and that was for my brother who could care less. (Phew.)

This ticked me off enough to do some research on other hosting companies. I’m not quite sure how I managed it, but HostMySite.com gave me a fantastic deal on a dedicated managed server. To save them from having people knocking down their door for the same deal, let it suffice to say that I have a better server with more of everything for less than it cost me at ServerBeach. It saved enough that I can now afford a tape backup!

The next problem was getting the server setup. HostMySite.com may have a 24 hour provisioning service level agreement, but that’s not worth a damn when there’s no RAM for the server. So I had to wait close to two days before I could even start getting things set up on the new server.

Joe and I stayed up most of last night getting things configured on the server. Unfortunately, today we ran into the next problem, DNS. Unlike ServerBeach, HostMySite.com doesn’t provide any way for users to add new domains to their DNS servers. As a result it took all day to get the DNS configuration setup. In fact, there are about 20 domains on this server that aren’t set up yet.

What a mess. I can’t wait to cut the cord with ServerBeach. I can forgive a hard drive failing. I can forgive them not discussing it with me. I can’t forgive them formatting 80 gigs of backup data.

Comments on: "Where Did Everyone Go?" (12)

  1. I’m sorry to hear it, SB used to be one of the better DC’s around. I had a few servers with them for two years with only one incident.

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  2. Christopher Bradford said:

    We have had great experience with CrystalTech, who have a support line (with real humans!), quick response, and great management tools, including DNS management. I know that some people have had complaints regarding CrystalTech, but our experience has been excellent.

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  3. Tony Petruzzi said:

    Funny, as I was reading your post, I was thinking “This guy needs to cal HostMySite.com”, and further down, you did!!!

    You will be extremly happy with them. I have been using them for 6 years now. I started using them when it was Lou, Neil and 5 support personnel. We actually took a drive up to Delaware to meet them when we were choosing a hosting company to go with. Great bunch of guys. Now they are HUGE and still the best.

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  4. Mike Brunt said:

    Doug I did not realize you were going through so much agro. We have managed several moves for clients and good old lowly DNS is the kicker or killer every time. One thing we learned and abide by we do not use the DNS service provided by the hosting companies ever. We use a DNS specialty company called UltraDNS. Adds or moves of domains propogate in about 5 minutes almost all the time. and their charges are reasonable. http://www.ultradns.com/services/managed_dns.cfm

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  5. Trond Ulseth said:

    I don’t want to pour cold water down somebodys back, and I don’t specially like to talk bad about someone, but as I was reading the top of the post I thought I would write a “I’ve just been through the same” kinda comment, but not mention any company names. However, when you further down say that you’ve moved over to HostMySite I just feel that I should mention that I am in the process of moving away from them, much for the same reason you are moving away from ServerBeach.

    To make a long story short, the HD on the server I had there crashed, and the back up (a service I’ve paid extra for) was far from complete. One DB (a product database for a web shop) on the back-up was more than one year old! So much for daily back-ups. And that was just one of many examples. Also there’s been a lot of pain with the new server I got set up with them.

    However, on the other hand. HostMySite support has always been awesome, quick and friendly, and I guess my experiences with them lately are the exception.

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  6. Doug Hughes said:

    Frankly, I think anyone can have bad experiances anywhere. I hope I have a better experiance with HMS than ServerBeach, but, to be fair, SB gave me good service till their screw up.

    It’s a crapshoot.

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  7. Matt Ford at Ayera.com said:

    Boy, this discussion sounds familiar! Early on in our hosting days we tried to save costs by installing custom built servers and/or servers with no RAID. We’ll never make that mistake again…every single one of our shared and dedicated ColdFusion servers are Dell or HP and all have RAID and redundant power supplies. Believe me…the headaches and costs involved with our customer’s downtime is just not worth the few bucks we could save skimping on hardware.

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  8. Paul Carney said:

    RAID is nice, but if you can, get hardware-based instead of software-based. We had a RAID software issue with MS Windows Server 2003 that corrupted many of our SQL Server databases and we did not notice for months.

    Lessons we learned: hardware RAID for sure, restore database backups on a regular basis to make sure they are not corrupted.

    Thanks for sharing your lessons!

    Paul

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  9. hostmysite has grown and their dedicated server support is terrible. i’ve had SEVERAL instances where they make crucial mistakes which leave me scrambling to fix things for days at a time.

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  10. disappointed by hostmysite.com support said:

    as eddie already pointed out, their support is unfortunately horrible by now… replies take ages, the chat function shows support to be online but you get no reply, telephones offer you a call back – you basically have to wait like you would have with any company, just that hostmysite doesn’t have the rock-bottom prices.

    when i signed up, they used to rock and i was more then happy to pay their prices, now i am hoping to find refuge elsewhere – any suggestions?

    doug, what’s your experience with hostmysite by now?

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  11. Doug Hughes said:

    @disappointed – Overall, I’ve been happy. We haven’t had any big problems with our server (knock on wood). Support is very slow, but with simple things they’re fairly competent.

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  12. Sid Kirk said:

    I also have moved from Hostmysite 6 months ago because of support reasons. I found Server Intellect and have been in love since day 1! Support with Server Intellect has been above and beyond what I expected and it hasn’t change, only getting better. If you get a chance try em out.

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