Web Hosting Nightmare

A little over a year ago (February 2000) I registered my own domain - whoark.org. Whoark is a magical word, and if you want you can read all about it. Having the liberty of running several linux boxen at work, I thought it would be cool to run the site on my own box. I could handle all the details and make any changes I would want without having to ask a tech for help or permission. The only problem I was worried about was how to handle the DNS. Then I found out that register.com provided me with the option of controlling my DNS info on their DNS servers. Excited, I quickly set up my site on my box at work. My friend, Kirk, ran the main site on a box of his, while my subdomain and mail was handled on my box. Everything worked, and everything was fun for a year...

Then on April 4, 2001 I was visited from two guys from IT letting me know that it was against policy to host any outside domain on the network. Truth is I sorta (okay, not sorta) knew this, but I had (and still have) about 0 traffic, so I figured it wouldn't be a big deal. They informed me I needed to immediately remove my domain from the network. So I went to register.com and pointed my site to my friend's box. Of course, the domain didn't work, but it didn't generate a not found error and it wasn't pointed to my box at work, so I wasn't violating policy. Immediately that afternoon I started looking for hosting places.

The first I stumbled upon was Liquid Web Hosting. LiquidWeb seemed to provide me with everything I needed (subdomains, lots 'o space, mail accounts, ftp, ssh, etc.) The only thing they didn't offer was IMAP mail, but I knew I could always forward to my box at work without violating any policy. So I signed up right away and waited eagerly for my account to be setup. By Sunday afternoon my account still wasn't setup and I was getting pretty anxious. So I filed a trouble ticket and was informed my account would be set up asap on Monday. I figured no big deal, and waited until Monday. Monday came and my account was activated, just like I was told. I happily and quickly updated register.com to point to my new dns servers and uploaded my site. I setup my subdomain and mail and got ready to have fun. SSH worked fine, and I was very happy. Then I think it was tuesday night, ssh stopped working. I could no longer access my site. I filed a trouble ticket and they said they were working on it. I didn't mind too much, but I was annoyed. So I went to make my site updates via blogger, the greatest web log utility in the world. I made the setting changes I needed to and went to publish my updates. "Generating files...transfering files...transfering files...transfering files... error getting input/output stream" Hmm. I couldn't for the life of me figure out what the problem was. I could connect to the box via every ftp client I could find, and I could use blogger to publish to other sites, so I couldn't figure out what was going on. Turns out I never did figure it out. But that wasn't the last straw...

SSH finally came back (at least that's what they told me). Turns out they updated to OpenSSH. Turns out for some reason my client (the official client) wouldn't work. Their response? "Try another client." Try another client! If you can't support the official client, what the freaking heck are you doing?!! Suffice it to say I prompty started looking for new service.

Finding another site proved difficult. I searched everywhere I could think. I hit google and slashdot each about a million times. But I couldn't find anything! Then finally I was reading a post at /. and I found a reference to Hurricane Electric. I went to their site to check them out, and they seemed very professional. The price was right, but I couldn't verify whether they offered subdomains or not. So I emailed their support and asked. They wrote back and said they did offer it as an additional $10 a subdomain, but there was a workaround if you didn't want to pay. Well, I figured right there that if they were willing to give me a workaround I was definitely interesting in being a customer! So I signed up, changed the DNS again, and followed their instructions for setting up my subdomain. After waiting a couple days for the DNS to change over, I found that my subdomain wasn't working. Everything but my subdomain worked fine. So I tried different configurations. Actually about 8 different configurations. The problem was that it took quite a wait to test each one because I could only make a change once a day. It took waiting until the system-wide update each day at 5am. After a week I just had to give up. I would like to say that HE was a great place, very professional, very helpful, very secure, and very knowledgable. Also, they're in the same building as MAE-WEST!!!! I was sad to have to leave, but my site wouldn't work. So I started searching yet again.

Finally this week I found Interserver. I found them by accident actually, but PTL I found them! They claimed to offer everything I needed (except IMAP of course, but I just don't care anymore and forwarding works fine). I signed up and check to see if I could SSH and Blogger in. And they worked! DNS took quite a while to change over (almost 60 hours) and my work was cacheing the old ip forever, but finally just before I left this afternoon it worked! So now, 21 days after the nightmare began, my site is up again. At this point I have no desire to ever change hosting companies again and I'm very frustrated at the hosting industry in general. But my site works, so I'm pleased with that. And kudos to Interserver! They're working great. Keep up the great work please! I don't have much hair left to lose after this fiasco!