If you’re seeing this, it means that you’ve reached my site’s new home. Yes, I had to move again; I’ll explain why in a moment. Right now, the status is that I was able to grab all of my data from the old site, and I think I’ve fully restored it here except for some images and sounds that I don’t want to upload from here (“asymmetric” DSL means slow uploads). I’ll try to get that finished when I get in to work tomorrow. As usual, let me know if you find any glitches. Here are the details for those few who are interested in such things.

The story began on Friday, when I noticed that my site had been unreachable practically all day. The occasional glitch I can tolerate, but this had been going on a bit too long. I verified the problem by asking a bunch of friends to check, and by checking some public traceroute servers myself. Then I went to log a trouble ticket with my provider, Featureprice. I immediately made a couple of discoveries:

  1. They had a new support policy: $25 per incident if you wanted a guaranteed response. Otherwise, you could only send email, once per day, and hope for the best.
  2. While they were at it, they added a bandwidth cap. The primary reason I’d switched to them was that, at the time, they didn’t have any hard cap; they’d throttle your traffic back if you were being a hog, but there was no particular amount per month over which you’d get charged extra.

Needless to say, they had not even bothered to inform customers of these changes, which apparently happened around the beginning of the year when there was a big management shakeup and they also switched brands of server-management software. The per-incident support seems to be a sham anyway; it asks for a username and password but won’t accept any of the values a customer might have set before the change. Even the forgotten-password helper rejects my email address, which is the only email address that has ever been associated with my account. Anyway, I sent the email at around 4pm. I got an almost instant reply; here’s how it started:

===========ATTENTION!!!==================
YOU ARE ALLOWED ONE TICKET PER DAY, YOU MAY ASK AS MANY QUESTIONS
AS YOU WOULD LIKE, BUT YOU CAN ONLY HAVE ONE TICKET. BE WISE WITH
THE USAGE OF TICKET AND QUESTIONS YOU ASK, THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU 
WANT AND NEED TO ASK OR HAVE ASSISTANCE IN AND SEND OFF ONE TICKET
AS ALL ADDITIONAL TICKETS WILL BE REMOVED FOR THAT DAY.

That little nastygram was all I got until about 9:30pm, at which point I got another email from “Ravindra” telling me that the state on my ticket had been changed to “closed”. I checked, and immediately discovered that my site was still not reachable. So I replied.identifying a half-dozen servers providing evidence that the problem had not been resolved. I got another immediate reply, this time with the subject “Correspondence not recorded” plus a body consisting of “Permission denied” plus the text I’d sent. Nice. This is the point where I started looking for a new hosting provider.

While looking for a new provider, I decided to check what people were saying about Featureprice. It turns out that they are now considered the absolute worst commercial hosting provider, bar none, in the world.

  • At review site after review site, Featureprice had the most reviews, and they were all very strongly negative. At yourhostsucks.com they have a whole section devoted to them.
  • There are several sites devoted exclusively to horror stories about weeks-long outages, support runarounds, billing problems, domains held hostage, and data deliberately deleted.
  • Disgruntled ex customers are everywhere.
  • Apparently several of the website-hosting review sites which rate Featureprice highly do so because they’re owned by the same person – Austrian resident Fathi Said – as Featureprice itself.
  • The BBB has listed Featureprice as “unacceptable”. The Florida AG’s office and office of consumer affairs have 2500 complaints against Featureprice, and are starting to move. There are several attempts under way to start a class-action lawsuit.

Phew! Pretty ugly, huh? I eventually went back to looking for a good provider instead, and settled on Host Color because they seemed to get good reviews at a great many sites, with no complaints worse than the occasional grouse about performance and occasional downtime – nothing like the Featureprice horror stories. They have the features I need, at a very low price. There’s always a possibility that they won’t work out (they seem to be taking longer than they should about adding pl.atyp.us as an alias of www.platypus.ro) and if that happens I’ll probably try LeHost next. I’ve sort of resigned myself to the idea that no one provider is going to be the solution for ever and ever; even Featureprice managed to do pretty well until the reshuffle in January.

So, you might be wondering, how did I get my data even if my site’s still down? Well, after the third round of Featureprice “resolving” my problem without actually doing squat, and two rounds of legal threats, I noticed that the host was back up. My site had been removed from the Apache config, and I couldn’t get to all of my statistics, but I guess they were too incompetent to shut off FTP or phpMyAdmin. I went in just as quickly as I could, started grabbing my data as fast as I could (in priority order) just in case someone down there finally grew a brain cell, and got the heck out of there. Now I have all the stuff I really need from them and Featureprice can go jump in a lake of flaming monkey turds. I seem to be a lot luckier than most of their customers.