Why you need good web hosting: a cautionary tale

This post could also be titled “Making web hosting easy versus making web hosting cheap” (to follow up on a previous post) and it’s mainly intended to express my undying gratitude to the people at Front Range Internet (FRII).

Ever since I launched my new professional website about a month ago, I’ve been meaning to remove my old website from my hosting account (can you tell where this is headed?). On Monday morning I had a bit of unscheduled time so I decided to take care of this. I’m fairly compulsive about doing technical tasks the right way, so I logged in to my web hosting account via FTP, then called my sysadmin husband to verify that I was doing the right thing, then called FRII tech support to verify that I was doing the right thing. Here’s where the problem started: I explained my plan to the tech support rep as “I just navigate into the correct folder and then delete all of the files for the old site, right?” To which he correctly responded “Yes!” and offered to walk me through the deletion process. I declined (bad idea 1.0) because I was sure I knew what I was doing and didn’t want to waste his time.

After I got off the phone, I thought I had an even better plan: instead of deleting my old site page by page, I would just delete the whole folder that it was in (bad idea 2.0). So I highlighted the “WWW” folder in my account, clicked delete, clicked the “are you really sure” box and happily watched as the file names for all the deleted pages in my old site scrolled by; fantastic! A moment later, my delight turned to abject horror as file names for my new site popped up in the “deleted files” box. It took me a minute to realize what was happening, and then another minute to find the “stop” button on the FTP tool, but in that amount of time I had blown away enough pages that my new site was gone from the web. Worse, I had just sent out a bunch of links to a new article I’d written for translation clients. And I hadn’t backed up the new site since it went live. And my web designer’s programmer was on vacation and unreachable. I’m a pretty low-key person, but I literally screamed alone in my office when I realized what I’d done.

Here’s where things started to get better: in ten years of being married to my tech support, I’ve learned something. When you really mess up a tech task, your first priority is to not make it worse. So instead of following my panic-driven impulse to just click stuff and try to fix what I’d done, I went out to the kitchen and drank a glass of passionfruit juice. This calmed me down enough that I decided to call my web hosting provider (FRII) and just admit what I’d done. Hi, it’s me, the one who didn’t need you to walk me through the process of deleting the old site…well, guess what I managed to do?

And here’s why it’s worth paying $20 a month for web hosting from a really high-quality ISP. The first thing FRII tech support told me was “No problem, we’ll just restore your site from last night’s backup.” This took, no kidding, about 3 minutes. Then, they looked in their FTP log to figure out what I did to blow away the new site (hint: NEVER delete entire folders from your web hosting account unless you really know what you’re doing. Just delete the individual files in the folders). Better still, the people at FRII were totally pleasant, didn’t make me feel like an idiot (which they would have been completely justified in doing) and made the whole thing seem like no big deal. Morals of this story:

  • If you have a website for your freelance business, back it up right this second.
  • Then, call your web hosting provider and ask how often they run backups and how long it would take to restore your site if you did something terrible to it.
  • If the answer to that question isn’t satisfactory (i.e. your hosting provider doesn’t back your site up), switch hosting providers ASAP.

Thanks, FRII!

8 Responses to “Why you need good web hosting: a cautionary tale”
  1. ebodeux November 9, 2010
  2. Corinne McKay November 9, 2010
  3. Kevin Lossner November 9, 2010
  4. Cris Silva November 9, 2010
  5. -Pablo- November 9, 2010
  6. -Pablo- November 9, 2010
    • Corinne McKay November 12, 2010

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