Recovering From A Disappearing ISP

The ISP hosting my three websites and a dozen email accounts disappeared from the Internet for 36 hours last week, starting on Thursday morning at 10:00AM and ending Friday night at 9:30PM. If the outage was less than 24 hours, I would’ve shrugged my shoulders and went on with life. Internet outages do happen from time to time. When 24 hours came and went without a peep from my ISP, I started looking for a new website host.

I soon discovered that my domain registrar, DirectNIC, could host my websites for half the monthly fee I was paying. By the time the outage was over, all my websites got transferred over. This was purely a business decision. When you’re a writer who sends short stories and receive payments through email, being off the Internet for an extended period of time is bad for business.

What happen to the ISP? The separate data lines that the ISP had to the data center weren’t redundant and both went down at the same time. The ISP owner made alternative arrangements that was both expensive and time-consuming.

I’m sorry that I found it necessary to take my business elsewhere. I’ve been with this particular ISP for 15 years, starting with a shell account to view web pages in Lynx (a text-based web browser) over a dial-up modem back in 1995. The extended outage reminded me that this ISP was a successful one-man operation. That’s fine for hosting a personal website. Not so fine when you’re running a business with multiple websites and email accounts.

Fortunately, I had recent backups and retrieved the current data after the old ISP came back up. Since DirectNIC doesn’t offer a shell account for web hosting, I couldn’t upload and decompress the backup file on the server. Uploading all the files uncompressed took a long time with the DSL upload speed being slower than the download speed. Restoring the databases took a few minutes, chasing down the various glitches took a few hours. Having gone through a few of these backup transitions over the years, this was the smoothest to date.

I didn’t suffer too much from being off the Internet for 36 hours. My writing productivity was the biggest casualty: no blogging on any of the websites, no revisions on my first novel, and forget about writing short stories. All my time got focused on getting my websites up and running without any glitches. Queued email found its way home and web traffic soon resumed to normal levels.

The biggest benefits with the new web hosting are the reduced monthly cost, a finer control over the backend for each website, and a much more responsive support team. Otherwise, everything remains the same as it should be. If there is an outage next time, I don’t think it will take 36 hours to fix.

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