This blog - as of this writing - is on Bluehost. Which I do NOT recommend. Things fail periodically and tier one tech-support is not helpful in either identifying causes or deciding what to do about them. But today it took the cake - the whole server disappeared with 404 - empty web root. And not just for my account - my whole box. And not just my own box, but for multiple people frantically pinging Bluehost support with questions (including myself).
But while arguing with their Twitter support, I figured I’ll reach out to the proper tech support. And had fun but useless conversation with their first and then second tier. There was no third tier, that’s all one gets. The conversation is included here in all entirety (my increasing levels of annoyance and all). You can make your own conclusions:
[Initial Question] Provider: Bluehost - My Domain is: “outerthoughts.com” Site complete disappeared just now. All domains, blog, etc.
(19:31) [Savinaya] Hello Alex, thank you for contacting support.
(19:32) [Alex] Site was down for more than 40 minutes.
(19:32) [Alex] And same a week ago.
(19:32) [Alex] No warning, nothing
(19:32) [Savinaya] Alex, it looks like the server is under manual maintenance so the emails and other services are down. The maintenance will be completed in few hours and also the issue will be resolved. For the time being I can’t give you the exact ETA.
(19:33) [Alex] Hacked or serverfarm failure?
(19:33) [Alex] Lots of people lost their content and are screaming loudly on twitter.
(19:34) [Alex] This is second time the server was down for an hour in as many weeks.
(19:34) [Alex] Not what is expected from a hosting provider, even a shared one.
(19:35) [Savinaya] I am very sorry for the inconvenience, Alex.
(19:35) [Savinaya] Alex, you can refer the following link to know more about the Server issue https://my.bluehost.com/hosting/help/000486
(19:37) [Alex] So, which one of these was it? And the last one (I can give you date). Because I need to know whether this is systemic issue for your company or truly a random event.
(19:38) [Alex] And it is not just my box. Lots of people on the internet are complaining. Must be multiple boxes (beyond virtual machine/account)
(19:39) [Savinaya] I understand your problem, Alex.
(19:39) [Alex] Thank you. So you understand why I need some information then.
(19:40) [Savinaya] The issue looks like Hardware failure & repair and our specialists are working on the issue and the server will be up in few hours.
(19:40) [Alex] Are you sure you are looking at MY box? Because it is back up now. I am now trying to understand whether still to trust your company. You don’t even seem to be checking the real status.
(19:44) [Savinaya] Alex, as I was telling that our specialists were working on the issue, now it looks like the website issue is fixed.
(19:44) [Alex] So, no more information on either current or past failure? Do I get money back for the failed period?
(19:46) [Savinaya] Sorry Alex, we do not refund for the failed period.
(19:47) [Alex] Ok. So let me summarize: You can’t tell me what happened exactly to my box. You can’ tell me what happened a week ago. And you don’t care whether I stay a customer.
(19:50) [Savinaya] Sorry Alex, there was some random issue, and our specialists are still working.
(19:51) [Alex] Random! Ok, you lost a customer. As soon as I can migrate out. And you can guess the twitter knows about that too.
(19:52) [Savinaya] I am very sorry for the trouble you have been having, Alex.
(19:52) [Alex] I don’t care about your sorry. I was looking for actionable information or decision. You provided NONE. Do you have an escalation path?
(19:52) [Alex] To senior tech support, manager or sales?
(19:59) [Don] Hello, My name is Don. Please allow me a few minutes to review your chat. Also note that I am on more than one chat at the same time, so some of my responses may be delayed.
(19:59) [Alex] Hi Don. I assume you are an escalation, but what kind?
(20:1) [Don] I am a technical escalation agent
(20:1) [Alex] perfect
(20:2) [Don] your server is under maintenance and will be resolved asap
(20:3) [Alex] Please review the chat. We’ve been through that. It is a repeat occurrence without warning. And right now, it looks like it is a lot more than just my server. Other boxes too.
(20:3) [Don] yes they are being updated
(20:3) [Don] this is a known issue
(20:4) [Alex] I am sorry. I am a webmaster myself. Why is my whole CONTENT gone while you are updating a server? And a week ago as well.
(20:4) [Alex] Is that going to happen in a week again?
(20:4) [Don] the server has to be rebooted to complete the update
(20:5) [Alex] The content was gone for 49 minutes
(20:5) [Alex] That’s not a reboot.
(20:5) [Don] so while that is happening services are not functional so content will not be accessible
(20:5) [Alex] Is that your official position. That the server reboot takes >45 minutes?
(20:6) [Don] it is all part of the update process
(20:6) [Alex] And how often do you do that?
(20:6) [Alex] Is that what happened on October 23rd as well?
(20:6) [Don] no this update only is done once
(20:7) [Alex] Then what happened on October 23rd?
(20:7) [Don] so any thing on the 23 would have not been related
(20:7) [Alex] Down for 1 hour.
(20:7) [Alex] Well, I am looking at continued, long period failures with no notifications.
(20:7) [Don] I do not have that information I can only see sever issues that happen within the last 7 days
(20:7) [Alex] And no details on whether this will happen again and again.
(20:8) [Don] this is a shared hosting account, the propensity of issues will be higher due the number of websites being hosted then on a server where you are the only user
(20:9) [Alex] More than one box went down at once. It is in your twitter support’s history. Last 24 hours - rolling failures.
(20:10) [Don] they would not be related we are doing maintenance on some servers but not others, those other server could still have individual issues not related
(20:11) [Alex] Actually, same if you look at twitter history. But I see your point. You are having continuous datacenter failures. This is not maintenance, this is true failure and you recover from the backup. That explains 45 minutes - mirror time.
(20:12) [Alex] Ok, if you don’t have any more information or remedies, that’s enough for me to explicitly NOT recommend you to anybody and migrate away asap
(20:12) [Don] if you want to file a complaint about that you are welcome to send an email to our management staff by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
(20:13) [Alex] LoL. What will they do?
(20:14) [Don] it is read directly by management, they will take your complain into consideration
(20:15) [Alex] LoL again. Ok, I will not waste more of your time. I am sure you have more angry customers to deal with.
(20:15) [Don] Thank you for contacting our Chat support. It was my pleasure to assist you, I would appreciate your feedback by taking the Survey when the chat closes. Have a nice Day!
(Update: October 2017 - I am no longer with the Bluehost…. And I am very happy about it.)