Hosting problems - avoid GlobeDomain

By Murray Bourne, 27 Apr 2006

My first foray into commercially hosted websites was when I started to move my Interactive Mathematics site off our institution's server about 18 months ago.

I took the recommendation of a colleague and bought space on GlobeDomain.com's servers. At first, things went well. The support (by a couple of Indian guys) was excellent and they managed to respond to requests and fix problems quickly.

There is always an amount of risk when you host a site. Where is the hosting company? (It could be in any country, even though they claim to be in US, for example) Will my money disappear with nothing in return? What if there is a serious problem? Can I visit their office and get satisfaction?

Anyway, the hosting was dirt cheap and recommended, so I went for it.

After a few months, the Indian guys got bought out. Then the problems started. The new owners could not seem to get their act together. There was a lot of server down time and I found myself alerting them that there were problems. I kept wondering why that was. Didn't they monitor the sites under their care and respond to problems before the customer even realised?

Then they upgraded a server (good) but did not manage the change well (eg they changed some drectory names in the new server so lots of things stopped working for many customers.) In my case, there was a DNS problem which I spent a lot of time solving for them, as reported earlier: Rate this exchange.

Around that time I really wanted to leave but it is a lot of hassle to change hosting companies, so I bit my tongue and hung on.

Then they announced they were going to sell the hosting support. Great, I thought. But they sold it to some idiots who were not going to recognise any existing contracts - the new guys wanted us to sign new contracts (and pay) even though our old contracts had time to run. All hell broke loose and they decided to take it back again.

I was not warned when my squareCircleZ domain needed renewal and the site just went down one day. I got on to them and they asked for money (why didn't they invoice me for this a month in advance...?) I paid and the site was up again a few days later.

But wait - there was more! After the domain downtime some months earlier, when intmath.com was approaching renewal, I wrote to them saying it was due (why did I have to do this... shouldn't they have alerted me?) and asking what I needed to do to renew it. I filled out the (confusing) online form and paid. I requested confirmation that the domain was renewed some days later but never got a response. I was very busy at the time but I should have hounded them more diligently. The site was working okay and I assumed the domain issue was settled. Anyway, on the 9th April, intmath.com stopped. There was this dumb replacement advertising page that said (hidden in the corner) that intmath.com needed renewal - please pay here. I was hopping mad. After I had paid 3 or 4 weeks earlier!!

More server downtime followed (and I found myself apologising too often to my users for downtime) and the final straw was when PHP stopped working one day and it was down for over 12 hours. I wanted out.

So I signed up at a Singaporean hosting company (PozHub) and proceeded to transfer all my files. This is not as simple as it sounds because there are several databases involved and I couldn't just upload the data - versions of software were different. Anyway, as soon as I was ready I asked PozHub to take over the domain management. They said they could not do so until the old company reliquished control. Of course, when I asked GlobeDomain to give up control they sat on it for some time. Finally, 12 days after it went down and after a lot of polite (through gritted teeth) emails, PozHub sorted out and now all is finally sweet.

I have been very happy so far with PozHub. Their support is responsive and they have helped me out a lot already. There has been 15 minutes of downtime so far, but whatever it was came good before I even realised.

Conclusions -

  • There's no such thing as a free (or cheap) lunch
  • Avoid GlobeDomain

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