After about 36 hours of downtime the OUT AS YOU website is back online. It’s been a cloud failure, but not a merely technical one to bring it down. I’ve learned something from the anger, frustration and rage of this adventure and I want to share it with you.
Why did it go down in the first place?
I’m pretty obsessive about backing up. My important data is backed up on disks and on cloud services. All my personal files are under daily backup. My work computer is backed up in 2 different ways to make sure that in case of disaster I can setup a new machine in half a day.
So why did I not have a backup of the website of the project that I most care for at the moment? It is a failure of the cloud and up until last Monday I was not really worrying about the possibility that the cloud would fail.
In fact the cloud does not fail if you don’t let it fail.
Choose the right product for the right reasons
The website was hosted on Godaddy. Why was I there? I was on Godaddy for their low prices and this is the wrong reason to choose any service provider.
Let’s get into some details: OUT AS YOU was hosted on a free hosting. This free hosting is a “giveaway”, a “freebie” that you get for registering multiple domains. This free hosting was associated with a domain that expired. Godaddy notified me of the domain expiring (because they make money on that) but never mentioned that associated with the expiration of that domain there was a hosting service.
They never notified me that they would shut down the hosting and I did not know that I would lose access to the OUT AS YOU files and databases.
The free hosting tier is there to keep you as a customer. This time it was enough to lose me as one.
As a customer service person explained to me on the phone: because it is a free service Godaddy does not tell you if they shut it down. Why should they, it would be only the right thing to do.
So @godaddy deletes my free hosting account, does not notify me because it's free and then charges me 150$ to recover my data. BASTARDS!
— Matteo Cassese (@matteoc) February 18, 2013
Instead Godaddy asked me to setup a new hosting and initially charged me 150$ “restore fee” to get my data back in 7 to 10 days. The fee during the call went down to 75$ and after my rants on twitter down to 0$. My data was accessible 1 day after the ordeal.
A lesson here: if you call them bastards on twitter they wave stupid fees and give back your data more quickly.
But let’s go back to the main point. I trusted one of my most important projects on a freebie that was offered to me by a cheap company that just wanted to keep me as a customer. I was wrong.
Value what you get: if you get a freebie that is probably not going to be the most dependable service.
Price is an old criteria
The second aspect that I am more worried about is the type of company I was dealing with. Godaddy as a company is sexist, unethical, uninteresting and quite stupid. They have bad policies, they have bad customer care, they have bad advertising, they supported SOPA (just before they didn’t). They quite simply were the wrong choice for OUT AS YOU.
When you are in business, your focus is in demonstrating that you know your market, have done your research and that you are able to secure the lowest price on the market for the service you need. Or maybe not.
Now this is really not the case, in fact this crisis of the cloud demonstrates that this principle is wrong. You should be dealing with companies that you want to be dealing with in 10 years time, companies that if you were stuck in an elevator with their CEO you would not want to chew your arm off, companies that share your world vision and your principles.
This was a big error in judgment and this is why I decided to establish new criteria for choosing for my next purchases of cloud services. Namely domains and hosting.
To continue our story, Insideout10 came to the rescue on Monday shortly after I realized that we were down, and they offered to host us on unbit.it, a small, knowledgeable hosting in Italy. The out.as you domain, that was not on Godaddy, started pretty soon to direct visitors to a “OUT of order” page and we were back in the game. Thank you Andrea!
So this lead me to think of new criteria for choosing also simple services like domain registration and hosting. The first criteria is similarity with your way of leading your life or doing business. I don’t think that killing animals can be considered a sport, I fight for gender equality so what was I doing? Why did I trust a sexist company whose CEO hunts animals on vacation?
The company that I am choosing should at least partially reflect the values that guide me through life. When you can get the same services everywhere ask yourself if you could get them from a more ethical or greener company. Shift the focus from price alone to added values that seem to be immaterial but reflect how you deal with your life and your business.
Cheap does not need to be crappy. When cheap is crappy that is a sign of bad management. You don’t need to spend a lot to get good service. And I know that because I spend some time on low cost airplanes in Europe and so far my experience with them has always been basic, but never bad. Their policies strict, but never unfair.
So how does the story end? out.as/you is safely hosted at unbit.it and I am migrating my domains to a really nice provider that I already use: Iwantmyname.com. Why them? They look exactly like me in their company page, their website is clean and they promise to help me in migrating the domains. And they can register cool domains like trailer.io or casse.se.
Moreover I am looking into services and plugins that can automatically backup my WordPress sites such as BackWPup or VaultPress. I’m in a better place now, but still I have an important message before we end this story:
Fuck you Godaddy! Never see you or any other company like you again. For sure!