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Jatol.com Disappears, Stranding Customers

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the back-up-everything dept.

The Internet 179

J Cardella writes "On August 31, Jatol.com — a hosting company that had operated for five years, providing excellent support and reasonable prices — disappeared, leaving hundreds, if not thousands of people without access to their Web content and email. There is speculation that Jatol may have stopped paying their host, Fastservers. The evidence is that Fastservers has been turning off the machines with Jatol's customers' content. Jatol had already collected September hosting fees from their customers (including myself). The story gets stranger. The owner of Jatol.com, Tim Tooley, has also disappeared. He was apparently very ill for some time, and speculation on the thread goes from his skipping the country to lying dead in his home. Fastservers apparently is unwilling to turn the machines back on, so people could get their content, without authorization from Tooley."

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Bogus story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20547551)

I am using it to post this comment as we speak. Editors, please check out your sources.

Warnings (0, Redundant)

ComradeSnarky (900400) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547561)

Shouldn't they warn customers before turning off the servers? So they have time to salvage all their stuff?

Re:Warnings (3, Funny)

doomedpr0digy (1143953) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547601)

anyone need a host or web designer?

Re:Warnings (2, Insightful)

zentigger (203922) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548211)

Shouldn't you keep backups?

Re:Warnings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20548339)

Ha...most companies pay the host to provide the backups. It is cheaper to have the host do it in the long run, since the good hosts will keep off site copies with a data storage facility provider. Sort of a worry free package.

The other problem is databases. While you will almost always have you code handy, you do after all upload it from your dev environment, but your databases are a different beast. When those DBs get into the GB range it gets really tough justifying 100 GB of data transfer a month and several man hours a day just to back up your DBs. On to of that, not all DBs can be backed up from your host unless you have FTP access to the actual DB server. And let's face it, all your real data sits in those all important DBs.

FastServers policy (5, Interesting)

kflat (574936) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547563)

If FastServers is telling customers that they can't put the box online without its owner's consent, then he's probably elected to just bring it offline. The SOP for billing disconnection for companies like this is to have customers 'contact their host' for help retrieving their accounts' content. The specificity means that this was probably not a billing issue.

(If any of this guy's customers can post FastServers' reply, maybe they can prove me wrong :)

Mod +2 for 'paper statements only' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20548981)

I've had this happen with businesses billing my credit card with online only statements. Business went under, website disappeared and my online only statements disappeared.
This is why I don't sign up for anything that doesn't send me a paper statement.

Second, several of our existing accounts have records slated to be destroyed since they have been open more than 7 years. This is really troublesome considering you could get an IRS audit that requests records that a) have been destroyed by the bank/broker and b) only have a paper statement that was mailed to you.

These two reasons are why I do not sign up for any of those 'online only statements/bills' services as there is no real permanent record.

Logging into and printing out each month's statement from a half dozen web sites is a waste of their customer's time and the business should know that.

A slam award to my bank for sending me a 'If we do not hear from you, we will improve you account by giving you online statements and also stop sending you paper statements as we currently do'.

Paper may seem a hassle but it's worth gold if you have any issues with the business.

News? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20547567)

How is this news? A random company with no continuity plan fails and its customers with no continuity plan are impacted? Who cares? Anyone hosting there probably had nothing worth saving or, if they did, had continuity plans. Businesses fail, life goes on. Who cares?

Re:News? (0, Troll)

athdemo (1153305) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547611)

Hey! My mother got hosting from them, you insensitive clod!

Similar story (5, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547571)

Some company you probably never heard of went out of business affecting no one you know. It was really uneventful.

Re:Similar story (0, Troll)

andreyw (798182) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547617)

Yes. Please tag this whocares. How did this ever even make it to the front page?

Re:Similar story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20547971)

How did this ever even make it to the front page?

It's helpful to have a reminder every now and then that as awesome as a "free market" is, there's still plenty of fraud and such out there, and buyers should beware.

Re:Similar story (0, Troll)

Yo Grark (465041) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547623)

But won't somebody think of the children?

Just claim that fastservers is illegally holding IP content and that the DCMA covers your right to content.

Hey, while they're at it, maybe they can make a law making it illegal to shut down webservers so that people can get those electronic packets. Don't they have rights? :P

Yo Grark

Re:Similar story (4, Interesting)

Bryan Ischo (893) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547823)

There is nothing that anyone can do about kdawson and his lame non-story posts. I wrote to CmdrTaco personally about this yesterday and the response I received was basically that kdawson is doing a good job, especially given that we're in a slow news period. So basically, this is just how Slashdot is supposed to work and the people who run it see no problem.

I get the feeling that kdawson's mandate from the Slashdot team is to keep the stories coming; he's the guy that has to step in and post useless stories on days when there isn't much news just to keep articles coming so that Slashdot can keep the page clicks up. Must not be a fun job, sifting through hundreds of completely lame articles just to filter it down to the least crappy ones, that we then get to enjoy.

I can't think of any other way to explain the fact that his (kdawson's) stories are mostly fluff.

This is actually interesting (1)

sbate (916441) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547859)

I like the drama of this. I really never pay much attention to the fact that where I work our web servers are down the hall. It is interesting to note how the other half lives...

Re:This is actually interesting (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547917)

The other half may not have it so good, but we do have rsync over ssh and cron [jdmz.net] . Couple that with tar on the local machine and a script to rotate the archives, and the headaches experienced by all these people become a mere annoyance and a day or two of downtime while setting up a new host (unless their host is also their registrar). Everyone should know, since their first document went the way of Ellen Fleiss, that you always make a backup.

Re:This is actually interesting (1)

Bigbutt (65939) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548707)

I actually have the source content on a local OpenBSD box. When I make updates, I do it locally and then rsync it to the remote server. I also retrieve a copy of the remote server's /etc, /var, and /home directories and also snag a "find / -print" so I know what got installed that may not be in the three directories I retrieve.

A month or so back the hard drive failed on the remote server, the service replaced the disk and I pushed all the content back. Took a couple days for it all to get uploaded and another day to get stuff configured again.

[John]

Re:This is actually interesting (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#20549245)

That's really smart. I should go that route.

If you have access to rsync. (2, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548789)

I have no idea about this company, but there are still a lot of web hosts around that don't provide SSH or rsync access. Basically they stick you with FTP and a few lame MySQL tools that you can access through a newbie-empowering management interface, and nothing else.

Combine that with the promises many hosting companies make about backups, and it's a setup for data loss. Particularly on sites that have a lot of user-driven content (meaning that the server's copy really is the original) stored in databases, all it takes is for the operator to get lax about sucking down a full copy of the site on a regular basis, and then the hosting company to go under (or have some sort of significant failure). Suddenly the content is just *gone*.

Lots of clueless people are in charge of web sites. Sadly, this isn't going to change in the future, and it's probably going to get a whole lot worse. As companies have scrambled to make it easier for the clueless to use their services, they often cut corners on features that would make data safety easier (like shell/rsync access).

Re:Similar story (1)

evanbd (210358) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547943)

That excuses the fluff (somewhat, but I've never really minded the "random geek does something irrelevant but neat" type of fluff), but it most assuredly does not excuse the rampant FUD and trolling.

Re:Similar story (4, Informative)

exley (221867) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547961)

There is nothing that anyone can do about kdawson and his lame non-story posts.

Sure we can... We can go to preferences->homepage and then under "Authors" uncheck kdawson :)

Re:Similar story (1)

ralphdaugherty (225648) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547963)

I can't think of any other way to explain the fact that his (kdawson's) stories are mostly fluff.

      Maybe fluff, but not useless. The bitching is sort of entertaining.

  rd

What do you mean you can't do anything about it? (3, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548093)

If you don't want any stories from kdawson just go to:

http://slashdot.org/users.pl?op=edithome [slashdot.org]

And uncheck kdawson.

I did this for Jon Katz. I think more than a few slashdotters did the same thing too.

As long as kdawson's signal to noise ratio remains tolerable to me I won't be doing that to kdawson.

After all, I think kdawson's story which showed that Miguel de Icaza thought "OOXML is a superb standard" was desirable - lot of people think Miguel is doing the right thing for OSS (heh including Microsoft in a way I suppose ;) ).

If you think that kdawson's stories are mostly fluff you can just uncheck that box, if enough people do that, he might go the way of Jon Katz - after all they're not going to pay him to post stories that nobody will see :).

Re:What do you mean you can't do anything about it (1)

Bryan Ischo (893) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548587)

Actually I did uncheck Jon Katz back in the day.

I also unchecked kdawson for a little while but then I got worried that I was going to miss something good. It's not that kdawson never posts something interesting. It's just that his signal-to-noise ratio is too low, and definitely the worst of any slashdot editors. That is what is so frustrating; if every story he posted was worthless I could easily just eliminate him from my view of slashdot. But because he sometimes posts good stuff, I have to wade through all of his crap so as not to miss anything good.

Re:What do you mean you can't do anything about it (1)

multimed (189254) | more than 7 years ago | (#20549213)

Except with Katz, they countered this by having other editors post his crap. If memory serves there was some rationalization about him being on the road and couldn't submit himself or some such thing but it certainly seemed like an end around the author check box.

Re:Similar story (1)

ShaunC (203807) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548105)

Would you rather they hire Roland Piquepaille as an editor?

I notice you're a subscriber. That gives us a little more right to bitch, but on the other hand, it shows that we're okay with the way things are because we're more than happy to toss some money in the tip jar now and then. If you're really not that happy with how things are going anymore, pull your subscription. Me, I'm not going to renew mine once it's used up.

Re:Similar story (1)

Bryan Ischo (893) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548603)

My subscription is going to expire sometime pretty soon (I'm at like 9,800+ page views out of 10,000). What's amazing to me is how cheap Slashdot is. I think I put $100 into it back in 2001 or 2002, have read Slashdot almost daily, and often more than once per day, and I still haven't run out of page views (but I am close).

Anyway, I am somewhat unhappy about the poor editing but overall I still feel that the site is worth it. I really just wish that Slashdot would dump kdawson and zonk, I feel like eliminating those two sources of garbage would go such a long way towards improving Slashdot.

On the other hand, like I said before, I think that kdawson may just be fulfilling a specific mandate from the "management" at Slashdot, which is to ensure that articles keep being posted when none others are showing up. In which case, even if kdawson was canned they would just find someone else to do the same thing, making the problem more endemic in Slashdot as a whole and less with a particular editor.

OT: Grist for the Discussion Mill (4, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548879)

On the other hand, like I said before, I think that kdawson may just be fulfilling a specific mandate from the "management" at Slashdot, which is to ensure that articles keep being posted when none others are showing up. In which case, even if kdawson was canned they would just find someone else to do the same thing, making the problem more endemic in Slashdot as a whole and less with a particular editor.
I agree, and I'm not honestly sure that it's such a bad thing. Yes, it raises the S/N ratio. But it's not like bad stories automatically equal bad discussions. And really, who reads Slashdot for the articles, anyway? Most days you can read 90% of what's on Slashdot's front page by reading the "Geek" section of Fark, or Digg, or any number of other sites. (Yes, Slashdot does get the occasional scoop. But that's not what keeps me reading daily, and I doubt it's what attracts most other readers, either.)

If you don't have new topics up for discussion fairly frequently, then the discussions stagnate and die, and with it goes your readership. One of the reasons I don't comment as much on K5 as I used to, is that there are just too few articles (although we could argue for a while as to what the root cause of that is; the decline of K5 is fascinating in itself).

I look at kdawson's "grist mill" stories, and click through to the discussion most of the time, because sometimes it's the really boring and/or trite stories that provoke the most interesting (usually offtopic) discussions.

Re:OT: Grist for the Discussion Mill (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 7 years ago | (#20549331)


Yep!

After all, it's no work to "scroll by the Dawson story", is it?

But I'd call these stories "narrow beam". Slashdot has a slightly broader audience than the mega-experts who can change a broken Vista box into Gentoo in 12 minutes.

At my glacial pace of development I don't have problems with live data being lost. I have switched free host providers a couple times after each began going seriously south. (And this guy was a paid provider! The free hosts have even less barrier for new customers, and with a less direct revenue model, even less incentive to be dedicated.) I develop my data locally, then upload it.

But my primary link is through a redirector, whose basic server seems pretty solid. Thus no matter if my provider goes down - I'd switch to a backup that goes live pretty quick. I haven't tested the speed of my redirector, but I think it's even faster than "2 hours".

Re:OT: Grist for the Discussion Mill (1)

Bryan Ischo (893) | more than 7 years ago | (#20549967)

Well, I've been browsing Slashdot almost daily for going on 10 years now. The more fluff stories there are, the more of my time is wasted skipping past them. I tend to read every editorial description of every story, and although it's not a whole lot of time, 10 seconds several times per day adds up eventually. And what's worse, the annoyance level of constantly reading the summary of news articles that are obviously completely worthless fluff, tends to rise over time out of proportion with the actual time wasted reading the summaries.

I read Slashdot as a way to keep up with "News for Nerds". I'm a nerd and I like interesting nerd news. The more lame stories I see posted to Slashdot, the less effective a resource it is for me to keep up with topics of geek interest.

I realize that many people have already given up on Slashdot as a good source of news articles of interest to geeks, and basically treat it as a site where funny comments are posted; for them it's more entertainment than a valuable news resource. But I guess I have a different focus, and over time I feel like Slashdot has tended more towards entertainment and less towards a good news resource. Witness the loss of some really good regular "columns", such as the ones where they used to collect questions from the Slashdot community to post to big names in the geek world. Those things were awesome and Slashdot doesn't even bother with them anymore.

Re:Similar story (1)

clayne (1006589) | more than 7 years ago | (#20549033)

http://technologyfront.com/resume.html [technologyfront.com] -- kdawson's background in FUD/bullshit/hand-waving nonsense

Re:Similar story (1)

NorQue (1000887) | more than 7 years ago | (#20549771)

So... these stories are basically the Slashdot equivalent of "Paris Hilton in jail"?

I hope the Verizon guy doesn't end up dead (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20547605)

And he's been living la vida loca, riding on top of trains and such.

I better check the policy so I don't get stuck without my email.

Happens all the time (3, Insightful)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547609)

For the last few years, I've been reading forums like webhostingtalk.com and this happens more than you think. The webhosting business has been a real competitive arena for the last few years and people expect to get good service for as little as $1 per month. I'm not surprised when some business get their throat cut.

If competitive area means scam (5, Insightful)

gambolt (1146363) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547701)

Now I never get hosting without finding out who their bandwidth provider is. The whole buisness of selling and reselling bandwidth reminds me of a cross between multi-level marketing and Enron. Right now I'm using a VPS that is way more host than I need just so I know I'm free from that game.

Web hosting is so fucked up with people with no physical access to the servers and no idea how a web server even works selling accounts from control panels that it makes me nostalgic for my old free .edu hosting on a HP-UX box.

Don't touch resold hosting (3, Informative)

tehSpork (1000190) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548227)

I operate a small hosting business and agree with you 100%, don't buy hosting from someone unless they have physical access to the box and know what they are doing.

After hearing so many sob stories of resold hosting dropping off the face of the planet and customers left adrift I made the move from a VPS and colocated my business with a reputable provider downtown. In addition to the peace of mind it provides me and my customers I've also been free of the the service outages and "oops" moments that were frequent with the VPS provider I had been with previously.

Re:If competitive area means scam (1)

clayne (1006589) | more than 7 years ago | (#20549065)

Web hosting is so fucked up with people with no physical access to the servers and no idea how a web server even works selling accounts from control panels that it makes me nostalgic for my old free .edu hosting on a HP-UX box.
Let us not forget the reflex ftping of Crack source to said .edu box as well.

Re:Happens all the time (2, Insightful)

JoelKatz (46478) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547715)

I see a lot of posts on various forums from people who don't have copies of their own web sites, databases, email contacts lists, and so on. I feel bad for these people, but they really are victims of their own stupidity.

I have this conversation regularly:

Me: Sorry, the only solution to that is to restore from your latest backup.

Someone: My latest what?

Re:Happens all the time (2, Funny)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547805)

I have this conversation regularly:

I have it tattooed on the inside of my eyelids.

Re:Happens all the time (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548035)

What? You're saying that don't have a local copy, a back up of that, and an off-site backup stored somewhere? Say it isn't so! (fwiw that's sarcasm)

Re:Happens all the time (2, Interesting)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547803)

For the last few years, I've been reading forums like webhostingtalk.com and this happens more than you think. The webhosting business has been a real competitive arena for the last few years and people expect to get good service for as little as $1 per month. I'm not surprised when some business get their throat cut.

You know, people expect to get service for free as well, but it doesn't mean this should always meet reality. That separates smart buyers from dumb buyers. Dumb buyers will always exist, never mind the market situation.

If Jatol.com dependent on a single guy, then most likely it didn't have plenty of customers, and most of those were quite cheap customers. They got what they paid for.

I pay 60/mo for a virtual server (yes I know I could get dedicated for 50) in a large datacenter, still get great support, and os/updates management, and if any one single guy ceases to show up at work, they'll just hire a new one.

Re:Happens all the time (3, Interesting)

fm6 (162816) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548119)

Well, it doesn't happen more often than I think, not after my own brief tenure on the help desk of a colo provider. We would rent rack space to a "company" (often one or two people) who would turn around and rent it out to other folks. For all I know, they in turn also rented it out. (This is why spam blacklists are so useless: just knowing an IP address doesn't tell you which colo or hosting provider is actually giving network access to a spammer.) The guy in the middle goes out of business, and the guy at the end is hosed. And if the guy at the end is a shared hosting provider, his customers are hosed.

Once I got a pleading phone call from a guy who had rented rack space from somebody who rented it from us. The guy in the middle had stopped paying his bills and got cut off. Policy was to seize the hardware in the defaulter's racks, even if it wasn't his, and hold it hostage against payment. The caller just wanted his hardware back, and if it'd been up to me he would have gotten it. We couldn't sell it, so it was just going to collect dust until the bill got paid — that is, forever. But nope, wasn't going to happen.

Nor was the company I worked for totally trustworthy. Despite having thousands of racks in multiple locations, and its own network backbone, the company was basically the private property of one guy who had started the whole operation in his garage 10 years before. Now, AFAIK, this guy was 100% honest; he was certainly more than fair (well, most of the time) to his employees. But there was really nothing to prevent him from collecting all the bills up front, not paying his own bills, and skipping the country.

And honest or not, this dude was not a great business executive. Because of poor planning and faulty procedures, we had endless network problems and even one highly avoidable power outage. (Caused by maintenance on the UPS!) Really, I think many of our customers would have ditched us in a moment, if they could have found a provider with any certainty of doing a better job than we were doing.

What consumers need is some kind of a neutral audit service. Does the company have cash flow to stay in business? (Perhaps posting a bond to make sure their bills are paid?) Do they have "best practices" procedures in place to prevent stupid accidents like the one we had with the UPS? Hell, do they even have the facilities they claim to have? Then consumers could look at the audit and know what they're getting into.

Re:Happens all the time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20548341)

Once I got a pleading phone call from a guy who had rented rack space from somebody who rented it from us. The guy in the middle had stopped paying his bills and got cut off. Policy was to seize the hardware in the defaulter's racks, even if it wasn't his, and hold it hostage against payment. The caller just wanted his hardware back, and if it'd been up to me he would have gotten it. We couldn't sell it, so it was just going to collect dust until the bill got paid -- that is, forever. But nope, wasn't going to happen.

Did he sue? He should have. No need to take you guys to the cleaners, but it is his hardware. That policy is fucked up.

Re:Happens all the time (1)

wronskyMan (676763) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548615)

IANAL but the situation may be similar to people getting gypped by the general contractors on their house: you pay the GC to redo a kitchen, say, and they skip town and fail to pay the plumber for example. The plumber can still get a lien on your property since he is entitled to compensation and worked on your property. The hosting companies' lawyers would need to check this out very thoroughly for obvious reasons since keeping somebody elses stuff is a big deal.

Re:Happens all the time (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 7 years ago | (#20549241)

Yes, but by law, if you then pay off the lien, they can't hold your property. It sounds like the company refused to allow the contractee to pay the bill, which AFAIK is highly illegal unless it is simply because the person in question could not prove rightful ownership of the equipment.

This is definitely not like a foreclosure situation where a property manager failing to pay the mortgage can cause you to lose a house permanently---the ownership of a home is not transferred to the plumber as part of doing business, nor is ownership of a server.

Re:Happens all the time (1)

renbear (49318) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548847)

Your experience mirrors my own working as a senior sysadmin for a few ISPs in the dot-com era, one of which started just as you describe (but ended up being Corporate Hell).

What consumers need is some kind of a neutral audit service. Does the company have cash flow to stay in business? (Perhaps posting a bond to make sure their bills are paid?) Do they have "best practices" procedures in place to prevent stupid accidents like the one we had with the UPS? Hell, do they even have the facilities they claim to have? Then consumers could look at the audit and know what they're getting into.
I agree. I'd really like to see that, too. The problem is getting consumers to care enough to pay attention to the audits. Too much of the time, the customers are just going for the cheapest service they can find. It's not until they're bit (as in TFA) that they even begin to care.

In my opinion, this would only work if the audits (and the agency reporting them) were mandated by the government. However, I'm kinda lukewarm on bringing the government into this sort of thing, given the level of corruption we've seen recently in the US.

Re:Happens all the time (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 7 years ago | (#20549575)

I don't see the pervasive corruption you do. Yes we've had a lot scandals, but mostly among political appointees. Besides, scandals are a good sign: they show that people give a shit.

Even so, an ISP audit bureau should probably come from the private sector. When it comes to deciding on "best practices", you don't want the politics and bureaucracy of a government agency.

The question is, how does it get started? I was tempted to try something after I left that ISPs like a web site with questionnaires filled out voluntarily by the ISPs. More rigorous methods could he employed as the operation grew.

But I'm the wrong person to run something like this. Inferior business and organization skills. Anyone?

Re:Happens all the time (1)

clayne (1006589) | more than 7 years ago | (#20549101)

Once I got a pleading phone call from a guy who had rented rack space from somebody who rented it from us. The guy in the middle had stopped paying his bills and got cut off. Policy was to seize the hardware in the defaulter's racks, even if it wasn't his, and hold it hostage against payment. The caller just wanted his hardware back, and if it'd been up to me he would have gotten it. We couldn't sell it, so it was just going to collect dust until the bill got paid — that is, forever. But nope, wasn't going to happen.
Sounds faintly similar to something that would happen at Savvis (aka Exodus aka C&W) or HE...

Re:Happens all the time (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 7 years ago | (#20549851)

Sounds like a typical lemon market [wikipedia.org] . There are a number of things clients need to keep track of when selecting a colocation host, but yeah in general you can severely be hosed.

Don't worry. Your data is safe. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20547633)

Just walk over with a USB key. It's a data center so they're open 24/7.

Re:Don't worry. Your data is safe. (1)

rmadmin (532701) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547935)

I've toured their facility. One does not simply walk into their DC. :(

Re:Don't worry. Your data is safe. (1)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548045)

One does not simply walk into their DC. :(

No? What does one do, ride a bicycle? :)

Re:Don't worry. Your data is safe. (2, Funny)

EvanED (569694) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548137)

No, you can't walk or bike into the data center. It's more of a hike, and a pretty dangerous one.

By the Great River, there's a road to the pass of Minas Morgul. Follow the path inward until you reach steps... lots of steps. This is the road of Cirith Ungol. This is a secret path... security doesn't use it, because security doesn't know about it.

You might want to bring some off.

Re:Don't worry. Your data is safe. (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548209)

Thank god SOMEONE got the reference. :P
One does not simply SSH into Mordor!

Re:Don't worry. Your data is safe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20549997)

That's OK... I don't need to bring anything, I can always get off.

Same thing happened to me (1)

lunatick (32698) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547681)

Same thing hapened to me. My hosting company stopped paying the bills. The planet was where he had his servers and they refused to allow anyone access without the old host's permission.

End result I found a new hosting company and have been doing well with them.

It just pisses me off all the user submitted content I hadn't backed up yet.

Re:Same thing happened to me (1)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548081)

I host directly with The Planet and this type of story is one of the reasons why.

There are LOT of resellers that buy cheap dedicated servers from providers like The Planet and resell virtual hosting and in some cases dedicated hosting at a higher price (usually with more service and 'user friendly control panels' and such).

As a webmaster / entrepreneur who used to work as a *nix admin and programmer, I've often thought about going into the reseller business. I've decided not to because I don't believe that I could sustain such an endeavor and I still have nightmares about working in tech support. But the fact remains that any Joe Blow running a business out of his basement can set up a 'hosting' company this way for next to no capital at all. Then what happens after he has a few customers but they run into problems and he doesn't feel like helping them out ? What happens if he wants to take a week vacation or hell even 2 days off on the weekend ?

It's very easy to put up a web page that looks "professional" and talks about your round the clock support team and has pictures of your provider's data center. Such a page is sure to lure in gullible customers who believe that you truly are a large company with many employees working round the clock to support you. In the end, actually delivering on those promises is not something that a single person can do.

It's very important to research who you're hosting with. Not just who their providers are but what the company history is, who owns it and most importantly do they have a good reputation that goes back at least 3 - 5 years + ? The reason that not everyone rents directly from dedicated server providers like The Planet is because you get a server and that's it. Their tech support is great when the problem is actually their fault (network or hardware problems etc.) but if you have problems configuring Apache or installing Word Press you're out of luck. You're expected to be able to admin your own box. That's why there's a market for resellers. Because they admin the boxes for you. But it's very easy to be tempted by a good offer from a company that's actually run by some 16 year-old kid living with his mom who's got your site hosted on his one dedicated server that he rents for $70 / month from The Planet.

Point = determine your needs and do your research. Host with a company who you're confident is not going out of business any time soon and who can live up to your support requirements. It's not an easy task with the loads of resellers and providers out there but it's essential if you're doing business online.

Re:Same thing happened to me (1)

multimed (189254) | more than 7 years ago | (#20549383)

It's very important to research who you're hosting with. Not just who their providers are but what the company history is, who owns it and most importantly do they have a good reputation that goes back at least 3 - 5 years + ?

That's one thing that made this worse - I was with Jatol. I chose them when my previous hosting company, which was a one man show, who busted his but providing fantastic service for years, just needed move to something with more regular hours & sold out to guys who seemed to be up to something illegal. They seemed to not actually be trying to make a profit. Anyway, I actually chose Jatol because they had a longer history (I think 7 years or so) and had provided very solid service during that time. Problem is, I had no way to know - until this blowup - that one of the owners left in a dispute of some sort, and at least one excellent tech support guy was sent packing. Had I known these things I would have been gone.

But having been through this before, I've learned that this is just the nature of this level of hosting - if you want fairly cheap web hosting, this is something you have to prepare for & deal with. I had my backups & was restored & back up & running on a new host in not a lot more time than it took for name server propagation. But I really feel bad for people who had to learn their lesson the hard way.

You get what you pay for (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547703)

Albeit my Earthlink hosting has had a few coughs recently on their web mail otherwise it's been a big dumb light switch for years and years. $50/month seems worth it, $1.65/day to not have to worry about it.

Re:You get what you pay for (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548203)

"You get what you pay for?" Nonsense. Not paying for something is pretty much a guarantee that you won't get it. But paying for it is hardly a guarantee that you will!

I feel their pain (5, Informative)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547713)

I got bit like this once. The hosting provider wholesaler I'd been using vanished. No phone calls, the colo wouldn't help me, and I was stranded with data that was 4 days old, (I had on-site backups, and weekly off-site backups) and some very, very pissed customers.

It was about 3 days of hell getting everything together and getting back up. I also had to eat an entire month's hosting revenue due to TOS violations, despite having picked the premiere hosting facility on the west coast. It cost me thousands of dollars. I vowed that this would NEVER happen again - not like that.

It takes just once before you "get" just how bad it can be when your hosting provider goes south, or your server borks, or you accidentally run "rm -rf /." instead of "rm -rf ./" or......

So today, I have automated, nightly, off-site backups at all times, and fully redundant hosting "hot" - ready for rollover at a moment's notice, on a different network, different hosting company, in a different city. It would take me about 2 hours to cut over - the only delay is DNS updates. I even test them from time to time, and once had to use it when primary hosting failed.

Re:I feel their pain (1)

jmauro (32523) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547965)

It takes just once before you "get" just how bad it can be when your hosting provider goes south, or your server borks, or you accidentally run "rm -rf /." instead of "rm -rf ./" or......

Do you know how much work I'll get done if someone accidently rm'ed slashdot.

Re:I feel their pain (1)

Southpaw018 (793465) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548083)

Same here. For a personal site in college, I always had a feeling that what we had was a one or two man operation with a couple hundred boxes, but the price was right, and the service was definitely there.

Then, one day, they vanished. Didn't respond to instant messages, emails, phone calls. Gone. Went back about 20 days to the last backup we had. Didn't lose much that couldn't be rebuilt outside the forums, thankfully.

Later, my friend, who did the design for all the stuff and who was paying the hosting bills, later told me that the charges had never even been made to her credit card. I'm not entirely sure how she never noticed that, but hell, we ended up getting fairly reliable hosting for 2 years for free from some fool who couldn't work his credit card machine!

Re:I feel their pain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20548883)

Or the poor fool tried using some "instead of merchant account" processing company, and never got paid for his 2 years of effort...

Question: what dollar value would you assign to your service disruption? That is, "I would have paid $X for the problem to go away without my effort" ... Be realistic. Isn't that number still less than you might've spent by using a more reputable (and hopefully reliable) host initially?

Re:I feel their pain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20548179)

No one care about your poo-dunk little me-me-me-blog or maybe it was some gamer site no one came to or cared about. Geez, get a grip.

Re:I feel their pain (1)

Micah (278) | more than 7 years ago | (#20549131)

Me too. Several years ago I had a colo box in supposedly a good colo facility in western Canada (first mistake, should have used someone in my own country, the US). They were pretty good for almost two years. Then, out of the blue, I couldn't access the server. Couldn't access the host website. No phone calls answered. Really ticked customers who I couldn't tell anything of substance to. About 48 hours later, I finally figured out who had my server, and called them. (No one ever called me.) They put it up, increased my monthly fee, and their service sucked. Was in a big-arse data center, but I can't count the number of times my server lost connectivity and/or was uncleanly powered off in the next two months. Finally I got out of there. My only concession was I got them to ship my server back to me for free because of all the crap I went through.

Careful with DNS records for fail over! (1)

Gazzonyx (982402) | more than 7 years ago | (#20549183)

...It would take me about 2 hours to cut over - the only delay is DNS updates. I even test them from time to time, and once had to use it when primary hosting failed.
Just as a caution - I don't know who your customers are, but try cutting over the DNS and seeing how long it takes an AOL account to find you. I think their DNS caches are like 24 hours or so. Same thing with a few providers, from what I've heard. This is all unreliable second hand info, though. Just thought I'd say something since it's something that I'd overlook until the 'oops' moment; I always remember something important just then.

Note to self: Back up server (2, Interesting)

Aokubidaikon (942336) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547723)

I really should do this more often. I don't know what I'd do if this would happen to me.

"people get their content"? (1)

cbraga (55789) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547725)

anyone who doesn't have local backups deserves this. just like darwin awards for websites.

Re:"people get their content"? (1)

jddj (1085169) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548557)

It can get worse than just not having a backup.

When Featureprice went down a few years ago, they took a bunch of the "included free domains" they'd registered for site owners with 'em. Apparently Featureprice was registering domains with themselves as the owners. Hell's just not hot enough.

I managed to get mine back with some fast, loud action. A designer colleague of mine was not so lucky.

I'll never again let my web host get involved with my Domain Name reg.

The above suggestions hot nightly mirrors are well-taken.

Re:"people get their content"? (1)

multimed (189254) | more than 7 years ago | (#20549439)

I'll never again let my web host get involved with my Domain Name reg.

But going with a big-time domain name only company isn't any kind of guarantee either. I and other former RegisterFly customers can attest to that. I'm starting to think it's me though - every hosting company & domain registrar I've used (except for my current ones) has gone out of business or had some other sort of blowup.

"Jatol?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20547761)

Isn't that the name of a wonder weed that fuels cars?

In soviet Russia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20547809)

...customers strand Jatol!

That reminds me... (4, Informative)

jmagar.com (67146) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547813)

Time to backup my server.

Seriously, why does this rate as news? Bad hosting companies fold all the time. And keeping a backup is, and has always been, your responsibility.

I'll leave you with this simple piece of advice: Suck it up, Buttercup!

Re:That reminds me... (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547989)

I was thinking the exact same thing. I keep backups of my data. I actually mirror the website on a server at my office for development.

Re:That reminds me... (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548215)

Seriously, why does this rate as news? Bad hosting companies fold all the time.
You'll notice that the editor is kdawson, who has shown signs of taking zonk as his mentor.

Re:That reminds me... (1)

n3tcat (664243) | more than 7 years ago | (#20549191)

It rates as worth mentioning for the same reason you started your post with "Time to backup my server."

It's just a simple reminder that the backbone of the internet as we know it still does not "just work" and that you must still do a lot of work to make sure you don't get burned.

And just because you are an OG at web hosting, you can't forget that there are thousands of new people who are coming of age and need to be told these things. Of course you should be running backup scripts anyways and shouldn't need a news story to remind you to backup your server.

And finally, just remember, it's news for nerds, stuff that matters, even though it may not matter TO YOU PERSONALLY.

Fastservers definitely have not anything wrong.. (4, Interesting)

x_MeRLiN_x (935994) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547837)

Fastservers apparently is unwilling to turn the machines back on, so people could get their content, without authorization from Tooley.

This seems to imply that Fastservers are wrong to do so. I disagree. I'd be very angry if one of my suppliers started using their position as such to talk to my customers and make changes to the services I provide to them. It's not their place to investigate whether Tooley is doing anything untoward or is otherwise indisposed. As long as they offer the same amount of security when malicious people try to tamper with an account without permission, they've done exactly the right thing.

If you don't regularly make a completely separate backup of your website files, you are choosing to risk this type of thing happening. What if your host doesn't make regular backups themselves and your server suffered a hard drive failure? Even if a host claimed they offered this service, nobody would find out until after a failure. Regarding data loss, these two situations are no different.

Moral: If your data is that important to you, don't leave one single organisation in charge of its safety.

Backup (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547879)

You have a backup of all your data, right?

Reminds me of this dishonest company (2, Interesting)

deftcoder (1090261) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547945)

http://www.tweakguides.com/Hosting.html [tweakguides.com]

The company discussed here left a few friends of mine stranded as well.

You get what you pay for.

No backup, no sympathy (1)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 7 years ago | (#20547979)

Welcome to the real world.

With apologies to The Kingston Trio (-1, Redundant)

mellonhead (137423) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548005)

Throughout history
There've been many songs written about the eternal triangle
This next one tells the story of a Mr Grayson, a beautiful woman
And a condemned man named Tim Tooley...
When the sun rises Tomorrow, Tim Tooley... must hang...

Hang down your head, Tim Tooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tim Tooley
Poor boy, you're bound to die
I met her on the mountain
There I took her life
Met her on the mountain
Stabbed her with my knife

Hang down your head, Tim Tooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tim Tooley
Poor boy, you're bound to die

This time Timorrow
Reckon where I'll be
Hadn't a-been for Grayson
I'd a-been in Tennessee

Hang down your head, Tim Tooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tim Tooley
Poor boy, you're bound to die

Hang down your head, Tim Tooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tim Tooley
Poor boy, you're bound to die

This time Tomorrow
Reckon where I'll be
Down in some lonesome valley
Hangin' from a white oak tree

Hang down your head, Tim Tooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tim Tooley
Poor boy, you're bound to die

Hang down your head, Tim Tooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tim Tooley
Poor boy, you're bound to die

Poor boy, you're bound to die
Poor boy you're bound to die
Poor boy, you're bound to die...

Hellohost.com did the same thing to me (1)

mavantix (16356) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548085)

I've been through it, and I had a bunch of clients hosted on a reseller account. Thankfully I had backups, but it still inconvenienced my clients for a few days while DNS changes took effect and I had to spend those 2 sleepless days uploading and configuring things from backup. It was pure hell, and I prefer to call them HELLohost.com. In a way, I'm happy they went out of business, the owner was a jerk.

Read about it here:
http://www.webhostingtalk.com/showthread.php?t=492952 [webhostingtalk.com]

Missing the point? (4, Insightful)

BillX (307153) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548127)

"boo hoo, y'all shoulda had a nightly(/hourly/minutely) backup server running off of an OC-3 in your basement" - all of slashdot so far

So wait...has nobody yet noticed the part in TFS where the guys took the money and ran? Yes, people should have local backups of all their files, databases and UGC, but that doesn't make it acceptable business practice to keep billing customers with no intention of paying your upstream, knowing that the company will not last the month but choosing to keep it a secret until after the servers can be unplugged. (Along with "shoulda backed up" UGC goes any email that arrived since each customer's last login, etc.) FWIW, "but other companies have done it" doesn't make it ethical or acceptable either.

I found him (1)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548185)

Here [google.com] . Third on the left, getting a lapdance from that hot chick. I believe that's his private jet below.

Re:Missing the point? (1)

x_MeRLiN_x (935994) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548613)

Given that there is no actual evidence, are you not jumping to conclusions? How do you know the owner didn't merely die and automated billing continued? You don't.

I was a Jatol customer (3, Interesting)

knownzero (571410) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548543)

For the most part, they were a decent host. Never had a lot of problems, and service requests were always handled very quickly. Very small company, with el cheapo prices. Yes, I had very recent backups, but that apparently didn't occur to most of the customers using Jatol considering the freaking out on the webhostingtalk forums. I don't think Fastservers is liable at all in this and while I understand that the people who were left hanging want them to do something about it, it's not going to happen, nor should they. The *only* reason this may be an interesting story (and it's not) is that the guy just plain disappeared. Even that doesn't really even warrant this level of attention. Now, if his Enzo is found in a bunch of pieces on the side of a highway, then this might get interesting.

Ask Slashdot: How do I avoid this? (1)

Zaphod2016 (971897) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548561)

I spend a lot of my time bouncing data between laptops and low-quality web servers. Every day of my life is filled with anxiety attacks and extended periods of denial. I burn through laptops like a hooker and underpants. Long story short: my data is in peril.

What is the single best product I can buy and configure at my home office to hold a "safety copy" of my data? Should I simply RAID a few drives in an old *NIX box? Is there a pre-configured-in-a-shiny-box product worth the price? Educate me, please educate me. I still hear the clicking of a crashed MacBook HD, even as I type this.

It begins and ends with rsync.net (2, Interesting)

enselsharon (968932) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548641)

No fluff, no hype, just the best product and best service I have ever had, in any sphere.

If this doesn't convince you:

http://www.rsync.net/philosophy.html [rsync.net]

this will:

http://www.rsync.net/resources/notices/canary.txt [rsync.net]

and as I have been a customer of their parent co-location company, JohnCompanies, for _seven_ years now, I feel very good about their longevity and commitment to customers.

Re:Ask Slashdot: How do I avoid this? (1)

RaigetheFury (1000827) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548679)

Your problem is very simple. First, go out and buy a USB disk drive. The big ones that hold roughly 300-500GB. This is your daily storage device. If you're doing normal web stuff it typically isn't over 100mb. That's a years worth of backups that you can put in files.

Second. You should schedule backups to DVD. Don't buy the cheap ass ghetto dvd's either. You get what you pay for. Spend the extra bucks.

I'm lucky in that my work has daily backups, monthly backups, and backups located offsite. However, I still make monthly backups of my local directories just "because". I have a CD case that holds 200 CD's and the day I run out of space... means I'm probably about to retire :).

Seriously though, start with the USB harddrive. I know people who copy their entire site directories nightly and keep 30 days worth of work.

External HDs can eat your data pretty easily. (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#20549111)

While I think that a USB hard drive is better than just keeping your data stored on your workstation's drive and no where else, it's not a great backup device. Hard drives, particularly when placed into el-cheapo external enclosures, can go south fast.

Case in point: earlier this year I bought a decent Seagate drive and put it in a plastic and aluminum FireWire/USB case from CompUSA. Worked fine, ran well. Then I went away on vacation for a week and didn't switch the thing off before I left (I hit my backup script just as I was walking out the door, figuring I'd let it run and not wait). I came back and the drive was making an awful screeching sound. I touched the drive case and nearly burned myself -- you could have fried an egg on it. The case hadn't let the platters spin down, and it didn't radiate enough heat (it was mounted vertically, free-standing, not touching anything else that produced heat). It had literally baked the drive. So much for that backup.

Those cheap drive boxes are OK for sneakernetting large quantities of data around, but I wouldn't use them for a backup unless you're absolutely religious about switching it off after the backup is done, or you have one of those rare (and expensive) drive enclosures that actually spins the drive down, and has a vent fan to keep it cool. They're better than nothing, but they can be very scary in their own way. As a backup solution for most people, I think they're too unreliable and easy to damage.

Overall, optical discs (provided you buy good ones) are a good solution for most important files. Backing up music collections onto them can be pretty obnoxious, but most things that are really irreplaceable fit easily. If the discs are stored in binders, you can fit quite a large amount of data into a small space. Also, you can mail the discs cheaply, which makes for a low-tech way of performing off-site backups: work out a deal with a friend or family member, and swap CD binders with them. Periodically mail them your latest backup disc, and they send you theirs, and each of you file it in the other guy's binder. (Encrypting it first, if you don't trust them completely.) Instant off-site backup, no bandwidth required; discs are good for probably a few decades at least.

Re:Shiney box, raid.. Yes? (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 7 years ago | (#20549259)

What is the single best product I can buy and configure at my home office to hold a "safety copy" of my data? Should I simply RAID a few drives in an old *NIX box? Is there a pre-configured-in-a-shiny-box product worth the price? Educate me, please educate me. I still hear the clicking of a crashed MacBook HD, even as I type this.

Disclaimer, I have a couple on my shelf, but no other affilliation. The box does nice raid with a couple external USB drives. Simple and works well. Uses much less power than a typical PC fileserver.

http://www.simpletech.com/commercial/simpleshare/ [simpletech.com]

Load an older version of the firmware to Raid the external drives. Raid and encryption has been removed in the new versions of firmware.

Re:Direct link to owners manual for RAID? (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 7 years ago | (#20549339)

Here is the info.

http://www.simpletech.com/support/guides/user-guides/61600-00072-001.pdf [simpletech.com]

It's under disk pool management. Support for mirrored and striped is listed.

It is low power, inexpensive, takes little shelf space and works well for me.
Use whatever size external drives you like.

Re:Ask Slashdot: How do I avoid this? (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#20549943)

I depends on how much stuff and for how long. Anything over 2TB is a pain, tapes are expensive, and hard drives used like tapes are not necessarily going to work in five years time let alone twenty.

If it's not a huge amount of stuff and it's temporary there are firewire RAID boxes you can connect to a mac without having the hassle of a real fileserver.

Self host (1)

kylehase (982334) | more than 7 years ago | (#20548795)

Just host it yourself. You'll have almost full control of the information chain, which has its advantages and disadvantages, but it's a lot more fun! Unfortunately, to be truly safe you'd need at least two physical locations which many of us don't have.

Wonder what the service agreement was like. He'd better have skipped the country because he's going to have a class action lawsuit very soon.

Maybe Storm Worm attack? (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 7 years ago | (#20549197)

There is speculation that Jatol may have stopped paying their host, Fastservers.

Could it be a simple case that one of the sites they hosted on their 2 IP address was an anti-419 scammer page that got attacked. This could be a case where a target of a DOS attack took the host down. This outage is in the time frame that the anti-scam sites got nailed by a massive DOS attack. Does anybody know of any anti-scam stites on this host?

Fastservers, FWIW (1)

dpu (525864) | more than 7 years ago | (#20549359)

For what it's worth, FastServers is an excellent host itself. I've kept a pair of dedicated servers with them for several years with virtually no problems. I've had one hard drive failure (it was replaced within an hour), and a total down-time of around 2 hours in the past 12 months due to system upgrades or replacements on their end. The odd time I've needed the server cold-booted (damn windows box), it's been done within a matter of minutes at no cost. In short, I can't say enough about them - they're great, and the actions of one of their clients should not reflect on FastServers in any way.

Summary not telling the entire story... (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#20549755)

The summary implies that all of Jatol's hosted sites disappeared instantly. This isn't the case. Jatol may have stopped responding to queries on Aug 31, but at least some of their sites were still operational on Sep 5. See thread here [fmwriters.com] from one site who had forewarning that they would need to move.
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