01 August 2008

Hellfire and damnation.

We've escaped the seventh circle of hell (we sneaked past the minotaur whilst it was otherwise engaged), skipped past the heretics in the sixth and are now mired in the swampy Styx of the fifth battling the sullen webhosting company - who still refuse to accept responsibility for the debacle.

Are you sitting comfortably then I'll begin.
The saga runs like this, on Friday 11 July at just before 4pm someone from Easyspace, our webhost company, phoned us to say we were regularly exceeding our permitted bandwidth and were in danger of exceeding our storage facility. Therefore we have to be moved to a new server and have a whole new hosting package, which they assured us (of course they did) which was bigger, better, faster, shinier etc., etc. For an additional fee they would transfer the site for us to save us the work of downloading it and then uploading it all again. Presented with a fait acompli we said OK having extracted assurances that we wouldn't notice any difference except everything would be faster, shinier etc., and that the maximum down time would at the very worst be 24 hours. We did have the presence of mind to make a full backup of the site which considering the hour and that it was Friday we think was very sensible of us. Backup finishes at 7.30ish, we turn off all the machinery and quit the office for the weekend.
Monday 14 July. Disaster. An overflowing answerphone of messages, no email and we're stuck in a time warp, the only live website is from June 2006 and we can't update it, take it down, replace it with the back up. Frantic phonecalls to the 'Customer Support' line (at least it's not premium rate). That's the only copy we have on our system despite their information saying that they' take incremental backups and a full backup every weekend' so what have they done with ours, has someone else got CJS?? It was only when we pointed out that the cached copy on google was not the one they were displaying that they finally accepted that it was an old version. They will have a look and replace it with the current version, will be complete by four this afternoon. Next emails, in transferring the website they have deleted ALL our email accounts and the mailboxes too. We will need to recreate them, oh no we won't, it's your mess you fix it we said. Eventually they recreated the email accounts and gave us new details. We manage to get a copy of CJS Weekly out to everyone via googledocs and a backup BT email account.
Tuesday 15 July. Still no website and 'technical support' (we've move on from customer support) is no help. The site has been down for three days and we discover the people are applying for jobs on the old out of date website (come on, people, check the closing dates for heaven's sake it the last thing we need). Our local IT guy who build our office machines come to the rescue and manages to take down the old site and replace it with a holding page. We need different account details to be able to upload the whole site again. 'Technical support' will call us to talk us through it – I don't want talk I just need passwords – argh (excuse whilst run outside and scream). An email arrives with passwords, swiftly sent on to computerdoc who then, hooray, hooray, uploads the current site. Unfortunately it's not compatible with the new hosting (you've got to kidding me). More phone calls, more bits bolted onto the hosting and server and we can at last make changes to the site.
Wednesday 16 July. The subscribers only section is open access! How did that happen? The undoing and re-bolting of bits has lost the online register of users. Prompt action to change the pages, and then to update the settings. The new host is still not compatible, we can't upload the old register, we have to re-enter all the details but now we're limited to 20 characters. Ok, folks new usernames all round, on the office database, the online register of users and then email everyone (again). This takes most of Thursday and a fair chunk of Friday. The rest of Thursday and Friday are lost in a whirl of getting the Weekly out. In the mean time the RSS software (that creates the feed and then the daily and weekly update emails) can't access the new site as the pathways are different, the location is the same but he route to get there is different and the software needs directions.
Friday 18 July. We try to let you know where we’ve got to via the blog – but guess what, that's not working either! It's a POETS day and we all sink several glasses of Pimms at three o'clocks.
And what we've not told you is that in the middle of all this one of the computers was taken terminally ill with an outbreak of Trojans and worms so we've been working on borrowed bits.
Monday 21 July. Things must get better. A brand new computer arrives and our IT people spend most of the day re-installing software, adding printers, networking etc. We muddle through.
Tuesday 22 July. Try to collate the statistics of how many of you have been online, page impressions etc (really quite important details) but the web recoding software doesn't work. We've been upgraded to the new Add-on web stats, which don't record anything useful like usernames, number of hits per day, number of times adverts are accessed etc. We contact support to ask for details to be saved and then we can export them to collate in a different but still useable fashion.
Wednesday 23 July. Response from Technical support, "we can't switch that facility on because it would upset other sites on the server" strange it never bothered anyone before we moved. We have the Add-on stats and can access log-files, this records every time a page is accessed, so that's several hundred thousand records every day but we can't upload analytical software because we would upset other site and the files are too large to download without errors. Added to which they're only available for 48 hours. We've still not cracked this one, we have got some basic recording data but it's not the same as the old stuff and so comparisons with the old stats are pointless.
Thursday 24 July. Some of our emails are missing. More 'Technical Support' that’s because we now have a new spam filter which is removing lots of legitimate emails. We unblock those, get the delivered to our inbox and add lots of addresses and details to our white list of approved users.
Friday 25 July. Still missing emails, not blocked, just not there. It would appear that old inboxes on the old server are still there and emails to ranger@countryside-jobs.com land in either the old one or the new one, even mid-conversation. More queries raised with 'Technical support' And we still can't blog.
Monday 28 July. Email old boxes can be deleted but there's no guarantee that emails will go to the new boxes and we need to empty the old ones of all emails before they can be deleted. After this last fortnight we're not sure if this a good idea. We'll sleep on it.
Tuesday 29 July. We're past caring, lets just get on with the normal things and worry about the 'missing bits' another day.
Wednesday 30 July, solution to the missing emails. Google to the rescue, all the old boxes are now downloaded to a new google account which we then download with the rest of the emails. Hey, that works. And with a new pathway we can't the blog to publish but the archives are missing, we'll keep working on that one.
Thursday 31 July: But we're still missing emails. Despite having addresses, domains and phrases listed on the white list the 'wonderful new' spam blocker is still blocking two out of every ten legitimate emails.
Friday 1 August. With lots of 'work rounds' we're keeping the show on the road, three weeks on and the problems keep surfacing. We'll keep going and keep trying to find solutions but I have feeling we might just be moving again and this time we'll let you all know well in advance and have lots of backup plans in place should anything go wrong, we have lots of experience now.

Not once has Easyspace apologised, apparently it's all our fault because we were hosted on old server! Letters to the CEO have gone unanswered and it would appear that they don't have a complaints policy because if you believe their website, they're just too wonderful to need one. Yeah right….