How to dismantle a website

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Through the years I’ve done several websites, both for me as well as my wife. Mine are mostly all grouped under one account and my wife’s under another. Several days ago we decided that we would not renew one of my wife’s websites and I turned off auto-renewal. Yesterday on my way home from a business trip, I got an email saying that her website had auto-renewed. I followed up with an email to the hoster saying that was not what I wanted, we went back and forth a few times, and I was told that they would cancel the site and give me a prorated refund.

Imagine my surprise when I later got an email that talked about the prorated refund I would be getting for my websites. Sure enough, I hopped on the web and discovered that (this website) was gone. They had deleted the wrong account and all my websites.

I got them to restore the account (“would you like to renew that for two years, sir?”) but there was a problem with the files. After much time on the phone with support, I learned that they had no backup of my site (“too big”) and so I was essentially starting off with DNS entries pointing to nothing.

I wasn’t really worried about the files because I had complete backups, but it would take a fair amount of work to get everything up and running again. For example, for the WordPress part of my site I needed to:

  1. Upload all the files, including my latest database backup (24 hours old).
  2. Create a new MySQL database with the same name, user, and password as the previous one.
  3. Reinstall WordPress as a new administrator.
  4. Activate my database management plug-in.
  5. Restore the latest database.
  6. Find and reload the three latest blog entries that were not in the backup.
  7. Snapshot and save the latest database.

I then repeated something like this for the Drupal side. I’ll be uploading my photo collection for another eight hours.

One thing that was especially annoying was that I had to manually redefine all the mail forwarders for family members using I need to back that info up for the next time this happens.

Without the backups of the data and the configuration I would have been in big trouble. As it was, it took hours on a Saturday night to get this working, after I had flown all day. I was really unhappy.

Later last night I got a starter account with slicehost. If I’m going to have to do so much of this myself, I might as well do almost all of it. I’ll use the slicehost account for experimenting with server-side Linux. I’ll chronicle that journey here from time to time.

One Comment

  1. Wow, that’s a lot of work indeed. Same here. After almost 13 years, I’m removing my sites from One is cost, another is interest. With a blog on another domain and a twitter account, I can only juggle so many balls, and my interaction with them has waned.

    Given your experience, while I canceled the ‘autorenew’ option in my host control panel, I think I’ll make a phone call just to verify.

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