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1 And 1 Equals Zero

By Shamus
on Monday Jan 29, 2018
Filed under:
Rants

 
 

Well, it’s been half a year since I added something to the “rants” category. I guess we’re due. I should warn you that while I normally try to keep things civil and family friendly around here, this post is going to be pretty raw. This last week has been an ordeal of frustration and dismay and I’m pretty fucking salty about it, is what I’m saying.

I’m sure you noticed that my site was down for almost a week. This is the longest stretch of downtime my domain has experienced since I launched it in 1999. Blame for this is divided thus:

To be fair, you could probably bump my blame percentage as high as 6 or even 7.

To be fair, you could probably bump my blame percentage as high as 6 or even 7.

First, some background: There are two parts to webhosting. One, you need someone to hold onto your domain name. Two, we need someone to host your files and databases to make the site go. These two things don’t NEED to be hosted by the same company, but in the past I preferred to keep them together to keep billing simple. My wife runs a lot of sites and a lot of domains. She uses a different service, but we like to keep the total number of hosts and registrars as low as possible so we don’t have a bunch of chaos trying to figure out what bills go with which sites / domains. Putting my domain and web hosting on the same account seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

When you go to a webpage, there’s a multi-step process that takes place. First you request the domain from your DNS: foobar.com. Then the DNS serverYes, I’m aware that this is a case of RAS syndrome. goes, “Say, who is in charge of the domain for foobar.com? That’s AlyxHosting.” So then it asks AlyxHosting for the IP address where you can find foobar.com. AlyxHosting replies with an IP address where you can find the site. Let’s say: 12.34.56.78.

It turns out that 12.34.56.78 is owned by the webhosting company BarneyHosting. BarneyHosting sees the request come in at 12.34.56.78 for foobar.com. BarneyHosting has a great big datacenter full of machines in racks. It knows that foobar.com is stored on machine #19 in directory /user/foobar/www/. So then it looks in that directory and sends you the files.

This explanation is simplified enough that I’ve probably pissed off a bunch of professional sysadmins, but there’s no way they’re more pissed off than I am. Let’s move on and hope they forget about it.

The Disaster

Sure, it looks like it's a mess now, but it's nothing a little soap and water can't fix. I'll have these late-90s power strips sparkling in no time!

Sure, it looks like it's a mess now, but it's nothing a little soap and water can't fix. I'll have these late-90s power strips sparkling in no time!

I was leaving HostingMatters and migrating to 1And1 Hosting. Let’s not worry about whyI actually have many nice things to say about HM overall.. That explanation is even longer than this one. Let’s just assume I was compelled by aliens or something. Whatever. I had to move. There were two problems that led to the disaster last week.

The first was caused by Tucows Domains. See, HostingMatters doesn’t actually hold the domain names themselves. They work with Tucows. Tucows claims to be a nice friendly company that’s easy to work with, but they held onto my domain for days. I even made requests asking them to expedite the process, which they ignored. Actually, I looked at the rules, and apparently transfers automatically go through after five days unless disputed. My guess is that Tucows doesn’t manually “approve” transfers. They just sit around and let them go through automatically. They could have triggered the transfer last Thursday if someone was willing to push the “YES” button rather than just ignoring everything. Jerks.

But as obnoxious as this was, it wasn’t enough to cause problems on its own. In fact, a domain transfer shouldn’t create downtime like this, particularly when you’ve carefully set up the new site and retained the old. Users should at least be able to get one or the other. Domains continue to point to the proper site in question, even during a transfer.

See, I knew ahead of time that when you move your domain, sometimes the old host is hard to work with because they don’t want to help you leave their service. So I moved my web hosting first, and I pointed the domain at the new host ahead of time. I really thought this would keep me safe from downtime. My old host could drag their feet, but they couldn’t hurt my new site, slow my traffic, or take my site down. They would no longer have any power over me. (Well, I suppose they could point my domain back at their own servers, but that would just mean we’d be at the old site, which was still runningAnd still is!. The worst they could do is mildly annoy me.)

How it’s supposed to work: When you try to visit shamusyoung.com, your web browser would look for the domain, which would point to 1And1 hosting. Then you’d send your request to 1And1 hosting, and they would say, “Ah yes, shamusyoung.com is hosted on virtual server #184920 at directory /username/web/” and send you those files. That last part is the part that broke, and 1And1 forced me to break it.

I couldn’t begin the domain transfer until I DELETED this record linking shamusyoung.com to /username/web/. Once the record was gone, your computer would go to 1And1 hosting and ask for shamusyoung.com, and 1And1 would say, “Who? Never heard of them. Here’s a 404 page.” There is no reason they couldn’t continue to serve my site while the transfer was in progress. The nameservers were already pointed at the correct machine. My files were RIGHT FUCKING THERE YOU BUNGLING SIMPLETONS.

I have pushed many buttons in my life, but this “Begin Transfer” button is the one I most regret pushing. I thought maybe I’d have a couple of hours of downtime. I mean, the DNS is already there. We’re not waiting for stuff to propagate. And hey,I’m already doing a site, move, right? Let’s just get all this over with at once.

But then the days ticked by, with all of my visitors arriving at my front door and 1And1 chasing them off instead of letting them in. Most “bad hosting stories” are about an old, uncooperative host. But in this case my old host did what they could (very little) and responded to support tickets within a few minutes, while the new host blew up my site for five days(!!!!) and couldn’t even explain why it needed to be down. Just appalling.

This entire policy is senseless. The system is designed so that if you have a site hosted at 1And1, it’s impossible to bring that domain registration to 1And1 without generating almost a week of downtime. There’s no technological reason for this. I’ve never encountered a host that worked this way. I called multiple times and asked why the system did this. I never did get a straight answer. Speaking of calling them…

Phone Support is Uncalled For

I'm just assuming this is what their phone support network looks like. It's run by a guy with a top hat and muttonchops who pulls on his suspenders and yells "Horsefeathers!" whenever the telephone lines catch fire.

I'm just assuming this is what their phone support network looks like. It's run by a guy with a top hat and muttonchops who pulls on his suspenders and yells "Horsefeathers!" whenever the telephone lines catch fire.

This is where things get really crazy: 1And1 hosting uses phone support. Only phone support. You can’t use a form to submit a ticket. You can’t exchange emails. You can’t text chat. You have to call. If I had realized this going in, I would have chosen another host. I am very sorry for recommending them last Tuesday.

I called support and asked why the domain transfer was taking so long and why I couldn’t serve the site in the meantime, and all I got were circular answers.

Something like:

SHAMUS: So why is the site down now?

OPERATOR: Well, the site has to be down until the transfer goes through.

SHAMUS: But why can’t we serve the files in the meantime? I already have the domain set to the 1And1 nameservers. Your machines are already getting the requests. You just need to serve the files.

OPERATOR: Yes. We’ll be able to serve the files once the transfer is complete.

I don’t have an exact transcript of the exchange, because, you know, it was a phone call.

It’s clear this downtime was the result of policy, not technology, but the woman working support couldn’t justify any of it except to say, “Yes, sir. That’s how it works.” (Don’t worry. I was nice to her. I know she was just the messenger. The people responsible for this mess make sure to keep themselves far away from anyone that might try to hold them accountable.)

I can’t believe they don’t offer any form of text-based support. Voice is objectively the worst possible medium for handling technical problems. On the phone I have to type in a bunch of numbers to prove who I am and then wait on hold for a couple of minutes. Two minutes is pretty short by the standards of phone support, but it’s still two minutes of my time. If we use email, I can have a complete written record of what I said, what they said, and I can see the full timeline of the problem. On the phone, if one of us needs to look something up, the other person has to sit there and wait. With email, I can read and reply at my leisure. I can copy and paste long URLs and other strings of text from email, while the phone requires me to type the lo-fi and easily misunderstood information while using my shoulder to hold my slim and slippery smart phone in place.

This is ludicrous. Email support is cheaper, faster, more convenient, more efficient, and provides an automatic archive of everything. I can’t come up with a plausible reason why a company would spend extra money on such an inferior system. I can understand why they might offer it as an option, but making it the only form of communication? It’s like they’re going the extra mile to piss me off.

Moving “Forward”

Right under that big paragraph of blame-shifting there's supposed to be a button to configure the domain so it can work. But that button doesn't appear until the transfer is over, even though the nameservers were ready to go.
Right under that big paragraph of blame-shifting there's supposed to be a button to configure the domain so it can work. But that button doesn't appear until the transfer is over, even though the nameservers were ready to go.

I think what I’m going to do (and I’m making this decision right in the middle of writing this article) is ride this out. I don’t have the patience to jump hosts again right now. But I’m paid up for a yearYes, I’m still within the refund period. But I am sick to death of migrating databases and fussing with control panels and I just want to get back to writing.. So I think next November or December I’ll start looking for a replacement host. The combination of “insane policy that nobody can justify” + “phone-only support” is a fundamental deal-breaker.

This was a team effort. Tucows dragged their feet on the change, but that wouldn’t have been a problem if 1And1 wasn’t set up so that you had to blow up your own site before you could transfer in your domain.

But Shamus, why did you want to transfer your domain anyway?

Honestly, I just wanted to keep the billing simple. If I had any idea it was going to result in this Kafkaesque nightmare I would have left it alone.

The whole thing has been a misadventure of sunken costs. At first I saw the warning that “Your website can be down for up to 5 days during the transfer” and I assumed this was for people who didn’t redirect the nameservers ahead of time. That wouldn’t apply to me, would it? Why would my site need to go down? And hey, it says “Up to 5 days.” That’s a worst-case. It won’t need to take that long in my case. Right? I even called both the new and old host and made sure neither one was waiting for the other. The DNS was already configured, so I wouldn’t need to wait for DNS to propagate. I figured there was no way this would take 5 days.

But then after a few days I realized that, no it did apply to me. It doesn’t make any sense, but it applied to me anyway. So I made many calls to 1And1 and sent many support tickets to the old host, making sure nobody was asleep at the switch and making sure I knew who we were waiting for at any given moment.

At some point I noticed the control panel now read that “it can take up to 6 days for this process to complete”. Was that the original five days plus an extra day of “just in case” time, or was the date getting pushed back?

On day five (Monday) I call support again, and suddenly they’re telling me it could potentially take 2 more days. So wait, We’re at A WEEK now? Are you just adding time to be assholes? I thought transfers were automatic after 5 days. Why is it taking longer? (Spoiler: Nobody fucking knows.) I ask about canceling the transfer, but support says that it takes 24 hours before you can set up your site as an external domain again.

Throughout the conversation, he keeps telling me that I’ll need to set up my domain to use the 1And1 nameservers. It’s like nobody at 1And1 has ever heard of this idea before. They literally can’t wrap their heads around the idea that I already set up the nameservers ahead of time. I’ll tell them twice during a phone exchange and the’ll still say things like, “Once the domain transfer is complete, you’ll have to change your DNS to point to 1And1 so you can server your files from our servers.” I tell them I’ve already done this, and it throws them totally off-script.

I gotta say if you’re going to go for phone ONLY support then your staff had better be a highly-trained crew of fucking technology wizards. And the 1And1 team is not. They answer common questions, stick to a simple script, and display very little technical knowledge. (Compare this to Hosting Matters, where their email team talked like sysadmins and frequently demonstrated deep knowledge of all the involved systems. They actually talked over my head on a regular basis, but at least they knew what was going on.)

If I had known that the possible wait time was “AN ENTIRE WEEK” then I would have canceled right away and my site would have been up again already. This whole process keeps moving the goalposts to string me along. It’s like the entire system is designed to maximize downtime. This isn’t incompetence. It’s sadism.

Time for a re-evaluation: I can continue to wait this out. Or I can cancel and wait 24 hours. Maybe the transfer will complete in another hour. Maybe it will take another two days. Maybe in two days I’ll be on the phone with them and they’ll be telling me it’ll be two more.

Maybe I can cancel and get my site back in 24 hours. Maybe after I hit cancel the wait timer will begin moving just like it did for the transfer. It could go either way and there’s no way to know which one gets me my website back the soonest, which is really all I care about.

Thinking about this more: If this is how these lackwits behave when I’m a new customer, then just imagine how much more belligerent they could be in the future. I’ve heard horror stories about hosts basically holding domain names hostage to keep you from leaving, and after our time together I strongly suspect 1And1 is exactly the sort of creepy, stalking, possessive, overbearing boyfriend that eventually requires a restraining order. I’m going to want to move again someday, and I’ll bet getting my domain back from them will be like trying to take The Ring from Gollum.

Yeah. I can’t risk it. Even if I knew the domain transfer was going to complete in an hour, I have to cancel at this point. It’s not even up for debate.

As promised, the system mysteriously won’t let me set up shamusyoung.com as an externally hosted domain. Again, the DNS is pointed in the right place. The files are ready to go. But I can’t connect the two and the only reason I can’t connect them is that the control panel won’t let me. (And of course the support guy has no explanation that isn’t tautological.) Why? What’s going on for those 24 hours? Nobody knows.

But! It turns out it doesn’t take 24 hours to cancel. It takes 1 hour. An hour after I hit the blessed “Cancel” button I’m able to set up my domain, point it at the directory, and we’re running again. It’s not even a big deal. Because, you know, I already had the nameservers configured and the only missing link in the technology chain was the 1And1 setup.

Nobody has ever caused this much downtime before. Not hackers, spammers, or DDOSers. No other host has ever done this to me. Six whole days. Just imagine if I was running a business. Something like this could be literally ruinous. And it’s all the more atrocious because I specifically took steps to avoid downtime by making sure both the new and old site were able to host, regardless of where the nameservers pointed while the domain was in transfer. And also because there’s no reason they couldn’t have served the files during the transfer. It’s a circus of baffling design choices.

Back To Work

I realize this is just automated and that sales and support don't work together, but it still drove me to Hulk-levels of rage when they sent me EMAIL SPAM asking me to sell their service to my friends when my SITE HAD BEEN DOWN FOR FOUR STRAIGHT DAYS FOR NO REASON.
I realize this is just automated and that sales and support don't work together, but it still drove me to Hulk-levels of rage when they sent me EMAIL SPAM asking me to sell their service to my friends when my SITE HAD BEEN DOWN FOR FOUR STRAIGHT DAYS FOR NO REASON.

What I discovered during this downtime is that I go really crazy when I can’t do my job. I’ve been editing this post a lot over the last few days. It began as a simple record of frustrations and then grew into this messy tirade. I realize it’s pretty disorganized, but I’m going to post this raw rather than spend more time on it. I’d rather spend my time on REAL content.

The strange thing is that I couldn’t really get any writing done. I couldn’t enjoy games, I didn’t want to think about them, and I didn’t have the urge to write about them. I’d sit down with a game, play for three minutes, and find myself thinking, “I wonder if my website is back up yet. I should check.”

We’ll get back to the real content soon. In the meantime, for the benefit of search engines, I’d like to make it clear that 1And1 Hosting is a frustrating provider with moronic policies. They are the worst thing to happen to my site and I’d replace them today if I wasn’t terrified of leaving. If this is how they treat new customers, I can only imagine what sorts of war crimes they have in store for departing customers.

Footnotes:

[1] Yes, I’m aware that this is a case of RAS syndrome.

[2] I actually have many nice things to say about HM overall.

[3] And still is!

[4] Yes, I’m still within the refund period. But I am sick to death of migrating databases and fussing with control panels and I just want to get back to writing.


 
 
Comments (90)

  1. Anonymous Coward says:

    A policy that makes no sense, but has to be followed to the letter anyways. Makes sense; it is a German company, after all.

  2. Milo Christiansen says:

    Hey, there is a reason they are so cheap, who would have guessed?

    EDIT: Why in the heck does it screw up the first letter of my comment?

    • Shamus says:

      That’s a REALLY good question. I’ve got this exact same theme running on my test site and it doesn’t do that.

      Which means I get to crawl down into the guts of the CSS and try to figure out what sorts of sorcery are going on.

      • FluffySquirrel says:

        Well, I think I found out why on my comment, it made the first letter huge like a medieval monk text, heh

      • RodeoClown says:

        Hey Shamus,
        next time you need to figure out what the CSS is doing wrong, just fire up chrome, right click on the offending “thing” (or nearby), and then select ‘inspect element’. Once you have the problem area selected, you can click the ‘computed’ tab on the right-hand side of the dev-tools, and see all the styles that have been applied. Expand the offending style and it will show you the line number in the css showing how it got there.

        Hopefully that helps!

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          just fire up chrome

          Or any other browser.They all offer it as far as I know.The only one I havent seen “inspect element” in is internet explorer,and thats only because I am avoiding it like the plague.

          • TheJungerLudendorff says:

            I just tried it in Edge for various reasons.
            It’s got it, but you need to hit F12 instead of just using the right-click menu (which is awfully barren).

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Wait,really?Wasnt edge supposed to be microsofts “Honestly guys,we can make a browsers just as good as any of the free ones you like so much”?

              I continue to wonder how the hell windows managed to dominate the market so much,seeing how most of the things microsoft makes is shit.Even the good things they make have a ton of problems.

              • Jake says:

                most of the things microsoft makes is backwards-compatible shit.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Thats the theory.But in practice,backwards compatibility is not always the case.Either due to a bug that was never fixed,or due to dropping a useful feature that couldnt be ironed out.The most well known example are the .shs files.But Ive ran into similar issues with visual studio,directx,windows backup,word,…

          • CloverMan says:

            Acctually IE has excellent developer tools, for years it was the only reason I ever fired it up.

    • Alex says:

      Why in the heck does it screw up the first letter of my comment?

      That would most likely be the ::first-letter pseudo-element in CSS. As the name suggests, it applies a style to the first letter of a block element different to the rest of that element.

  3. Fred says:

    Conspiracy theory: The person who recommended you this hosting company did so just so that you would flip out and rage and write a schadenfreude-inducing post about it.

    In all seriousness, though, I’m sorry you had to go through this ordeal. I hope your next domain transfer goes more smoothly.

  4. FluffySquirrel says:

    Eesh, that’s rough.. we used to have some clients sites hosted with 1and1 .. the hosting itself tended to ok at least, but the support was garbage, yeah

    I still can’t entirely figure out why any of what you had happen, did happen, like you said, the nameservers pointing at it should be fine really. Personally, I’d suspect something went wrong during the transfer process and they just wouldn’t admit it.. wouldn’t be the first time I’ve seen weird things happen when setting up a site.. and it sadly may have been exacerbated by you having pre-set up the hosting. I seem to recall an issue of not being able to transfer over a domain without deleting the hosting first.. though I think that was down to a weird SSL certificate issue

    We’re with HeartInternet these days, their support isn’t too bad generally, though not perfect, but then, I’m under the impression that if you want perfect you generally end up paying a very large amount for it and that’s not viable for small businesses

  5. Neil D says:

    You could probably use a good laugh right about now. The part about Tucows not pushing the “YES” button reminded me of this.

    Also, I kind of like the idea of them having to host your rant about them on their servers for a year. If it were me, I’d put a pinned link at the top of the webpage to this article that says “Thinking about using 1&1 hosting? Read this first!”

    Glad things seem to have stabilized and the site is back in working order.

  6. sab says:

    I really suggest you move before your time is up. If this is how they act before their active service has begun, I can’t imagine what they will be like if something breaks that’s unexpected. If your site being down for 5 days is not a problem for them, then… I don’t even know how to finish that sentence.

    I’d gladly donate if money is the issue, I just can’t stand the thought of these amateurs holding a website hostage. I mean, even self hosting combined with cloudflare (which is a great free option for DNS management btw) must be better than this.

    • Fade2Gray says:

      Maybe the next level of Patreon funding will be “Escape 1and1 hell”

    • Yerushalmi says:

      Seconded. “I’d replace them today if I wasn’t terrified of leaving”? That’s the kind of statement you expect from a victim of domestic abuse, not a client of a web host.

      • evileeyore says:

        Word. Shamus, they’ve already started the Stockholming… by next November you’ll be telling people how it was all your fault and how great 1And1 is and how your bruises are because you fell down the stairs all on your own…

    • Rick C says:

      I mentioned Site5 a couple times on the last post, but this reminded me: when I owned the domain, my site hosted there had a half-day downtime for some reason once, and they credited me a half-month’s hosting costs. I can’t say if they still do that or not but they were always top-notch at the time.

  7. Alarion says:

    In the name of every German everywhere: We’re very sorry about our bureaucracy. “That’s the way it is” is almost a religious statement to us.
    There’s actually a joke about this: When you propose something new in Germany, you get three responses: 1) We always did it the old way! 2) We never did that before! and 3) But then everyone could make changes!
    I suggest 1&1 is really emblematic of this, and almost every customer support of big companies is as well. There’s bureaucrat hidden in every German’s soul…

    • Your comment made me laugh out loud, Alarion! We recently moved from Texas to Berlin. We’ve been having trouble with our cell phone service (Telekom), so we called customer service. We were told that they needed to investigate the issue and would contact us as soon as a solution had been found.

      Two days later we get a LETTER in the MAIL telling us to CALL them again in order to resolve the issue!!

      I’m surprised they didn’t bust out a telegraph machine and insist upon communicating with us in Morse Code!

      • Dev Null says:

        My bank in Australia, when I went to close my account, insisted that I send them a FAX with my signature. For, y’know, security reasons. I mentioned that the technology museum in town does not let visitors touch the exhibits, but they insisted. I ended up having to scan my sig, paste it into a pdf as a jpg, and then find an online service that would send a pdf to a FAX machine. For “security’s sake”, I had to _forge my own signature using stone-age technology_.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Well,there is a reason that “WUN UND ONLY WUN WAY TO DO IT” phrase exists.

  8. Husr says:

    I know it’s the last thing you want to be doing right now, Shamus, but I really think you should get your money back while you still can. You said yourself that this entire exercise felt like the result of throwing good time after bad into sunk costs, and getting so exhausted by the whole thing that you stay with these people who don’t care about an entire week of down time sounds exactly like that to me. As much as you want to be done with this, I really think a week or so down the line you’ll be happy you didn’t settle here.

  9. Steve C says:

    I think… I think my site is back up. I guess that saves me the trouble of turning into a supervillain to get my revenge.

    You better dust off your cape and mask because I have some bad news- the site was down for me. I navigated to the site via your twitter.

    The good news is that it appears that it is just the https connection that is broken. The problem is that if someone has https://shamusyoung.com as their bookmark (like me) then they don’t know the http part of the site is up. Here is the error I received:
    An error occurred during a connection to http://www.shamusyoung.com. Peer reports it experienced an internal error. (Error code: ssl_error_internal_error_alert)

  10. Cordance says:

    When I noticed the site was down I was damn thats frustrating, I guess Ill go check Shamus twitter. When it was a day or two I was thinking I cant wait for this to come up so I can read all about the nightmare.
    Side thought you might want to post on Twitter (social media of your choice). Then again given your state of mind and lack of information about time scales the information would have been mostly useless but it does let us know you haven’t gotten so frustrated you have set fire to a server farm to get the attention of the help desk. Given the fight your expecting next move you can point us all at the social media you want to use to give us the wonderful play by play then you can vent your frustration real time. You will make a killing if you can get a popcorn advertising deal before hand.

    Oh while you are digging into your comment code I think the edit screen is different than before as well blank white page with no other comments. Im thinking this is not the last post in the rant column this month. Good luck

  11. The coach says:

    I think you’ll be fine when the time comes to leave 1And1. I think Hanlon’s Razor applies and you’ll be able to just re-point your domain to the new hosts name servers and never hear from the 1And1 guys again. Maybe the one thing to worry about is whether they will try and auto-renew/auto-bill for more than just the single year of hosting.

  12. djw says:

    Well, they say you have to suffer for your art, and as far as the “customer rant” category is concerned this post is pure art.

  13. Phill says:

    So what was happening in the brief window where the site had apparently moved, the old site was read only, and we could see and post comments on the new one for a few hours before it 404’d. Was it not actually being hosted at 1and1 then, or had they managed to sabotage their own sabotaging of the site?

    • MichaelGC says:

      That may have been during the brief period it was with Dreamhost. Shamus doesn’t mention it above but the move to 1&1 was actually the second attempt to switch. (Not surprised he’s been feeling a little frazzled…) Anyway, more about the brief reign of Dreamhost here:

      http://shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=41591

      • MichaelGC says:

        Hmm – or do you remember seeing the ‘Welcome to the New Site’ post briefly? I’m second guessing myself now. I think you might be right about the sabotage² actually…

        • Phill says:

          Definitely saw the “welcome to the new site” post and posted in the comments (24th Jan). Then the server vanished, and I only got 404 messages until I found the mirror site via Twitter on Sunday (28th)

          • MichaelGC says:

            Tinfoil hattery, but it’s almost as if everything worked straight away because Shamus had cleverly jumped the gun and set up the nameservers, etc.

            Then someone realised that ‘everything working straight away’ conflicts with their published warnings about it taking five days, so someone pulled the plug in order to … maintain consistency? Fend off the truth-in-advertising folks?

            “Hey! This product works much better than you claim! I paid for third-rate service, not the Cadillac plan! This will not stand!!”

            Baffling.

  14. Chris D says:

    I don’t want to come across as a shill for 1&1 or anything, but I really think you ought to reconsider moving the site again. Yes, you had a bad experience with a silly technical policy they have, but really it’s not a problem you’re ever likely to encounter again and has no real bearing on the ongoing quality of service.

    Frankly, the pool of decent webhosting and VPS providers is shrinking every year, their business being eaten up by (comparatively absurdly expensive for the little guy) cloud services providers and the general race to the bottom in hosting prices. 1&1 are near the top of the tree, and I doubt you’ll find a whole lot better if you move elsewhere. If you’re going to give it a year until your service contract is up, then at least consider the decision based on the how the site has performed over that year, and not the teething issues you had with setup.

    I realise that them fucking with your livelihood is not cool, but I can’t see that inflicting another move on yourself in 12 months time is sensible retribution.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Ok,but what about the telephone only support?Thats the biggest red flag for me in this whole thing.

    • Armstrong says:

      At the risk of sounding like a paid shill, I’d like to positively mention RamNode. They feel to me like the last “no BS” host provider. No ”extra services”, no hidden charges, no ads for more products everywhere, none of that corporate sleaze. You just fork over some cash and get in return an IP address pointing towards a clean install of your chosen linux distro.
      This simplicity is also probably their worst quality, too, since their control panel is the definition of frugality and even certain basic stuff like traffic statistics have to be manually crowbarred in the server itself. Still, I’d usually rather do some things myself if it means not having someone else choose where my money goes (fuck you GoDaddy).

    • Richard says:

      The risk is “What happens next time something goes wrong?”

      1and1 have already proven that their technical support team cannot offer any technical support.
      This was a clearly trivial fault that they were completely unable to even attempt to fix in any way, apparently due to 1and1 policy.

      So the next time something goes wrong, they won’t be able to fix that either.

      No hosting provider can ever be perfect, so there will be future issues that will need support.

      – Not to mention that glancing at the 1and1 Twitter feed, they went down in France on Monday for at least 12 hours, after publishing a 2-hour downtime window.
      They don’t appear to have made any announcement as to why that happened.

      A planned change causing 10 extra unplanned hours of downtime is not something that any professional host should ever have. It smells of very poor change management.

  15. evileeyore says:

    “Email support is cheaper, faster, more convenient, more efficient, and provides an automatic archive of everything.”

    I bolded the important part there Shamus. that’s all you need to know about why they don’t use email or chat. Accountability.

    They don’t want known.

    • Chris D says:

      I’ve been a VPS customer of 1&1 for a few years now, and they DO have email, live chat and text support.

      It’s in the header at the top of the site. You can go click it.

      • Echo Tango says:

        I found the non-phone contact fairly quickly, but the most prominent buttons and links are for phone. Maybe Shamus just didn’t see them, because of the poor typeface combined with his already-building frustration?

        • Shamus says:

          I went through the “contact online support” option. It asked me what my problem was in a drop-down list. I clicked on “I don’t see my problem here.” It sent me to phone support. I went through the dang thing three times and all I ever got was the phone.

          If they DO have email support, it’s hidden at the end of a maze.

  16. Dreadjaws says:

    At this point you have to imagine that whomever recommended this host to you either secretly works for them or has just been incredibly lucky to never experience any issue and assumed it’d be the same for everyone, like someone recommending the PC port of Arkham Knight.

    Anyway, I’m glad you’re up and running (more or less, as clearly there’s some stuff missing from the website, like the search bar). Hope you don’t run into more trouble.

    Edit: I also noticed that editing a comment replaces the current tab rather than letting us edit in the comment’s text box like before, and once you save the comment it doesn’t redirect you back automatically.

  17. MichaelGC says:

    Regarding the blame percentage – I mean, you called it, so I’d not want to see that go higher than 4%. This was Shamus on 23 Jan:

    When you see a new post at the top of this page, it will either be an announcement of a successful migration or a rant about how it all went So Very Wrong.

  18. Ingvar says:

    This explanation is simplified enough that I’ve probably pissed off a bunch of professional sysadmins, but there’s no way they’re more pissed off than I am. Let’s move on and hope they forget about it.

    Nah, close enough. There’s oodles of weird wriggles, but your explanation is, as they say, good enough.

    Forget about what, now, again?

  19. MichaelG says:

    Next rant: why can’t I sell my game on Steam!!

    The site is live here in Comcast land at least. Here’s hoping for no troubles like this for another year.

  20. baud says:

    You know what? I nearly recommended 1&1 as an hosting platform, since I’ve managed a website there for a few years, with way less trafic than twenty sided tale. I don’t remember why I didn’t, perhaps because of the time they did a database migration and we had to recover from backups. Or perhaps because I went in another direction for my recommendation (ovh) and realized it not interesting for Shamus and stopped trying to give advice.

  21. sofawall says:

    DNS Server is actually not RAS Syndrome. DNS is Domain Name System, not Server.

  22. Florian says:

    I have had the misfortune of experiencing 1&1s ISP arm.

    Well, kind of – my parents had signed up for a dialup subscription when I was a child.
    After they died I found out that they were still paying five bucks a month for a service 1&1 hasn’t been offering in years.

    (We switched to mobile internet at some point to get around our lack of broadband and my parents must have forgotten the subscription by then. I emailed 1&1 asking what the payments were for and a month later they informed me that the service didn’t exist anymore and canceled the subscription.)

    • Rick C says:

      In my experience (with three different web hosts and an ISP or two) they do not ever contact people when rates change. In every instance, I’ve checked their site after a couple of years, and found my current plan has been removed, and in its place are several new plans with more of everything and also costing less, and I had to call them and explicitly say I wanted to change to one of the new plans.

      So that’s something people should probably do every couple years just to be safe. (One time, the place I was working, our web host cut the price in half and increased the amount of disk space by a factor of ten, and the transfer by a factor of, IIRC, 25. No idea how long we were paying the higher rate.)

  23. Duoae says:

    Nice rant – though dumb-dumb here found it a bit hard to follow.

    Could someone give me a breakdown as to who is now hosting what? Shamus went from being worried about moving again to justifying a move as necessarily unavoidable to speaking about still being with 1&1…

    I’m guessing I missed the part where he switched from file hosting to speak about the other side of the agreement?

    • MichaelGC says:

      So I think the files are now with 1&1, and the domain is back with Tucows. (Although I’m also a contextual dummy so if someone says I’m wrong, believe them!)

      Once everything was said & done, the file-move went through, but Shamus cancelled the domain-move, so that actually ended up not changing. (Well, where it points to ended up changing, but the company doing the pointing remained the same.)

      There’s a nice little summary a little further down from m0j0y about why it’s a good idea to keep the two aspects separate – counterintuitively to some of the dummies amongst us, o’ course!

  24. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I`m just assuming this is what their phone support network looks like. It`s run by a guy with a top hat and muttonchops who pulls on his suspenders and yells “Horsefeathers!” whenever the telephone lines catch fire.

    That would actually be awesome.

  25. Misamoto says:

    I second the notion to move while you still can. That’s how you propagate nice things, by not giving your money to people who are not nice, eh?

  26. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Im sure this is definitely not what youd want to hear right now,but Ive been going through some user comments about 1&1 and….well,apart from them ALL being negative,this also caught my eye:

    Scammers! Beware!
    Service used: Shared
    I have 7 domains with them and just realized they’ve been adding packages to my domains like virus protection (that I didn’t approve) and some other bs called “extended support” thats like $40 a month. They say “We you sent an ema il” but they never call or send a letter, they just debit your Paypal bc they know most people don’t check the small amounts there. I just cancelled everything with them! Bye 1&1!

    Make sure to check your bill
    Have been charged two years in a row for two canceled domains. Have to go through several different people to get any help. Then still takes an act of Congress to get refunded. Have one domain that I keep, and have no problem with it.

    Soooo….Maybe you should get out while you still can.

  27. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Shamus,are those things found on whois lookup your actual address and phone number?Why the hell would those be public?

  28. m0j0y says:

    This is actually a really good argument for keeping your DNS and your hosting with separate companies. Transferring the authoritative DNS for a domain is a huge pain in the *** and both companies just sit back and blame the other if anything goes wrong.

    A good DNS provider will have a dead-simple browser-based control panel where you can point your domains to what ever IP you choose, whenever you want… the only wait is for propagation.

    Then if your host pisses you off, you can move and not deal with… well, what you just dealt with. I think getting two bills is a far lesser evil.

    I say this realising this is supremely unhelpful and probably rage-inducing advice at this current juncture :)

    • Dev Null says:

      Not to mention the TTLs. I’ve never used hosted DNS, but in any sane world they would give you the option to drop your Time-To-Live settings down to 5 minutes or so, the day before you make a change. That means all of your users will see the change and move all at once (or at least, within 5 minutes of one another.) If the option isn’t in your control panel, you might well be able to get a tech to do it for you.

  29. ThaneofFife says:

    Shamus, it’s good to see you back!

    That said, if this new host is going to cause you unending frustration for the next year, then I’d honestly prefer to see you take another week to sort it out now, rather than having to do this all again next January. I’m also worried it’s going to be harder for you to quit then than it is now. It’s your site, though, so it’s totally up to you! I’ll keep reading either way. :-)

  30. chad says:

    Previous (many years back) unhappy 1&1 customer here: make sure that you don’t get billing turned back on ‘automatically’ when your cancelled plan would renew. Happened to me.

  31. David says:

    A bit late, but I’ve had some entirely satisfactory times with WebFaction. Who are… let’s say more-complicated than DreamHost and the like. Clearly aimed at a technical audience, with a separation of concepts for “domains”, “applications”, and “websites” (which are combinations of the previous two). Still at the hosted-handholding level rather than the pure “we gave you a server, do whatever you want” level, though.

    Perhaps resonating with your own recent experiences, I wound up switching to them from DreamHost, because one of DreamHost’s shared servers went crazy and took three days of downtime to be fixed. So, you know, fun times.

    I’ve also found Google Domains to be good for domain name hosting, even though WebFaction could do it for me.

  32. Sean says:

    They are the worst thing to happen to my site and I’d replace them today if I wasn’t terrified of leaving.

    Be brave. Be strong. Face your abuser and leave them.

    I’m thinking they are taking advantage of the Sunk Cost fallacy. Don’t let them psychologically bully you into staying with them. You can do better!

  33. Mousazz says:

    So then it asks AxyxHosting for the IP address where you can find foobar.com.

    That’s a typo. Your hypothetical example is “Alyxhosting”

  34. Paul says:

    This 1and1 company sounds exactly like a scam company to me.

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