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When Web Hosting Falls

Last week was a bad week for web hosting. Many sites hosted by GoDaddy, one of the biggest web hosts in the business, suddenly went offline for a few hours. Although rumors circulated that the hacker group Anonymous was behind the fall, GoDaddy has blamed it on their own technical maintenance issues.

While they were resolving the issue, GoDaddy passed control of their DNS servers to their competitor VeriSign. While this kept GoDaddy’s business up and running it didn’t help websites that were already offline.

For a single website to be down for a few hours seems like a minor inconvenience to most users. However for the website owner, it can be a near-catastrophe. This is particularly true for companies who do only online commerce. It’s much more severe than simple losing the purchases that would have been made in that amount of time. The equivelant for a brick-and-mortar store would not just be being closed for those few hours, but rather that the store and its display window disappeared from view along with all of its advertising and everyone in town suddenly stopped mentioning the place altogether. A few hours of that will have ramifications that will last much longer.

GoDaddy’s next move was to apologize for the mistake but users haven’t been impressed with how this was done. Although some customers were credited with a month of free service on their active website, most customers got a less satisfactory gesture. GoDaddy sent a contrite email of apology along with an offer of a 30% discount on future purchases. That’s right; you only get this “compensation” if you buy more stuff in the next 7 days.  And some commentary has noted that GoDaddy offers a 30% discount every month anyway.

Before rushing to judge however, keep in mind that it’s not like GoDaddy has made a habit of dropping websites offline and GoDaddy’s hard-sell culture is no surprise.

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