Even we make mistakes

Just before Christmas we received calls from several clients asking if there was a “problem” with their websites, because they could not access them. This was pretty widespread; not the usual “server down for upgrade” sort of thing.

At Scene, we don’t do hosting. Hosting is cheap and widely available. Hosting requires constant supervision and good hardware support staff, on hand, at all times. We couldn’t give the level of service required at a reasonable price, so we farm out our hosting to dedicated hosting companies. It’s a method which has worked well in the past and we have used several hosting companies to spread the load — and the risk.

But just before Christmas a gaping hole appeared in this strategy when one of these companies — PagesGarden.com — seems finally to¬† have fallen foul of the Global Credit Crunch.

Once aware of the immediate problem we were on to it quickly, and using back-ups and archived versions of websites, all our clients were back on line before the crackers were pulled on Christmas Day.

There were one or two loose ends. One client had registered with Pages Garden independently and had accepted a free domain name deal. That meant that along with his website, he also lost control of his URL. It’s taken some detective work to find the company for whom Pages Garden was a domain reseller, but on Tuesday we were finally able to reunite our client with his cherished domain. In the meantime we have arranged an alternative “.co.uk” domain to back up his “.com”.

In another case, the disappearance of their site has prompted one client to ask for a make-over of their site, which we’ll be undertaking soon.

And the whole catastrophe has given us the chance to beef up and ring-fence the back-up and archive procedures on all our clients’ sites.

We have also again considered directly hosting sites but a cost/benefit analysis shows it’s still better to farm out that side of the business. We now exclusively use UK-based hosts with a good track record and clear evidence of their stability in these straightened times.

While we cannot guarantee never to have a similar experience, we are now better placed to deal with it, if — or when — it happens again.

It all goes to prove that every cloud has a silver lining.