Our Sincerest Apologies

As you may be aware last week we had a total system failure by our website hosts Heart Internet, this is their official response: https://www.heartinternet.uk/blog/important-update-about-heart-internets-downtime/
 
It’s fairly technical and lengthy, bottom line is they screwed up, what is most revealing about it is that they use 1580 words to describe the issue they faced and fewer than 53 words for the apology which comes, almost as an afterthought at the end.
 
On Feb 12 several hours into this situation and no reasonable response from Heart I made my feeling about this situation known to Heart in the strongest way possible, and published it via You Tube and social media. It is available to watch here, please note this came at the end of 48 hours of complete stonewalling by Heart and very little sleep, it does contain a lot of swearing for which I apologise in advance.
 
As of today, right now all our websites on Heart Internet are reachable and we are not aware of any issues, if you are having any issues with your website then please contact us.
 
 
Why Did You Choose Heart Internet if they are so Unreliable?
Heart Internet was founded by Tim Beresford and Jonathan Brealey in 2004, Jonathan has a lot of back history in Hosting being part of 123-Reg and WebFusion, this partner ship grew Heart Internet into the fifth largest web-host in the UK. Our decision to go with Heart was based on a number of factors;
UK based
UK time zone
UK based servers – securing data within the UK
Regular automated backups
 
All important factors when choosing hosting, they were also highly recommended by several developers I respect and up until 2011 were wholly owned by the founders. Since then Host Europe Group took over and we felt this was a good way for Heart to secure their long term growth and thus we remained loyal to Heart.
 
 
Why Don’t You Handle Your own Hosting? 
When it comes to hosting websites ALL web development companies have to rely on their hosting partners, we could have our own data centre of course but even then it is not immune to problems or issues and comes at a huge cost and then we’d be in the hosting and data business and that comes with a VERY high investment, which is beyond our means. So that is not a viable course of action. We, like many other small development companies, rely on good quality hosting and when we chose Heart we did due diligence to ensure they were suitable but to a large extent we are relying on them keeping their systems and infrastructure up to date and working. Just like you possibly rely on your suppliers to help keep your business running smoothly.
 
Why Did it Take So Long to Get My Site Back Online?
When web hosts fail and your website goes offline we always will try our level best to get your site back up and running as quickly as possible but with any website hosting whether your business has a direct relationship with the hosting company or via web developers like us you are at the mercy of the hosting company and their best efforts. We did all we could to own the problem, handle the arising issues and keep you informed.
The team worked through the issues but were working in almost a total information vacuum from our hosts, however we did 
our best to get the sites back as quickly as practicable.
 
Having us manage the situation means we deal with all the technical jargon, the issues that have arisen due to the servers being hard powered off, and we are here to handle all of that. We understand that for you it doesn’t matter if thousands of websites are affected if yours is down it affects YOU and your business. We realise this and have spent the past 5 days doing all we can to find out what little information is available, to secure your backed up data and to ensure we get sites up and running as quickly as possible.
 
Why Didn’t You Quickly Change Hosts ?
Moving websites there is no “quick” option, even with a secondary host in place it will always take 24 hours to migrate a website due to the nature of how websites are indexed and hosted. Usually a server outage is a matter of a few hours and whilst inconvenient is probably best to leave the site where it is, however after 24 outage we are in a “damned if we do, damned if we don’t” position. Because in all likelihood if you have waited 24 hours then the site will still take 24+ hours to move and the chances of a second 24 hours outage is slim. In the case of the Heart issues we estimate that the total outage time was around 38 hours for most websites. If we had reacted, moved your website and switched the DNS it is likely to have taken a very similar time.
 
 
So, What Happens Now?
We have had our trust shaken and Heart Internet are now being reconsidered for our custom. We have taken stock but it is still early days and we are currently looking at our various options, however we have already looked at adding an additional hosting resource to give us a redundancy in cases of failure, and have opened an account with TsoHosts who have passed due diligence and been recommended by several of our contacts. 
 
 
What Does This Mean For MY Business?
When it comes to my business I prefer the unvarnished truth and then I can plan accordingly. We’re all grown ups so I plan on sharing all of the news, both good and bad with you.
 
This is unlikely to ever happen again, but you can never say “never” so we are offering you a choice: Leave your website with Heart Internet or move to TsoHosts our new hosting provider. You could argue that Heart now have the experience to handle this situation and it will never happen again, however a “Black Swan” event is something that can happen to ANY hosting provider at ANY time. You could also argue that Heart have had their “Black Swan” and thus moving to TsoHosts could prove equally problematic at some point.
 
However, the choice is yours and we’ll place your website wherever you would like us to.
 
1) If you want your site with Heart, do nothing and we’ll continue to host your website with Heart Internet.
2) If you want to move please email us and tell us and we’ll migrate your site. This process could result in a small fluctuation in service (mainly to emails) as your site migrates to the new service but there shouldn’t be any outages.
 
Will You Take Legal Action Against Heart?
No, life’s too short and although they have failed in their duty of care to their customers any law suit is likely to drain resources, cost money (a LOT of money) and draw our focus off the work we do for you and that’s not a productive use of our time. Is it painful to have to take it on the chin? Oh you bet, but we cannot lose focus and throw good after bad in an effort to prove that Heart hurt our customers businesses.
 
If you are feeling particularly angry I would urge you to read this book, The Obstacle is the Way: Click and Buy Here
 
Anything Else I should Know About?
Your search positions are likely to be affected. I could try and gloss over that, and sidestep the entire question but you need to know and I will always share the truth. Yes, this is majorly inconvenient, and will have a short term impact, however from Google’s perspective your site went offline and as far as they can tell that was because the website/business was no longer active. Google wouldn’t reserve your search place “pending” your website’s return as far as they are concerned if when they come knocking and there’s no response you are not there, period. I know, yes, I truly feel as gut punched by that as you may feel right now. 
 
However, there’s an upside… Google also realises issues occur and problems with hosting happen, and we would urge you to not lose heart (no pun at all intended) as your site is likely to “bounce back” especially if you continue to apply the same approach as we always advocate
  • Good Static Content
  • Regular Blogging
  • Social Media Sharing
  • PR and Tweeting
As soon as Google realises your website is back and that it was a temporary problem you have a good chance to regain your place in the search. The time to hold the line is now, the time to redouble your efforts is now and the time to be optimistic is right here and now.
 
We hate to deliver bad news, and offer apologies but I don’t want our apology to be anything less than comprehensive and as full as we can make it. We have never lost sight that YOU make Mister Metric what it is and we are truly sorry that you have experienced such an interruption to your website services.
 
If you have any questions then please do email or call me and I will be happy to answer any other questions you may have but I do hope the above goes some way to alleviating any doubts or questions you may have.

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About Stuart Morrison

Stu Morrison's background in marketing, entertainment and web development has fused him into a guy thirsty for results in marketing. His regular talks on marketing and web conversion help others to gain more revenue from their websites. He also has a big moustache.