Hopefully, you never have to wake up to discover the website you worked for years to build has wholly crashed and have no idea how to fix it.
But that’s what happened to me last weekend. A project that started out as a passion turned into a nightmare.
Let Me Explain. No, There Is Too Much, Let Me Sum Up
I woke up Sunday morning to my website, LaxRecords.com, running so slow that it took me minutes to update even a simple post. Within an hour, nothing would load. I know basic HTML and over the years have figured out some of the more technical aspects of running a website, but learning the language of coding has escaped me. Mostly due to the lack of time since I run my site solo — meaning every piece of content — photo, video, text — is created by me before posting.
I’ve had instances where the site has run into issues, but usually, a called into my hosting provider fixed it within an hour.
But this time was different. I called GoDaddy (which has fantastic customer service), and the lovely woman cheerily took a look at my site and gave me some suggestions based on the information she saw. She told me how to check my error logs and pointed out a plugin that seemed to be throwing errors for several months. She also informed me of a paid plan through GoDaddy that would help me diagnose my troubles.
I opted to try to fix the issue myself based on her suggestions, figuring if that didn’t go well I can go back to the paid option.
The issue became trying to deactivate plugins. The site was running so slow and would not load, but it would not time out either. It was stuck in an endless load. After an hour I was able to delete the offending plugin, but the site did not improve.
I emailed a colleague who runs a lacrosse site in New York who gave me some information to help previously. He said he did a quick look and believed it to be the server.
Time For The Paid Option
Again, GoDaddy was fantastic on the phone. They had all my notes from my previous call, so I didn’t have to rehash my issue. But the paid option takes up to 72 hours, and they seemed to use every minute of that time. It was almost three days before I got an email saying I was back up and running. That email came in around 3 a.m. Tuesday, but when I saw it at 6 a.m. the site was running the same as when I went to bed — meaning it wasn’t running.
I responded to the support email and waited. And I continued to wait. Twelve hours later I still had no response. I reached out via Twitter and was told that responses to emails can take 24-72 hours. My patience was being tested, and I knew losing my cool would get me nowhere, so I waited and considered my options.
Calling In Backup
By the time I got back from my run Wednesday morning, I had a plan. I looked up WordPress developers and narrowed my list to three that I thought could help. I ended up going with Wodu Media. They had solid reviews with the Better Business Bureau and pricing was friendly.
For $39 I was able to get them to look at the site, and they boasted about 24/7 support. I reached out to them around 5:30 a.m. and by the time I got to work at 7 a.m. I already had a response.
At this point, the $125 felt like the best option. At least it felt like moving forward toward a solution. Within three hours I had a response and course of action.
I forwarded that email to GoDaddy and waited. With no response by the time I got off work at 4:45 p.m., I called. Again, phone support was, and they said they were putting someone on the project immediately. I asked if it was possible that it could be a Denial of Service attack after reading this article on SmartPassiveIncome.com. The circumstances sounded similar, and with Wodu’s solution pointing to the server, however unlikely, I thought it was possible. Support said I should have an email from them by that night with a report.
By morning LaxRecords.com appeared to be back up. I had several tweets and emails telling me they were happy to see it back. I had no report from GoDaddy, so I was skeptical. I started editing stories and tried posting something new, and everything was working.
Twenty-four hours later I still had no report from GoDaddy, but the site was functioning. To say I was relieved is accurate, but I needed to know what went wrong to know if there is a way to avoid future problems.
I had to email GoDaddy to get them to send me something, and something about the response doesn’t add up to what Wodu said.
GoDaddy should know what was wrong, so I really have no choice but to believe them, but I feel as if there’s an incomplete story. Was it really this that caused everything or was it the server? With two different entities telling me they believed it to be server issues and the problem getting fixed after I called and mentioned checking the server, something feels off.
In the long-term, a five-day outage in December isn’t that massive a deal, but I was winding down a content series that has been going for a few months, and with AdSense being a third of my site’s revenue, losing even $10-$20 over that period is disheartening.
Overall, I think this incident has led me to reevaluate my current hosting. I’m happy with the phone support, but I’m not 100 percent it’s my best option once my contract expires. I was already looking into other options, and that will continue with more vigor.
But the immediate need is to find someone reliable that can assist me in website evaluation. I’m leaning toward using Wodu and having them look over the site on a quarterly basis. But it’s still so soon after the issue, that I’ve spent the last two days catching up with content creating and updates.
My initial intent was to list a few things I learned from this experience in hopes that you won’t have to learn them the hard way, but since this is already a lengthy article, I’ll save that for my next post.