Yesterday- a disaster decimated this and many other websites across the web. Websites whose sites were hosted on servers at the Colo4.com data center found themselves without a web presence for about 8 hours yesterday – from about noon – 8 ET in the US.
When a data center experiences an epic fail moment like this – it causes a chain reaction. It not only affects the data center customers – who are web hosting companies -but it also affects the customers of the web hosting companies – and their customers – and so forth and so on.
Now to make matters worse – it wasn’t oh so long ago that the forums on a popular web hosting discussion board shared tales of another hosting company which went belly up and left their customers scrambling for their website backups. (It’s times like that when I LOVE Carbonite!)
Because I live with a level of anxiety that most people would call “crippling” - that’s where my mind went when my website went down. I vividly remember the horror 12 years ago when my web hosting provider (who began his web hosting business in his basement – ah, those were the days) sold out to a then major player who is now history. The reason they’re history? Because of stunts like the one they pulled when they acquired my then hosting provider. My site was down for almost 2 weeks – while I and other web masters (as we were known as the time) wondered if the servers which housed our sites had been strapped to the backs of mules and transported from Kansas City to Atlanta as part of the acquisition. They then raised the cost of the hosting and demanded prompt payment. I responded by threatening to pay the bill in pennies. (Cost to ship the payment was roughly twice what the bill was – it was the principle of the thing!)
Fortunately – that wasn’t the case in this meltdown. However, because of the scope and magnitude of this disaster – my web hosting provider found themselves in the unenviable situation of trying to do damage control on the very popular web hosting forum. The forums were blowing up with reports of the outage. Phones were ringing – emails were bouncing – and emotions were raw as hosting providers and their clients were left wondering how long it would take to get back online.
I am still praising my Lord and Savior that my client’s sites are all safely hosted with a more reliable hosting provider and their sites were not affected by this outage. (Disclaimer: It’s an affiliate link. I get paid because I’m staking my reputation on this hosting recommendation.)
As I closely monitored the board for news about the situation – I began to see postings from someone who seemed to have a lot of previous experience with my hosting provider. I’ll be honest, I passed a lot of time researching where I would be moving my site to next and this person seemed to have a history with my provider. So – I went to see this user’s profile and saw that this user had JUST signed up for an account on this discussion board. The ONLY posts by this user were taunting my provider about the outage. What ever the goal was – it failed because it was obvious this user was just a troll.
I did decide to give another web hosting company a try – and believe it or not – it’s one where the user representing the company actually stood up for my hosting provider’s company – assuring customers that this wasn’t my host’s fault but rather the fault of the data center and sometimes it takes an epic fail to realize you need a new data center.
Branding is something your customers do to your business and because of this fact – no matter what you did previously – your brand will forged during times of disaster.
Many large corporations forged their “brand” with consumers in the South during the hurricanes of 2005. As just one example, Tide brought in portable laundry facilities for victims of Katrina to do their laundry. That my friends is how you build a rock solid “brand” – not some crazy stunt captured on video and posted to YouTube. Those people will have warm fuzzy feelings about a Proctor and Gamble “brand” for the rest of their lives.
A disaster doesn’t have to destroy your business – even when you’re running a hosting company and your data center lets you down.
Whether or not I move my site to the new host I’m trying will depend upon how my hosting provider responds to this disaster. Their response both during and after the disaster will forge their long term “brand” with me. Maybe one day they’ll earn an affiliate link from my site to theirs … but for the moment, I and hundreds like me will wait and see how this story unfolds.