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Friday, February 15, 2008

Startlogic: The Outage Saga Continues

I have been a Startlogic customer since 2004 and have generally found the overall service to be somewhat satisfactory, unless you have an issue that requires the attendance of the Startlogic support desk. On the Startlogic homepage they claim to be 'trusted by over 100,000 customers'.

This report is intended to act as a record of the recent 32 hour outage that one of Startlogic's shared hosting servers (named st03) suffered, and the subsequent outages which took place after it was initially restored to service.

MY EXPERIENCE

Prior to 3:00pm (New Zealand Standard Time) the Startlogic shared web server st03.startlogic.com suffered a complete outage. All websites hosted on st03.startlogic.com were inaccessible during the this period.

Despite multiple chat sessions with the Startlogic helpdesk, the server was not operational for a total of 32 hours. I spoke with numerous technicians over this time period and they gave assurances that my website would be restored in certain time frames, with the most common being; soon, a few minutes, 2 hours and 6 hours respectively. Additionally, during one chat session the helpdesk person advised me of two hours and then later changed her mind to 6 hours for restoration (Melanie Evans).

After my website was restored (32 hours later) I found that Startlogic had reset all the directory permissions for my website to more restrictive settings. I queried this with the helpdesk analyst (Ivan Davis) who then told me to go in and fix them myself. I did this but am quite annoyed with the attitude in relation to something they caused. When speaking with him he terminated the connection as soon as I advised him that I could connect to my website. This is quite unprofessional.

Subsequently, my website experienced several additional outages to a lesser degree of varying timeframes since the initial recovery.

When I asked more details about the exact cause of the server outages, either the helpdesk staff were unwilling or unable to provide this information. I would not expect them to know the cause of the fault as soon as it occurred, so I did ask them well down the track while the server was undergoing the apparent 'recovery' process. If the server was being recovered then surely their engineers should have information on the root cause by then.

Information that I was able to glean from the helpdesk staff includes the fact that st03.startlogic.com hosts websites for approximately 500 customers and that the root cause may have been server overloading (Ivan Davis). Another Helpdesk Analyst (Christopher Kiplin) suggested to me that the outage could in fact be related to server maintenance being performed at the time. I received no prior notification of any server maintenance of any kind.

Of the five or so Analysts I chatted with I did seem to make the most progress when dealing with Ivan Davis. To his credit when I asked for compensation he forwarded my request and compensation was provided (An email from the Billing department advised me I was to be compensated).

In relation to the smaller subsequent outages he advised me that my website would be up within a few minutes. He was true to his word and my website did respond. I kept him entertained with random questions so I could keep him online to give it a few moments for the site to be recovered.

During my period as a customer since 2004 I have only experienced two major sets of website outages (this one inclusive), but I have always found that the recovery process is painfully slow.

Startlogic hosting packages are dirt cheap and perhaps you might think that you get what you pay for. When I signed-up to Startlogic the site advertised an uptime guarantee of 99.9%. With the events of late, Startlogic is no longer providing this uptime promise to me. I have also noticed that they no longer display any uptime percentage guarantees on their website.

OTHER PROBLEMS I HAVE EXPERIENCED

Listed below are other problems which I have experienced since 2004 with Startlogic:

  • The premature closure of support tickets, with no response from the helpdesk
  • Removing Anonymous FTP access. I can no longer host files via FTP for users unless credentials are created for them.
  • Main account to connect to my site via FTP was disabled for no apparent reason. I had to log into my vDeck and create a new user.
  • Lots of problems with the vDeck control panel and items refusing to load, or the entire control panel becoming inaccessible.
  • Inability of the Startlogic Helpdesk to create a CNAME subdomain record correctly. They fail to put a full stop/period after the name of the server I am pointing the CNAME to. This is despite me advising them to use a full stop. This functionality is available in the vDeck Control panel, but only when it's working!
  • Extensive delays in having my hard disk space increased. They would increase storage space for me and I would find the next day that it had reverted to the previous size.
  • Failure of email services from time to time
  • Inability for the Startlogic helpdesk to email me at my New Zealand ISP (Orcon) email address. Nothing ever comes through that they send to that address, whether it be from a person or any automated notification system they have configured. They can email me at my @nztechie.com address.
In my list of complaints I have stated that I am unable to receive email from Startlogic to my normal email address. When you create a support request ticket you are able to log into the members area of the Startlogic website and check on them though this portal.

THE NEW PLATFORM

For quite some time now Startlogic has been migrating customers to what they call their 'new platform'. This new platform is promised to improve the reliability and responsiveness of websites and provide better data security with improved backup.

Below is a snippet of part of my chat session with the Startlogic helpdesk where they promise no problems once I am migrated to the new platform.

Ivan Davis: Hayden, the issue is resulted due to the load on the server. Once you are upgraded to the new platform, you will not experience any issues.
Hayden Tennent: Do you guarantee that?
Ivan Davis: Yes, Hayden.


RELATED ARTICLES

32 Hour Startlogic Outage

Startlogic compensates me for the Outage!

Startlogic Outage for st03.startlogic.com

2 comments:

Hayden Tennent said...

After working on my website today, I found out that the restore has also modified my custom error pages. The site was showing a custom error page which was configured over two years ago, and not the one which I had currently configured. This was resolved by turning the 404 error page off and re-specifying the correct error page.

nickdanger said...

Now it is August 2011, and Startlogic just had another lengthy outage. You have heard the old whine about; "But I need my communications; I am 1000 miles from home, and my aged mother is in the hospital." Well guess what, I really was 1000 miles from home, and my aged mother was in the hospital with about a 50/50 chance of survival, and on top of that, the hotel gave my (pre-paid) room to someone else because I got there later than they expected. Startlogic shutdown most or all of the hosting servers because of what they termed, "A Bug" in the storage farm. I have been with Startlogic three years and already lost count of the many outages. Most were relatively short, but this one lasted days, and affected most or all of their accounts.