The big switch – server upgrades

To maintain our commitment to provide the best services and a harmonious balance of affordability, reliability, security and support, we are upgrading our servers across the board. This is a huge task given the hundreds of websites we host and will take several months to complete.

The single most important thing is to make sure there will be no downtime or loss of service for you.

In some cases, the change will require you to make a change to your email settings, but if you follow our simple instructions, everything will go smoothly.

We’ve already started and some of you will have received an email, and we’re satisfied that the migration is progressing smoothly without any interruption of service.

A history of hosting

When we started buying hosting services in 2000, we made a decision that we would resell hosting to our clients as a service, but also allow them free will of choice if they wanted to manage their own server space.

Overwhelmingly, people chose to use our service in more than 99% of cases. This launched the start of what has become a 20-year search to find the perfect hosting company.

We believe we made sensible choices, and over the last two decades we have strived to find companies that would offer the right level of performance and service.

We now host hundreds of websites on seven servers. There is a school of thought that says reselling is a bad idea, but undeniably for our customers it is the right thing to do.

Providing a great web design service isn’t enough if we then pass the responsibility of hosting to you. It can be a technical minefield, and if there’s one thing we pride ourselves on, it’s remving jargon, complication and confusion. So we are quite happy to be resellers of hosting services, we just need to be sure we have the right partners.

And while we always believed we’ve chosen well at the time, stuff happens and things change.

Meeting customers’ needs

Apart from the design or development of a website, it’s very important that the continuous service provided by a hosting company meets the needs of our customers. The work of a reseller isn’t to find the cheapest provider and stack them up with websites. We’ve always sought a company with an ethic like our own. That is to care about the service they provide.

I have always avoided overly large hosting providers such as GoDaddy, partly because for me, the massive scale of these companies didn’t fit my ‘big-enough-to-cope-yet-small-enough-to-care’ criteria. I didn’t like their software and I found their customer service fell short of my expectations as a business user.

Since 2011, many of our customer websites have been hosted with one company that cam highly recommended. It fitted our criteria and had an excellent reputation and thousands of five-star testimonials from respectable customers. And it was an outstanding company that provided a top-notch service.

And we had hundreds more with another hosting company.

The rather ironic twist in our hosting journey is that both of these companies have ended up in the hands of a large hosting provider as a parent. (I hope you’ll pardon that pun, it wasn’t intended).

A rock and a hard place

Unfortunately, in the case of the first company, this acquisition coincided with a dramatic drop in the level of service we had been getting. It got to the point where we felt we were more knowledgable than the customer support line, and instead of getting answers we were telling them how to fix the problem.

But the real problem was that while we responded quickly, we were firefighting on someone else’s freehold. Just as one problem got sorted, another one appeared, and we had no control over the root cause, and it was getting worse.

Then it hit the headlines for a week-long outage and its cryptic response to customers.

The search for a new hosting company got more serious and more pressing.

Three multi-national corporations were, and still are, buying up smaller hosting companies, so there was a real chance we could go out of the frying pan into the fire, so it was an’t just a case of getting off one bus and onto another. We had to make a long-term forecast that we weren’t going to find ourselves in this situation again.

So in September this year, we finally identified a new hosting provider that would meet all our criteria and provide the next generation of scalable hosting services for our company.

A future-proofed end to firefighting

And it’s not just a straight replacement, it’s a cloud-based technology that minimises increases performance, reduces risk of downtime and almost eliminates the need for hardware to become a limiting factor. Having this kind of infrastructure means we can now focus on bringing you more value with new features not normally available on hosting plans.

The only downside is the massive amount of work to prepare for the migration and to make sure no customers were impacted.

The mass migration of websites, email, domains and other services has already started and some of you will have already received emails or been moved.

Phase one is now over and we’re completely detached from the company I mentioned, and we’re about to start phase two, which is even bigger.

So if you haven’t heard from us yet, look out for our email. Everyone will be migrated at some point this year, and then we can start on our[roduce development phase, and there’ll be more on that soon.

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