Monday, December 28, 2009

Web Hosting Experience

I have recently changed by web hosting from HostMonster to Awardspace. HostMonster served me well these two years until when it was about to renew a month ago. I got notified that my my account got suspended because of "spam/phishing". After checking with the customer service, the reason was some "suspicious" files were found in my web site content.

The suspicious files are actually the executables of my personal projects: the JavaScript obfuscator (JSO) and the solution to convert base64 images in data URI to MIME (Base64Html).

As the projects contributes quite a lot of traffic to the website, I immediately asked for the reason of suspension. They explained that there are viruses found in the executables, blah, blah, blah... After I explained the purpose of my files and verified the MD5 were the same as in my computer, they re-activated the websites.

Everything sounds OK but it already took two days! I believe there are better ways to handle my case:
1. Why did they suspend all my websites? The files are only in one website.
2. Why the whole web sites were get suspended at all? The suspicious files can be redirected to some other safe URL.
3. Why spam/phishing turned out to be a possible virus notification? Why I had to ask to know the real reason of getting suspended? If they cannot distinguish the difference between phishing and virus, it is very unprofessional.
4. There was one statement in the last email I received made me very angry: "The report that we received was from a reputable web security company, so we did take action based on their report." Why couldn't they send me the report to let me take action before suspending my account (thus, suspending all websites)? The action taken is not customer friendly. Suspending account should be the last measure, not the first.

After this incident, I took some time to shop around. I used Awardspace free hosting before so it sounds OK for me. The price is reasonable and it supports ASP.NET. Not sure if it is a good choice since the websites have just migrated for a few days. I did have some trouble on transferring the domain but the customer service responded quickly and nicely.

I might have part 2 of this post to share the experience of website migrations.

P.S.: HostMonster does have a tracked record of over sensitive scam alert (use "oversensitive scam alert" as the keyword to search in Google). So, if you are not living in US (like me), you might get into the same trouble.

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