Until recently I had a VPS (Virtual Private Server) with TekTonic.net – it was the continuation of a server that I’d originally set up in 1998. It mainly hosted my own websites, also provided DNS for my domain name and others, and provided some email services (including running the NZLUG mailing list).
I say “until recently” because TekTonic deleted my VPS (and by extension everything that was on it) on the 29th of December 2011.
So here are a few admissions up front:
- I hadn’t paid the bill. An invoice had been generated for me on the 9th of December
- I also hadn’t been good with backups. The VPS was on a secure server with RAID storage, I wasn’t really too worried about data loss. Also I knew that TekTonic took incremental backups of VPS images. My mistake.
- The email address I use with TekTonic isn’t one I use for much else. This was so it wasn’t reliant in any way of any service provided by the VPS. I didn’t check it often enough.
Basically I thought I’d paid the bill into January (knowing that I might be busy or away when the December one became due). I was wrong. I didn’t pay two months in November, only one.
So an invoice was issued on the 9th of December (or mabe the 8th, international date line and all). It was apparently due within 7 days (the 16th) and then another 7 days “grace period” is apparently given (the 23rd). Although in my experience of a late payment in the past the server is deactivated on the 18th, 9 days after invoice.
Outstanding balances are due within 7 days, after which your subscription will be considered Graced for 7 days and then will be suspended.
– TekTonic invoice email on 9th of December
On the 19th of December (10 days after the invoice was sent to me) the service was suspended as my grace period had apparently expired. I believe that the server would have been shutdown then – I really can’t understand how I didn’t notice the server was down between December 19th and January 6th, but I didn’t.
Services will remain suspended for 3 days and then will be considered Expired.
Expired subscriptions are automatically put into our Termination Queue and are in immediate risk of being irreversibly terminated.
– TekTonic email on 19th of December
On the 29th of December (20 days after invoice was issued, 10 days after service was suspended) the subscription (ie. my VPS – my webserver) was deleted. I received a one-line email informing me of that.
Your subscription wibble.net has been deleted.
– TekTonic email on 29th of December
Today (the 6th of January) I became aware of the fact my server had been deleted. At first I’d assumed that it was off for some reason (that had happened a few times in the past) and logged into the control panel to restart it. When I couldn’t see the controls for it, I checked the invoices and found none overdue (the December one had been deleted from my account). I then logged into the email account and found these emails – in reverse order of course.
I immediately contacted TekTonic via their Live web chat service (actually pretty handy, has been very good and resolving issues in the past).
The support operator I spoke to, Sam, told me that the deletion was indeed unrecoverable. I expressed my frustration a number of times (politely, I realise it wasn’t his doing, and was largely my fault). Sam told me that I should have pre-paid (I thought I had) and that I could auto pay (had failed with my credit card in the past for some reason) – all of which was useless given that the server was gone.
So now here I am. Unsure of what backups exist (they were made by someone else, still on holiday in Internetless Hills, New Zealand) and with no clear path forward to restarting. I’m assuming that all my website is gone, any files I had stored on the server are gone as are all user records and anything of substance to help me rebuild what has been lost.
I am absolutely astonished that TekTonic would think it an acceptable business practice to completely destroy a customer’s data in such a short space of time, especially at a time when it’s quite likely that people are harder than usual to contact. I have reviewed their online terms and conditions and can’t find any reference to this process, or warning about it.
Other providers I’ve looked at outline processes in their terms, and also specify costs for recovery after the fact – something that TekTonic claims they simply can’t do.
So now, instead of me accepting my mistake, possibly paying a recovery fee and continuing my service with TekTonic I am forced to start again, and will obviously not be going back to TekTonic for my future hosting. How much would it cost TekTonic to store the VPS data for a little longer? Practically nothing – the plan I was on allowed for 60GB of disk, I wasn’t using it all. So simply storing a 40GB disk image is all that would be required. No other resources are tied up by an inactive VPS.
The invoice that wasn’t paid was for the period of December 9th to January 9th (although I suspect they really mean 8th). I was not paying in arrears. With the grace period considered I received about 9 days of “free” service – my plan was $28/mth so that’s about $8 of service that I received without paying for.
I am not complaining about the process in general. I accept that I didn’t pay the bill, and that service could have reasonably been terminated as a result. What I am upset (and surprised) by is that there is no way back from this action. Had they had a backup copy of my image they could have reinstated it, I’d have paid for the overdue invoice, quite possibly paid a service fee and continued paying money everymonth as I have for the last four and a half years. There are many circumstances where a mistake like this could happen, making the process so fatal just seems silly.