Issues with slow or nearly nonexistent email services for my hosting clients during a RAID rebuild earlier this week scared me – enough to start investigating some new ways of managing and growing NOCO Hosting. This was only the second time in almost 3 1/4 years that I’ve had a problem that couldn’t be fixed very quickly, and it was a really frustrating few days (both for me and my clients).
A few changes I’ve already implemented:
- Compiling an offsite contact list that I can use to reach clients in the event of an emergency. I already had this in place, but many clients had never responded to my requests for an offsite email address – they’re still using ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ for their account ‘www.mydomain.com.’
- Creating a new Gmail address for NOCO, primarily for sending out notifications.
- Compiling a list of SMS/text message contacts for clients who prefer to receive their notifications that way.
And some other things upcoming:
- I’ll be adding some dialogue and changes to the hosting registration form that require an offsite email address as the primary contact address for any account.
- I’ll be splitting client accounts between several servers to reduce by 50% the chance that any one client will b affected by a server issue.
- I’m investigating DNS failover services now, and will be putting together a pricing package to offer to all my clients. I want to see who might be interested in such a service before I formally get it, but I think it might be a good additional offering for NOCO even if no one wants it now.
- I’ll definitely be implementing one of the DNS failover services for my own business sites; I’ll probably try ZoneEdit because they offer their services for free for the first 5 domains
I’m also connecting with other hosting resellers and hosting providers in the Meetup group I co-founded, Fort Collins Internet Pros. Brainstorming with those guys might lead me to some other ideas I haven’t even considered yet.
Frustrations like the one this week make me take a step back and consider whether it’s really worth it to even offer hosting. But I think that it’s a value-added proposition for my clients (one-stop shopping, so to speak), and it’s nicely profitable. Until that changes, I just need to continue what I’m doing – communicating early and often with clients when the extremely rare server issue does come up, and doing what I can to lessen the impact.