This morning I was greeted by not one, but two ‘account has been suspended due to nonpayment’ notices delivered to my inbox by WHMCS, the software that manages my hosting client accounts.

I went in to look – not only had they been suspended, they had been terminated – wiped off the server completely, and for no obvious reason. The accounts were in good standing and were months away from expiring.

Immediately I submitted a support ticket to WHMCS (it’s now been about 8 hours – where are you, WHMCS tech support? I still haven’t heard a word from you) and then another to HostGator who hosts my reseller account.

I also went in and disabled auto-suspension for every client hosting account, just in case. I checked to make sure no one else’s account had been terminated. I still don’t know what happened to WHMCS this morning to cause this event in the first place.

I got the first response from HostGator within 10 minutes. Within 15 minutes, I had submitted two restore requests to retrieve those terminated accounts from the most recent backup. And within 30 minutes my two accounts were back online.

So HostGator, thank you so much. You guys rock. WHMCS, not so much.

As a web designer, I’m always looking for ways to help my clients (I know this somewhat contradicts my previous post where I’m trying to remove extraneous services…). About 3 1/2 years ago I started NOCO Hosting and became a reseller for XO, eventually moving all my customer accounts over to HostGator.

For the most part it’s been a profitable and nearly hands-off experience. I’ve been quite happy with HostGator’s tech support and services. My clients like it because they have someone who can talk to them in plain English when there’s a problem, and they don’t have to deal with setting up a hosting account with one of the big-box providers.

I like it because it’s so much easier for me to hop into WHMCS, create a new account, set up the account and upload the site than it is for me to jump through all the hoops required to get access, get FTP info, and deal with weird server configurations at the huge hosting shops, or, even worse, on someone’s basement server.

When something goes wrong, though… then I sometimes just want to run away.

A few months ago I had a rash of phishing hacks run through a few accounts on my server. As it stopped as quickly as it started, I strongly suspect it was a server security issue.  Dealing with that occupied most of my time for a week, and when the rare problem does crop up it tends to be very time-consuming. This happens on average about 1-2 times per year (not phishing necessarily, but some issue or another that has to be resolved right away and affects all or most customers).

So I have a few options.

  1. Keep everything as is. NOCO Hosting runs as a separate website from Red Kite Creative, my web design business site, and anyone can sign up for an account there. This is good monetarily, but I don’t have enough non-client hosting customers to really make it necessary. It’s never taken off the way I hoped it would, even though I’m one of the only green hosting companies in my region; when I started I was sure that it would be very lucrative, but not so much.
  2. Create a new reseller account under Red Kite’s aegis and gradually move my hosting clients over. I’d stop operating as NOCO Hosting and only offer to host Red Kite clients, mostly for convenience sake for me and my design clients. I’d get rid of the NOCO website altogether.
  3. Totally drop hosting services as part of narrowing my overall business focus and charge more for the time it takes to assist clients with other hosts.

Any other web designers that offer reseller hosting services – what do you think? Is it profitable enough for you to stick with it? How often do you have large-scale problems pop up that make you think twice?

I launched a client on GoDaddy hosting today, and while I was nosing around in his WordPress admin site I noticed how very sl-l-o-o-w it was. I did a little research on GoDaddy and found that that’s pretty much the consensus.

One writer mentioned a reverse IP lookup tool that tells you how many domains are on any given IP address. I checked my client’s name and found over 3,500 other domains are hosted there. Then I checked my own host server and there are 1,900.

I don’t know what’s considered too many, but I suspect that GoDaddy might be being slowed down by sheer numbers here.

Since the support times have been growing steadily at my current host, I’m considering a move – this time to a greener company.  Here’s an article I found from 2007 about the growing number of green web hosts.

I’ve been looking into a few that offer reseller plans:

Most of these have pricing levels significantly higher than what I’m paying now, which would be a consideration. But if anyone has used these companies and has an opinion either way about them, I’d love to hear about it.

I have a client whose site was ready to launch tonight. I just logged into her admin area on a popular (at least in my town) domain registrar that offers one of those free website template builder systems.

My client’s site was built using one of these packages and has been up for months.

So I go in to repoint the DNS to her new host and I’m told that the DNS is ‘unmodifiable.’ No explanations… I’d never seen that before.

After about 10 minutes of hunting through the help section I found an entry for ‘Why can’t I change my DNS?’ at the bottom of a long list of DNS questions. It seems that you have to disable the templating package before you can repoint to an outside DNS.

And when you do that, their site disappears and you’re left with the registrar’s ‘This domain has just been purchased’ and ‘website coming soon’ page.

During the 24-48 hour transition period, this means that anyone who happens on her old site will get this page rather than her site. This is really a bad practice on the part of the registrar in my opinion – is it common for those that offer this kind of web templating system, like GoDaddy? This site was not on GoDaddy, btw.

I wrote earlier about purchasing WHMCS for my hosting reseller site. Well, I finished my integration, my hosting site launched on Sunday and I thought I would share my final thoughts about this first experience with WHMCS.

Nothing’s changed – I still love it. I learned that there about 30 template files that have to be edited for CSS to make it fit in nicely with the rest of the site, but the edits are easy and in most cases it’s very obvious what needs to be done.

I’m pretty happy with the way the whole thing turned out except for the icons that came with the package – I think they look a little cartoonish for my site and I plan to replace them at some point when I find something I like better. My WHMCS section is under Support on the top menu bar.

The control panel for running this thing is easy to understand. We ran about six test orders through the system looking for bugs and errors and I think we found most of them. I still won’t be too surprised if someone runs across something when they try to sign up, but for the most part it’s done.

I’m really happy with WHMCS and will purchase it in a few days when the trial license runs out. On second thought maybe I should go do that right now in case I forget…