There are times in ones life where a little or a major incident happens and you think Gosh, why I’m doing what I do? Why not just give it all up? What’s the difference anyway?
This happened to me in the middle of July 2010. This blog had crashed in a way I never thought possible. (You can read a little chronic of the crash under the header below). All my love and work I’ve put into into it was gone so it seemed within a matter of hours.
Even though there were thousands of unique visitors a month and a steady growths of subscribers to the newsletter there was one thing in my mind that gave me the reason to give it all up:
Let’s be realistic, there are millions or even billions of blogs out there people can visit. What difference would it make if this one would never show up again?
Then there was a reason not to do give up:
Yes the same one! If there are so many people who have the choice of millions or even billions of blogs and thousands of them decide to visit this one on a regular basis isn’t this a reason to be more grateful? Wouldn’t it be a insult to those people who let you know via personal messages and comments that they like what you are doing?
You see, as the reason for either decision was the same it was hard to make a decision at all. Of course I could have also taken some of the flamers and haters into my considerations as well. They always can give you multiple reasons to stop with what you are doing. As this people are most of the time of the kind that don’t do anything creative or useful by themselves I tend not to give them the attention they need so hard. Just like taking the oxygen from a fire. This means not reacting on flaming (aka bitching), block them and ignore them.
Anyway, the decision making became a lot easier when one of my blog readers of the first hour came in: Miryam Stenger from Spain. She asked me to have a look at the database file I managed to back-up. I didn’t had much hope that there would be anything to restore, assuming that I tried everything one could try to get the data back and the site up and running again. I have to admit that my PHP-knowledge is minimal to zero and I don’t plan to dive into it very deep in the near future.
Especially after the conversations with my former hosting provider I was glad that Miryam confirmed what I feared in the first place: the database file I was corrupt. So it wasn’t entirely my inexperience here that made it impossible to import the old database into the new one.
Miryam did a lot of work and build a test blog with my database and I was stunned seeing what she was able to do. Every post and comment was restored.
Beside the fact that this was a very generous from Miryam it also answered the most important question I asked myself over and over again:
If a professional under my readers found my blog worth her time and effort like Miryam, how could I possibly stop doing what I love to do? Her generous act of helping me out here reminds me on a statement by Tony Robbins during his TED speech/performance:
Isn’t it wonderful if you think there is no light at the end of a tunnel and suddenly there comes help you didn’t think about? When you didn’t think that someone out there thinks that what you are doing is worth to be saved, restored and rebuild?
I could write a couple of thousand words more without being able to describe how grateful I am for what Miryam did and I dare say that many fellow readers of this blog are grateful for it as well.
Thank you so much, Miryam!
Some technical info: The blog has now more webspace and three times the bandwidth as it had before the crash. I’m already very happy with the support members.
Have a great day ahead. I will provide some new stuff very soon.
Here is a little chronic of the crash
July 16th 2010:
My browser tells me that my website can’t be displayed and that I have to try again later or check the URL. The same thing occurred in the past and the reason was that my IP address was blocked by the firewall of my provider. As I’m too tired I decide to contact my provider the next day.
July 17th 2010:
I contact my provider and he confirms that I have been blocked by the firewall. It’s a weird experience when your own site sees you as an attacker. However, my provider deleted my IP from the blacklist and I got access again for (ehemm) a couple of seconds.
I flush the DNS info on my computer and contact support again.
The guy from support staff deletes my IP from the firewall again.
This solves the problem again for a couple of seconds. I have a look in my e-mail conversations from the past and discover that we had the same issue on January 4th 2010. I tell the supporter that 2 times doesn’t seem enough this time.
I got unblocked for the third time and get the advice to check my plug-ins and blog settings to prevent this from happening again. I’m a little stunned as I did not change anything and there were never problems caused by WordPress or any of the plug-ins. At least nothing that affected the firewall of my providers server.
I want to have a look at this but I’m blocked again and have to send another reply to the support staff. Besides this I try to obtain another IP address by resetting the cable modem as my girlfriend has access to the side and I can visit the blog via a proxy server in Mexico City.
Result: don’t get a new IP address from the modem. Another attempt of customer support to get me unblocked fails and they blame the theme that I use on my blog for this. A theme that I use for more than a year. Funny at least.
I reply again to the supporter and tell him that I seemingly have to go to another location and using another computer to post new articles on my blog. The support staff tells me that getting a new IP address makes no sense as the new one will be blocked as well. I don’t believe this as I can contact the blog via another computer at another location, thus one with another IP address that don’t gets blocked.
The advice is to change the theme of my blog. Interesting. Again I tell the staff that I can’t change the theme if I can’t get on my blog, duh. The answer of my provider to this is contacting the site via FTP. A FTP connection worked by the way as long as I didn’t contact the blog first with a browser. Strange.
What still amazes me is that there are visitors in other locations on the planet able to visit my blog as I see in my statistics. I decide to do a complete scan of my computer.
Now my provider tells me that the cause of the problem could be somewhere in the admin environment where no other user has access. This sounds more realistic but the theme of my blog has nothing to do with the admin environment. Even better, I can access the admin area via a proxy.
I lose my patience and assume that I have to move my site to another server if there is no solution for this problem as I can’t work this way. I get no reaction on this reply.
I take my laptop and go to another location where my girlfriend has access to the site. We have to keep in mind here that I use my laptop for the first time since the problem showed up. It doesn’t take long and may access is denied at this location with another computer (my laptop) as well.
Adrenaline kicks in! Coffee and cigarettes are needed at this point.
Then I ask to unblock the IP I just obtained and decide to change the theme via FTP as this will work according to the support staff.
They tell me that this is a good idea. So I remove the theme and install a new one. The same problem keeps showing up.
All IP addresses I used so far are again removed from the firewall.
We have July the 18th in the meantime, did I tell this?
I use their CPanel to make a backup of the database and then I install a second blog in another folder to see if it works. In one way or the other it doesn’t and I don’t have a admin area in the new one.
Answer from support: we don’t support coding. (This is by the way a standard e-mail reply I got more often.)
In the meantime the staff members have changed. I remind this member that I’m a satisfied customer for years, that I brought them new customers as well (without commissions) and that I don’t ask them for coding support. I don’t do this to be cocky but because this staff member seems to find it annoying that I have a problem and even worse, I dare to have it in the weekend.
As I have a backup from my database I let them delete and reinstall my complete website to start from scratch. After the new installation I got error messages instead of my blog showing up. Import of the database isn’t possible either.
Believe it or not! Again I get blocked form the firewall and the whole problem with the whole damn conversation starts again. In the meantime I feel like Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day.
The supporter advices me to refresh my browser cache. This is one of my favorite replies so far. Looking for a baseball bat to smash my computer, but I remember that I don’t have one. A baseball bat I mean.
Anyway, a lot of this replies and a couple of installations later the staff member let me know that I create too many support tickets. He saw every reply as a new one. The fact that the backup file of my database file was not working was bad luck, he felt sorry for that and could do nothing about that. He wishes me a nice Sunday. Oh yes, this is exactly what I needed.
After 26 hours I decide that I have tried everything I could try. In the end I’m convinced that every coin has two sites and give it all up could bring new possibilities, though giving up on something that I did and loved for the last two years tasted a little bitter.
Besides all this I have a look at the support tickets from the past. Though my provider always reacted and helped very fast I came to the conclusion that there were too many unnecessary downtimes during the last years. Especially if a particular article is doing good on social bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon it’s not acceptable to have the site down at this very moment, is it?