Tag Archives: amplehosting

Goodbye Amplehosting, Hello Afrihost Blogging | My Life 11 JUL 2013

afrihost logoRight. So it’s probably been a month and a bit now, but so far so good. My craiglotter.co.za blog has been running nice and smoothly, powered by its new hosting company, namely the almost always awesome Afrihost.

Back in 2008 Ryan and I picked up on AmpleHosting to provide the hosting for our online venture, and while Ryan has long since left the picture, I had continued up until recently using them for their well-priced and quite flexible hosting packages. They played host the the multitude of sites I built on their service, sites including the likes of codeunit.co.za, houseofc.co.za, cookiesandcakes.co.za, and funakoshikarate.co.za, to name but a few.

Of course, having tired of spending unnecessary time online, I pulled back my online footprint over the last couple of years, in the end leaving only my personal craiglotter.co.za blog and Chantelle’s cookiesandcakes.co.za sites running on the old Amplehosting package.

Not that they were perfect during all those years mind you. They switched servers a number of times without informing us, leaving us to find out about the downtime on our own accord, and more than once they would suspend the account and again wait for us to discover the downtime and contact them instead of the other way around.

As craiglotter.co.za traffic numbers grew (and we’re not talking big – only between 2,000 and 3,000 visits a day), Amplehosting eventually persuaded me to upgrade to a better package, which I did, absorbing the higher monthly cost as part of my hobby. However, it wasn’t long before the trouble began. Time and again I would find my account disabled, and time and again they couldn’t provide me with any information other than saying that my site was overloading the server. This was particularly annoying because the site is nothing more than a WordPress installation, with no other services or crons or anything like that running in the background.

Most annoying of all though was the fact that they continued to disable my account without contacting me about it, and with my advertising links starting to bug me about server uptime, Amplehosting’s lack of immediate support, or more importantly, friendly, helpful and knowledgeable support, eventually drove me to cut ties with them and move craiglotter.co.za over to Afrihost, the ISP which has now been serving me well for the last couple of years, and most importantly, a company who in particular continues to impress me everyday with their always over the top customer service.

So yeah, no more money for Amplehosting then.

Sure, they have well priced packages, a good billing system and a generally friendly 1st level of support – but if you’re running something with a little more traffic than your aunt’s local baking site, I wouldn’t bother.

Customer service. It’s really important to get it right.

GoDaddy and the Lost connection to MySQL server at ‘reading initial communication packet’ Message Tips, Tricks and Tutorials 12 MAR 2012

I was trying to set up a new WordPress website where the files would be hosted on a subdomain of a GoDaddy hosting account whilst the MySQL database resides on another one of my server accounts, provided by Amplehosting.

I set up the Remote Database Access Hosts as prompted by the help via my Amplehosting account cPanel interface, uploaded a clean WordPress install to the GoDaddy account, stretched my fingers, and then set about running the simple WordPress setup…

…except that the simple WordPress setup was just not passing step 1, complaining at each and every attempt of a database error. With no other data to go on, I quickly whipped up a MySQL debug script and uploaded the custom PHP file to check on MySQL connections to the remote host via the GoDaddy account, and lo and behold, PHP spit out the follow error message to me:

“Lost connection to MySQL server at ‘reading initial communication packet’, system error: 110”

A quick Google search on the above phrase joined with the keyword “GoDaddy” almost immediately threw up a page from the GoDaddy support forums which further sunk my heart:

“I apologize if this was not clarified upon your purchase, however we do not permit connections to third party DB servers from within our hosting environment. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. If the hosting plan no longer fits your needs, you can cancel it and be eligible for a refund of any unused time.”

So that’s it then. GoDaddy doesn’t not allow connections to external databases from within their hosting accounts, meaning I need to go and find another provider.

But now at least I’m not the only one fighting to figure out how come my setup just wasn’t working! :)

HAckEd! The Aftermath Blogging 08 DEC 2011

Wonderful, just wonderful. So my online presence was completely down for well over two days at the start of this week, and no, that never points to something good.

The reason? Some silly twit hacked my hosting account for the lulz, and pretty much destroyed everything in sight, just so that he or she could throw up their silly little defacement page featuring some bad music, a picture of a sniper and a link to his ‘security site’. To be honest, I never bothered loading it to see, I just saw the bare code on the pages as I was busy manually removing them, so there may have been a little more. The hosting company (AmpleHosting) picked up on the hack pretty quickly and shut down my account, meaning I don’t think too many people were subjected to what this person obviously thinks is “cool”.

I’m not sure what the attack vector was to gain access to the hosting account, it could be either Joomla, WordPress, Gallery or one of my own concoctions floating around, but the fact of the matter is that the hacker successfully deleted a number of files and folders off the account and managed to inject his replacement defaced page across the various sites. At the moment it points to the work of a script kiddie, but oh well, regardless of their level of skill, the damage was done.

My hosting account plays host to five WordPress sites (http://www.craiglotter.co.za, http://www.codeunit.co.za, http://www.houseofc.co.za, http://www.countingbeans.co.za, and https://www.facebook.com/TheHelderbergCakeCompany/), one Joomla site (http://www.funakoshikarate.co.za), one Gallery site (http://photos.codeunit.co.za), and a couple of my own homebrew sites like the mobile-formatted http://c.codeunit.co.za, my CodeUnit applications Autoupdate framework, my Adobe AIR applications, as well as the beginnings of my portfolio site.

In other words, a fair bit of things down for the count then.

The damage done by the script was pretty simple. Troll through all folders and delete any “index” or “default” pages it could find. Replace with custom index page in all root folders. Also delete any files named “wp-config” as wells as folders named “wp-admin” or “uploads”, before finally deleting itself (well, I think that this last one is true, as I can’t find a trace of the malicious script for now).

Thankfully, apart from a single username change in the craiglotter.co.za database, it doesn’t appear that the attacker tampered with any of the databases, meaning that to get the WordPress sites back up and running, I needed to download WordPress from its official home, and then upload the wp-admin folder, plus index.php file back into each affected site folder. Finally I had to regenerate the wp-config file using database details for the existing databases held in the account, creating new database user accounts in the process. I have lost some shared images and the like that used to be stored in the Uploads folder, so that does mean that unfortunately you’ll have to bear with a couple of missing items until I manage to root them all out.

I haven’t bothered to bring the Gallery site back up, and will instead trash it and introduce the photos it used to contain into my main craiglotter.co.za site – it makes sense to bring the photos in-house anyway. Already disillusioned with how user-UNfriendly Joomla is, I’ve decided to kill the Funakoshi Karate website and rather create a brand new WordPress site for it (Thank goodness my leave is coming up soon!).

As for the other custom stuff, well, it is pretty much destroyed as far as what I’m concerned. I’m already in the process of recreating the CodeUnit Collections mobile site using jQuery Mobile as a platform, and for the rest, well, I’m just going to pretend they never existed until I one day have need of them again! ;)

Sucky, but that’s how it goes.

On my hosting plan, automatic backups aren’t done, meaning that because I wasn’t keeping up to date with backups, the deleted files are lost forever. The fact of the matter is that I should of course have known better and managed the backup process on a more consistent manner, but the reality is that this remains something I have fun with in my personal time – and it simply isn’t all that high on the list of things to do with what little free time I have available to me!

Anyway, the worst part for me is that this shit is done simply for kicks by one very sad, lonely little individual. *Sigh*, eventually they’ll also grow up I imagine.

The Blog is Back in Town Blogging 14 SEP 2009

amplehosting logoRight. Back again. As a loyal reader you would have noticed that blog.codeunit.co.za (and all my other subdomains) has been down over the last couple of days. And if you didn’t notice, then obviously you’re not a loyal enough reader. So pfft to you then!

Anyway, the missing subdomains occurred thanks to Ryan’s credit card expiring and AmpleHosting not picking up on this. The way we currently manage the codeunit.co.za server is that Ryan and I share it, the amount for the server gets deducted from his account every month and I reimburse him every second month (though we do swipe a few groats from Mr. Brown as well, seeing as countingbeans.co.za is hosted on our space as well).

So anyhow, the expired credit card caused us to fall in arrears without knowing it, and because AmpleHosting didn’t inform us of the break in payment, we simply continued unaware until they cut off all our subdomains (the main codeunit.co.za and countingbeans.co.za domains were unaffected though).

Obviously we tried to contact and rectify the situation as soon as we were made aware of it, but for the first time ever, AmpleHosting let us down in terms of support by not replying to any of our mails or noticing the updated payment details which Ryan changed as soon as he noticed the problem.

Strange. I guess it is true what they say about never noticing all the good work of a company but ALWAYS noticing and making a fuss of the bad things. Sorry AmpleHosting, but I do feel you guys could have opened communication lines with us sooner. Luckily for you, outside of this one issue we’re still very happy with your hosting services, so you can continue with making a few pennies off us! :)

Oh well, at least it does seem to be sorted out for now and for the loyal fans of blog.codeunit.co.za, I am now back… for as long as we’ve got funds in the piggy I guess!