Like many small businesses, my company (Pacific Data Works) contracts web-hosting to a third party. Actually third parties. We have two websites, one hosted at LunarPages the other at Web.com (formerly called Interland). Our main site and mail server is at Interland.
Two days ago, Web.com suffered a massive "facilities" problem that for 10 hours shut down not only hosted accounts like ours, but Web.com itself. The company's own website was off the air.
Because of this problem, all e-mails sent to us and to other companies hosted at Web.com were bounced back as undeliverable.
Everyone understands that grave things can happen in which web-hosting services are compromised, but I don't understand what happened next: nothing. Web.com sent out no notice to customers that they might have lost e-mails or apologizing for the inconvenience. I don't care about the apology although it would be nice, but I do care about not finding out about bounced emails until I started receiving word from correspondents who were surprised their e-mails to us were rejected.
LunarPages suffered a day-long black-out last year due to a power problem in their host building. They didn't notify anyone either, but they did place a long mea-culpa on their official blog, explaining the problem. However, their website still advertises that they are down less than 9 hours a year.
I think it is about time for a Bill of Rights for customer of Web hosters. At minimum:
- Web hosts should notify customers when the Web site has been unavailable for more than 4 hours.
- Web hosts should notify customers when e-mail service has been down for any period in which incoming emails were bounced back.
- Web hosts must post accurate information about outages on their website. An outage is defined as any period of time in which more than 20% of hosted accounts are not available.
- All outages should be fully explained as to the nature of the problem and what is being done to make sure it will not recur.
- Web hosts should refund the pro-rated share of hosting fees for outages automatically.
I think that's a good start.