A couple of experiences with online hosting services that I wanted to relate.
Don’t worry, I’ll try not to let this get too geeky.
For years I had a domain name custard.net.au associated with the company I owned that I used for contracting — this is a common thing in the IT and contracting worlds. I stopped contracting some years ago and wound-up the company (I couldn’t justify the ongoing expense, let alone the damn paperwork), but the domain name stayed active for a few things including email.
The domain had originally been registered through a company called ClickNGo, which was acquired by NetRegistry in 2011. In turn, NetRegistry was bought by Melbourne IT in 2014.
About a year ago, out of the blue, it became apparent that another party had somehow got control of the domain, the web address, the associated emails.
Initially I thought it was some kind of hack attempt, but it turned out that the registrar, NetRegistry, had handed it over to them, on the basis that the old company ABN I’d used was no longer current.
NetRegistry claimed they had emailed me beforehand. They hadn’t. Or at least, nothing was received. It wasn’t in my spam folder; it hadn’t arrived. They’d had my email and snail mail details, but neither had received anything.
Email isn’t 100% reliable. If they had tried, they certainly didn’t seek any kind of confirmation that I’d seen the message.
I was in no position to dispute the eligibility to continue to hold the domain; that was fair enough. But it seems ridiculous that in such a situation, the registrar doesn’t try a bit harder to make contact. In a lot of cases the assumption over eligibility might be wrong, and/or the domain could be used for something really important.
I had used the domain for a few things, but nothing critical other than emails for a lot of different online services. I made contact with the new owner, who was kind enough to agree to forward emails and a few specific URLs across so I could gracefully withdraw from the custard.net.au domain.
No thanks to NetRegistry.
AussieHQ web hosting
For years I used AussieHQ for web hosting.
The company used to be called “Aussie Hosts”, a small web ISP run by a family company. When I first dealt with them, they were really good — very responsive and reliable. Apart from my own hosting, the PTUA web site got moved there too.
Over the years they have acquired (Aussie and McGoo HQ merged to become AussieHQ), and been acquired, and are now part of UberGlobal — nothing to do with the well-known car “ride sharing” company; they are an online services company.
Alas, as they have got bigger, their service has got steadily worse. Web outages, email problems, hacking… and they’ve usually been unable to provide any useful response to any of these issues. They’ve also failed to update their status page or Twitter feed during problems, and have done things like renewing annual plans without any notice.
Due to these problems, in the past 12 months I’ve moved all my own hosting and the PTUA hosting off their servers. There plenty of more competent competitors.
By the way, in 2015 UberGlobal was bought by Melbourne IT.
So in both these cases, the problems were courtesy of subsidiaries of Melbourne IT, which was spun out of Melbourne Uni in the 1990s.
I don’t know if their other services are better or worse, but based on this, I’d be wary of dealing with them or their subsidiaries again.