While it may be true that “some” of the best things in life are free, it appears (once again) that “some” does not include free hosting. Case in point, the thousands of individuals who woke up to find their sites hosted at Weblogs.com shut down with no prior warning. Worse, stranded users cannot obtain their data unless they request it … after July 1.
We’ve talked more than once about the hazards of hosting for free, and more recently, we’ve talked about how it is unreasonable to expect an online endowment. So I while on one hand I’m not surprised that this happened, I am surprised by the number of people who are now resorting some ingenious but difficult means of ‘scraping’ their data back. I’m also a bit surprised that David Winer didn’t use the popularity of Scripting.com to throw down some warnings and how-to’s.
- free hosting puts you at the mercy of your host;
- backup your data offsite, daily if possible;
- always have a contingency plan;
- opening aphorism aside, there is only one thing in life that is truly free.
The above also goes for “for-pay” hosts as well. Two months ago, I had a hosting provider shut down RedlandBaptist.org due to a false spam complaint. Unable to reason with the provider … or even get him to look at his own logs … I ‘negotiated‘ to have him leave the site up for a week and proceeded to move the entire site to another server that evening. The only thing that took time was the propagation of the domain name.
Personally, I wonder the people at WordPress, MovableType and pMachine recognize this opportunity to expand their user base and by offering applications to migrate data from Weblogs to their respective systems?
Regardless of the potential fallout, the bottom line is that those of you running church web sites and blogs need to attain a certain level of self-sufficiency in the area of backups, contingencies and hosting. Depending on the kindness of strangers to buy you lunch on a permanent basis is a sure fire recipe for offline indigestion.
Additional Links on the Topic:
- Gadgetopia – hat tip and discussion
- David Winer’s audio explanation
- Doc Searls
- Jeneane Sessum
- Workbench: Network of Nattering Nabobs
- Transition plan for hosted sites
Update 20-Jun-04 4:51 AM:
WorkBench’s Rogers Cadenhead has decided to adopt 3,018 webloggers this week – a very generous move that I applaud. None the less, such John 11 acts of kindness do not negate your need to back-up your work … so get busy.