The Day I Lost My Website

June 2018 started off full of excitement and promise.  My husband and I celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary in July, so we decided to take a little getaway trip at the beginning of the summer.  Just the two of us.  If you have kids, you know how much work goes into getting away without them.  I had bags to pack, kids to transport to Memphis, dogs to deliver to the dog sitter, and more bags to pack.  You get the idea.  On top of that, I had just had a baby boom at work.  All of my newborns were born before we left, so I had last minute sessions to squeeze in.  Then came our trip…. It was fabulous!  Amazing.  We spent a week at Couples San Souci in Ocho Rios.  We had been to Couples Swept Away a few years ago and loved it so much, we decided to try the other side of the island.  The resort was quiet, laid back, and beautiful.  Just what we needed.

?pp_route=%2Fimage-resize&path=L2hvbWUvc2hhcC9wdWJsaWNfaHRtbC93cC1jb250ZW50L3VwbG9hZHMvMjAxOC8wNy8xNS01MDcwLXBvc3QvYmxvZy5qcGc%3D&template_id=e29e9e0d-e962-4719-a6db-3ce97b1a3fbe&width=768 The Day I Lost My WebsiteWhen we returned, it was back to reality right away.  I met my mother in law in Jackson to pick up my boys and got back to the real world.  I had weeks of sessions to edit and a week’s worth of emails to catch up on.  I got back to work on Monday, caught up on all emails by Tuesday, and was ready to get back to editing on Wednesday.  I woke up Wednesday morning planning to blog a session before I started editing and realized my website wasn’t working.  Hmmm….  This has happened a few times, so I didn’t panic.  At 6:41am I sent a help ticket to my host Bludomain.com and got back to editing.  As I was editing, I kept checking my email and no emails were coming in.  Well, I had been out of town for a week and had just sent tons of emails back to people.  My inbox should have been flooded.  So I sent a test email from my personal email address, and it didn’t come through.  Sooooo, I sent another help ticket to my host Bludomain.com this time marking it as an “emergency” to tell them that my email wasn’t working either.  Finally at 10:44 am, I get this response

“We are so sorry for the continued downtime. The RAID array has failed on this server and we are in the process of restoring it at this time. We are acutely aware of the inconvenience this has caused you, and we are doing all we can to ensure it is resolved. We would like to provide an accurate timeline as to how long it will take to resolve this, however it is difficult to estimate that with this type of issue. Please rest assured that our entire team is doing all they can and we will update you as soon as we have news. Due to high ticket volume please do not respond to this message.
We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience,
BluDomain Support team”

What???  This was definitely not what I was expecting to hear.  I didn’t have a good feeling about what they said, so I decided to get on their Facebook page.  They made this same announcement, and people were commenting.  I decided to join the conversation and followed it throughout the day.  However, every question I asked never got answered.  I realized that Bludomain.com was hiding my comments!  Once I realized this, I started panicking.  No one had responded to my tickets and now my comments were being hidden.

Fast forward to Thursday.  I sent an email at 5:50am,

“I understand that you have asked us not to respond to this message,however it has been 24 hours since I’ve had a website and email. My clients are used to a prompt response, and this will begin costing me money. Is there another way to access email?”
and got this response an hour and a half later
“We are acutely aware of the inconvenience this has caused you, and we are doing all we can to ensure a timely solution. We had hoped to have this problem resolved by now, however the issue runs a bit deeper than initially anticipated. We will be working around the clock until this is resolved. We do not have a timeline that we can report to you at this time. We are experiencing extremely high ticket volume as a result of this and this is causing a bit of a backlog, if at all possible, do not submit a ticket. We will post updates on this page as they become available. We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience. ”
I continued following their Facebook page and realized more and more comments were being hidden.  At one point I want to say there were 50 comments, and I could only read 4.  This was not looking good.  A few hours later I requested getting my email moved to a new server immediately.  This was their response
“We are so very sorry for the continued inconvenience this down time has caused. Our first priority is to get email back up and running but to do that the accounts first have to be restored. As you can tell this is an extremely time consuming process. Without getting into details that are too technical, this is a simple case of where a machine has failed us, with catastrophic results. All we can do, given this scenario, is to work as diligently as possible to get the content back up and running.Moving forward I would like to offer some options, unfortunately neither option is ideal:

1: Wait for the account to get restored; you would have your email back within the next 24 hours or so but the website and content will take a bit longer to restore. This process could take several days.

2. We can expedite the restoration of your account and email and images should be restored. We would need to set up a blank new site and we can assist you in uploading the images to your site. All the text content would have to be re-entered… sorry.

3: As a third option we would like to offer you the choice to move to a new hosting account with a blank site of your choice. We can reconfigure email for you and assist you with uploading your content – content from your previous site is not accessible at this time, however. Please let us know if you want to move forward with this option.

Unfortunately, in retrospect, this is not an issue anyone could have predicted, once we resolve this we will do all we can to ensure that it does not happen again.

BluDomain management”

Now, I forward all of my emails into Gmail, so all of my emails are backed up on Gmail’s server.  I wasn’t worried about losing my emails, I just wanted to get access to my email.  Finally by lunch time, they had moved my email to a new server so that I could get emails again.  Unfortunately, all emails that came in during those 30 hours were gone forever.

Now let’s get to my website.  “Catastrophic results?”  What did this mean?  I have been in business for 9 years, so I had hundreds of blog posts.  Years of pictures, stories, triumphs, and more.  Could they all be gone?  I knew they shouldn’t be.  I backed up my site through a plug in once a week.  It would all be restored right?  Ok, I’ve got my email working.  Clients can get in touch with me.  But what about new clients?  Lots of people find me on Google.  I tried Googling my name.  My website still showed up but of course you couldn’t get any text.  People could only get in touch with me through social media.  So I sat and waited and continued to try to keep up with editing.  All while having a constant sick feeling in my stomach.  Throughout the week, I would check Bludomain.com’s Facebook page.  Same thing.  Posts just restating the most recent email and lots of hidden comments.  The weekend came, and I had gone 3 days without any inquiries.  Photographers were getting in touch with me and sending their love.  Friends were sending me messages and texts.  My family thought I was close to having a breakdown.  Finally, on Sunday I couldn’t take it anymore.  My name was gone from Google.  GONE!  I got in touch with one of my tech friends who usually helps me with my website when it is t0o “techy”.  When he told me this was out of his hands, I knew things were bad.  He put me in touch with a guy in New Hampshire, and told me maybe he could help.  And this is where things get better…. Enter Sean from Loud Canvas.  He immediately moved my website to his server and found my backup files in my cPanel.  Slowly but surely, he got my site back up and running.  My text was all there!  But my pictures were gone.  All of them.  But that is ok.  Bludomain may not backup, but I do.  I have all of my pictures from every single blog post that was missing them.  In fact… I empty my trash can on my Mac so rarely that I had 6 months of pictures ready to upload again!  I had to completely redesign my site, add back pictures, reload links, and more.  There was text that didn’t copy over correctly, so we had lots of mysterious symbols that had to be deleted.  I have pictures restored on many blog posts, but there are years of pictures still gone.  Slowly but surely I’ll get them replaced.  I am so thankful to all of the people who helped me during this time, everyone who listened while I stressed, and everyone that was thinking of me.  I know there are worse things in the world, but this was a big mountain for me to climb.  I love my job and have spent hours and years making my website and blog just right.  To see it all disappear in an instant was heartbreaking.  If you have made it this far, thanks for listening!  I’m glad you found me.  If you are a photographer or small business owner with a website, make sure you are doing everything possible to back up your email, website, pictures, and files.  As I learned anything can happen!

8 comments
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  • Kandi Anderson - Oh how my heart sank AGAIN after reading this. I’m so sorry this happened to you. And thank you for sharing it with all your fellow photographers so can make some informed decisions!!  So glad you site is up and running and just as beautiful as before!! ReplyCancel

  • Katie - Oh my WORD.  I think I would’ve DIED if this happened to me.  Thank you for sharing and for the advice!!ReplyCancel

  • KRYSTAL SANDEFUR - This is seriously unbelievable 🙁  I know so many that this happened to.  Thank you for sharing your experience so that others can be aware of the importance of backing up their websites.  So glad everything is fixed! Makes me think I better be doing a better job at backing up my own stuff!ReplyCancel

  • Natasha Wiening Photography - Thr same thing happened to me, total nightmare! I sat back in my seat feeling numb, it was like someone robbed me of my business and my blog was gone forever! Thank godness I remembered I set up wordpress backups which were emailed to me weekly and I managed to retrieve my blog. I lost a few post but atleast I didn’t loose everything. It is SO important to back up and also save back ups on your own hard drive.
    Your website it beautiful by the way!!!! XxReplyCancel

  • Courtney - This gave me chills as I was reading this!  Sorry that you went through this!  Thanks for all the advice…I am going to right now to check and make sure my stuff is being backed up properly.ReplyCancel

  • Loraine - My heart goes out to you. This is a horrible thing to have happen. Thank you for sharing, we all need to be more diligent.ReplyCancel

  • Linda - AS a photographer our website is our storefront.  Your story could happen to any photographer or small business, and the backup plan that saved you is a smart time investment.  The old saying, ‘What ever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…’ should include and crazy tired!  As I can hear the stress you went through between each lines… off to backup!ReplyCancel

  • Baotran - This is one of my biggest nightmares!  Thanks so much for the advice!!ReplyCancel

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