2009-04-17

Never, ever use Cooplabs

A while ago I carped about the troubles I was having with servers hosted at Burst.Net.

Well, that trouble pales in comparison to what I've been through with Cooplabs.

I'm right in the middle of having to reinstall our main web server with another provider because Cooplabs have been unable (or unwilling) to bring it back online after the power supply failed - 10 hours ago. [Edit: it eventually took 13 hours. They were trying to recover the hard drive, but did not succeed.]

In mid 2008, I had to do the same thing - we had two servers hosted with them, and the one that was the main server inexplicably failed with no feedback or response from them. I sent emails and left them voicemail, to no avail. I had to hastily reinstall at the other server and then wait a week before hearing from them.

That wasn't the end of trouble either. In October, the same server (though now not hosting our website) failed again. It took them days to bring it back online. When they did, they simply forgot to send me any sort of login info whatsoever. The server was running, but I had no access to it.

Given such abysmal performance, I asked them to cancel that server and credit the remaining time to the other one that was now running the main website. (I had prepaid for both servers in advance.) They simply ignored this request. [They did agree to it when I restated my case again recently, but that was months later.]

Note that they seemed nice, friendly and courteous at the beginning, and everything had worked fine for the first year! But then the troubles began; and when they did - they began in earnest.

It seems to me that the root of the problem is not so much that the employees themselves don't try. (Well, some maybe don't.) It's unreliable hardware, and the way they are (dis)organized.
  • Unreliable hardware: I experienced 3 server failures in two years of hosting two servers with them. The average time between failure was 14 months. In two cases it was a power supply, in one case they didn't let me know the reason. In the last case, in particular, the hard drive on our web server and database died completely, so no data could be recovered.
  • They don't even monitor their servers. If a server dies, they don't notice it. You have to notice it and keep harrassing them until they fix it. When I didn't harrass, they didn't fix.
  • Instead of having a single point of support, it is haphazard. Their hours of telephone support aren't even published; I got voicemail half the time I tried to call. By email, you can write to this guy, or that guy, or there's an actual support address, but it's different than what it was 6 months ago. When they reply back, each person replies from their own address, so when you follow up, you might reach them, or maybe they have gone home for the day, and now you don't know who, if anyone, is handling your issue.
There is a lesson for small businesses to be learned from the above: use a centralized case management system, and don't let your staff reply from individual addresses.

2 comments:

Sunshine said...

So what was the initial reason to use their web hosting? Was it the price, their references, proximity?

denis bider said...

At the time, I thought it important to be able to pay by wire transfer instead of by credit card. I didn't want to keep running into technical issues with credit card payment, which tend to arise with a CC from outside the United States. I also wanted the two servers in separate data centers, so they would not both fail at the same time. Cooplabs was able to fulfil these requirements, and they were easy to communicate with and responsive at the time.