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Another Web Host ‘Deletes’ Websites In Clean-up Error

London: Another web hosting firm has ‘accidentally’ deleted an unspecified number of its customers’ websites on Saturday. The story mirrors that of hosting provider, Marco Marsala, that became ‘famous’ after saying he had deleted his entire company by accident last week. However, he has since claimed that his story was a ‘hoax’.

Now, the company 123-reg said in an official email that an error made during maintenance “effectively deleted” what was on some of its servers.

123-reg is a major UK web hosting provider, and part of ‘HEG’, one of the largest privately-owned hosting companies in Europe. Group also includes brands such as ‘Webfusion’, ‘Heart Internet’, ‘Host Europe’ and ‘Hosteurope Spain’. 123-reg currently host over three million domain names and over 1.7 websites.

The company informed its customers with an email over the weekend to try and explain what happened. “As part of a clean-up process on the 123-reg VPS platform, a script was run at 7am on 16.04.16. This script is run to show us the number of machines active against the master database. An error on the script showed ‘zero-records’ response from the database for some live VPS. For those customers, this created a ‘failure’ scenario – showing no VM’s and effectively deleting what was on the host. As a result of our team’s investigations, we can conclude that the issues faced having resulted in some data loss for some customers.”

The data loss has left the affected online businesses without a website to trade from and 123-reg has been flooded with messages on social media criticising its limited communication.

In an email sent to it customers base on Sunday, 123-reg said it had “begun copying recovered VPS images to new hosts” and expected some websites to be restored overnight. It also said that it would audit all its automated scripts and prevent customer websites from being deleted without human approval in the future.

“We are investigating the restoration of each VPS on a case-by-case basis and are working individually with customers to keep them informed of the website recovery process,” company said in an email. The implications of lost data can be significant for small business, especially if those businesses were relying on the host for backups.

backup whole VPS or cloud images to other platformsOn the question, “What Lessons Should Be Learnt By This?”, SastaHost’s CEO Pankaj Chopra says, “Users should not rely only on their web host for backups. There are many different off-site backup services available, with some working on an application level, and others that can backup whole VPS or cloud images to other platforms.

“It seems sensible to protect yourself for around $5-10 per month by making regular off-site backups”, he further says.

Recently, a hosting provider Marco Marsala, by mistake, also deleted everything in his servers. He gave the problematic command “rm -rf” {foo}/{bar}, a basic piece of code that will delete everything it is told to, with those variables undefined. The “rm” tells the computer to remove; the ‘r’ deletes everything within a given directory; and the ‘f’ stands for “force”, telling the computer to ignore the usual warnings that come when deleting files. He was under his backup taking procedure, presumably intended to delete old backups.

As the latest development, 123-reg has begun trying to recover data “bit-by-bit” by using data recovery specialists. Company is trying to keep customers updated via email and social media channels, like Facebook, Twitter etc.

Any customers suffering from the mistake at @123reg – we’re here to help you move to the rock solid @ Sasta Host

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