This post is going to be long, rambling, and geeky. You may want to skip it.
Many bloggers take occasional breaks from writing. Sometime life just gets in the way. Other times you run out of things to say. The recent almost month long hiatus around here is strictly technical: my site was compromised.
This was the third time this year that someone has injected malicious code into my WordPress files and taking the site off line. In addition, there were other instances that caused problems but not to that extent.
Now, I’ve been online long enough1 to know that some of this is my fault. Website security takes time to do right and I don’t have the time, background, or interest to learn enough about the field. Plus, like 95% of the world, I probably don’t pick very good passwords.
That’s why, if you’re going to own your own presence on the web, you need a good hosting service. They should have the tools and people who can monitor for intrusions like the ones that hit my site. Maybe even block them. At the very least, the company should have support resources in place to help resolve the issues and get a compromised site back up quickly.
With my now former hosting company2 I certainly wasn’t paying enough to get top level, direct communication, personal service. And I never expected it.
However, what no one, even on the cheapest tier (which I wasn’t), should get from support is a dismissive attitude, reflecting all blame back on the client, and working from a one-size-fits-all script. A script that includes pushing “solutions” with a monthly cost that’s more than the product itself. Actually all of this should be true of any company, regardless of what they’re selling.
So this last mess was the final straw, sending me looking for a new web host, which is my fourth or fifth hosting company counting the early free services. There are many, many options out there, with prices and features all over the map. But the choice was actually pretty easy and I’ve now moved everything to Reclaim Hosting for several good reasons.
Reclaim is a relatively small (and somewhat local) company that specializes in working with educators and students. And they emphasize service over pricing, very different from most of the large hosts I’ve looked at that that push low, low prices and rely on volume and upselling. Plus one of the co-founders is a friend, so you can’t beat that.
By the way, you might have noticed that nowhere in this piece do I call what happened to my site “hacking”. My introduction to that concept came from the 1984 book Hackers by Steven Levy. The subtitle was “Heroes of the Computer Revolution” and it’s one of the few paper books still on my shelf. This kind of crap does not rise to the level of “hacking” as I see it, something I’ll expand on in another post.
Anyway, the whole transfer process was very easy (Reclaim also offers a free migration service), much smoother and faster than the last time I did this, nine or ten years ago. And after a few additional bumps, everything seems to be working well around there. Time to spend more time writing and less on the techie end of blogging.