As many of you know, my longstanding site at garyblue.port5.com went dark on 1 Nov., 2007, or there abouts. I started the site, using Portland's free hosting, in order that I could simply provide a link to the various demonstrations I created for the forums and lists. There were no beautiful designs or even planned organization. It just sat there, enjoying about 2000 unique visitors each month. No Yahoo!, but it had enough folks linking to it that many of the pages had Google page ranks of 4 or 5.
August, 2003 – November, 2007 R.I.P.
I chose Portland because they offered PHP, MySQL and no ads. Soon after I signed up, they dropped the PHP support in favor of some similar but restricted scope language. Effectively, I became limited to static pages. No hoo-hoo.
I never recommended Portland to anyone because of the all too often down-time. In retrospect, I wonder if that weren't a culling-of-the-herd thing. They'd go down, I'd write, they'd respond with a lame excuse, and I'd be back up. Were those who didn't write ever back up?
This last time, I got no response when I wrote. Or, when I wrote again, and again. I could ftp into my directory, and see that it was empty. Then, my ftp account died. That was not a good sign.
Now, if you go to www.portland.co.uk you get redirected to http://www.intrascape.net/portlandnews.php where they say, "On the 5th December 2007 Intrascape purchased the assets of Portland Communications Ltd., including PortlandX.com and PortlandX.co.uk."
OK, that's helpful. In the U.S., that's code for "Portland went belly up and we've pecked the flesh off the bones".
Then, they say,"Q: I'm on free hosting, how will I be affected, my site is already missing?
A: We understand that some weeks ago Portland suffered a catastrophic disk failure and customers on Portland's free hosting service lost data. Sadly we will not be able to reinstate this free service. We can however offer you an alternative low cost solution for just £3.25 per month plus VAT."
To me, this is the interesting part:
"… some weeks ago Portland suffered a catastrophic disk failure and customers on Portland's free hosting service lost data."
Yeah, right. Let me hypothesize: Portland's potential buyers weren't willing to pay as much for their (Portland's) accounts if they came burdened with the freebies. I can picture the owner of a derelict building who finds a buyer for the lot, but doesn't want the cost of demolishing the structure. So, the building somehow catches on fire, and you fill in the rest.
I don't have any problem with Intrascape not wanting to host free accounts. I did write them, twice now, to ask if some accommodation might be reached where they would establish a redirect or rewrite with a 301 (moved permanent) header. I have received no response. Hell, I'd be more than willing to pay some reasonable set up fee, and said so. Still they don't even do so much as acknowledge my request.
All things considered, this has been very disappointing, both from the standpoint of losing an awful lot of links and visitors, and from the experiences with both Portland and Intrascape. Under the circumstances, and in view of their customer (lack of) service, I have no problem with recommending against anyone using Intrascape.
For any of you who have linked to any of my pages, please when you can spare the time, alter those links to point to Gary Turner's html & css workshop. I am rebuilding the various pages and with a bit more work will be totally new and improved.