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.

cheers,

Gary

I'll be glad to add a link

I'll be glad to add a link to your site. Smile

I always referred to your forms page when building one to see how it's really done. I've got to say that I'm glad you've got reliable hosting now. I can't tell you how many times I'd try to access your page to only get denied. Probably 5 times out of 7.

I received the following

I received the following response from Intrascape
01/19/2008 04:17 PM (CST Z-6:00):

Karl at Intrascape wrote:

Dear Gary

Thank you for contacting us.

We have viewed the article. We are sorry if you did not get a response from us. We do try to respond to all enquiries within a few hours of receipt but this not always possible due to the volume of emails we are currently receiving. It is possible that we simply missed your email however, if you sent your message to , in all likelihood it would not have reached us at all.

Your hypothesis is wrong. We can assure you, and all Portland's free hosting customers, that Portland's removal of the free service and the disk failure they suffered were nothing to do with Intrascape. Both happed before we were in discussion with Portland and we were always aware that the free hosting customers formed the majority of Portland's customer base and those remaining with Portland at the time of the purchase would form the basis of the transfer. We understand that every effort was made by Portland staff to try to recover data and restore the service. Portland has not, in fact, gone "belly up" but is still trading. It is simply no longer trading as an ISP.

Many users will want to keep their URL and email address and many port5.com, 8bit.co.uk and portland.co.uk users have already contacted us expressing an interest in converting their accounts to a reliable and supported hosting plan. We are working towards a solution that will be available shortly. There will be a fee for the service.

It is not financially viable for us to offer free hosting. We would inevitably eventually find ourselves in the position that Portland did, with new servers and facilities being needed for the free hosting customers but
no income being generated from them to pay for either that or the monthly costs of hosting them in the first place. The lack of income for this type of ongoing investment in equipment was a contributory factor to the unreliability in Portland's service.

We are not seeking your recommendation, merely that you offer a balanced view. We would therefore appreciate it if you would post this on your blog, unedited, so your readers may make their own choice.

If you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact us.

Regards

Karl

Support Desk

Intrascape Communications Ltd.
T. 0870 235 5537
E. <snip email addy to avoid spam harvesters>

Seems reasonable enough to

Seems reasonable enough to me.

Bummer man,

Bummer man,

Free hosting comes, free hosting goes.
I guess it's goodbye to Portland and hello to MULTIWEBSPACE. Long may it reign.

Interesting

Does anyone else find it interesting that these guys only replied AFTER you posted your article? Anyone can claim to be innocent, doesn't make them innocent. Sincerity has never been a guarantee of truth.

The fact that they are now charging for the service is reasonable considering the costs involved in running it. But what? no announcement beforehand? No posted explanation? No emailed mailshot to all existing portland customers to advise them of the change? Not even a by your leave or "we are sorry but" general message?

It speaks for itself Intrascape. If innocent of the crash then guilty of the misshandling of the changes. If innocent of the misshandling of changes then guilty of the crash. At least, so it appears.

I don't doubt that

I don't doubt that Intrascape had nothing to do with the freebie accounts being sucked into a black hole. I do know that their handling of the aftermath is sorry, at best.

I reiterate that I believe that Portland's "catastrophic" disk failure was intentional, in order to reduce the liability against their accounts, making those paid accounts more valuable. That any disk failure had no backup at all spells intent or remarkable incompetence.

If the 'belly-up' wasn't

If the 'belly-up' wasn't intentional then I'd be hesitant to trust the service they offer anyway; losing all those sites isn't a good look ~