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Thousands of NZ websites could be deleted

Friday 23 May 2014 3:46 p.m.

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Thousands of New Zealand websites could be deleted after major failures from a local web hosting company.

Kiwi provider 24/7 Hosting has gone to ground over the past few weeks, disconnecting its 0800 number and revoking access to key parts of its service without notifying customers.

Some of the country's largest web providers are now fearing the worst, saying thousands of website owners may lose access to their data and websites altogether.

The company buys domain names and server space from other major suppliers before reselling them to the general public, servicing more than 6000 Kiwi websites.

But one of their biggest suppliers – domain registrar Voyager - is now urging customers to jump ship, saying the company seems to have been abandoned.

Voyager chief executive Seeby Woodhouse has been trying to contact the owner for a month to recover unpaid bills and says there has been no response.

"We register around 100,000 domain names through a bunch of different brands, but this is probably the worst case [we've seen]," he told 3 News today.

"Because 24/7 hasn’t been paying their bills and because we don't know where they are, we don't know if the guy will log in and delete all the sites.

"The power's going to get disconnected so there's definitely not a lot of time before all that goes down."

Voyager has supplied around 6000 domains to 24/7 Hosting over the years and recently emailed every one, urging them to leave the service.

"We've taken the unusual step of saying 'by the way, although you paid 24/7 for your domain name, they paid us to register it'," Mr Woodhouse says.

"We don’t know what's happened, we don't know if this has been abandoned or they've run out of money or all their staff have walked out. It's really a mystery because we just haven't been able to contact the owner."

Meanwhile Auckland developer Lindsay Jopson has lost direct access to five websites and is working frantically to recover what data he can. He no longer has access to the service's back end control panel and has been forced to resort to more advanced methods of recovery.

"I'm trying to pull down any file that I can at the moment off all my websites," he says. "Everyone's just trying to do a mass exodus of hosting and get what they can.

"For the layman, it's like they've deleted the files – basically everything – it's just been wiped completely."

There is one solution but customers will need to act quickly and remove files before 24/7 takes down its servers, Mr Woodhouse says.

"If anyone has their FTP, username and password they can pull down their site and get it back up and running with either Voyager or some other third-party hosting company.

"It could be worse if the servers get cut off and 6000 people lose their websites."

Mr Woodhouse doesn't think the owner is trying to defraud people, saying it's more likely to be a case of business mismanagement.

"To be honest I don't think they'll have much money, they were charging such low prices," he says. "I think they made some bad business decisions, they've had some poor customer service."

3 News has been unable to contact 24/7 Hosting for comment.

3 News

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