In Search of Lost Sites
October 18, 2010 11:48 AM   Subscribe

My website was "deleted" from the hosting company's servers. How can I restore it?

I had a website hosted on GoDaddy, with the hosting fees set to automatically bill every month.

Long story short, I left the country and during that time the card I was using for this auto-payment expired. GoDaddy let 20 "grace period" days pass and now they've cancelled the account, which means all the files on the site are deleted.

Actually, they're not really deleted, they're in a kind of cold storage and want me to pay them $150 for the courtesy of restoring them.

Now, the easiest way for me to restore the files would be to get them off the hard drive I created the website on, but for various long-story reasons I won't go into right now, I don't have access to these hard drives. I may be able to get them later, but can't be sure.

SO, is there a way to restore the website? I tried looking on Google Cache, but it seems it's already inaccessible from the cache. WayBackMachine has no snapshot of the site taken in the last few years.

Am I sunk without either (a) paying the GoDaddy fee or (b) finding the original hard drives?

Bonus question, can anyone recommend a hosting company with prices to compete with GoDaddy who won't pull this kind of bullshit? I've been a customer of GD for 5 years and can't believe they won't push the button to restore the site after a simple card billing oversight.
posted by meadowlark lime to Technology (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I can't tell from your question, but have you tried calling them and asking them politely to waive the fee? The customer service is US-based and despite the company being totally skeevy in other ways, their customer service is quite nice. Explain what happened and see what they can do.
posted by disillusioned at 12:06 PM on October 18, 2010

I'm assuming you've already spoken to a real live CSR, their supervisors, and explained that you've been a loyal customer and that they should overlook this snafu and restore your account as a courtesy?

Also, someone on Mefi works for GoDaddy (see here) so it is possible they may see this and do you a favor.

Laughing Squid is a good alternative.
posted by special-k at 12:07 PM on October 18, 2010

1) Probably. GoDaddy sucks. You may have some leverage with your time as a customer, telling them about your honest mistake and how you'd prefer to stay with them. They may relent, they may not. Maybe they have a "customer-retention specialist" you can ask for.

2) I like because they are not US-based. The side-benefits of this is that the people who run the registrar aren't ugly Americans who will fuck you over for a penny, and that they aren't (quite as) subject to the inbred ISP/Registrar/Copyright/IP corruption and insanity that is the US consumer hosting market.

Good luck. Frankly I'd probably just reregister somewhere else, pay the $150, and leave GoDaddy to history and be done with it. They are the Geocities of registrars and will hopefully die like them as well.
posted by rhizome at 12:16 PM on October 18, 2010

I've used dreamhost pretty happily for a long time. I actually still use GoDaddy for domain reg, mostly because I'm too lazy to switch.

Dreamhost just pulls your site down if payment isn't received but doesn't pull the files. You get up to date on payment and everything is restored hunky dory.
posted by bitdamaged at 12:26 PM on October 18, 2010

In the past, many people here have recommended Nearly Free Speech.
posted by miyabo at 12:58 PM on October 18, 2010

I've had excellent service with Verve Hosting for years. I don't have any personal experience with their policy on lapsed payments, but I've never heard of them holding anyone's files hostage... or any of the typical problems I hear about with GD customers. Verve are pretty good about notifying customers on all issues, including account stuff. They've also bent over backwards to meet my needs in the past, even when it meant less money for them.
posted by katillathehun at 1:26 PM on October 18, 2010

I have godaddy due to laziness of not switching yet..

I used dreamhost in the past for a different domain, and while I liked it.. I didn't like the price.

I took the suggestions there and ended up with bluehost. So far, so good. A happy Mefite am I.
posted by royalsong at 1:53 PM on October 18, 2010

Have you tried using the wayback machine at That might get you your website back, or at least enough of it that you can go on.
posted by suetanvil at 2:18 PM on October 18, 2010

Call them back, ask to talk to a supervisor. Don't get off the phone until you talk to one. They'll absolutely waive the fee if you agree to renew your account, especially if it's the first time it's happened.
posted by empath at 2:31 PM on October 18, 2010

I would, if I were you, do the steps mentioned above about renewing, but say that right now you don't have the funds to pay for more than a quarter of a years subscription fee. They'll waive the fee.

Get back your files, get a new host (I'm in love with ASmallOrange, that is through whom I resell), and cancel the subscription and/or notify your card company to say no to the charge.

In all honesty, I would love it if everyone gave GoDaddy the old heave-ho, ideally in way that really hurts their ability to do business. They are awful. Strictly, specifically, awful. So awful, in fact, that I charge an add-on fee when I have to deal with them for a client.
posted by TomMelee at 9:07 AM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Follow-up: I am now a card-carrying member of the "Fuck Go Daddy Club".

They WOULD NOT waive the $150 fee to "restore my files". Not when I reminded them I'd been a customer for five years. I even offered to sign up and pay for FIVE MORE YEARS of hosting in advance if they waived the fee. They would not waive the fee.

So, I went through the hassle of transferring my domain to a new host. (It took over a week to complete the transfer! Not sure if that's a standard practice or more GoDaddy shittiness.

Anyway, I shouldn't have let the account lapse in the first place, but GoDaddy should have looked at long-term customer retention and restored my files. I'd been a customer for five years, why wouldn't I be a customer for another 25 years? Because something like this happens, that's why.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread trying to help. In the end I found a USB stick with most of my website's files on it, and between that and Google's (incomplete) cache of my site I was able to get it back up and running.
posted by meadowlark lime at 2:53 PM on November 3, 2010

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