The great customer service continues

The 123host mantra is “to give the level of customer service we wish we received elsewhere” because, let’s face it, most internet customer service sucks. It takes days to get a response to your inquiries…if you do get a reply.

Not at 123host. Pretty happy with these stats for September 2020.

Over half of tickets received their first answer within 1 hour. An incredible 82% were answered within 4 hours and 93% were answered within 8 hours. During September the average first response was 2.2 hours.

And it is all done with Australian staff…

Divi theme…I’m getting interested

If you use WordPress you need to have a theme. There are thousands and thousands of them ranging from the free default theme through to expensive premium themes.

One popular theme is Divi and the associated Divi builder. I’ll be honest and admit I don’t know a lot about it apart from having tweaked a few Divi sites, so I can find my way around it.

But I do own a lifetime multi-site Divi license that I purchased for customers who subscribe to the WordPress management service I offer.

As part of that I was also added to the Divi mailing list. As a rule as soon as I get the first email from something like this I unsubscribe, but in this case I have actually found them to be a bit useful, so I pick the eyes out of the content.

I keep adding their freebies to the Divi pack customers have access to and today I found out they have a YouTube channel with a load of tutorials which look like a great resource for getting your Divi on.

I might check it out…

Wide open spaces

The server restart referred to in the last post was used as part of updating the amount of storage. Did I say updating? I meant doubling.

There is now twice as much disk space on the server giving us all room to grow. I am committed to not having the server get overcrowded, often an issue if you use a cheap hosting service.

To “celebrate” I have doubled the storage quota for each plan.

Basic hosting has bumped from 15Gb to 30Gb and Advanced Hosting is up from 50Gb to 100Gb.

Use the space wisely grasshopper.

Anxiety is over-rated

Running a server is a mix of learning, fun, puzzle solving and terror. A lot of people rely on 123host (or any hosting company for that matter) to keep everything working so their business can operate.

What users might not realise is how much house-keeping is involved in keeping a server running smoothly. One of the most important aspects is keeping the software up to date.

And the most crucial component of any operating system is the kernel

The Linux kernel is the main component of a Linux operating system and is the core interface between a computer’s hardware and its processes. It communicates between the 2, managing resources as efficiently as possible.

When the kernel is updated the server needs to be restarted to have the changes become effective. I had been holding off a reboot for a long time, but as part of the upgrade to disk storage a reboot became necessary.

I hate it.

The server is going to be offline for a period. In the past it hasn’t restarted cleanly. The world could end. What if…?

I had sent everyone an email warning it would happen Friday night. Due to circumstances in the data centre, it didn’t. I don’t like bombarding people with emails so I gritted my teeth and set 6:30PM Sunday to reboot, figuring it is likely a time when fewest customers are doing any work on their sites.

Expecting a 5 minute downtime I clicked “restart” and waited, shunning all attempts by my partner to talk to me…even the offer of chocolate was spurned (just kidding, I took the chocolate).

And then…in less than 2 minutes, the server was up and running again. TWO.MINUTES!

Needless anxiety indeed.


Don’t push gmail

If you can get past the fact that Google has overtaken Microsoft as the symbol of internet evil, gmail is pretty good. Especially the spam filtering.

In the past when people want their @domain emails in their gmail account I have simply forwarded it i.e. pushed the emails to gmail. But this has a down-side.

Imagine your account receives a whole lot of spam. You then forward it to your gmail account. Gmail doesn’t see it as coming from someone else to you, they see it as coming from you to gmail. Google responds by blocking your IP address (since you are seen as a spammer) which also happens to be the IP address of every other account on the 123host server. i.e. everyone gets blocked by Google.

I have a new strategy now, I am getting gmail to pull the emails from 123host. I won’t get into the details here on how to do it, it isn’t hard but it is a little complex.

From now on all new 123host -> gmail will be set up as gmail pulling and I will slowly switch over you pushers.

Another layer of security

I confess to now being security paranoid. I hope I don’t become obsessive…then again, it might not be a bad thing.

In order to share bits of code, passwords, whatever there is now a resource at Paste your bits in there, click “send” and you will be given a URL to share with the recipient.

NOTHING is seen or retained by the server (or me) unless I get the URL

If you check the “burn” box the data will only be viewable once.

123host – keeping the internet safe for kittens.

Sunday 16th Feb

All sites have been moved to the new server and a few minor hiccups ironed out. It all seems good. I am still monitoring for re-infection and there has been none so far. This is very good.

The migration was less stressful than I expected. Maybe it was just less so compared to the last couple of weeks.

I have had some people send me emails they don’t understand…this is good too. Keep it up.

Also let me know anything weird or not working via

Today I was surprised to find I was chilled enough to take up a freebie offer at Dreamworld where we went on all the rides.


Server update Saturday 15th

All accounts have been moved to the new server.

There have been some minor issues when the transfer tool hasn’t migrated DNS settings properly but they are easy to fix and it all sorts itself out relatively quickly.

So far so good.

If you received a notification about SSL expiring, that was because the new server came with those notifications (which are annoying) enabled. I have switched them off

I remind you that if you you have any issues at all head to and open a ticket.


Email to all 14/2

Following up from the email the other day (which you can read at I have been unable to repel the attackers.  It seems that they have installed a back door into the system (their own lock and key) and can come and go as they wish.  If there is one good thing in all this, they are not being destructive.  Their method is to insert files into sites (not modify existing files) and extract bank details from people who click links in phishing emails.  I have had a process running that advises me of some system changes and I have been jumping on anything quick smart and deleting it.  But it is a stressful, unsustainable, tail chasing exercise and I am over it.

After a lot of deliberation and following a wave of intrusions this week, I have decided to abandon this server.   I have no choice…the bastards are smarter than me and are relentless. The process of moving all accounts to a new clean server and checking them for malware is under way.  I don’t anticipate much disruption (except to my weekend) but it is a semi- automated process so errors do happen.

What I would like you to do is keep an eye on your website and let me know if anything changes.  Keep an eye on your emails and make sure they keep working. 

I know some of you have had your sites affected.  If you have, please contact me, I would like to make it up to you.

To all of you I deeply and sincerely apologise.  I have been humbled by this event.  It has affected me in many ways and has certainly made me realise that there are some bastards out there who just don’t care…my faith in human nature has been rattled a bit. 

However I intend to keep offering the awesome level of support that has seen 123host grow by word of mouth only.  I thank you for your ongoing support.


Server update 12/2

The 123host server compromise from a while back stopped.  We put in extra security measures and audited the server.  All felt good.

However it seems that feelings of confidence were misplaced.  The checking has resumed and is overwhelming me.  It is having a range of knock-on effects as sites are marked deceptive and the server’s trust level wavers.

I have no choice but to rebuild the existing server in order to eliminate whatever back door software has been hidden.

Over the next few days all accounts will be moved one at a time to a new machine.  During this time your site may be disrupted.

I can’t even from the words of apology that are needed.  You have trusted me to look after your site and I have failed.  I especially apologise to newer customer who came to 123host based on someone’s recommendation -FWIW 123host has never advertised and has grown by word of mouth.

I can assure you that in consultation with the data centre we are investigating all options.  As you can imagine, this is going to have a huge impact, not only on me and my business.  I am quite behind answering emails and I will get to them all asap.

I don’t want to overdo it with email updates so if you want to see the latest I will keep updating here.