Jump to content

Cre8asiteforums Internet Marketing
and Conversion Web Design


Photo

Legal Ramifications When Server Deletes Site Accidently


  • Please log in to reply
13 replies to this topic

#1 sbetz

sbetz

    Unlurked Energy

  • Members
  • 3 posts

Posted 01 March 2007 - 09:48 AM

I posted this about fifteen minutes ago in Google Webmasters and one of the Members that is always there to respond to me, suggested I post here for help. So, I am copying and pasting my post.

MY POST ON GOOGLE WEBMASTERS GROUP SITE:

In my effort to save time, I am copying and pasting a letter I wrote
to [law firm removed by moderator] this morning. After doing so, I
realized there may BE MemberS here that have experienced the same loss I
am suffering and as such, may be two steps ahead of me and have the
ability to answer the following:

My Inquiry:

Dear (Attorney Name Omitted for confidentiality purposes),

This past Sunday after more than 1500 hours of hard work, I was
thrilled to finally launch my new luxury gift site. Featuring more
than 350 unique luxury goods, at exactly Noon on February 25, 2007 I
made the long anticipated announcement of the Grand Opening for my
online store [url removed by moderator].

Featuring exclusives usually reserved for the likes of Neiman Marcus
and Nordstrom's, the moment I worked so hard for came to an end less
than 48 hours after it launched. My site's server company made a
verbal admission of responsibility by stating that the fault lies with
human error. One of their employees accidentally deleted not only my
site's files, but more than 60 other business sites as well (including
several commerce site, a municipality site and a school site.)

According to my host, the server company overrode the C drive for the
60+ websites, then finalized the loss by deleting the secondary drive
where the website's backups were maintained.

As of 4:00 PM yesterday, February 28, 2007, the server had been and
was continuing to running several forensic software programs in an
attempt to recover the loss, but as of this moment, still has not
recovered the files needed to restore or even rebuild what has been
lost. We were informed that the likelihood of recovery was grim and as
we anticipated we would have knowledge of the final status by
yesterday afternoon, without speaking for all parties affected by the
error, I have resigned myself that recovery has been deemed impossible
at this point and now search for answers to questions I have regarding
the legal responsibility of those responsible for both the financial
and emotionally devastating loss.

My question is: What legal rights do we, the owners of these lost
business websites, have? What recourse is available to us?

Please contact me to discuss what options may be available not only to
me, but to the others as well.

Warm regards,
Ms. Betz

If any webmaster members would like to share their knowledge, I would
greatly appreciate it...

Thank you...

Edited by Respree, 01 March 2007 - 09:55 AM.


#2 bragadocchio

bragadocchio

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 15634 posts

Posted 01 March 2007 - 10:03 AM

Hi sbetz,

I'm very sorry to hear of the loss of your efforts.

The lawyers that you contacted will probably be in a better stance to tell you what next steps to take, and what might be possible.

Did you have backups of the site offline? Do you have some risk or loss insurance?

Was the site created on a development server, locally through an html editing program, or directly on the server? How much was actually lost?

#3 eKstreme

eKstreme

    Hall of Fame

  • 1000 Post Club
  • 3399 posts

Posted 01 March 2007 - 10:13 AM

Sorry to hear that sbetz. We can all relate to the loss of a lot of hard work.

I would add one more question to Bill's list: are there any specific clauses in the contracts governing the server's operation and service regarding data loss?

But again, the lawyers are your best bet.

Pierre

#4 Respree

Respree

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 5901 posts

Posted 01 March 2007 - 10:14 AM

I'm afraid there are no 'legal' opinions to be found here, although other members may share their experiences they've had in similiar situations.

That's a shame this happened after all your hard work.

As Bill suggested, legal counsel is your best course of action at this juncture.

My first thought was business interuption insurance. They're probably unlikely to offer you compensation on any emotional distress, but may be a vehicle to help you recover some of your hard costs incurred.

Surely, the files needed for your website were created on a client, then transferred to your server. Hopefully, you still have copies of those files and can at least prevent this from being a catastrophic loss.

Lastly, do you have a written agreement between yourself and the hosting company? Does it address what they will do in the event of a situation like this?

#5 cre8pc

cre8pc

    Dream Catcher Forums Founder

  • Admin - Top Level
  • 13453 posts

Posted 01 March 2007 - 11:39 AM

This is pretty mind blowing. I've never heard of a hosting company committing such a serious error, and I'm probably not alone in just not considering this a risk.

The fact that such a thing can happen is a story in itself!

As for the loss, I'm puzzled at the actual loss of the site. There has to be a local version of it, where it is maintained and backed up?

#6 doll

doll

    Unlurked Energy

  • Members
  • 6 posts

Posted 01 March 2007 - 11:46 AM

Wow, what a huge mistake. I agree with the others. You would have to check over contracts etc.... Good luck with that.

#7 AppleVenus

AppleVenus

    Whirl Wind Member

  • Members
  • 70 posts

Posted 01 March 2007 - 11:53 AM

It wasn't Pipex was it? they have a history....

Pipex did this to me last year, they had a problem with the server, and whilst fixing it happened to write over the back ups they kept, and lost everything that was on the server, not just my site. Luckily I had backups on my pc, so could upload my site again to a new host.

My contract did say that I should keep backups in the event of server failure, so I guess that covered them.

I got an apology, but that's all.

Sorry to hear this has happened to you.

AV

#8 sanity

sanity

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 6889 posts

Posted 01 March 2007 - 05:16 PM

Wow what a dreadful situation to be in sbetz.

If you had a web designer develop it I would imagine they have a copy. We keep copies of every site we design for that reason.

Good luck and let us know how you go.

#9 cre8pc

cre8pc

    Dream Catcher Forums Founder

  • Admin - Top Level
  • 13453 posts

Posted 01 March 2007 - 08:18 PM

Odd timing, but in my hometown, there is a local hosting service (whom I do not use) who is in the news because their Internet services provider cut them off over a spam dispute.

This, in turn, cut off service to many local businesses, and even the school district.

Spam dispute leaves Pennridge, residents without Internet

So if a business used the local host, who is dependent on another service, and service is cut off, it's an obvious mess.

#10 Tom Anthony

Tom Anthony

    Gravity Master Member

  • Members
  • 162 posts

Posted 01 March 2007 - 10:02 PM

Sorry to hear this, sbetz. I can't imagine how upset and angry you must be. I know I would. :)

I really hope they manage to recover your date. Fingers crossed.

#11 DianeV

DianeV

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 7216 posts

Posted 02 March 2007 - 12:31 AM

Sorry to hear it, too.

This is one of the reasons that backups are important -- backups of all site files and databases. My best recommendation is to rely on no one else for backups because stuff happens.

Can it be that the only copy of the website was on the server?

#12 sbetz

sbetz

    Unlurked Energy

  • Members
  • 3 posts

Posted 02 March 2007 - 07:55 AM

Thank you, everyone, for replying... I'm sure some of you know how I'm feeling... Depressed, that's for sure and really, I don't know if I have it in me to start all over again... To answer your questions:


Did you have backups of the site offline? The last backup I have was done when about 25% of my products were up. Unfortunately, there were MODS added after that back up date too.

Do you have some risk or loss insurance?
No, I didn't know such existed... I will purchase it this next time though, you can bet your last $1 on that.

Was the site created on a development server, locally through an html editing program, or directly on the server? I built it directly on the server.

How much was actually lost?
Other than the 1500+ hours I put in, the cost is minimal... maybe $3000.

Are there any specific clauses in the contracts governing the server's operation and service regarding data loss? I can't find anything directly relating to loss of data, act or nature or otherwise on the server's site. The host company called me yesterday and told me they only offered him 3 months free... He of course has not accepted the offer and told them he can't accept anything until he knows A) If he is going to be sued by anyone B) how many customers he will lose over this C) How many months it is going to take him to rebuild what was lost.


My first thought was business interuption insurance. They're probably unlikely to offer you compensation on any emotional distress, but may be a vehicle to help you recover some of your hard costs incurred.
B) No, of course it wasn't offered.

Surely, the files needed for your website were created on a client, then transferred to your server. Hopefully, you still have copies of those files and can at least prevent this from being a catastrophic loss. [/b]The host guy called me last night and said he does have the images folder, which will prevent me from having to redo more than 700 images in photoshop. He added that he can see alot of folders, but doesn't yet know what is in them.

Lastly, do you have a written agreement between yourself and the hosting company?I do not. But when he called me yesterday afternoon, he told me that his attorney says that actually works against him. My hosting guy is very nice. I almost feel as bad for him as I do for myself. He told me the last backup he did was November and even that back up is, for reasons he's unsure of, missing some of his customers site.

As for the loss, I'm puzzled at the actual loss of the site. There has to be a local version of it, where it is maintained and backed up.
His server is PLESK, but there's another software company involved as well. I do know they used forensic software to try to locate the files, but were not successful. What I was wondering is if it is possible for the server company to give their hard drive to a data recovery spealizing company? I do know the cost would be astrinomical.

It wasn't Pipex was it?[/b]No... And I'm so new to this whole web thing I didn't know how to make a backup of my site. One thing I did figure out how to do, just six days before this happened, is that I somehow managed to export the product data from the shopping cart into an excel spreadsheet. The export dumped each field from the shopping cart into a seperate column. I'm hoping that since I exported it, it can somehow be imported into a new shopping cart. The host guy said "I'm sure it can" and he is the reseller of the cart that I used... that's how I met him in the first place. He didn't sound like he was knowledgable in 'how' to import to a new cart though.

If you had a web designer develop it I would imagine they have a copy. We keep copies of every site we design for that reason.[/b]Funny you mention this. I have a very good friend that's a web designer and she didn't help me with this site (and boy do I regret it) because she doesn't care for asp. She's not that familiar with asp. Anyway, she was the first person I called and one of her first comments was that as soon we were finished talking she was calling her server and paying the extra $100 or whatever it cost to have a third back up on their system. She also commented that she makes backup copies of her clients sites every month and that there have been times where she's gotten so busy she skips a month, not on purpose, but as an oversight. She won't every be to busy again I can assure you of that. She said this happening to me has taught her a huge lesson.

So if a business used the local host, who is dependent on another service, and service is cut off, it's an obvious mess.Although not a local host, I did go through a reseller and yup... it's a mess.

My best recommendation is to rely on no one else for backups because stuff happens.
Never again will I rely on anyone...

Well, thank you everyone.... I appreciate your time and knowledge... I know I am grasping at straws but this has been one of the worst things I have ever been through... I think I feel worse than when I went through my divorce... Actually, I think when I went through my divorce I was already pretty numb from all the mind guys I was put through... this is different because I had just barely gotten a glimpse of the fruits of my labor and POOF... Gone... Which is SO hard to accept...

Thanks again!
Spencer
sbetz@cox.net

[duplicate content removed by moderator]

Edited by Respree, 02 March 2007 - 10:42 AM.


#13 sbetz

sbetz

    Unlurked Energy

  • Members
  • 3 posts

Posted 02 March 2007 - 08:13 AM

By the way... I didn't add all those smiley faces in the above post... I did click on the BOLD button so my answers to the questions my post generated would be in bold... and not all of those showed up in bold...

#14 JohnMu

JohnMu

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 3518 posts

Posted 02 March 2007 - 11:29 AM

Hi and welcome to the fourms :wave: - it would be great if you had the time to stick around after everything is back up and running :). I love these forums and never stop learning just from reading the postings everyone makes here.

Just a small comment on:

I do know they used forensic software to try to locate the files, but were not successful. What I was wondering is if it is possible for the server company to give their hard drive to a data recovery spealizing company?

We have to send in hard disks from clients every now and then for recovery. We have one coming in today from someone who deleted his drive (and noticed that his backup consisted of the "Desktop" folder, ie mostly the shortcuts to the programs and not the data).

In general there is one question that need to be answered before anything else is done: is it a hardware problem or was it caused by software or user manipulation?

If it is a hardware problem (and assuming the data is worth enough to you), you should stop everything, turn the system off as soon as you recognize it (that terrible "click click click" sound :eek: ), take the hard disk out and send it in. Don't try *anything* by yourself. Don't let your hardware dealer / supporter try anything once a hardware failure is recognized. If the data is worth it, send the whole disk in to a recovery company. If you send it in right away, the chances of recovery are fairly high. If you try things ("maybe it'll work if I boot a few times") you'll be breaking it more and more. Last year we had that situation: a hardware supporter tried to get a broken drive to work again.. and ended up scraping off the whole top layer of the drive, no chance of recovery (at least not unless you're the FBI or so :)).

If it is not a hardware problem (accidentally formatted, virus, accidentally deleted, etc) then you can try things yourself. But - and this is critical - don't do it on the original disk. Take the disk and mirror it onto two test-disks (there are lots of tools -- use a system where you can boot from CD). Keep the original disk on the side, and try to recover the data from one of the copies. In this situation you can try the various software recovery tools, some will work in some situations, others will work in other situations, there are hardly any tools that always work. The problem with these tools is that they sometimes break more than they fix -- at least until you find the tool that matches your problem. Once you have the tool, make a new copy from the second copy you made and try to recover the data there. If you still can't recover it, send the original disk in to the recovery specialists.

We use Kroll Ontrack, I think they are in the US as well. They charge about $2000 or so to get the content off of most hard disks (more for special setups like RAID servers). They will analyze the disk beforehand for a fee and give you an approximate price and timeline for the full recovery (or just for the data that you want recovered).

Just to recap: the important part is to recognize a hardware failure. If it is a hardware problem, don't do anything. If it is a software/user problem, make a copy and play with the copy only.

If the server people have played with the original (and if it really was a software/user problem) then I imagine it will either be much harder to recover or they won't be able to get more out of what's left. :(

If you really really really need the data from the drives, contact one of the larger data recovery companies, explain the situation to them and send them the drives for an analysis. If there were 60 sites on the server then it might be a reasonable expense (total cost split by the number of sites) to get the data recovered from the drives.

John



RSS Feed

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users