People hosting websites on shared hosts occasionally find that they’ve lost access to their accounts. This can be a pretty traumatic experience but there are ways to avoid it and deal with it if it happens anyway. If you haven’t recently backed up your data to a local machine, now would be a good time to do so.
Really, stop reading this and go backup your website data to a secure location you can access without the help of a third party. Stuff happens and even if most of it can be avoided, legitimate users can rarely get caught up in account suspension and data deletion.
Now that you’re backed up, let’s review some of the causes I typically see behind hosting account shut downs.
Pay Your Bill
Seems obvious, right? Believe it or not, the majority of suspended hosting accounts are disabled due to a lack of payment. Don’t expect that your host will send you a bill after your time runs out, and if there is an automatic payment plan make sure you’re signed up. If it is getting close to the end of your hosting term, make sure they get the payment. Downtime costs money, don’t try to save a few bucks with a fashionably late payment.
The hosting policies are those rules you agreed to when you signed up for the hosting account. There are a lot of policies that could go wrong: bulk email usually has some limitations or specific process that must be adhered to; some hosts don’t allow adult content; some hosts are even particular about vulgar language and images that could be offensive in another way.
Another one of the top reasons why your hosting account was closed. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects content producers from unauthorized use, and web hosting companies have little choice but to comply with the request to take down a website when they get served a notification. In fact, the law requires the host to pretty much disable everything attached to the offending user – ASAP. If they don’t, they become the next person to be sued.
If you think you’ve been served a DMCA notice wrongly, you can file a counter-notification. Be advised, signing the counter-notification means that you consent to the jurisdiction of the federal courts, and that you’re entering the equivalent to a “not guilty” plea. Don’t file a counter-notification unless you’re really sure you’ve done nothing wrong – lying about this could have you found guilty of perjury.
With shared hosting in particular, sometimes a website just gets too big, busy, and popular. Disk storage and bandwidth are often unlimited or unmetered these days, but CPU processing is still a valuable and scarce resource. Optimize your site to use less processing time, or consider upgrading to a private server of some sort.
Back-up and Play Nice
Ultimately, that’s all you can do. Be aware of the risks and common causes of an account suspension so you can take appropriate action to protect yourself from such a fate.
Most of these causes can be avoided, but once the account is closed down it is likely too late.