Down Time

Yesterday I upgraded to a higher tier of hosting service from my hosting provider (Bluehost). AVC is now running on a “virtual private server” vs a “shared server” in the past.

That upgrade was processed in the middle of the night last night and after it completed, AVC went down.

Anyone who tried to access AVC in the last six hours was served this error message:

Account Suspended

Which is mildly embarrassing, as it appeared as though I have not been paying my bills 🙂

The issue has been corrected and AVC is working properly again. We may have also fixed the nasty “error establishing a database connection” issue that has plagued AVC for years and has been particularly bad in the last few days. That was one of several reasons I did the upgrade.

The particular reason AVC was not reachable for the last six hours is that my new server has a new IP address and I needed to change that in my Cloudflare account. 

It is little things like that which cause many of the problems that happen in tech. I changed the IP addresses at Cloudflare and AVC was back up and running immediately.

Oh well.

Sorry about the downtime. And here’s to hoping that AVC is more reliable for all of you now. 


Comments (Archived):

  1. jeffyablon

    Fred, read this:…Even for old salts like us who are supposed to know better, hosting is way too hard a conversation.What bothers me is that you paid to get an upgrade that you may have needed, but … if they were configured properly to begin with you likely would have not.As I said: too hard.

  2. Seth Godin

    IT people are marketing people, whether they like it or not.What’s the point of a page that says, “ACCOUNT SUSPENDED”?If it’s incorrect, you’ve made a fool of your company and offended your customer.If it’s correct, you certainly haven’t made it more likely that you’ll get a new customer or win back the old one.Words are cheap and words are valuable.

    1. jason wright

      a void would be better. a selection of art images would be better still.

      1. Lawrence Brass

        Goya has some horrible stuff. Due payments would arrive fast!

    2. PhilipSugar

      You know I have a foot in both worlds. I know it’s passive aggressive. When we are rebuilding a group the developer insisted we call the group “dirty” Now this is stupid.But on the other hand I have seen marketers say just call all unidentified people “valued customer” and give them points…….but you have the option set to let people combine points for same named accounts? “I don’t care just do it” More than stupid.I am sure the Dunkin Donuts and SPG debacle was caused by a marketer saying: “I don’t care just do this” Been there witnessed that. I mediate this every day.I know this is going to sound harsh but I can teach a programmer about marketing, but the reverse is a ton harder.Even calling programmers IT people is demeaning. Seriously.I applaud Fred for a couple of things, and understand I am no fan boy, he probably on many days hates me. But just getting people to learn a bit about coding is so great, even though no, you are never going to really program. MikeZ will agree with me just knowing a little just should mean you can appreciate those that know so much more.Now on the other foot is everybody thinks they can be a marketer right? I mean put anything out there and somebody will tell you what they don’t like, everybody is a critic.

      1. JamesHRH

        Right on every point.

      2. LE

        But just getting people to learn a bit about coding is so great, even though no, you are never going to really program.I think where this goes wrong is that it doesn’t teach in a way that is practical for people to actually use and gain something from for themselves.He is an example of ‘using it’. I have a routine that I wrote (in bash) that does something very simple. It allows me to print out a label on the label printer than I can use to print an envelope label or a disk label. Now of course I don’t need a shell routine for that I can just open the program and find the file and what not. But to me that takes to long. I’d rather build a menu so I can find what I need quickly and print it. So it’s fun to build the simple routine to do that and automate things. That is the practical use of knowing a bit of code. I built in past years (32 years ago actually) a complete estimating system using only bash, awk, sed and, yes, text files. No ‘programmer’ would ever do it that way. People who bought the business laughed ‘we will replace that’. But kept it 6 years. Because it worked and did the job. So you use the tools you know and what you have not what is latest or even best practices (unless it’s your work everyday – maybe maybe maybe). And you get the job done. And it’s fun. Kind of like woodworking. Not boring either. And easy to fix if something isn’t working (because you know what is wrong because at that level nothing is hidden. Also you can start small w/o a steep learning curve. At the ‘hello world’ level basically. Right in the terminal that you already have (assume Mac after all if you have linux you probably already have some skill, right?).Next you can teach someone how to do the same remotely on a VPS etc. And maybe at that point you show them a database and punch in the data, once again, from the shell. Maybe later you do it with something like php or perl and a web page. But not to start. That way you learn from the ground up and more importantly with maybe and possibly some practical use.just should mean you can appreciate those that know so much more.To me this is ‘knowing theater’ and quickly wears off. Like those films in high school with car crashes. Or ‘scared straight’ type programs.At Wharton they gave us APL. What a total waste of time. So stupid typical academic ‘check the boxes’ approach to teaching something.

        1. PhilipSugar

          I love this comment.You know I said over a decade ago that I really have thought about just using technology not to sell it but to compete against people that can’t Tons of posts. I always use the “plumber” example because it is easy to understand.Now it is happening with things like Harry’s and Casper.I loved Fred’s post on the dentist office.I have sold software for others to use for over two decades.I still believe if you are selling to others you can’t have software like you built. You have to have pro’s doing it.BUTI think business models are changing and on this I think I am ahead of the curve again. I think you have to act like a commodity. As a business person I have always said the customer’s perception is my reality.It has now gotten to the point where it is becoming a commodity. Just like you don’t care about what your switch is, what your servers are, and what your operating system is.So you have to act like that.Stunningly Microsoft has pulled that off. Have you seen their Costco deal? Six users, 5 Office 360 licenses per, a a terabyte per. $90 15 months.$1/per user/per month.I know you hate them and yes their shitty software has been the bane of technology people’s existence for a long time. But that defines commodity, and it now as customers tell me “it’s just table stakes”

          1. LE

            I still believe if you are selling to others you can’t have software like you built. You have to have pro’s doing it.100% agree. That is why I never sold the estimating program to others. Because to get it to the level of being sea worthy would have been much more difficult and time consuming. But to get it to where it was practical to use in house (at a small company) was possible and practical. So it wasn’t going to be a case of ‘I love and know how to cook so I will open a restaurant’ or ‘I renovated my own kitchen so now I will renovate other’s kitchens’.and yes their shitty software has been the bane of technology people’s existence for a long timeSure but just the same what resulted was an entire industry that grew up to support and profit from the shitty software and keep it running. I don’t think they were smart enough to know that is what would happen or what they were doing. But it actually reminds me of the first copiers I bought in the early 80’s. At that time for an office copier or high volume copier like we used you saw the repair man enough that you gave him a gift at Christmas. For the big machines and even for that matter the smaller machines was not unusual to see a repair man a few times a week let’s say. So you bought the machine but then were hooked into a residual contract for service. Xerox for the big machines would leave parts at our place like ‘belts’ [1] so that our people could do those types of replacements or ‘pumice’ the belt (get the scmutz off of it). I loved that equipment very expensive though but Xerox kept it running pretty good and had professional salesman always trying to upsell you to other equipment. Back then their salesman made $100k per year (in 80’s dollars).[1] On a large machine the drum is actually a belt. Because a drum would be to large. The speed of the machine is in part determined by the size of the drum. Larger drum means less rotation or more paper imaged at higher speed rotation. So at a certain point there is no room. Solution? Make it a belt and wrap it around the machine so it can be pretty large. I got into all of this stuff. What’s interesting is that back then you’d simply figure this out just by looking at the machine and say ‘oh I get what is going on here and why it’s a belt’. That is the type of thing that a patent is made for as opposed to today what gets a patent…. https://uploads.disquscdn.c

    3. fredwilson


    4. LE

      What’s the point of a page that says, “ACCOUNT SUSPENDED”?It is lame and yes most likely done for clueless reasons. However there is a history in the business (ISP, hosting, domains) of cutting off service in a very abrupt way to get people’s attention. Nothing heals like cold steel. Honestly they could do better but it is the original play book on this type of thing.Will add also that they don’t want all sorts of phone calls from end users flooding their help desk and not the customer as well because they can’t reach their site. Think that doesn’t happen? I can tell you that it does happen. Once again they can for sure do better but you have to also look at the reason why that is kind even possibly there in the first place.Also they don’t typically care (for this) about offending a customer. Why? Because remember there is a difficult barrier to overcome in order to switch. Think of all the shit that Comcast gets away with even where there is a competitor in the same market. Something happens with service. You swear you are switching. They get the service back. You forget about it. They know this. It’s not a hotel or a restaurant etc.I agree though (want to make that clear) but yes it would be possible to do this much better.

    5. aminTorres

      Respectfully disagree. (Big fan of yours btw.)This actually points out that they are not marketing people and they should not be expected to be marketers. This company should hire a copywriter.

  3. jason wright

    C’est la vie. Miami has consequences.

  4. iggyfanlo

    I’m just impressed that a VC of my age group is doing their own IT. Yeah

    1. PhilipSugar

      Damn straight.

    2. fredwilson

      I’m a geek. I love it

  5. sigmaalgebra

    It is little things like that which cause many of the problems that happen in tech.Yup, even the “little things” do that, and some larger ones do even more.Sooooooo, I’ll hazard a guess: You took some notes, if only this blog post, and will have a check list for the next time!!!!My notes on system management just for the little HP laptop with Windows 10 Home Edition I got a few months ago has 5500 lines of text typing. The most recent is a path through the options tree Start Settings Update & Security Windows Update Change active hourstrying, so far without success, to have Windows 10 STOP, QUIT, CEASE, DESIST, ABSTAIN, don’t do it anymore, closing all my windows and work in progress while I get some sleep.Another recent issue was Windows OneDrive and OneNote. Windows update, no thank you, installed those on my HP laptop with no warning, permission, documentation, etc. So, there was a window on my screen for OneNote. What the @#$%^&*() Excedrin headache #958,226,768,001 is that disaster? It won’t close, take the keyboard focus, move to the top of the Z-order, close, go away, etc. GO AWAY and do NOT come back. Just as I was printing out a page of notes on a recipe to use to cook dinner, suddenly my printer doesn’t work. Right, …, after enough investigation, OneNote and/or OneDrive have established themselves as my default printer. Good grief. So, I go to the window with all the printers, including several I didn’t know existed, e.g., print to a PDF file, and assign my default printer back to my actual physical B/W laser printer. Then I guess how to uninstall OneNote and OneDrive, do a right click, etc. and get rid of them. System back to okay until the next disaster.Right, 5500 lines of notes.I’m not trying to do anything very important with this HP laptop: Its most important work is just ordering parts for my first server and getting answers to technical questions. Still the notes are 5500 lines.One recent question was, where the heck is the key Break? Well, after some searching, there isn’t any key Break. There are lots of goofy, apparently largely secret, key combinations such that if I type too fast suddenly windows I’ve never seen before open, all my windows close or minimize, some windows get twins, etc., but, still, no key or key combination for Break.So I go to the best source of information on Windows — Google — and find what OneNote is for:Microsoft OneNote. Designed to function as an electronic version of a paper notebook, Microsoft OneNote is a note-taking and personal information management (PIM) application for collecting, organizing and sharing digital information.Good grief: I have a really good solution for that problem, much, Much, MUCH better than OneNote.

  6. JLM

    .Surprised you’re not using AWS. Not easy to find, but it works like a charm and is very inexpensive. It’s so much faster.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. LE

      Relevant pages:…Most of this is enough to stop a casual and/or busy person. Kind of a bit like not wanting to get involved in patching a wall (easy) would rather have someone show up and just do the work and pay.

      1. JLM

        .Agree totally. I had a guy migrate my stuff from Go Daddy to AWS. Bit of expertise. Didn’t cost me $100.Guy I found on UpWork eons ago.I pay about $1.42/month.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    2. Matt Zagaja

      While AWS is powerful and capable, the user interface sucks. Fortunately as a former Windows 98 user I’ve been prepared for that scenario.

  7. kenberger

    You of course realise that everyone here thought you were announcing a personal meditation retreat vacation…

  8. Ronnie Rendel

    Such an appropriate title .today was the first time I slept in months.

  9. Jim Peterson

    Just talked to our programmer who kept our sites running smoothly and speedily all year yesterday. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It is an art.

  10. Richard

    F Scott Fitzgerald said it best “Let me tell you something about Rich. …… They are different”. Every know and then (less so frequently), Fred put on his common man insecurities. I don’t think there were too many within the AVC cohort who thought Fred Wilson’s account was suspended for failure to keep his account current.

  11. LE

    AVC is now running on a “virtual private server” vs a “shared server” in the past.We do this stuff and make some money from it. Since mid 90’s. Mainly because it’s fun to do. Kind of in the same way cooking is fun. Not a big part of business but residuals are great so why not?That said a ‘virtual private server’ is a ‘shared server’. Just a different type of ‘shared server’. There are advantages of course. (Your own IP address and the ability to easily scale as only two reasons of many).It’s all a marketing ploy anyway and a way to extract more money from a customer without honestly increasing costs really at all.Take this Bluehost offering on the home page. WordPress for $3.95 per month. The last ‘contract’ we wrote (for the same exact thing) was $154 per month. Was to a school district that needed to pay with a purchase order and wanted to actually deal with people not a help desk. And you know what? At that price we did the work w/o even getting the PO just on the say so of the IT Person. They were in a rush because someone had screwed up and was late. And this wasn’t the first order from them either where we got them out of a jam.The PO never came and the Tech Person wrote apologizing for that. We didn’t cut off the account. Why do that? No need to they will pay. Instead when the IT person (a woman) apologized we said (and I am not kidding) ‘don’t worry Sandy, we still love you’. Really we said that. ‘We still love you’. We know we will get the PO from them. Doing (what is called in Philly) a ‘solid’ for the IT person (who followed us from another town where they were a customer to their new job in a different part of the state) is what gets us that kind of higher price. Once again not a big amount of business but more or less shows what is possible with good service and the right attitude and understanding human nature. It’s fun.The model that Bluehost and others works on is this:a) Give low teaser price to hook customerb) Upsell them things they don’t need to get more revenuec) If things don’t work well tell them they need to upgrade and then get more money at that point.Because of the friction and FUD of switching (a big deal for all but the most tech savvy and even tech savvy think it’s a pain and don’t want to) they will pay the extra money. Or later you sell them other things they don’t need and make money from that. That is their playbook.People pay for service. I had someone do a repair at a property last week. Did some cauking. I said ‘how much should I send you’. They said $25 is fine. I said ‘going to send you $35’. You want the guy to do the work for you the next time on a priority basis. What’s $10 extra?… https://uploads.disquscdn.c

    1. Matt Zagaja

      Once did a WordPress page speed optimization project for a client. Shared hosting can be a big bottleneck because the CPU and RAM usage among shared tenants isn’t typically regulated. After benchmarking things over time switching to a VPS lead to more consistent performance. I suppose we could have asked to switch boxes but all it takes in one resource hungry person to siphon the resources to mess it up for everyone else.

    2. PhilipSugar

      You are stealing from my playbook LE.

  12. T. M.

    Hate to break it to ya Fred, but I just got another error here trying to load this page (with comments). I worry about this kind of stuff all the time. All. The. Time. https://uploads.disquscdn.c

    1. fredwilson


  13. JB

    I switched from 1and1 to WPEngine for my WordPress hosting and love the support. A little on the pricey side, but not bad overall –