Saturday, September 30, 2006

Waking Up: Day 4

It appears the nightmare is finally over. Everything is finally back to normal.

I am still waiting on DreamHost to answer my questions about preventing another fiasco like this in the future, but in the meantime, I've decided it's just best to disable my /incoming directories. At this point, it's a minor inconvenience to avoid having this happen again.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Reincarnation Update

Shortly after my last post about the email problems, I received a response from DreamHost:

I terribly sorry for the delay in this reply. It's been hectic around here (to say the least!), and we have been working around the clock to assist all our cusomters as quickly as possible. When the account was disabled, so were all your email accounts.. When your account was reenabled again, for some reason, your email accounts were not reenabled with it. What I did was manually reenable all your email accounts, run a reconfiguration script on all of them, and tested to make sure it's back up and running.

Please try it out, and let me know if you run into any other email problems. i'll be glad to look into it for you.



I was quite surprised by Chih's politeness. I feel like he really was sorry for my trouble. If only I could always work with people like Chih, but so far I have never gotten a response from the same person twice.

I tested my email and sure enough, everything was working. The only bad thing is that all of my email accounts had bounced back to the sender during the 48-hour downtime. I personally get over 500 messages a day, so I have no idea what I and my users might have missed.

Unfortunately, everything's not 100% back to normal yet. It's been 31 hours since I opened the support ticket about not being able to delete the file that started all this and I've yet to get a response. But assuming Chih was telling the truth about how hectic it's been at DreamHost recently, I'll give them a little more time before I attempt to contact them again.

I feel like this nightmare might be close to ending.

Purgatory Recap

I forgot to recap what I found when I regained access to my files yesterday. Here's a list of bullet points I sent to DreamHost:
  • The only offending file I could find was in the /incoming folder on the FTP server. So the claim that "there were a large amount of copyrighted movies on that FTP server" by Christian was false. There was 1, undownloadable, file.
  • This is a publicly accessible incoming folder on an anonymous FTP site. The anonymous FTP settings in the DreamHost panel even provides detailed instructions on how to set up an incoming directory. So allowing anonymous uploads is supported by DreamHost.
  • The incoming directory is configured to allow uploads only, no downloads. The whole purpose of this is to prevent the illegal transferring of files.
  • Had I seen this file in the incoming folder, I would have deleted it, because like DreamHost, I do not support to sharing of copyrighted material. Unfortunately my account was hastefully suspended before I ever had a chance to take any action on it.
  • How does DreamHost suggest I prevent this type of thing from happening in the future?
  • Why does DreamHost even allow users to have anonymous uploads on their FTP sites if they are going to punish them based on what's uploaded out of their control?
If they ever respond, I'll be sure to post their answer.

Reincarnation: Day 3

Everything except email was back up within a few hours yesterday afternoon.

After three support tickets, approximately one every eight hours, I can finally log in to my email, but can I receive email? No.

This is the Postfix program at host

I'm sorry to have to inform you that your message could not be be [sic] delivered to one or more recipients. It's attached below.

For further assistance, please send mail to [postmaster]

If you do so, please include this problem report. You can delete your own text from the attached returned message.

The Postfix program

[] (expanded from []): unknown user: "foo"

I also have another ticket open because I don't have sufficient permissions to delete the offending file that started all of this mess. I'm afraid they might decide to suspend my account again before I get access to delete the file.

As of this writing, I still have no response from DreamHost about either the email problems or the file permissions. The lack of communication during this whole debacle is unbelievable.

The nightmare is not yet over.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Purgatory Update

I finally received an appropriate human response:

Hello Andy,

I apologize for the slow response on this - I have re-enabled your account, which should be back up and running within a few hours. I'm still trying to figure out why your account was disabled without more warning, and will see to it that this does not reoccur. I apologize for the trouble.

Note that the contents of your anonymous FTP account have been removed. You may selectively retrieve any (legal) files from backup, here:


We did find some obvious infringing material (ie. DVD rips of "Pirates of the Caribbean", hence the disablement)

We ask that you please go through your anonymous FTP account and ensure that no unauthorized copyrighted material can be found there. If there is any, please delete it as soon as possible. Our services are not to be used for the distribution, acquisition or storage of illegal copyrighted materials. We also ask that you more closely and regularly monitor it - if it continues to be a problem, we may have to ask you to cease using the anonymous FTP feature entirely.

If you have any questions, please let us know.


I don't know how a DVD was uploaded to the site. I will have to look into it when I actually get access to my files again. My only suspicion is that it was uploaded to the /incoming directory of my FTP site. If that's the case, I don't know how I can operate an anonymous FTP site (again, a service offered by DreamHost) without occasionally getting items I don't want uploaded. Like I said in my original post, the FTP is configured to not allow downloads from the /incoming directory.

Of course, I am still not happy with how this matter was handled. I found it very unprofessional and a completely unacceptable way of doing business.

Purgatory: Day 2

Update! I just received an automated server response to let me know that my account has been approved and all of my services would be active within 30 minutes.

Still no explanation or clarity about what happened.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Hell: Day 1

There are a lot of people not happy with DreamHost. The most notable would be the fine folks over at DreamHost Sucks. Well, now I can add my name to the long list of people.

They have had lots of network problems over the last couple of months which has caused lots of slowness, lag, and even occasional downtime. But since I used to own an ISP, I know how these things can be and I decided to stick with them since they came highly recommended from a friend.

They recently fixed all their network issues and the service did improve somewhat. The problems weren't 100% solved, but things were getting better so I was encouraged by the progress.

Then today happened.

I noticed around 11:45 this morning that I couldn't access one of my sites. Then another of my sites were down too. So I logged into their control panel to open a support ticket to see what what up. I got a response within about 10 minutes:

Reply from DreamHost (Sep 27th, 2006 - 11:54:25 / #8630191)
Re: Account Disabled / Sites Broken

Hello Andy,

Your account has been disabled due to illegal content on Apparently there were a large amount of copyrighted movies on that FTP server, and we don't allow any customers to store copyrighted works on their webspace. There is a note on file here that I am not to re-enable your account.

If you have any further inquiries about this issue, please feel free to reply back to the ticket with your concerns.


A large amount of copyrighted movies? I haven't uploaded any copyrighted movies. This must be a mistake. I wrote them back explaining how I felt this must be an error. I work for a record label, so I most definitely understand the importance of upholding copyright laws.

I offered up my only idea of what might have happened. Perhaps someone uploaded movies to the /incoming folder on my anonymous FTP site, which is a service DreamHost provides. If that had happened, that folder is configured to disallow downloading. The whole purpose of that configuration is to prevent the FTP site from being used as a warez repository. If I had seen movies in the /incoming folder, I would have deleted them and not made them publicly available. But again, this is only a guess as my account was disabled without notice so I have no access to know what was uploaded or where or by whom.

And what's with the "There is a note on file here that I am not to re-enable your account." comment? It makes it sound like I am a repeat offender. This is the first time my account has even been disabled, much less for a violation of the terms of services, which they have yet to prove I have violated.

I didn't get any response for a while, so I followed up again and again. Now I am just asking them for a bit more clarification as to what happened and what was the real cause for the suspension of my account.

Finally, I received a very brief response:

Reply from DreamHost (Sep 27th, 2006 - 14:31:32 / #8631063)
Re: Please respond!


I'm sorry, but this account closure was is a decision we will not rescind under any circumstances.


What? Why?! Again, no clarification at all. And this time the response seems even more harsh. What could have been uploaded that has caused such a response from DreamHost? I have sent multiple follow-ups, but as of the writing of this post, it seems as I am just being ignored.

A couple of my friends, Julio and Jeremiah, who are also DreamHost customers, contacted them on my behalf to try to get someone to respond to my emails. Julio flat out called them "dicks" in his message and not surprisingly he was the first to get a response. They just gave him the usual yadda yadda about not being able to give out details about someone else's account, but suggested that I should appeal the suspension to So yes, I did that too.

Then tonight I decided to give them a call and leave a voicemail. For those of you that aren't familiar with DreamHost, you might be wondering why I didn't do this from the beginning. Well, it's simple. DreamHost doesn't answer the phone. They maintain an email-only contact policy, but I do know that they do occasionally check their voicemail box. So I recapped my entire experience today for whoever may hear it.

I even contacted a lawyer friend of mine who says at the very least I have legal right to my data stored on their servers, which I currently cannot access.

So that brings me to now. Still nothing. I'm still in the dark. This really is a nightmare.