If you have a personal site with 250Free or a business site with 250Host, you’re obviously aware of the hosts’ offlline status since Christmas 2010. At first most 250free members thought it was a minor server glitch; it couldn’t have been a lapsed domain name renewal as Brian Salisbury, 250Free’s proprietor and manager, renewed the domain names November 2010. Obviously he wanted to continue the business, but I suspected bad money issues. I was so right about this when someone in a WebTV/MSNTV newsgroup passed along an interesting link. Here is Brian Salisbury’s real “reason”. I won’t rehash Brian’s four-month debt or that a seemingly profitable business (Takes in approximately $1000 per month) is now broke. Once the bills are paid, what does he do with the profit? Not improve the business as most reputable web hosts do. No file backups in the event the entire works go belly up, like it almost did a few years ago. I was primarily on WebTV at the time thus had no way to back up my data unless I made at least one or two mirrors. Thank goodness I salvaged what few pages I made via Google’s cache, copy the HTML then transfer each and every page to Tripod and Domania. Unfortunately I didn’t mirror what few files I had left at 250Free, one being a circa 1925 photo of my dad and uncles. Again, thank goodness for taking a copy to my WebTV scrapbook days before I uploaded the photo to 250Free.
250Free’s been offline nearly a month. No one can access the site other than that personal note from Brian dated January 13 explaining this fiasco. That means everyone’s site is down, no one can login to the file manager, files cannot be accessed, even most pages cannot be retrieved via the Wayback Machine. However, those who are on premium plans are still being billed for services (non-existent services now!). That’s right, credit and debit cards are being charged as I write this.
Brian is getting several offers from various web hosts, but he seems to take his time. The longer 250Free remains shut off, the slimmer the chances of salvaging any files, but he’s sure collecting all that monthly dues from his customers. I know of no other web host who, if things go bad, continues to take the customers’ money but offers not one explanation why the service is offline. One host I use,Webbywarehouse has one proprietor and manager; that is, he does it all by himself. The same day 250Free went down, WWH had a minor server glitch. This was the Sunday after Christmas, and Brian Abbott, spending the weekend with his folks, drove back home, late at night, on a mountain road, through snow and rain. He promised to have the problem fixed by midnight his time; WWH was back online a hour earlier. How wonderful that this Brian is not at all like the other Brian. He does not vanish when the service goes haywire, does not clam up when things go wrong or how long before it’s right, all the while taking the clients’ money. I can say the same for many web hosts, some of which I patronized during my WebTV-only days, hosts that actually had the set-top browser crowd in mind. Ask any WebTV user from back in the day, and mostly likely you’ll hear praise for hosts such as WTV-Zone, Domania, and the previously mentioned WWH. You’ll also hear horror stories about a similar situation that almost mirrors 250Free’s. Owner sets up web host. Owner promotes his service via the WebTV newsgroups and mailing lists. He takes clients’ money and promises utmost uptime and reliability. All’s well until the server dies too many times. Data is not backed up. Clients are growing frustrated. Owner simply walks away. Files lost forever, clients seething and damning the owner for days. Okay, Webbies, sounds like the old Dreamserver fiasco during the early 2000’s.
All I know is if and when Brian Salisbury gets 250Free turned back on, his clients, paying and free (which by the way, runs into the six figures) will grab any and all surviving files and run to a more reputable web host. I wouldn’t doubt, and I’m surprised no one has mentioned it, that the paying clients whose credit and debit cards are still being charged for non-existent service have contacted the Nevada state attorney general and Better Business Bureau, even looked into filling criminal charges.
Yes, I foresee numerous complaints filed against Mr. Salisbury ranging from embezzlement to fraud to theft. Even those who are generously offering to take over the business sense something not quite right about the man. Is he really looking for a way out of a messy situation and truly is sorry how he screwed his customers, or is he out for a quick buck off the misery of others? Stay tuned as this sorry drama unfolds.