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Dud DNS upgrade at Freeparking disrupts service providers and customers

Dud DNS upgrade at Freeparking disrupts service providers and customers

A global roll-up of web hosting companies appears to be creating service challenges.

Ian Simpson (The Logic Studio)

Ian Simpson (The Logic Studio)

Credit: Supplied

A domain name server upgrade at hosting company Freeparking has disrupted services for multiple New Zealand users and service providers.

Dawid Sadie, director of Auckland-based IT services provider IT Live, said the upgrade had been performed in a manner which could only be described, in his view, as "complete incompetence".

The upgrades affected several local businesses including one IT Live customer, taking DNS related services offline, Sadie said.

Last week, Freeparking notified users its domain name servers would be updated on 21 July in the cause of "ongoing platform improvements".

"During the update, we are expecting it to go as smoothly as possible," a notice said. "However, if you encounter any unforeseen issues, please let us know immediately."

On Monday, the company informed users of irregularities on the new Freeparking dashboard including an e-mail control panel button that did not work, irregular domain statuses and missing domains.

"Our Freeparking developers and engineers are already aware of these bugs and are now working to resolve them," the company said. "Please let us know if there are other irregularities you've noticed on the new platform."

After problems emerged, support teams and team members at Freeparking were uncontactable and no escalation points were available, Sadie told Reseller News.

"There is no one else we can call or complain too," Sadie said. "There is no roll back and no way to fix it. We simply need to be offline and wait."

A workaround offered was, he considered, a security breach and "not really a workaround".

Freeparking support finally made contact on Monday, three days after the attempted upgrade. An engineer called from an “unknown” number so there was no way to get hold of him again, Sadie said. 

"He did not wish to discuss how we got here, but only wanted to focus on fixing the fault. He advised they would need to switch the customer domain name to use the 'old' name servers used prior to the Freeparking changes from Friday evening. We didn’t even know the name servers had changed at this stage."

On Tuesday, Freeparking support admitted the issues affected all reseller and technical Freeparking accounts and they planned to move those accounts back to the "old platform” and leave other customers on the new system.

The sales team of one large IT Live customer using Salesforce was "effectively crippled" because delegated domains needed to develop end-to-end solutions and tools used by the customer were also affected.

IT Live has now implemented its own name servers.

Ian Simpson, managing director of Dunedin-based web developer The Logic Studio also reported issues.

"Looks like the Freeparking migration has been happening this weekend," he tweeted. "Just for a change, it's a shitshow. Client got second IP address added to all their domains, so now it's a 50/50 chance of whether their site works."

Later, he reported he had fixed the broken DNS by moving web forwarders to a "better place" and transferring all 19 of his customer's domains and DNS services to locally-owned Sitehost. 

"Problems now permanently fixed, no money going to Dreamscape Networks, and cheaper to boot," Simpson tweeted.

Freeparking is one of many DNS and hosting service providers to have been acquired as part of a progressive roll-up by Singapore-based Dreamscape Networks, which is in turn owned by Florida-based Web.com.

Freeparking joined the group after being sold by local IT services provider Umbrellar in November 2020. At that time it was serving more than 90,000 customers and operating three other brands: Open Host, Domains4less and Discount Domains.

They and other acquisitions now appear to operate as part of a newer entity called Newfold Digital, created when Web.com Group and Endurance Web Presence merged in February 2021.

It appears the group is trying to consolidate the many different systems it has acquired during the roll-up.

Simpson said he had previously dealt with Webdrive's migration to Openhost and then Openhost to Crazy Domains, both of which caused a lot of issues.

Trying to move thousands of customers at a time was always going to create problems, he said.

His customer was using Freeparking for DNS and AWS for hosting, a pretty common arrangement, but after the upgrade he found extra records added and broken URLs.

If the customer had web hosting with Freeparking as well as DNS, the upgrade might have been more successful, Simpson said. But they didn't, nobody checked and it "broke". That then required a lot of manual work to correct.

In March, Newfold Digital entered into an agreement to buy Deluxe Australia's web hosting business Hostopia Australia, which served more than 50,000 small business customers and hosted 250,000 websites.

Emailed queries to Newfold Digital, Dreamscape Networks and calls to Freeparking have so far not been returned. 

Freeparking's own network status website page and some others were returning 404 "Whoops, page not found" notices.


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Tags hostingDNS serverWeb.comdreamscape networksUmbrellarFreeparking

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