Well, another major GoDaddy problem. This makes two in as many weeks. Real good track record there. Anyhow, while I'm on hold with customer support listening to their jazz beats, I figured I'd take a moment to explain what the problem is... a little web hosting education for you guys. Hey, that's what I do.
Web sites are made of a collection of folders and files. A larger site can have hundreds or even thousands of folders, and nested folders for different sections. For example, if you look at the folder hierarchy for, say, my Excel 2010 Beginner Level 1 page, it looks like this:
That's pretty long, but it's unfortunately necessary if you want to organize your site logically. You, the user, would never actually have to type that in. Once you visit the site, the links on the home page can navigate you there relatively easily.
Sometimes, especially when it comes to advertising (links on other sites, emails, etc.) you might want to place some information on the end of that link to represent where the user found you, their email address, etc. For example:
As you can see, the link is getting even longer. If I were to post that on a web site or send it via email, there's a risk that the link might get truncated (cut in half). So, to deal with this problem, and to make links easier to manage in general, you can use a link shortening service. You've probably seen them before. Sites like Twitter, Google, etc. use them all the time.
Well, I wrote my own for 599CD.com. It's not hard to do. It's just a simple database of codes and the link that the code is supposed to jump you to. So a big link like the one above can become something short and simple like:
Now what happens when the web server sees that link? It's going to try and load that page and display it for you. Unfortunately, that page doesn't actually exist. Well, technically that would be a folder. The server would try giving you http://599cd.com/XL10B1/default.asp or http://599cd.com/XL10B1/index.htm neither of which exist.
How do we deal with pages that don't exist? Well, normally a web server would generate a "404" error, which means that the page isn't found. Most web hosting providers have their own custom 404 landing pages that they throw up if you try to visit a page that doesn't exist, BUT you can generally specify your own.
So what you do is you create your own 404 page. In my case, it's http://599cd.com/404.asp. When the server tries to go to http://599cd.com/XL10B1 and can't find it, it's redirected to http://599cd.com/404.asp. The 404 page then looks at the URL the user was TRYING to visit and then looks up that code (XL10B1) in the link database and redirects them to that page.
And it works perfectly. Or at least, it WAS working perfectly... up until this afternoon.
Now, when you try to go to any of my link pages - or any bad URL on my site at all - you get the GoDaddy generic 404 landing page. Argh! This just started this afternoon, and the only reason I found out was because people were replying to my emails saying that the links in them didn't work.
You see, EVERY piece of email I send out uses my URL link shortener. The "click to reply here" links in my customer service emails. The "click here for details" links in the ad specials I send out. Even the links I post on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter all use my link shortener. So if this doesn't work, my site is pretty much BROKEN for about 80% of the people who visit it. All of my advertisements use it. Heck, even the Online Theater relies on my shortened links.
Well, I just got off the phone with GoDaddy. I always get the feeling like I'm being given the runaround when I talk to them or deal with them via email. According to their tech, I made some changes to my account this afternoon and that's why my 404 page isn't working. It should sort itself out within the next 24 hours. If not, call back. I do believe he's feeding me a line of bull just to get me off the phone because he has no idea what the problem is. I checked the setting on their site, and everything is set up correctly. It's just not working.
And yes, I did make a change to my account this afternoon. I was initially set up for month-to-month billing and I switched it over to annual billing (why? I'm not sure now! It's not like they give you a discount). I don't know HOW this could have effected the 404 landing page. NOTHING else on my site has changed. Everything else works. So now I just have to sit here and HOPE that the problem corrects itself before tomorrow night. Meanwhile EVERYONE who tries to connect to my site from an external link is going to get garbage. Nonsense!
So that's TWO major problems with GoDaddy (this and the major service outage they had on the 10th). Third strike and I'll be looking for another ISP. I've already had problems with 1&1 too. Who's next?