Apparently I’m Smarter Than ServerBeach Support

Not surprising considering now days most support is outsourced to a country with a massive language barrier. And I’m not necessarily bashing ServerBeach (SB), I actually like them as a company and provider. I utilize them for their data centers, uptime, and network maintenance regiment. Actually, I don’t even think they outsource support to other countries.

BUT… That isn’t the point. The more technical the issue, the more SB lacks in expertise. I’ve had issues with their service, but most of it has been an easy fix that they recognized and fixed ASAP. In the 3 years I’ve been using them for certain projects, I’ve had 2 major issues that I ended up identifying and fixing myself, before their support did.

In the most recent example, I created what is the largest ticket to SB support I’ve ever experienced. It went back and forth for 2 weeks. Allow me to give you some background.

I utilize 3 different dedicated servers provided by SB. One of them I use as a “sandbox” or “demo” server. Installations vary, access levels vary, it runs Virtual Machines (VM), and by all means is a virtual playground to run demonstrations, practice, proof of concept, etc.

I recently switched operating systems (OS) on this machine. As soon as I put in the ticket to switch the OS, I instantly had issues. The server would seem to reboot itself without any user interaction. Any software or service I had running would cease to exist about 1 hour after I had started it and closed the Remote Desktop (RDP) session. I submitted my ticket to SB.

The response I got was that it definitely should not happen and that they would replace all of the hardware in the chassis (minus the hard drive) to make sure it wasn’t a hardware issue. Ok. A little overboard but I like the idea they’re replacing old NIC cards and what not.

Hardware replaced. Still the same issue, server keeps rebooting or ending the user session. I explained this in the next ticket to support. Something was wrong and it wasn’t from anything I had installed or set. SB support has no idea and recommends replacing the hard drive the OS is installed on, replacing it and installing a new OS, and attaching the old OS as a secondary drive. Ok. I can live with that. Maybe there was a corruption somewhere along the line.

New OS is installed. I clearly see the server is either rebooting itself or ending the user session without me initializing it. At this point, I have repeated this fact several times to SB. Clearly something is not right and whether the server is rebooting itself or killing user sessions, it’s not working correctly. I’ve searched and searched and while I find information, none of it works in this case. SB in turn starts turning off some of their services, such as disconnecting the machine from rapid reboot requests, and anything else that might send a reboot signal to the server in their data center. I assume, as a shot at me, they even mentioned they turned off automatic updates from auto-installing. Seriously? At this point I didn’t bother to change it because as soon as the fresh OS install was available, the first thing I did was completely update the machine with the latest patches. I just didn’t bother to turn it off because I knew I had the latest updates, and that no more updates were coming from an initial install. I wasn’t going to install anything until I could see this server stayed responsive, consistently, for more than 1 hour without direct human interaction.

So, I receive a response that for all intents and purposes says “the server has not rebooted since this time and we’ve replaced this and done that.”

Nothing else. I’m left on my own to figure out why nothing will stay running on this server. Meanwhile, just a few weeks ago it ran fine, as did the other 2 severs I have with them. I have literally never run into this issue. SB can’t tell me anything I haven’t seen via event logs.

Frustrated and unsatisfied, I decide to take this issue on with even more dedication. I am going to solve this even SB can’t. Something is not right and I’m not paying for a service that is essentially useless to me. I dig further than I had before, thinking SB must have read my tickets and have certainly checked things thoroughly, that’s one of the reasons I purchase dedicated servers from SB.

Turns out, even though I had mentioned user sessions, on the initial install – Terminal Services was set to kill any session that was inactive for 1 hour or more. BINGO. That coincided with when usually the server would stop responding to certain requests.

At that point, I had found the reason – on my own – without SB support identifying it.
Never in the 3+ years I’ve been with SB has a fresh install had this setting. Ever. And there was no information about this in the automated “Welcome” message that is sent when a new OS installed on a machine.

This leads me to believe that:
– There is a new person handling fresh installations and they don’t know or haven’t been told what the default should be. By default, sessions never used to end. This is kind of the point of an off-site, dedicated server.
– Initial SB support is low-level and I honestly wonder if there are any higher tiers of support. It certainly doesn’t seem like it since I had to waste 2 weeks of back and forth on this issue, only to figure it out myself.
– This is the second time I’ve had a major issue that SB could not resolve and I ended up fixing myself.

With all that said. I still really like SB. They are good, they offer a good service with a price that matches and their basic support is fantastic. However, they lack in actual “in-depth” support.

Knowing what I do now. I would still purchase their service, however, I would keep in mind that the odd rare issue that pops up will only be solved by you – not them.

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